How We’re Setting Family Goals For The Year Ahead

A couple of years ago, I wrote this blog post all about the family meetings we hold on a regular basis. Life with two young children can be busy and it’s hard for us to find the time to sit down and talk about all the important things in life – finances, scheduling, activities, etc. We set aside this time to touch base and keep things moving forward in our household.

Our outdoor family meetings

This year, we decided to take things to the next level with a full-day conference to kick off 2024. Unlike our regular meetings, we decided that this one would be about bigger, long term goals. Where do we want to be in five years? What are our long-term financial goals? We figured having the time and space to discuss these big-picture ideas would be helpful for our marriage and family.

Booking An Off-Site Space

Booking an off-site space for our family goal setting session

We decided to have this meeting outside of our home to make it feel more official. When we’re home, it’s easy to get distracted by the unlimited tasks and chores around the house. Booking a real conference room, and spending money to do so, made the entire day feel legit and exciting. It felt a bit more like a full-day date than anything!

In the past, I’ve used Peerspace to book conference rooms for similar experiences. I again turned to that website and found a meeting room in Logan Square that we booked for an entire Friday. Here’s the listing if you’re local and want to do something similar.

Setting Family Goals – Our Agenda

To make the most of our time, we created an agenda ahead of time. We started a shared Google doc with a rough outline of topics we wanted to discuss and gradually added to leading up to our meeting date. This gave us a shared vision for how we would run the meeting, so we could go in with a common goal.

Here’s what was on our agenda. You should tailor yours to fit the needs of your household and your own goals.

  • Finances
    • Review past year of finances
    • Review all accounts and current budget
    • Set savings goals for 2024
    • Create 5, 10, 15-year finance projections
  • Calendar
    • What’s on the books for 2024?
    • What do we still need to schedule?
    • Review school and activity calendar for kids
  • Travel
    • What’s already booked for 2024?
    • What trips do we need to plan and schedule?
  • Kids’ Development
    • School and activity review
    • Areas where they need support
    • Upcoming transitions
  • Personal
    • Professional goals
    • Mental health
    • Physical health
  • Relationship Goals
    • What habits do we want to bring forward from last year?
    • What areas of our relationship need the most attention this year?
    • Where do we see our relationship in a year’s time?
  • Fair Play Card Review

Creating this agenda ahead of time was crucial for us to make the most of our time together!

Meeting Day

Having breakfast before our big meeting day

We dropped the kids off at school and then kicked off our day with a breakfast date. We figured it would be best to get something in our bellies to start our meeting out on the right foot. After some eggs and coffee, we headed over to our meeting space.

How It Worked

Our family goal setting meeting

We both brought our computers and specifically booked a conference room with a whiteboard so we could write anything up there as we went. The conference room we booked was a great place for the two of us to get to work.

At first, it felt pretty overwhelming. We had A LOT to discuss. During the weeks leading up to this day, we kept adding things to our to-do list because we knew we would have uninterrupted time to tackle it together.

We started with our yearly calendar. Typically, we look two weeks out when we review our kitchen calendar each week, but this time gave us the chance to look at 2024 as a whole. We discussed upcoming vacations, trips we want to book, changes in the kids’ school schedules, and more.

We took it one topic at a time, each choosing a category back and forth until we completed them all.

Our Main Takeaways

Since this was our first time tackling a family meeting of this scale, we learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. Here are some of the main lessons that we’ll be bringing with us the next time we have a family goal-setting session.

Work From A Shared Document

What we learned from a full day of family goal setting

Finn and I differ in how we like to take notes and do work. I’m a digital gal all the way and he prefers to write things down on paper. At the beginning of our meeting, this was a problem. We were both taking notes and making our lists, but not comparing things as we went.

We quickly figured out that this was not working. Moving forward, I took notes in our shared Google document and he wrote things up on the whiteboard. We didn’t want to leave our meeting space with 10 scraps of paper to sort through, so creating a shared digital document ended up working out the best for us.

