“Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.” This is rule 7 in Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life”. It is a strong recommendation to build your life on principles instead of just doing what is easy for the moment. There are two general ways to go through life; directionally, or directionless. We can either punch a destination into the GPS, or just see where the road takes us. Henry David Thorough is quoted “In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.” I agree. If you aim your life at nothing, you will find it.
When it comes to family life, living out our values and raising children intentionally is one of the hardest but most important of tasks. What makes it harder is the fierce competition for the minds and hearts of our children. Mass media and the popular culture will teach your kids its’ values if you are not intentionally guiding your children in some other direction. I encourage you to strive and commit to being as intentional as possible in teaching your children the values and priorities that you wish for them. It’s hard, and it will ultimately mean that you need to live them out in your own life. We all know that “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work! Word art that espouse “Live, Laugh, Love” and the like can be found in almost any family home. How much do we live out what we like to see? Where we spend our time and money is a good indication of what is important to us. Its very important, as parents, to understand that our habits and behaviors are teaching our children what is important and valuable to us.
Being a family on purpose takes time and a clear idea of the values, views and habits that you want your family to live by. How well are you creating a value-driven family life? In Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective Families”, he suggests that you start by identifying the values that are most important to you. Covey explains values as “the worth or priority we place on people, things, ideas, or principles.” Is it hard work, integrity, kindness, fitness, faith, and being loyal? What values did your grandparents and parents try to instill in you? What values would you like to see change and carry on to the future?
After getting clarification about the principles and values for your family, its important to identify what influence you have in order to be as proactive as possible in making your family life on purpose. How much control do you have over what you and your kids do with your time and money? Is what you spend your time doing match with what is truly important to you? When the way you spend your time and money matches with your priorities, you are living on purpose.
What are the routines, habits and rituals of regular family life that show what you want to live for? There are certainly urgent matters that can squeeze out what is more important. Spending time at work in order to provide will trump spending time building a bird house with your daughter. It can’t be avoided. But, how often is it the case that the golf game is chosen over doing that project your child has been waiting to join you in doing? Maybe you’ve lost touch with what is important. The best time to correct that is now.