Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our First-ever Planning Weekend

It all began with an innocent conversation.  I told the Big Dog about Phyllis Sather and her Purposeful Planning resources.  He was intrigued.  You know how it is with husbands, sometimes you tell them something and they say, "Oh that's nice honey."  Well, this wasn't one of those times.  He was really interested in the idea of taking some time to plan out the year and talk about important matters.

That was a few months ago.  Then, in January, we got a postcard from a hotel in Lancaster County that was running a special.  We could stay for nearly half their regular price.  We have stayed at this hotel many times in the past.  There are two indoor pools and a jacuzzi, which we all enjoy. So we started to talk about when we could take advantage of this great deal.

And then the light-bulb went off!  We could take advantage of a little winter getaway AND do some planning.  I pitched my idea to the Big Dog and he loved it.  We determined the best weekend to get away and made arrangements for the animals.  Then I got to work.  I read  Phyllis Sather's Purposeful Planning e-book.  This was easy to read.  As a matter of fact, I got through the entire text the first time when the boys were working on their lessons at the kitchen table.  I would read some, do some instructing, then read some more.  

After reading the e-book I had an idea of how to work through our weekend.  So I went back through the e-book and made a list of all the subjects that she suggested and added a few of my own.  Under each subject, I listed all the different sub-headings that would fall under these subjects.  For instance under the heading of Celebrations I listed Birthdays, Lent, Valentines, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Anniversary, Advent, and Christmas.  

So, armed with my notebook of subjects to discuss, the four of us headed out to a weekend away!  We began our planning process at the restaurant we stopped at on our way to the hotel.  We began by going through everything we did as a family in 2011.  When we finished our list it was 4 pages long!  We went back through that list and put a star beside all the things we wanted to repeat.  This was a great exercise because we saw, first, everything we accomplished, and second, we began a list of plans for the new year.

Our weekend continued after that covering many subjects from the Big Dog & my relationship, the boys and their goals, homeschooling, church involvement, and home repairs.  We talked about lots of other subjects too.  If you'd like to see a complete list of the subjects we discussed, just leave a comment.

Over this weekend, we discussed things that we never discuss.  Quite often life just happens.  We haven't planned for it or given any thought to what's happening, and yet it happens.  But we came home from our planning retreat armed with a plan.  Now, we all know that life is going to happen and it won't be on our plan, but those things we are able to plan have been put on paper.  

And even though it's only been a few weeks since our planning weekend, I see how we are being more intentional.  The Big Dog has already tackled a few home repairs.  We found a place the four of us could swim over the winter months (T-Bone's request).  I've begun to work toward a couple goals for me.  And we have an excellent plan to study the Civil War over the summer using books, games, and videos.  (this was totally from an idea in Phyllis' book.)  There's much more too, but I can't list it all here.  Suffice it to say that this will be an annual tradition for the four of us.

And things came up that I never would have guessed.  For instance, our T-Bone asked me not to work on weekends.  I had no idea that he was even concerned with my work schedule.  The boys talked about their relationships to us and what they see happening with us.  We had time to listen and talk about things that don't always get time in our harried lives.

Please consider a planning weekend for your family.  It is never too late to plan 2012.  Just begin now!  Check out Phyllis' resources.  There's an audio if you don't want to read the e-book, and she even has a workbook-type e-book that will give you all the headings they use for planning their year.  All the Purposeful Planning Resources are really useful and well-priced.  You can do your planning weekend at home if you can't afford a weekend away.  I am so pleased with the change of focus that came from planning our year together.  You will find us in early January, or possibly even December, away for the weekend with a note on the door that says, "Gone Planning!"  Won't you join us?

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