Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Relationship Goals

SUCCESS magazine asked us recently to write some columns and blogs for them and we replied that we would do it only if they would let us make an effort to redefine what “success” really is. (Most of their magazine is about wealth-building and career development, and we wanted to suggest that real and lasting success is more about relationships and family solidarity.)

They agreed, and we began to write about how goals can be just as effectively set for family and for relationships in the home as they can for achievements and accomplishments at work. Our formula centered on writing descriptions of an individual relationship with another family member as you would like it to be five years from now.

Even most accomplished adult goal-setters fail to realize how powerful a “relationship goal” can be. Instead of dealing with some kind of measurable achievement, a relationship goal focuses on improving a particular relationship with another family member or loved one.

And the vehicle for a relationship goal is a descriptive qualitative paragraph instead of a quantitative chart.

Relationship goals take imagination, so kids are often better at setting them than adults. The idea is to write a short description of the relationship you want to have with another family member five years from now. It can become a powerful shaper of the communication and bonds within a family!

One mom who tried this found that her two kids were better at it than she was. The three of them sat down on a Sunday afternoon in 2009, and each, on a piece of paper, tried to write down a “relationship goal” for the other two. The nine year old girl wrote”

“It is 2014, and I am fourteen. My brother is sixteen. He can drive now and he drives me to school. We enjoy being together because I am good at telling him what girls think. He looks after me. We tell each other everything and we trust each other. He helps me decide what classes to take and I help him with his math because I am better at it than he is. We are each other’s best friends.”

Whether these relationship descriptions ever come fully true or not, they can have a guiding influence on how kids view each other and communicate with each other (and with their parents!) They are a form of goal setting that is well worth the writing time in a couple of family meetings!

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