Now that 2020 is behind us, how can we be more deliberate and intentional with our time as a family? Here are five resolutions you can make to help your family thrive in the new year.
1. Reconfirm family values. We learned a lot about each other and ourselves over the past year as we adjusted to virtual interactions and had challenging conversations about race, politics and the pandemic. Take this as an opportunity to have an open discussion about what values represent the family and/or family business and how you can continue to live these values in 2021. One way to memorialize this conversation is in the form of a mission statement.
2. Celebrate milestones and achievements. Acknowledging successes can motivate family members to stay focused on achieving their goals. What did each family member do well in 2020? How can we celebrate and encourage family in the new year? Whether it is a surprise note in the mail or on the fridge, continue the positive messages throughout the year and celebrate each family member’s unique contributions, large and small.
3. Organize, then communicate, important plans and roles. If you don’t know where your power of attorney, healthcare documents, will and trust are located, or what they say, it will be nearly impossible for family members who you name in important roles to carry out your wishes. Take time to organize your important documents in an electronic file or hard copy folder. Once you are organized, store the information in a secure location and let a few trusted family members and advisors know where the documents are and, more importantly, what the documents say and who is charged with carrying out important roles like trustee or healthcare agent. As long as the documents are in a secure location, don’t get too cute with the name – labeling the file “Important Papers” is helpful and encouraged!
4. Continue meaningful family interactions. All of us spent more time doing something we didn’t expect in 2020; for me, it was spending more time outdoors and going on walks with family, which led to spontaneous check-ins and meaningful conversation. What activities can we take from last year that served us well? If spontaneous interactions are less likely going forward, commit to purposeful checking in. We sometimes forget to ask the most simple question: How are you doing? Or, what can I do to make us closer?
5. Give together. Time and again, research shows that giving back leads to more positive outlooks and outcomes for just about everyone. Volunteering together is a way to continue connecting as a family while also doing good for the broader community. What are the causes that align with the family values and matter most to you? Consider nominating a family member to lead these conversations each year, and then pass the baton to a successor family member over the holidays. Giving together of your time, talent or treasure can be extremely rewarding for your family.
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