robin gurse by Robin Gurse

We all know that thinking about what we want isn’t enough to ensure it actually happens–we are also required to take action. That’s the value of goal setting: it’s a tool for getting from here to there, wherever or whatever your “there” is. However, so many of us find it challenging to start, sustain, or reach our desired goal(s). In these instances, there is an insufficient support structure: other people. Having friends, family, and support groups to cheer us on when we falter and hold us accountable when we resist is priceless. When we have a burning desire to achieve our goal(s) and are willing to let go of our ego, we will realize the value of including other people in our action plan.

Creating a family goal-setting project is one way to design a sufficient support structure you will need to achieve your goals. In addition, by introducing goal setting as a family project, you will:

-lessen the perceived burden some family members may feel in setting a goal: you’re all in this together, having fun, going through the ups and downs and the well-known “two steps forward, one step backward” process;

-teach and model a tremendously valuable tool you and your children will use for the rest of your lives, in every area of your lives;

-demonstrate how to find solutions to those internal obstacles (for example, our fears, doubts, and judgments), as well as those external, out-of-our-control obstacles; and revel in your own, and each other’s, sense of accomplishment.

The idea for a family goal-setting project is for each of you to set one-to-two individual goals and for the family as a whole to set one-to-two family goals. With your help and guidance, even your three-year-old can participate. Some examples include:

Make my bed every day
Brush my teeth at least 2 times a day and floss once
Read 3 books by the same author by (date)
Swim one mile without stopping by (date)

Clean out the garage by (date)
Volunteer once a month in a community activity
Attend at least 6 cultural events by (date)
Have a party for family and friends by (date)

Excited? Motivated to start right away? Before you “Fire,” review the following guidelines to get yourself “Ready” and make sure you know where (and what) you’re “Aiming” for:

Vision versus goal. A goal is a written plan of action that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (you have the resources), and Tangible (SMART). “Be more spiritual” is not a goal–it’s a vision for how I want to be. “Meditate for 30 minutes five times a week” is a goal that, if I sustain it, may bring a higher level of spirituality into my everyday life.

Manageable steps. This is where most people get into trouble. Too often our pride spurs us on to take giant steps; too often, we relapse (or collapse!) because we aren’t willing, or don’t know how, to create a plan that allows us to steadily progress toward our goal, one small step at a time.

Support and accountability. In my twenties, I felt ashamed if I needed help from others; I believed I was flawed. Additionally, I believed I had to do everything perfectly. Fortunately, I learned how unrealistic these beliefs were. I began the process of letting go of my ego, taking healthy risks, and expanding and enjoying my life. I know that for many of you, too, appearing like you have it all together precludes you from the gift of receiving support and denies people who love and believe in you the joy of giving you their support.

What does support look like? Support is anything that raises the probability that you will actually keep your promises, stay on track, and reach your goals. It can be an exercise buddy, a friend who accompanies you to the dentist, weekly family meetings…the form doesn’t matter as long as it works for you. What’s important is that you have a form for support and accountability in place and that you use it.

There are so many creative and fun ways you can design support. And at the same time, you will afford everyone in the family the opportunity to hone their leadership skills, learn the value of keeping their word (integrity), and cooperate as a team. The crucial step is to ask each family member what the rest of you can do to provide sufficient support for one another. For example, you might decide to have a weekly, rotating “Support Person” who checks in with everyone to make sure you’re all getting the kind of support you need.

We’ve all had the experience of setting a goal and failing. Now is the time to set realistic, manageable, and fun goals that stretch your capabilities, add some spice to your life, and strengthen family ties.

From Sarah: Robin is a certified Family Coach committed to helping families work together, sort out differences and create a joyful home. You can visit her website at

1 Comment

  1. Jayasree.m on October 6, 2010 at 3:14 am

    I happened to read the article Strengthen family Ties through Goal setting.I found the article a really relevant one in todays bussy life schedules each of us are going through. We all keep saying that we dont have enogh time. but I think that this article suggests us the easy ways to tackle todays bussy life schedules and maintain our family and friendly relations in a much better way. thanks for this informative article.

Leave a Comment