Start with the end in mind

This story begins on a humble Saturday. The ultimate Saturday for me usually includes nowhere in particular to go, a coffee, and a stroll through op shops or garage sales. 

We’d made our coffee at home, Vietnamese drip filter because… yum and with that in hand we piled the family into the car and ventured out to a garage sale.

For some reason Garage Sales (and Op Shopping for that matter) make me feel rich. After carting one or two items around for five minutes the want wanes and I realise there isn’t really need for another oversized salad bowl or an interesting lamp. The items are then returned to their spots and I leave feeling fulfilled and wanting for nothing.

Of course on many occasion, i’m convinced there is need for another ‘salad bowl.’ It may appear in the form of a retro shirt, old board game or overpriced toy. But even overpriced it will only set us back some loose change.

As we drove home on this particular trip, I was relishing in my latest find. A two-dollar book by Steven Covey.  ‘The Seven Habits of Highly effective people’ had profoundly impacted my life and leadership a few years earlier and today I’d stumbled across another of his books; The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families.’

As as I flicked through the pages, my fingers stopped on the habit ‘Begin with the end in mind.’ I knew the habit well in terms of leadership and setting goals for projects but the idea of having a vision for our family wasn’t anything I’d intentionally thought about before.

Never one to back down from a challenge or opportunity to set a goal I questioned Joe.

“Do we have a vision for our family? What do we want to do? Where do we want to end up?”

We didn’t. When do you even decide that kind of thing? Do people actually have visions for their families? Surely a family is different from a business.

As I allowed my mind to drift a memory of some family friends whom we love dearly floated into my consciousness. Above their table in the dining room hung their family vision framed for all to see. I’d read it a few years earlier and along with being impressed at the end goal I couldn’t help but feel a little claustrophobic at the idea of a set plan for everyone in the family to grow into. What is it about goals that make you feel inspired and stuck all in the same moment? Something about putting a vision in writing makes it seem so final. Like there is no space for life to happen and nature to take its course.

Having children caused me to rethink the whole idea of goal setting. My ‘do goals’ had been replaced by ‘who goals.’ Goals about who I was becoming as opposed to a list of things I wanted to achieve.

My thoughts settled back into the present moment.

What was the end goal for our family?

Who do we want our family to become? In ten years, in twenty years and what were we doing now to achieve this?

Our conversation turned to discussing family values. Essentially these were a mix of values that flowed out of our marriage and ministry—values we’d adopted unknowingly in the short years we’d been fumbling parents—values we had admired in other families who’d inspired us.

The first one was simple.

Friends. We wanted our family to be friends.

When we pictured out family in the future we saw a group of people who loved hanging out together. They laughed together, looking forward to spending time together, took holidays together because they wanted to, engaged in real talk (the big issues not holding back), and enjoy each other’s company.

Our first pastors were the epitome of a family who embodied this value. We’d been fortunate enough to watch it unfold over many years and my heart smiled when I imagined creating this for our own family.

Then came the confronting part. As a stay at home mum to an eighteen-month-old and two and a half year old I questioned myself.

Was I being a good friend to them currently? When I washed dishes and listened to endless podcasts in an attempt to feel like I was having an adult conversation? Would I entertain my own friends this way? “Come on in, sit down, make yourself at home while I ignore you and do my own thing.”

I thought about our walks. Me with my headphones in, my two girls in the double pram eating crackers. Not exactly friends hanging out.

This would take some humility and discipline on my part. What kind of activities would the friend of a two-year-old engage in? What would rock their world?

For the next six months, because if I’m honest that’s how long it took me to get it, my goal was to watch an episode of Dora with the girls. They loved it. For me, when they were on the couch and happy that was prime time for getting stuff done. But not with the end in mind. I had to remind myself that doing something with them that they loved created a sense of friends doing things together. Surely as they grew up Dora would be replaced by something I actually enjoyed. And it was. Paw Patrol was somewhat enjoyable and Bluey was actually funny.

On our walks, headphones were removed and made way for staggered conversation. Each time creating pathways I knew we’d revisit over a lifetime. We were creating habits, flow, practising the art of communication now before it was too late.

And we played games and cooked. The photos make it all look lovely. Looking back I suppose it is. But mostly it’s unseen. It’s messy, time-consuming and perfect conditions for parental patience to grow.

For the moment this is where this little story ends. It’s a memory that emerged as I’ve begun penning a new book for me. This is one that’s ended up on the cutting room floor. It feels fitting to post though.

It would do us all good to stop and consider what we are building for the future. Who do we want to become as a couple or family? What are we doing now that is creating the blueprint on which to build that on?

Would love to hear your thoughts

Be blessed,

Carly Riordan


Carly Riordan

Carly is a writer living on the Gold Coast, Australia with her husband Joe and their two girls: Beni and Selah. She is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ, a lover of His Church, His people, His Word and life in general. Daughter Wait! is the first of many books she hopes to write. 

Her first book Daughter Wait! is an engaging conversation on dating and relationships as well as a memoir where she shares her heartbreaking experience of unplanned pregnancy, abortion and the road to restoration.

Daughter Wait Book

Daughter Wait! is an invitation to consider a different approach to dating and relationships. If you have ever wondered:

How do I have a Godly relationship?
How do I know if he is the one?
What are realistic boundaries in a Christian relationship?
How do I move on from a broken heart?

Then this book is for you.

Written in Carly’s unique conversational style, you’ll cry, laugh and cheer as you follow her story of love and loss. Daughter Wait is a timeless reminder that regardless of your past, God has the best for your future



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