Why Create Goals?
Why create goals together? Is it worth it? Aren’t goals outdated? Many of you in a significant relationship may wonder if it’s really worth the trouble to create goals as a couple. As my husband, Greg, and I worked through our thoughts in approaching this topic, we found there were some very valuable principles to be had. You may not always create goals together to obtain the same objective, but the process of that creation in moving each other forward separately, then together, is an important one that expands communication and growth.
Whatever your terminology in creating goals, a plan is important. James Clear in his bestselling book, Atomic Habits talks about the importance of implementing small changes to create new habits and eventually, larger outcomes. If you and your spouse or significant other can decide on little additions to your lives and schedules, you will consistently move forward. This takes the pressure off of creating and completing larger goals that may eventually be forgotten or fail completely.
What Good Will it Do to Create Goals Together?
Greg and I watched both of our parents age as their world grew smaller. When their main circle of friends diminished with people moving, dying or experiencing physical limitations, it became increasingly important for them to find new activities and motivations to keep their mind sharp and expand their ability to communicate and expand their network of contacts. (Get your FREE Emotional Support Worksheet)
What we saw happening with our parents is not unusual and likely to happen to many, so here we will cover five areas you can apply to most any relationship at any stage of life. These five areas can be launching points for discussion together, but personal accountability is absolutely vital. For example, I can’t lose the ten pounds Greg wants to lose; he has to do the work himself and is ultimately responsible! But I can encourage him in his quest with exercise prompts and a good diet. The five areas we’ll discuss are: Emotional Goals, Learning Goals, Relationship Goals, Physical Goals and Giving Goals.
We are all on the same train, growing older with every year, day and hour. I had another birthday this year and so did you. Those birthdays come whether or not we want them to! It is extremely important to have a solid basis of belief that will provide hope and assurance, grounded in truth. When I look in the mirror, I can see my smile lines deepening and I see those same lines deepening in the young man I married, sitting across from me.
Fear is real and as the body reveals the stark reality that we are not here forever, a strong faith and healthy habits that will keep you centered are an important part of our lives together and separately. As I journal daily, (just a sentence or two!) it’s easy for me to share the thoughts that are top-of-mind with Greg. Sharing those thoughts helps to face any fear of the future and flesh out feelings that I may have trouble verbalizing. He has done the same through the years. Find the things that work for you and add them to your schedule.
Learning goals have always been important for Greg and I. We are both avid readers and by reading, we have a lot to talk about. We also sign up for classes and listen to a variety of podcasts. The reality of a society riddled with Alzheimer’s and Dementia has made me even more aware of the importance of learning goals that will help keep the mind sharp. Studies show that certain parts of the brain can atrophy without use.
Research has shown that music is a very good prompt for keeping an active mind. It’s one of the reasons I believe Learn Music Again is good for mental sharpness. The program is formatted for those who used to play piano and want to play again, but most anyone can start if they want to learn and keep the mind sharp. There are many online programs, audio books available with a single click and inspiring podcasts. Don’t quit exploring!
Our circle of relationships has taken an interesting turn during the year of COVID lockdowns. It’s actually expanded! In passing by some of the same neighbors on my daily walks, I’ve been able to get to know our neighbors better as well as some others in our area. This has been a refreshing surprise for me, even as an introvert. We really do need interaction with each other. We are physical creatures and virtual connection is not enough! I’ve also kept a tighter close circle of friends that I speak about in my Women at Halftime book (Relationship circles p. 135) and expanded a weekly Happy Hour virtual group this year. This wouldn’t have happened without COVID-19!
Greg and I also met some younger friends we’ve bonded with, almost the age of our kids. As we gracefully grow older, we feel these friends will continue to add life and a fun element to our lives. Playing pickleball, which is all the craze these days, has added even another group of new contacts. You can still be safe during a shutdown and expand your circle! We really need each other! Download our FREE Goal Setting Worksheets!
Greg and I talk about this often, especially as he is a former professional athlete and keeping in shape is top-of-mind, though his body is changing! You don’t need to be an athlete to stay physically active or even develop a good physical workout program, but he has some good tips for keeping active with normal items you’ll find around your home.
Simple moves, like standing up from a sitting position in a chair ten times in a row unassisted, are logical moves that keep your hamstrings and quads engaged. Using a stepladder, step up and down the few steps multiple times. This helps with your balance and transfer of weight. If you have a row of bricks on the side of a low planter, walk across them several times, one foot in front of the other, to work on balance. There is no fancy gym equipment needed! These moves have even become a part of Greg’s routine. Another area that is really important is flexibility. See The Importance of Exercise for more ideas. Remember, you are in control of you—you can’t control your spouse or significant other, but you can encourage!
Giving to others flows out of an attitude of thankfulness and gratefulness. Giving is a healthy principle to talk about together, then act upon as a team, if you are able. It takes the spotlight off of ourselves, our issues and desires, to create an outward focus. Working hard, then giving part of our resources, is not only a logical one, but a spiritual principle. There is much satisfaction in giving to others.
As we have faced a recent shutdown like no other event our country has ever experienced, many have worked extremely hard to find they are required to once again shut down. The losses some small businesses have faced are astronomical. There are special ways we can give to those who have faced those losses, either by supporting a business in a unique way (ordering takeout from a restaurant weekly), providing a larger tip than usual (there are many inspiring stories of this taking place!) or even helping others brainstorm a way for their business to survive, then helping them get going.
I believe most people would like to keep working. A helping hand is appreciated, but ultimately, a growing and thriving business or the ability to do the work you love is gratifying, builds confidence and benefits our society as a whole.
Creating Goals Together is a Good Life Principle
At the time of this article, I realize many relationships may be facing the additional stress of working remotely, raising kids who are underfoot learning remotely and balancing the emotional upheaval of uncertainty both politically and personally.
I encourage you to find one little thing you can decide to do together to make your life easier or more fun. It can be a very short-term goal like taking ten minutes to read together (or even separately) at the same time before bed. Or add an evening walk to your schedule, to do together on a regular basis. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but at least get the conversation going, even if it’s tough. I have found it’s the little things we plan together that make all the difference in creating larger outcomes. It’s never perfect, but remember, momentum creates more momentum. It CAN work to create goals as a couple!
Circumstances may change, but we can stay on course with what we can control.
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