On starting the New Year right.

December 31, 2014

Image by Nicole Pierce via Flickr
It was five years ago that I invited my dear hubby on a date.  

To his slight dismay at the time, our date included dinner followed by coffee at a coffee shop and a "State-of-the-Household" meeting. 

Yep, it's as bad as it sounds. I took my sweetheart out for coffee and a year-end review of our family's progress, just like the yearly speeches given by the President, the Governor, and the Mayor.

I can hear my friends pausing over their morning cup of coffee just now to roll their eyes at my incredible level of nerdery.  Hang with me and my nerdy thoughts for just a moment.

With two tiny kids at home, we were coasting on no sleep, busy jobs, and just trying to keep the wheels on the proverbial bus - with no thought to actually trying to hold the steering wheel, much less steer.

No business survives for long using that model - or lack thereof.  And, whether you like it or not, your family and household is a small business. In fact, it is the most important small business you will ever be tasked with running. How you run your family's business impacts  your life, your spouse's life, and the lives of your children.

How you run your family's business plays a role in how you impact the world around you. 

And although finances are a part of running any household, I believe that pausing once a year to reflect upon and plan for how you invest the resources of your time and talents is just as important (or more!) as any financial planning.
When I sat down across the bistro table at the coffee shop with my husband those five years ago, I was in the midst of an identity crisis. We were surviving, but we were not thriving. We were adrift, floating through life without a set course, without a specific mission, without goals.

Sure, we had vague ideas about where we wanted to end up, but we didn't have mile markers or even a way to determine whether we were still on the path toward our goals.

We lacked intentionality.  And I hated it.

And while I'm not silly enough to think that our best laid plans won't get disrupted  and set aside by events beyond our control, being intentional about the overarching goals in our life helps us weather the unexpected while staying true to our mission, our calling, our purpose.

I'm not a fan of New Year's Resolutions. But I've become a firm believer in our annual State-of-the-Household meeting. My husband and I have navigated two job changes, a church launch, increased volunteer roles for both of us, and countless decisions for our kids these past few years.  And while each of those changes felt big and scary at the time, the focus and intentionality we start the year with has helped  measure our decisions when we looked at how those decisions impacted our family's goals.

While you can set up your annual meeting in any way that makes sense for your family, the business model for Fisk, Inc. (the name I just coined for my family's business!) focuses on the following:

1. Net Worth snapshot.  I created an simple spreadsheet that tallies every major asset and every debt as of December 31st of every year.  It is just a snapshot of one moment in time, but it let's us know whether Fisk, Inc. is moving forward or backward in the finances department.

2. Time Commitments. We keep a list of all the ways we volunteer and then reevaluate those commitments every year.  As we take on new roles, we let go of something else. We've learned to take a hard look at where we spend our time, because this is the area we tend to overextend ourselves. 

3. Kids. We try to look ahead 12 months for our kids. What activities are we going to juggle?  Are there areas we anticipate that they might need extra help? What intentional things are we going to do as a family in the next 12 months? 

4. Capital Expenditures. What major predictable expenses might be coming our way in the next 12 months?  If possible, we try to stagger those projects according to our schedules and cash rather than waiting until the 2am in mid-December realization that the furnace has finally gasped its last breath.

5. Personal Goals. My husband and I each have dreams and interests and hobbies, and we want to encourage, grow and keep those interests alive, despite being caught up in the midst of parenting youngish kids.   

While each of these five areas is very practical and perhaps even simplistic, the common thread weaving its way through each areas is our unifying force and  is our family motto.  

Our motto is found in scripture, succinctly summarized as: Love God, Love Others.  And while we sometimes fall short of this aspiration, these four words provide us an overarching framework against which we measure every major decision.

Our state-of-the-household meeting is, for us, the perfect blend of planning and flexibility.  It helps us live intentionally while allowing us to respond to the unexpected without feeling like our plans have been thrown off. 

How about you?  Do you have any suggestions for reflecting on the year just passed or planning for the year just ahead?

 Today we are once again linking up with the lovely Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heart and Kelly Balarie for the cheerleading link up.

1 comment

  1. That is such a great way to end the year and launch a new one! Yep, fellow nerd here :)
    Being intentional with our precious families is so important. You go, girl!