We facilitated a life/work planning session this year for six CEO members of Entrepreneurs’ Organization. During the session, a great question came up about how a person might involve their kids in their life plan.
We think there’s a wonderful opportunity to invite your children to review your Intentional Life Plan timeline. As one participant mentioned, it might help them to visualize their own life ahead, and to understand when major changes might be happening with their family, particularly as a sibling graduates from high school and goes off to college or vocational training.
Another participant mentioned how kids want rules and boundaries, and they instinctually understand they don’t know enough. Talking with them about your life plan and philosophy can engage them in what’s ahead for them. It might provoke a good discussion and inspire them to plan for their transition into adulthood.
“It could be a way for them to understand what’s happening to them versus giving them space for that, so they can prepare,” said one participant. “It really surprised me that when [my kids’] siblings went to college, they weren’t prepared. If they could see that change ahead, it would really help.”
Kids could have their own Intentional Life Plan timeline or interact with yours, suggested one participant. “For them to see your big thinking and plans, follow-through and accountability could be helpful for everyone,” they said. “Play with the structure and flexibility. There are a range of ideas.”
You may want to consider where you hang your Intentional Life Plan timeline so your kids can interact with it. Do you want them to see it? If so, it may need to be hung lower. Do you want them to add their own life goals for the coming year or next few years? Maybe they get their own sticky note color? You’ll want to think about explaining your process in developing your plan. They may eventually want their own timeline in their room. As our workshop co-facilitator Mel Lee advises, see this as a long-term process: “This may evolve over time and could be you, the parent, being a coach.”
Another workshop alumna said she had not yet included her daughters in her life plan, but thinks it would be great to do so. “One of our daughters is going to be a senior and is touring schools, and the other is starting to think about college and plans also,” she said. “My concern is that kids this age already feel a lot of pressure … so I don’t want them to feel pressure around the [life planning] process,” she writes. “I would like for them to make it more fun and exciting, and to do more visual things with them like a dream board. So that would be the route I take with them, letting them know as they get older it can become more concrete and starting to incorporate financials and things.”
Obviously, life’s finite nature may (and should) be a discussion point as you share with your kids the importance of having a plan. This can be a sensitive topic, so be prepared for it!
But making the most of life is a powerful thing. Our friends Lisa and Anthony visited us this month and shared how important it is for them to see their life plan timeline every day. “It puts it out there, and you see things you wouldn’t notice before,” they said. “It’s empowering. Having it out there hanging in your home is sort of a motivation, then someone else walks by and says, ‘Oh you guys are doing that this year.’”
Your kids will see it, too, and can contribute or inspire you further.
Let us know how your kids have responded to your life plan and how they’re involved. Let’s have a discussion here on Facebook.com/WriteOpenAct.
–Melinda & Lee