Life by Design

Setting family goals is pretty much the same as setting business goals. But you have to know what you really, really, want before you dive in, says Fiona Blayney

I SPENT A significant portion of my time over the weekend doing one of my favourite things: packing bags for our upcoming family holiday. Now don’t get me wrong; I am not so sadistic that I rate the physical act of packing exhilarating (although I must admit after being on the road for 15 years I do get a kick out of my self-imposed competition of ‘how little can I pack’). The reason why this is one of my favourite things is the anticipation of what is to come – our family getaway. The packing becomes a metaphor for the adventure that is about to occur, the fun, the memories, the relaxation, the learning, the development of our relationships as individuals, pairs, trios and an awesome foursome. The kids are equally excited, and together we are all counting the sleeps.

As I drove to work today, with a load of things to get through in half the normal allocated hours (we all do it), I decided to channel the excitement for the gift I’ll receive at the end of this week, rather than the burden to get everything done. I instantly felt lighter, and nothing seemed too difficult. The gift I speak of is not simply the holiday; it’s a gift that we give ourselves regularly, a gift that is more than the ticking of a box on our annual life planner. The gift is the incredible satisfaction that comes with creating the life that we desire.

You’d be forgiven for having a mental image of my husband sitting at our family dining table, being subjected to a keynote and powerpoint presentation.

You’d be forgiven for having a mental image of my husband sitting at our family dining table, being subjected to a keynote and powerpoint presentation, when I tell you that each year we sit down and plan out our desires and goals for the forthcoming year. Breathe easy: there is no powerpoint. However, there is some formality; achieving what you want, in business and in pleasure, does not come without a goal and a plan to get there. We divide our lives into eight core areas, identify what we want to achieve in each one, balance them individually and as a family, and then set about working out how we can make it happen.

Relationships, Health, Financial, Fun, Giving, Learning, Travel and Career all feature in our discussion, and whilst initially it’s a solo process we know it’s no coincidence that working together as a team brings us more ‘luck’.

The first time we embarked on this together it was a challenge. Sure, there were things we instantly agreed upon, but it became clear that compromise wasn’t exactly going to be easy, nor perhaps effective overall. Our goal sheets start off resembling enough to fill two years rather than one, and knowing ‘we won’t be able to have it all at the same time’ we undertook a ‘goals play-off’. (Cue music: “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want”.)

As funny as it sounds, Professor Ginger Spice was quite simply right; we have to work out what we really, really want. Arriving at the answer is a little more strategic than paper, scissors, rock. We quite literally ‘play off’ one goal against the other, to get them into an order of importance for the year ahead.

At my dining table each year we can find ourselves surprised by what makes it to the top of the list. More often than not, it’s not what we had originally anticipated. That’s the great thing about designing your life. You may just surprise yourself with what’s really important, but once you work it out, get ready for the best gift you’ll ever receive. Your Life by Design.

PS: Business by design has the same principles; just replace the eight core life segments with Finances, Growth, Reporting, Culture, Training, Systems, Technology and Marketing, and you’re ready to get creating.

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Fiona Blayney

Fiona Blayney is the founder and director of Real+, an industry first Property Management learning platform. For more info visit realplusonline.com.au.