This week is a big one for love! It includes the ever-pink holiday, Valentine’s Day, full of candy sweet hearts, chocolate kisses and chubby cupids. Much of my coaching work and writing focuses the individual; accomplishing their specific goals and working through their personal situations or challenges. Thanks to Valentine’s Day, this month has me thinking differently. We all have goals, but so do the people around us that we love. I don’t want my focus to always be on me and my goals. That’s rude and selfish…and yet pretty natural…so I write to remind myself too with this post. Join me this month in showing love to our loved ones by supporting their goals, in addition to our own!
It is easy to focus on how to accomplish our own goals. They drive us! We think through what needs to happen before the dreams become accomplishments. We may write them on our bathroom mirror, post them as the backdrop on our phone or share them online. They are our goals. We know them inside and out. But what about when the goal is not yours? How do we support our spouse’s or loved one’s goals, especially when they do not really involve us?
We likely won’t know another person’s goal as well as our own, nor will we have as much energy around seeing it being accomplished. This doesn’t mean we can’t be supportive though. But how do we do it?
7 treats to show love and support:
I asked some of my family and friends who’ve been married longer than me (a little over 2 years now) to weigh in and share their wisdom. Here’s what they had to say, including some powerful questions to help us personalize their suggestion:
GIVE TIME: You’ve got to allow them to have time to go after their goal. As simple as it sounds, this starts with encouraging them to have goals that don’t involve you. To have space for their own goals means they will spend time focusing on their goal instead of you and your relationship. This can be a really hard one for some people. Are we willing to give up this time with them for their success? What will you do while they work on their goal?
BE PATIENT: You will likely have to be patient. It takes time to see something new unfold. Good things in life take time, right? It may be taking your love longer to act or find success than you think it should, but patience is probably what they need most. Are you willing to wait with them until they achieve their goal? What is creating your sense of urgency?
DONATING FUNDS: Supporting your spouse’s goal may also mean they may need some money, some financial space, to invest in their dream. Are we willing to adjust the budget so they can go after their goal? What would you be able to “donate” from the current budget to support their efforts?
YOUR PART: It makes a difference if the goal is shared or individual in nature. If it is an individual goal, it would be helpful to get some guidance from your partner about what part or role they want you to play in it, if any. For example, how do they want you to support them? Do they want you to hold them accountable to their progress, or would this put too much strain on your relationship? Unfortunately, it may also be helpful to ask if you are currently hindering their progress in any way. (Be brave here; this one seems hard but potentially quite powerful! It is a humble way to love someone.)
COMMUNICATION: Communication is key, especially in love relationships! It is important to have a good understanding of the person’s goal and to know why it is important for him or her to accomplish it. This allows you to support the goal from a better place of insight. How would you describe their goal and motivation to see it happen? Is any part of it unclear to you?
SHOW INTEREST: A big form of support is to just show interest in their goal. You can do this by asking meaningful questions and following up over time. My brother in-laws put it this way, which I love; “I care about her goals because she cares. I choose to care about it!” How often do you talk with your spouse or family member about their goal? Do you care just because he or she cares?
ACCEPTING FAILURE: Sometimes we have to accept failure in goals, which means letting them give up on their goals and stopping their efforts. We have to give serious thought about when to push them and when to back off. Trying to figure out why they aren’t continuing may be hard work, but very helpful. (I so appreciate this wise perspective shared by my mom and dad on the Johnson side. Such an eye opener!) Do you know when to back off and just let it be?
Which of these sweet treats might your Valentine treasure this year?
Perhaps not an easy question to answer, but certainly a good one worth pondering while poppin’ some conversation hearts this week!
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone and I send out a huge thank you to every family member and friend that opened up their hearts and lives to me this past year when I inquired about how they support their spouse’s goal! This post certainly could not have been written without your honest generosity!