Create Action Lists For Each Person

Many of the things we discussed came with particular actions. For example, we discussed Rory’s upcoming birthday party and we had to decide who would be buying presents and who would search for a party venue. In our shared document, we created a list for Finn, a list for me, and a shared to-do list. We added to these lists as we went, so we had clear takeaways from our session.

Give Yourself Time

It’s funny because when I shared a peek at the behind-the-scenes of our meeting on Instagram stories, one of my girlfriends texted me saying, “What did you talk about all day long?” And the answer is, SO MUCH!

We never get time to sit down and talk about the important things in life together. When our kids are home and awake, the house is pure chaos. Then, we’re too exhausted and brain-dead when the kids are asleep to discuss anything of value. This was our chance to have uninterrupted and focused time together.

I booked our meeting space from 9 am-3 pm and we ended up finishing up after about four hours. We were hungry and wanted to head out for a lunch and celebratory cocktail! So even though you might not think you have much to discuss, I would set aside a good chunk of time for your family goal setting session.

Redistributing Our Fair Play Cards

Redealing our Fair Play cards

We also used this time to redistribute our Fair Play cards. I wrote an in-depth blog post all about our use of this household management system and I can honestly say that it has made a positive impact on our marriage. We’ve balanced the household tasks and reduced guilt and fighting thanks to this system.

In Fair Play, the author recommends sitting down once a week to discuss your cards and re-deal any that need to change hands. We don’t re-deal very often. Of course, there are some times when the other person needs to take over a duty, but for the most part, we stick to the cards we own.

Redistrubuting our fair play cards

We brought all of the cards to our meeting and went through all of them one by one again. We shuffled a few new cards into our piles and swapped only a couple of cards. It was also a good time to discuss any tasks that weren’t meeting our minimum standard of care and figure out how to improve our system overall.

Discuss Personal Goals

While the day was designed to set goals for the entire family, we dedicated some time to discussing our list of goals for ourselves. We each did some homework ahead of time so we could come to the table with our ideas and any help or support we might need from the other person.

For example, we discussed our workout plans for the new year. I enjoy doing early morning workouts (5:45 am classes), but this involves Finn taking ownership of the kids’ morning routine. Finn likes playing basketball at night, but this involves me taking over bedtime duties. We mapped out our week, so we could each get some quality time in the gym.

While we casually discuss work life with one another, we don’t often have the time to dive in deep. This was a great opportunity to share a major work goal and seek advice or support from the other person. Between our mental and physical health, and our professional goals, we had a lot to discuss on the personal front.

Action List Accountability

I suggest using the last 15 minutes of your meeting to review your action lists so you’re walking away on the same page.

At the end of our meeting, we each left with a pretty hefty list of action items. When we got home, I printed them both out and hung them in our kitchen. That way, they’re top of mind and we can stay accountable to get them done. We made a plan to try to get most of the tasks done within the next two weeks. Then, we will touch base about how things are going.

Involving The Kids Someday

Finn shares his favorite men's items for my 2023 holiday gift guide

I was so grateful to spend quality time together discussing both our short-term goals and our long-term goals. Someday, when the kids are older, I’d love to do this with the whole family. It would be interesting to discuss our kid’s individual goals and help them create an action plan for how to achieve them.

It would also be an excellent way to teach these essential life skills and showcase all of the hard work that goes into managing the entire family and household.

I’m a big fan of the author Emily Oster and her book The Family Firm. She dives into creating a family mission statement and she has lots of examples of family goals, household chores, family values, and other tips for successful families. It’s not the most useful with younger children, but I think it will come in handy as our kids reach school age. So, if you have older children, I suggest giving it a read.

Would We Do It Again?

Absolutely! I think open communication is essential for any happy family and it takes work to keep things running smoothly. This year, January was pretty packed, so we weren’t able to have our family’s goals discussion until early February. In the future, I think this would be a great way to kick off the new year with an early January discussion. You could set new goals for the year ahead and look back on what you accomplished last year.

Setting family goals for the year ahead


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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