Can you imagine a Fortune 500 CEO walking into the annual meeting and delivering the company’s mission and strategy for the company’s growth and success without a PLAN in hand?  Absolutely not!  Why?  The company would fail and the chief executive would be fired because he/she didn’t deliver passionate leadership, clear direction, and an agreed upon purpose.

So how come so many people do not have a PLAN either for themselves or for their most important people – the members of their family?  I have met with countless families in my consulting office most of whom arrived without a plan and going in opposite directions.  When we finished our work together, they left with a plan.  I believe that in order to build a healthy, well-functioning family we need a leader who demonstrates passion, commitment and direction.  Someone has to stand-up, step-up and lead the way.

We are going to start creating a family plan; but, we are not going to start with family members, but rather with ourselves.  You’re the person reading the column so you must be interested in doing the best for your family.  Let’s develop a plan for you…goals and objectives just for one week…things that you want to accomplish so that you feel healthy, well-functioning, capable of taking care of your own needs and, perhaps, help someone else whom you consider family.  Alert!  If you are not taking good care of yourself, you will not be able to help others.  Remember, how on airplanes, they announce, “first, put on your own face mask before trying to help the child next to you?”

Every plan for well-being must include a commitment to spend quality time with the significant others in our life.  Now face to face time is much better than telephone, text or email.  Some of each is OK, but the more person to person, face to face – the better.  Quality time means sharing something personal that will connect you to them, not just conversation, rather expressing something deeper.   They may not be ready for this; you should start slowly, they may have to follow your example.  Start with someone with whom you feel you can be successful.  If you have a partner, it would be great to start there because the stronger the relationship is between the partners, the better will be the family harmony.  It sets a good model for the others.

For this week, I would like you to choose two people, one adult and the other a child.  I would like you to set a goal of spending quality time with each of them twice during the week. That means a conscious, about a 15 minute get-together, where you are sharing time with the other person.  It is totally you taking the lead; it’s your idea.  It could be coffee with a good friend where you share more than you normally do; you could re-invent a bedtime practice where you say more than “good-night” to a child; you could change an ordinary phone call with an adult child into a closer, more revealing face-time session; you could plan to turn a routine ride with a partner or a child into something meaningful.  If we do not make a conscious effort, it won’t happen.  Too many things work against quality time and meaningful conversations unless you first commit, give your word to do it, make a plan and JUST Do IT!  Do you know how many married couples come to consult with me and say, “we used to have date night, but then we regrettably stopped.”  Most of them took their eye off what was most important:  spending time together without talking about any problems.

I do not have any illusion that this type of work, which I’m calling self-improvement, is easy.  Just the opposite.  I know from my own experiences.  I just look at the condition of families and say, “we need more individuals to step up, to take a positive stand, to lead by example and to treat each other in a kinder more considerate way.  Be the adult in your home who decides to take the first step and begin establishing goals and objectives for yourself that focus first on developing quality time with a loved one.  Demonstrate how by making and keeping promises to make things a little better each day you can improve yourself first, and then, encourage the loved ones around you to join with you.  Let’s talk more about this article in the comments below.

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