After you are gone, would someone who knew you well be able to say that during your lifetime you accomplished the things that were truly most important to you? How would they know?
Chances are that your children's children and perhaps even their children will know of you. Verbal family tradition, a personal journal, and even your blog, (if you had one), as an active journal of history, will help paint a more vivid picture of your life than perhaps you currently have of your grandparents. But, what will these say about you? What kind of legacy will you leave behind? What will your children be like?
A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had, nor what my clothes were like. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child. - Dr. Forest E. Witcraft
If you have spent any time perusing the archives of this site or my family web site, you know that beyond my work, or my current hobbies, such as robotics, or CNC, my family -- my wife and my children -- mean the world to me. Other than the spiritual element of life, it is my family that I live for. The primary reason that Kathy and I have chosen to home educate our children is more than just to be able to provide our children with a sound education: we want to provide them with a heritage, rich in the knowledge, skills, values, and faith that we consider most important for a successful life.
Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it. -- Proverbs 22:6
David Allen challenges us to focus on the "Successful Outcome." Stephen Covey tells us to "Begin with the end in mind." Whatever you call your process of long-term contemplation, I believe that you cannot truly be "on-purpose" in your daily life without a clearly defined objective and a strategy to get there. Without a road map (or compass), pointing me to my destination, how could I possibly hope to know how to evaluate the opportunities or tempting situations along the way? I could accept that CTO offer, I could, move to ..., I could pursue [fill in the blanks].
Many years ago, Kathy and I decided to sit down and map out the mission, vision, and purpose for our marriage and our family. Knowing that life can seem like a series of course corrections, we wanted to make sure that at least we were both heading for the same destination and that we were clear on how we expected to reach it. Using our 30th wedding anniversary as an initial milestone, we prayerfully wrote out our family mission statement; a picture of what we desired our family to be like 21 years into the future.
The legacy that Kathy and I hope to leave behind is our family mission -- not on paper, as I will share it, but a living testimony in the lives of our children. The true measure of our success as a family, will be in whether they choose to pass on this legacy in the lives of their children and if their children in turn, choose to do the same.
With a clear picture of our successful outcome in mind, we worked backward to the present and translated our family vision into measurable outcomes in specific areas of our life, and we committed to work towards each of these. From this family mission statement, I have developed my personal and business vision. When faced with difficult decisions, I have found great clarity in reviewing these. I wish I had had the maturity to have done something like this when I was much younger.
Having a clear sense of direction has given Kathy and me a clarity and unity in decision-making that we would not otherwise have had. It has influenced our decisions about everything -- where we live, our career choices, (even including which clients to serve), and how we play. We review it aloud regularly, and we now include our children in the process.
How will we do living out our family mission statement? Certainly better than we would do without one. Check back on this site in 15 or 20 years.
P.S. I would like to encourage you to develop your own family mission statement and to reflect upon it regularly. It will change your life. If you would like to see ours, you are welcome to view it here or on our family web site.