Happy and successful families have a vision of where they want to end up as a family. Just as a pilot files a flight plan before leaving the ground, effective families start on their journey through life with a plan about what kind of family they want to be and what they need to do in order to arrive at their chosen destination.
Stephen R. Covey wrote the importance of vision in his book entitled The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families "Habit 2 [Begin with the End in Mind] is based on the principle of vision - and vision is powerful! It's the principle that enables prisoners of war to survive. Research shows it's what gives successful children the drive to succeed. It's a moving power behind successful individuals and organizations in every walk of life. Vision is greater than `baggage' - greater than the negative baggage of the past and even the accumulated baggage of the present. Tapping into this sense of vision gives you the power and the purpose to rise above the baggage and act based on what really matters most" (p 72).
Covey encourages each family to create a "family mission statement," which he describes as "a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about - what it is you really want to do and be - the principles you choose to govern your family life. It's based on the idea that all things are created twice. First comes the idea, or the mental creation; then comes the reality, or the physical creation. It's drafting the blueprint before constructing the building, writing the script before performing the play, creating the flight plan before taking off in the airplane. It's like the carpenter's rule: `Measure twice, cut once.'" (p 73).
The creation of an effective family mission statement involves all family members and cannot be done overnight. Everyone's feelings and ideas must be respectfully considered and understood. When every member of the family is a part of the creation of the family mission statement, all family members will be more supportive in reaching the "end" selected. In family discussions, all ideas should be considered and possibly written down. Write a rough draft and refine it. When it says what the family as a whole desires, use it to stay the right road for your destination.
Covey concluded this chapter of his book with the following quote from Benjamin Franklin, "We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make" (p 105).
The importance of the family working together to reach a desired destination cannot be overstated. When there is no agreement as to what the final destination is, there can be no real progress towards that goal. A common vision is necessary for families to be happy and successful.