When you’re young, your goals are pretty much laid out for you by your parents and society. Go to school, get a job, get married, start a family, buy a house.
Society has changed a lot though. Outside of finishing school and getting a job, the getting married, starting a family, and buying a house have all changed quite a bit.
Most people want relationships, but a growing number of people don’t want to get married or have children. A sizeable number of people either don’t want to buy a house or can’t afford one.
Societal changes aside, goals change when you’re an adult. Sometimes it can be nice to not have any goals, to just relax and sort of let life happen.
But after awhile, what starts as a break can turn into looking back and wondering what you did with the last year or the last five or ten years.
Maybe you achieved what you set out to, but your family doesn’t view it as success and they constantly pressure you to do something other than what you are doing.
Or maybe you don’t have children yet, because you haven’t met the right person or because you don’t want children. Your family might still be pressuring you to have children, as though your only worth as a human is to reproduce. Maybe you do want children and everyone you know is constantly trying to talk you out of it.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, it will never be good enough for your family, friends, and coworkers.
After awhile, you internalize all the criticism and become increasingly discontent with whatever it is you are doing. Maybe you started out like that, growing up with a family who is constantly critical of you and everything you do.
Goals end up being way more complicated than they should be, oftentimes because of the people around you and the expectations your family has. Maybe you are aware of all the mental baggage you carry and the expectations foisted upon you, but maybe not.
This week, I want you to think about what it is you really want.
Don’t worry about how you’ll make it happen, we’ll work on that the next two weeks. For now, I want you to focus on what it is you want. Not your family, not your boss, not your significant other, not the bully from middle school whose taunts you’ve internalized. Think about what you want.
Not sure what you want? Think about it like this. If you died tomorrow, what on your deathbed would you regret the most? That is a good way to figure out some goals, things you want to do but have been ignoring or minimizing for whatever reason, or what really matters to you. It can be a little anxiety provoking at first, but when you work through it is actually comforting. We really don’t know when we’re going to die, so meditating on what really matters to us is the first step towards making it reality.
From there, you can actually start working towards the things you truly want. Then, if something happens, you know you are working towards what matters the most. When people talk about the journey being what matters, that is what they mean.
The goals I am currently working towards is losing weight, starting a family, relaunching my coaching business, and finishing grad school. These are all multistep goals, that I have been working on in one form or another for months, years, or decades. I keep tabs on my progress, adjust, and set new goals accordingly.
There are some things I’ve spent years on and had to set aside, because that’s how life went. It can be frustrating for sure, but ultimately, I’ve learned from everything I’ve done and I know that I’ve tried.
When I was in my 20’s, I was not ready to start a family but I knew I wanted to get married and have kids. The first step to making that happen was to have a good relationship. So I read everything I could about what made relationship succeed and fail, and after a string of long-term, but failed, relationships, I took two years off of dating and went to therapy to work through some of my issues. I kept working on myself, figuring out what I did and didn’t want, and faced my fears of being alone head on. I became comfortable with myself, much more clear with my preferences, and I refused to settle when I did start dating again.
After all that time, energy, and work on myself, I met the man I ended up marrying. Even when we got together, we didn’t rush things. We dated for eight years before we got married, living together for almost the entire time. We have done over a year of couples counseling, which has been crucial in learning how to communicate better. Counseling has made us both better people and better partners.
Now that we have been married for a year and together for nine years, we are trying to start a family. Our relationship is great, but we have both put in the time and work. We have met our goals at each stage and progressed as it has felt right for us. We have learned to disregard our families expectations of us and our relationship, because we aren’t them. We have carved out our own path and we are much happier for it.
I share this because it’s a good example of how goals change with time. Having a good relationship takes a lot more work than most people acknowledge. Maintaining a happy relationship is also a lot of work and relationships are an area loaded with family and social influence. It can be really hard to figure out what you want and go for it, while making yourself even the littlest bit happy.
Think about it and let me know! Email me, comment, find me on Twitter and let me know what it is that you actually want.
Thanks for reading- I appreciate you.
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