In my business, our direction and priorities for the next year are quite clear. We know what we need to do to execute on our plan and commitments. And we don’t know what we don’t know so we go forward with openness to learning as we go.
I find myself longing for a similar framework for my tiny family of two. I’d like a compass of sorts to point our way. I’d like guardrails to help us make thoughtful decisions about how we invest our time and money. This is important to me as I want us to live lives of meaning and impact.
How many of you can relate to leading with clarity of purpose at work and being rather ad hoc at home?
Not Louise Campbell. She runs her family like a business, sort of. And she’s way more strategic than some of the family-run businesses I have coached. As we all bid a fond farewell to our wonderful PEI summer and embrace “back to school,” let’s look at what the Campbells do differently than most.
Entrepreneurial minded, Louise and her husband know that planning is important to business success. To create family “success,” they’ve brought business planning into theirs. They make it really fun and still come out with a buttoned-down vision, mission, strategic plans and goals. They have regular meetings together with their 13-year-old daughter and off-site team planning sessions.
At their most recent family off-site at The Spot, they each came up with three things they would do if they knew they couldn’t fail. Removing limits really frees up their ideas. Other times they’ve gone Geocaching or on scavenger hunts to get their planning juices flowing.
“It’s important to involve kids,” says Louise, “By their very nature, they dream big.” Kids have blue sky ideas and remind us adults to be playful and expansive and to limit our pragmatism. The older kids get, the more they can contribute to the family’s direction. In the Campbell family of three, everyone has an equal vote.
In 2016, Louise’s family launched WishQuest 2021, a plan to take them through to their daughter’s Grade 12 graduation. Their WishQuest has 101 things they wish to accomplish over the next five years.
Their goals are a mix of short- and long-term, big and small, silly and serious. Some are individual. Others are for the whole family. One of their bigger family goals is to return to Kenya together. Their daughter set a goal to meet Canadian Olympic equestrienne Tiffany Foster. Louise was able to arrange this meeting during a recent Calgary trip. Check! Louise also fulfilled a wish on her husband’s WishQuest. She used a wish to guide her Father’s Day gift and booked him a hot air balloon ride. Check again!
The Campbells keep their goals front and centre on the kitchen wall so they aren’t forgotten in the midst of everyday life. My daughter and I made an illustrated bucket list for the first time this summer. It wasn’t strategic or dreamy (she’s five). I’ll admit that even this short list felt a little daunting in early August when I was facing lots of business to accomplish and wondering when we’d make the time for it all. Happily, when I let up a bit and just looked for smaller pockets of time to do some of our list, things started flowing.
A family plan is intended to inspire, not entrap. Focusing on what is meaningful makes it easier to say no to some things in order to say a big yes to others. When I asked Louise what planning brings to her family, she said in her bubbly, full of life way, “We scale new heights and grow together in the process.”