Focus of the Month

December 1, 2010

This was originally posted on February 5, 2010,
revised as a reintroduction to Focus of the Month.

Our family started this journey about a decade ago and because it was something we were just casually learning about, applying the bits of knowledge seemed to just happen in its own time. But being the me that I am, and now this being what I am most passionate about, I’ve managed to overwhelm myself with all the many things I’ve learned about how to be simple, frugal, and green. Huh? Leave it to me to make simplicity complicated!

© Alexander Ivanov

For the last several months (in 2009), I’ve been voraciously consuming information from books, magazines, the internet, and the blogosphere. There is so much literature available and so much to learn, so I immersed myself in it. Yes, in the beginning, my approach was extremely extreme, and I had a notebook full of notes on all the whys and ways of what I wanted to implement. But that was then and this is now. This year, instead of trying to “do it all and do it all now”, our family will have a Focus of the Month.

Each month we will focus on one thing and one thing only. Each month will build on the last until we not only get back to where we once were, but are steadily moving towards our larger long-term goals. We will track our progress and reward ourselves if we meet our goal, as a family. Our homeschooling unit study will also be centered around that focus.

What is a Focus of the Month?

1. It is a specific category derived from our family mission statement. Our family mission statement makes our vision for our family concrete. It also helps to ensure that we focus on what’s important to us, and that we keep the bigger picture in mind.

2. It is the most important and pressing matter at the time. Let’s face it, life happens, and its happening all the time. Sometimes an unexpected event becomes the most important thing and the thing that needs the most attention, with or without our permission.

3. It is our version of setting SMART goals. (SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely; not sure of the acronym’s origination.) Up until now, I haven’t been a very good example for my children when it comes to this. Quite the contrary.

Why have a Focus of the Month?

1. It will help our children feel successful. Small successes are successes nonetheless, and success breeds more success. I hope that the self-confidence they gain through this experience will grow exponentially as time goes on. My hope is that they will learn invaluable skills that they will apply long after they’ve left our home.

2. We will all be working on one specific area of importance, together, as a family. I believe that, in itself, makes it more attainable and realistic.

© Woo Bing Siew

3. It will strengthen our familial bonds. We’re all in this together. As we support & encourage each other to meet our goal, we’ll be reinforcing the philosophy that there is nothing we can’t do, especially when we have each other.

How do we execute a Focus of the Month?

1. We have a family meeting. We’ve all gotta be on the same page. I proposed having a Focus of the Month in lieu of what we had been doing up to that point. They loved the idea because it was simple and reasonable, so we continued to brainstorm on the whats and hows of it all, and how we would reward ourselves at the end of the month.

2. We put it in writing. We have our Focus of the Month posted in a place where we can all access it & see it multiple times a day, a main traffic area. Beside it is our Track & Reward chart that we all use to track our progress and remind us of the reward ahead. You can use stickers, stamps, or whatever you like! Personally, no matter how old I get, I still love getting gold stars!

3. We set ourselves up for success. We need to create the environment needed, make or borrow or purchase whatever tools might be necessary, and do a little planning. Nothing will sabotage our efforts more than not having what we need easily accessible and/or having saboteurs around to test our will power!

So there you have it! Stay tuned for our December 2010 Focus of the Month…

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