Category Archives: worklife balance

Create a Family Vision – Strengthen your Family Unit

This is a guest post by Jesse Lynn Stoner

Today’s children live in a world where stress and pressure comes at them from countless sources – from peers, teachers, and coaches to the media that paints a picture of unattainable perfection, parents who want the best but sometimes push too hard, and a world that that can seem painfully harsh.

In their own homes, children can watch a war in another country in real-time. And it is difficult to tell the difference between what is real and the simulated violence in movies and electronic games.

Statistics in the United States are alarming. According to SADD, nearly three quarters of students (72%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, and more than a third (37%) have done so by eighth grade. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teenage marijuana and other drug use is on the rise for the first time in ten years. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, over 40% of all teenagers with Internet access report being bullied online.

How can we protect our children?

Clearly there are no easy answers. However, parents are not helpless in the face of these challenges.  There are some things you can do to create a strong foundation for your children as they experience the pressures of their world.

One of the best places to start is to create a family vision.

Athletes and great leaders understand the power of vision. Vision means knowing who you are, where you’re going, and what will guide your journey. Families can also harness the power of vision.

Business executive Jack Bates and his wife created a family vision with their daughters when they were 7 and 9 years old.

They sat at the kitchen table with the girls. They each talked about what the family meant to them, what they wanted it to be and what they needed from each other. They then wrote a family vision, which they taped to the refrigerator.

Over the years, they used the vision to make decisions and to explain actions. As a family they revisited the vision regularly, updating it as the girls got older.  According to Jack,

If you read our family vision, it might not sound like much to you, but it means very real things to each of us because we discussed it at length before we wrote. We remember the meaning behind the words.  It provided guidance when I had to make tough decisions.  And it helped the children understand the reason for these decisions. We used the vision to help determine specific household chores, allowance, and privileges. When our older daughter was in high school, she used our vision to help me see that I was lecturing her too much and not listening enough.  The vision helped our younger daughter once in a very tough situation to resist peer pressure and make a good decision.

How can a vision equip your children face the demands, stress and challenges of today’s world?

Vision provides children with a strong foundation.  It helps them know who they are.  It gives them a base to test their decisions against.

Having a vision is not just a picture of the destination.  It also means having clear values that guide your journey.  When someone is off-base, your vision can be used to hold each other accountable (both children and parents) and to get back on track.

Use these guidelines to create and live your family vision.

Create the vision together.  Listen to each other’s hopes and dreams.  Create shared pictures of what it would look like if you were living your purpose and values consistently.  Talk until everyone has agreed and is committed to the vision.

  1. Maintain the vision.  As a parent, hold yourself, your spouse and your children accountable to the vision.  If it looks like someone has behaved inconsistently with the vision, it is time to sit down and discuss what happened in terms of the vision.  Set household rules and limits that are consistent with the vision.
  2. Model the vision.  The adults in the house must act as role models that demonstrate the behaviors consistent with the vision.
  3. When you encounter tough times, revisit the vision.  The vision provides a great frame of reference to have discussions without blame or finger pointing.  It allows you to focus on what you need to do, rather than making people defensive.

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Are You Past-Oriented or Future-Oriented?

How do you spend your time?  And do you reminisce about the past, or plan for the future?

Our children have a unique perspective and way of thinking that has been immensely influenced by technology.  Consider thinking patterns of yourself and others with the following animation video:

Are you Past-Oriented or Future-Oriented?

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The Scale of Things

When you think your problems are overwhelming, consider the range of huge and microscopic in this interactive website:

The Scale of Things [click here]

We all worry about where we are going, how we are doing.  Take a breath, click on the above link and just imagine the incredible power of the universe and where we relate.

…. a little different perspective, always makes me settle my mind and consider that things are not so bad in my little world!

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Finding Twitterbalance – how much is too much?

Twelve months ago, I decided it was time to learn about SocialMedia.  Knowing nothing about blogging or Twitter, I just “jumped in” and set out to experience Social Media for myself.

The first few months were like language immersion – after setting up an initial blog with articles published at least weekly, I found myself spending three or four additional hours each evening (and even more time on weekends) combing Twitter streams and tweeting everything that interested me.  There was so much to think about, it was like drinking from a firehose!

The  good news?  I wrote lots of blogs (87 of them last year) and became fairly efficient at getting blogs from draft to completion.

The bad news?   I was using twitter constantly to drive traffic to my blog – this required hours of tweeting and became a prime focus of my downtime.

Learnings?  I tried a couple of “automated” tweeting services, landed on Hootsuite to pre-load tweets of my blog round the clock at reasonable intervals.  That process still had to be supplemented, however, with logging onto twitter and engaging with folks that I followed or who followed me in order to stay current on issues.

Biggest Lesson:  Somewhere along the way, my time commitments for work, family and the blog have come into conflict and there is only so much “me” to go around.

So I am going to hang up my keyboard for a few weeks and take time with family and other personal priorities.  

I have so enjoyed my new friends out in cyberspace (you know who you are!) — I will occasionally have a peek at the twitterverse to see how folks are doing, but I hope you’ll wish me well in my quest for TwitterBalance.

ciao for niao,


5 Ways to Re-energize and Refocus When You Feel Adrift

So the Fall routine has set in, leaves are turning yellow and drifting off the trees in my backyard, and I feel like I haven’t quite settled into an optimum routine….  somehow, I should have accomplished more, I should feel more “energy” in my day-to-day doings.  How do I get myself re-energized and refocused?

1)  Identify the gap(s) that cause the “adrift” feeling, where you are not focused or moving toward a goal.  

– which areas trigger the most angst and worry?  family, work, personal health, education/learning, spiritual, recreation, financial, future/retirement

– list three things that you can control for each gap areas.  For example, for your financial situation:

“I can meet with my banker or trusted financial person to review my debts and decide the best repayment strategy”

“I can stop using my credit cards.”   or “I can reduce my vacation to a “staycation” this year.

“I can save $___ per pay cheque towards a family emergency fund/holiday/Johnny’s braces

2)  Prioritize the actions you can take into daily, weekly, monthly

3)  Create positive reminders of the daily actions – use a “to do” list from a journal or off the internet.  Place a sticky note or small reminder card noting the top one or two actions in your bathroom mirror or on your refrigerator

4)  Create “automatic tasks” or “accountability meetings” to monitor your weekly or monthly action items.  For example, set up pre-authorized payments if you have trouble remembering to pay your bills.  Make a commitment to have a special coffee/tea/hot chocolate date every Thursday with a family member as a ritual for touching base regularly. Find a workout buddy that will hold you accountable to show up for walks or the gym.

5)  Set reminders in your calendar (electronic calendars work great!) to review the weekly and monthly actions

6)  Give yourself a small reward if you manage to meet your goals for a few days/weeks (this doesn’t mean go on  a shopping binge if you are trying to swear off credit cards!).  Find a friend or family member that you can keep updated on your progress.

Enjoy your successes, and remind yourself that each small success contributes toward accumulated larger success in the long run.

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