Ah, the New Year. That wonderful time when we feel like we get to start fresh, renew, redesign, get a grip, set goals, and make New Year’s resolutions. Now is the time we gear up for “spring cleaning,” getting organized (again), losing weight (again), clarifying our career goals, finishing (or starting) writing our book (or whatever), etc.
At this time of year I regularly hear people share the concern that the same goals are on their list as last year and the year before. There is often a sense that we are not really making progress when, in reality, many of our goals are “process goals” rather than “product goals."
Product goals are the kind that can be achieved and instantly checked off the list: Paying such and such bill, calling so and so. Process goals, however, are never actually checked off the list because they require ongoing attention and maintenance. Cleaning the house and being/getting organized are never “done” as they have to be continued daily. While reaching a goal weight can be checked off the list, maintaining that weight cannot. It is a lifestyle goal that has to be tended to daily, maybe even hourly.
The key with process goals is to recognize their ongoing nature and rather than beating ourselves up for having them on the list year after year, honor their importance in our lives and acknowledge our efforts to keep them a priority.
But what about relationships? Have you made relationship resolutions for 2012? While many don’t think twice about putting “finding a relationship/lover” or “get out of my relationships” on their list of goals (both product goals), I would venture to guess there are few “Make my relationship healthier and happier” listed on the resolution declaration—a definite process goal.
Take some time to consider ALL of your relationships—romantic, family, friends, work, church, and even stranger. Remember to include your relationship with God/Spirit and also your relationship with yourself. See if you can write one simple step that you are willing to take this year to make your relationships healthier. Even just implementing one step can bring you several leaps closer to your loved ones.
Here are some examples to get you started, notice that they are all a process, ongoing, and require vigilance.
Romantic: I will be more responsive and creative in sharing intimate time with my partner. I will take initiative to let those I love know that I care about them and am interested in them.
Family: I will stop judging my family and allow them the space to be who they are, make their own mistakes and discover their own path. I will make quality time to spend with them, whether regular phone calls, time hanging out or playing games, or walking and talking. I will let them know they are important to me.
Friends: I will call daily (or weekly or monthly) to check in and show my care and concern. I will be a better listener. I will stop using my friends solely for complaining and aim to base our friendship on something deeper.
Work: I will be more of a team player. I will be more communicative about what I’m doing and what I need. I will be more supportive and less competitive.
Spirit: I will take the time I need to offer thanks to Spirit on a daily basis. I will serve others as devotion to God.
Self: I will be kind in my self-talk. I will be self-observant so as to better align my words and actions with my heart and intention. I will prioritize my self-care and well-being highly on my list.
The moral of the story is that if taken for granted, your relationships will suffer. Honor love as a process goal, as a lifestyle intention and priority, and your relationships will thrive.