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Ask TOT: My spouse is not a goal setter, but it’s a huge part of my life. Is goal setting together a battle worth fighting for?
We get it.
It’s not uncommon for one partner in a relationship to be a future-thinking goal setter, while the other spends more time in the present — or maybe even the past.
While every couple is different, there are some things that all relationships can benefit from. If a purposeful future and an extraordinary relationship is important to you, then investing time to design your life together is essential.
But if setting goals as a couple feels like a battlefield, we encourage you to adjust your perspective and try a new approach.
Here are some strategies to help you achieve your objective of setting goals with the person who matters most in your life:
Send Invitations Instead of Ultimatums
News flash! Almost no one in the history of ever was dragged kicking and screaming into getting purposeful about their future.
It’s not something you can force on someone. Rather, it’s a personal discovery that most people make at the exact moment they’re ready for it.
So instead of trying to convince your partner to become a goal setter, invite them into your process. Explain that they’re an integral part of your future and you want to include them in the planning of it.
Don’t Compare, Communicate
It’s easy to glamorize the relationships we see on our social feeds and in the media because they’re the loudest examples of relationships we see on a day to day basis. It’s important to remember, however, that these people are showing you what they want you to see, not necessarily what’s accurate.
Modern power-couples project a narrative of effortless 5 am workouts, fridges elegantly stocked with healthy foods, and an unlimited amount of downtime to unplug and connect. We’re surrounded by images of what our relationship could be. And while every relationship has room for improvement — comparing what you’ve got to what we think others have is the fastest way to make yours fail.
Keep conversations on goals focused on each other and avoid the “comparison trap”. Talking about what you want for your future should not feel like a list of what’s currently missing, but rather an exploration of what’s possible!
Ask big questions. Come from a place of curiosity. Communicate with care and listen with purpose. You might have conversations you’ve never had before and learn about aspirations that surprise you.
Show and Listen vs Show and Tell
We’ve found that a lot of people who claim they “aren’t into goal setting” never actually learned how to set goals.
Goal setting can feel like a foreign language if you’ve never done it before, so start small. Give your partner some insight into how it all works by distilling the process down to the basics.
While you may be an experienced goal-setter who employs all the tools from The ONE Thing including the 411 & GPS, time blocking, and the 66-Day Challenge®, remember what it felt like when you just started your journey. Think back to how you struggled before you got in your groove and show some empathy for what your other half is likely experiencing.
Show what works for you and ask what works for them. Share the challenges you’ve experienced and ask to learn more about theirs. Offer to teach them what you’ve learned by explaining one resource at a time and being patient with their learning curve.
Full disclosure, I was never a die-hard goal-setter until I gave myself permission to make my goal-setting process and personal development more, well, personal.
My partner, on the other hand, achieves goals like it’s an extreme sport. He’s always taken goal setting very seriously and every success in his life is mapped, measured and systematized.
If he asked me to set goals using all his methods, I would melt and feel like I’d failed before even getting started. And if I tried to dismantle his process in order to force him to do it my way, his success would suffer without the structure.
Slow Down and Look Forward Together
The modern world is filled with technology that prizes the immediacy of communication, delivers almost anything on-demand, and supports an endless supply of instant information for us to try and consume at lightspeed (aka scroll speed). Most of us feel that our lives move quicker by the day and we’ve evolved from keeping up with the Jones’ to keeping up with ourselves’.
Slowing down to think ahead can feel counterproductive. It can be a challenge thinking forward to plan dinner for tonight, let alone 5 or 10 years down the road. This is one of the reasons most couples never set aside time to talk about their someday goals – it just seems like everything else is more urgent and more important.
But the thing is, when you build a practice of thinking big with your spouse, you expand the realm of possibilities for your future. Your goals and dreams are no longer hidden away in the corners of your heart that never get shared, but are out in the open and acknowledged by someone who’s invested in your success. (And you in theirs.)
When you set aside time to get away from your normal environment and into an environment that supports your goals, you will be pleasantly surprised by what you’re able to accomplish.
In my own experience, “pleasantly surprised” is an understatement. My partner and I were blown away by what became possible!
2019 was the first year we set goals together. We ranked them in order of priority and walked away crystal clear on what was important to us throughout the year. To date, we’ve already achieved our biggest annual goal. (And spoiler alert, we accomplished it by June, not by December as we’d forecasted.) More than that, we accomplished things we’d slated ourselves to achieve five years.
Our goal setting journey began with our first couple’s goal setting retreat. We took a weekend away last November and had conversations we’d never had before, dreamed bigger than we’d ever dreamed before, and got clarity on our 1-year, 5-year, and Someday Goals.
Our retreat experience was transformational and the return on that investment has been extraordinary. Our relationship deepened, our communication improved, and when faced with challenging decisions we were able to handle them as a team.
The key here, Goal-Getter, is that you don’t have to convert your spouse into someone they’re not. Rather, approach it from a place of supporting them as they become the person they strive to be. Invite them to collaborate on planning your future together because they are your most important relationship and you want to make sure their dreams are represented and heard.
Want more resources on how to have your own Couples Goal Setting Retreat? We’ve got you covered 😉
- Get your tickets to The ONE Thing Couples Goal Setting Retreat to join us in person, or get access to the Master Course so you can host your own!
- Read this blog, Improve Your Relationship with a Couples Goal Setting Retreat to walk through the goal setting framework and get details on why it works!
- Listen to this podcast with Jay and Wendy Papasan as they discuss the impact their annual goal setting retreat has had on their success as a couple and as professionals.
Do you have a tough question, and want answers to support you on your path of mastery.
Ask us anything by emailing email@example.com with the subject line “ASK TOT A QUESTION” and we will either devote a blog post to it or offer quick responses during our Living Your ONE Thing Monthly Group Coaching Call. Join us LIVE this month by clicking here.