A Well-Planned Family Life

Since we launched our 21st Century Family series in November, we've seen a theme emerge that sounds deceptively simple: Be mindful about what you and your family are doing.

Put another way, it means establishing a family life with intent, an underlying purpose to daily life and activities. That mindfulness manifests itself in a variety of ways.

It often means stopping for a moment and taking the time to look at the big picture in order to establish what your family's goals are. Take a break, turn off telephones, beepers, laptops and PDAs, walk away from e-mail, shut down the TV, and evaluate the family's activities and how well they fit with your family philosophy.

Once families have this 30,000-foot-view, they can get down to the details of planning how to implement the goals. You've got to have vision, but you also need a calendar and a to-do list (see our earlier story about family time management in the links above right) to help implement it.

For Lori Queisser of Indianapolis, Ind., who we interviewed for our story about dual-centric workers — those who successfully put emphasis on both home and family — the way to sketch out that big picture is to set out professional and personal goals. Queisser has an impressive resume. She's the mother of three and a vice president and chief compliance officer at Eli Lilly. But she got there by keeping all her goals in mind along the way.

"And one of mine is to be married once," she says.

From that goal flows a logical work-and-home-management style that includes setting boundaries between home and office and articulating those boundaries to her family and her employer. Knowing the importance of family life helped her enormously when she first went to work for Eli Lilly 14 years ago. She learned that her department had mandated Saturday hours. But she explained that, as a young mother, she would be at home on Saturdays with her new baby, not at the office. She came from a results-oriented office culture that didn't care where she did her work as long as she produced the desired result, and she started an open conversation with management about its goals. The results so far look good: She and her husband have been married for 19 years and she's risen steadily through the ranks at Eli Lilly at the same time.

Proactive, Not Reactive

Harold and Kathy Dahl, of Minneapolis, Minn., who we talked to for our story about building more fitness into your family's life, made a healthy lifestyle one of their family's goals. The couple had always been fitness oriented, but as they got older, Harold, who goes by the name Hod, realized that he had begun to let himself go. He and Kathy decided to get him back on track, not just for his own good, but for the good of their two children as well.

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