[NOTE: This is an article that I recently wrote as a guest post for The Bold Life. In case you didn’t see it there, I thought I’d post it here, too. Enjoy! :-)]
Since you are reading this article, you are probably someone who wants to bring positive change to your family lifestyle.
There are many strategies and methods that you can use to achieve this, of course.
But, what if you have a family, and you want to improve the quality of your entire family’s lifestyle? How do you go about following your personal dreams when you have to talk a bunch of other people into doing it with you?
Do you just have to wait until the kids are grown? Does your partner get to decide whether your dreams will come true?
Living Your Dreams When You Have a Life
This is a huge challenge for any of us who aren’t single. Does having a family determine whether you get to live out your dreams? Is there any way to incorporate your family into your burning desire to reach your dreams?
A lot of people say that you chose to put off your personal dreams when you decided to start a family. Or even when you decided to get married. These folks say that families are all about compromise and sacrifice.
I respectfully disagree.
There is a way to live your dreams and bring your family along with you. But it requires that you look into yourself and develop a skill that you may not realize you already have.
You need to accept yourself as a family lifestyle leader.
Bold Family Lifestyle Leadership
Family lifestyle leadership means taking the initiative and setting your family’s long-term agenda and direction along the lines of your dreams. In most relationships, one partner will be the dreamer, and the other the natural follower. Even if your partner is a Type-A leader in other areas of his or her life, I’ll bet when it comes to family lifestyle leadership they haven’t a clue. They’ll appreciate your leadership initiative in an area they neglect.
When Both of You Want to Lead
If, however, your partner also wants to be a lifestyle leader, but he or she is taking you away from the type of lifestyle you dream of, then it’s time for a conversation. And it’s time to get creative.
I’m not a big believer in compromise. Instead, I strive for what I call composite solutions. This means I try to create a new vision that incorporates the most important aspects of both your and your partner’s dreams. To me, compromise usually involves one side (the stronger negotiator) getting what they want, while the other side settles for something less than satisfying. And it assumes that your differing lifestyle visions are incompatible, which they may not be.
There is no guarantee that this approach will work for you, of course. And if you are dealing with a particularly obstinate or change-resistant partner, you may just have to figure out whether pursuing your dreams or staying in the relationship is the greater priority for you.
Is it Selfish to Be a Family Lifestyle Leader?
It can be. It’s all in your approach. Some might say that being a family lifestyle leader really means imposing your dreams onto the rest of your family. But in my experience most families are adrift. These families are hungry for someone to take the reins of their family’s lifestyle direction.It’s quite possible that your family is hungry for you to take charge and spice up their boring family life.
Getting Your Gang On Board
Obviously, you shouldn’t just fly off and make all kinds of plans for your family without consulting them. And even if you do, they probably won’t cooperate once it’s time to do things with you. In fact, if your dreams require a substantial adjustment in the way your family lives day-to-day, you will have to have everone on board (or at least cooperative) before you do anything.
Talk about it. These are your dreams, after all. No one is better capable of painting a picture for your family of a new and exciting lifestyle than you are. Even if you are normally meek and tongue-tied, when talking about what really matters to you, you will find your voice.
Don’t be pushy or impatient. People don’t like new things to be shoved down their throats. Make them think it’s their idea. Get them involved in different aspects of planning. Introduce your family to other families who are already following this new lifestyle. Seeing what could be can be a real eye opener for many people.
You Have to Decide the Best Approach for Your Family
Every family is unique. And every set of relationships within that family creates its own dynamic. So only you are capable of determining the best approach for your family.
The key here is that you are setting the pace, and the agenda. If you are not prepared to boldly lobby and lead the effort to bring your family along in pursuit of your dream lifestyle, it’s just not going to happen.
Nothing’s Gonna Happen Until You Take Action
This is where the boldness comes in. The first step towards the life and lifestyle of your dreams is to take ownership of that dream, and accept that nothing is going to happen until you choose to boldly lead your family in the right direction. Then you have to start taking action. One small step at a time, carefully measuring your family’s reaction and concerns, is usually the best way to approach these things.
If you aren’t prepared to take the lead, and to take the lion’s share of the burden of incorporating your family into your dreams, then you might as well forget about those dreams.
You are the only one who can make this happen. So start today by taking action to bring your family along on your new dream lifestyle adventure!
All the best,