Setting and Achieving Goals

by T.W. Winslow

Part of every great relationship is setting common goals, then figuring out a way to work together to accomplish those goals. This gives couples a sense of purpose and direction. It also teaches couples how to work together, making their relationship stronger and more rewarding. 

This takes a great deal of focus, commitment, and compromise, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Actually, this concept is not limited to only relationships, but applies to other aspects of life such as work and career. 
Goals in a relationships may be as simple as deciding upon a vacation and figuring out a way to save for it, or as complex as making a household budget, planning career paths, buying a home, retirement plans, etc.

Whatever the goals are, it's important to clearly identify them (and agree upon them), and make a firm plan of action for obtaining them.

Before getting started, couples must first agree to a few basic ground rules - this applies to all aspects of the relationship, but is paramount in setting and reaching goals. 

Ground Rules: 

1. Respect each others ideas and positions. This doesn't mean we need to always agree, but we must be willing to listen with an open mind. Remember, we don't always have the right answer, nor is there always just one solution to every problem. 

2. Compromise. Think of goal setting as a negotiation. In any negotiation there is always compromise - without it, nothing will ever be accomplished. 

3. Agreement. Never set a goal which you're both not committed to. This defeats the entire purpose. Don't swap one goal for another - agreeing to one of your partner's so they'll agree to one of yours - that's not what this is all about. 

4. The big picture. Never lose sight of the big picture. Remember, the purpose of setting goals is to better your lives and relationship, and to bring you closer together in the process. If someone gets angry or feelings are getting hurt, you need to stop and take a step back. Review the basic ground rules and look at what you're trying to accomplish. Re-focus and start again. 

Setting Goals: 

1. Start by individually making a list of things you want. This can be anything; taking an annual vacation, home improvement projects, buying a house, improving your relationship in some way, moving to a new area, having children, college funds, retirement funds, going from a two income household down to a one income household - stay at home mom or dad, etc. 

2. Sit down together and compare your lists. This might be an eye opening experience. Go through each of your lists together. Remember the basic ground rules you've set - show your partner the same respect and consideration you want them to show you. 

3. Make three different goal categories - Short term, mid-range, and long term goals. From your lists, immediately pick out the things which you both agree upon. Then place these one by one under one of the three goal categories. Buying a house for some may be a short term goal, while for others, this may be more of a mid-range or long term goal. 

4. The remaining goals on your lists should be discussed. See if through compromise you can agree on a few more goals from each of your lists. Then, add these to your mutual list of goals under the appropriate categories. 

5. Plan of action. For each goal, you need to work together to come up with a realistic plan of action - a means by which you'll obtain each specific goal. It is important to be realistic. If you set unrealistic goals or means by which to obtain your goals, this will only cause frustration. As you're figuring out your plan of action, you may have to shift a goal from one category to another - a short term goal may need to be moved into the mid-range category, etc. 

6. Review your list of goals and plan of action for each. You want to make sure that you haven't "bitten off more than you can chew" - if you have, then prioritize your list, taking off those goals which are less important. Additionally, make sure you have a balanced list - a few goals in each category; short term, mid-range, and long term. 

7. Review your goal lists often. This will allow you to see how you're progressing and also will let you know if you need to make slight modifications to either your goals or your plans of action. 

8. Obtain your goals. Nothing is more satisfying than accomplishing a goal. When you reach a goal, cross it off your list and congratulate yourselves - celebrate your achievement! 

9. When you do achieve a goal, set another. 

Setting goals is a wonderful way to make our relationships stronger, more focused, and more fulfilling. It also provides a "road map" to the future - allow us to obtain better lives while growing together as one. 

Passing Thoughts is a syndicated weekly column written by T.W. Winslow - read by millions around the world each week. To get the new Passing Thoughts column sent to you FREE each week via email, subscribe at:
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