Intentional New Year Planning: 2 Benefits


It’s a new year, so it’s that time when people start thinking about what they hope and dream 2014 will look like. For years, my wife and I have struggled to find an approach to doing yearly family planning. As our family has grown, the challenges of “winging it” have become more significant.

So, last year, my wife and I started what I hope will be an ongoing yearly tradition of holding a 3-4 hour annual family strategy planning session.

I use the word strategy, because we don’t really just plan out the calendar or plan vacations, etc. We like to use the material provided in the Patrick Leoncini book, The Three Big Questions For A Frantic Family. While I don’t consider our family to be “frantic” (yet), having 4 boys, I know we’re well on our way to get there if we’re not intentional about organizing our family life.

What my wife and I did was to work through the worksheets Leoncini provides (available for download on the book website), answer the 3 big questions, and come up with our one big thing to focus on as a family for the next 6 months.

Mid-year 2013, my wife was expecting our 4th child, so our one big area of focus was getting ready for the arrival of our new baby. With that now behind us, the time has come to re-focus, and look ahead at the first half of 2014 and make sure we’re both focused on what really matters in our family life for this season.

I don’t really know what we’re going to be focused on in 2014, but whatever it is, here are two of the many benefits I get from having this focus:

Getting Better at Saying No

It makes it easier for me to say “no” to many things. When things don’t align with our priority for the next 6 months, my wife and I both have the clarity to quickly evaluate and know whether it is the right time to say “yes” to something else.

I have a bit of an ambitious streak, and I enjoy challenges and new things. In the past, I often struggled with finding myself with regular recurring commitments that would keep me out of the home on too many evenings. They key to maximizing the use of my gifts, strengths and natural bent is to channel them into the right area, and more importantly at the right time or season of my life.

Improving Communication With My Wife

Having a common framework by which we are making our individual decisions makes a huge difference in our relationship and in our day to day communication. When my wife feels the need to object to whatever new idea or project I want to get myself involved in, she can easily reference our previously decided commitment to an area of focus, and point out how my additional involvement in something else will interfere with that.

On the flip side, I don’t struggle at all with feeling burdened with the challenges we face, and actually find our process freeing for my personality. Having a framework, I am able to work within that to put more energy and focus into the things I care about the most.

I am also able to table the constant stream of desires, ideas, dreams, plans that tend to cross my brain on an ongoing basis. I no longer struggle with feeling like I am not “achieving” enough — I know what I need to do, and we’re achieving it!

How Do You Do It?

What about you? How do you and your family “plan” for a new year? How much details do you go into? Is it more of a calendar planning, or do you dig into more than that? I’d love to read about what other families do, and how other families handle the challenges of the chaotic 20th century living. #FirstWorldProblem

If you’d like to take a look at some of the sheets I use, you can learn more at I highly recomend buying and reading through the book if you want to try this approach.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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