What I learned on my second Couples’ Goal Setting Retreat

This past weekend Jason and I got out of our environment for a long weekend, with the purpose of setting goals together. This is the second time that we’ve done this – the first was 2018, when we attending a group version of this activity in Austin, Texas.

The couples goal setting retreat is organized by and available through the1thing.com, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Here’s what I learned:

It’s okay not to have the same goals as your partner.

Having different goals does not make you incompatible with your partner.

This was my number one fear going into the goal setting retreats, both last year and this year. And even though we went over it in 2018, sometimes it takes a while for things to sink in. I realized that I had been focusing on how different my husband and I are, our worldviews, and fearing that going through this process together would amplify those differences and potentially illustrate that we do not belong together.

(Note to self: when we focus on the negative, fear typically shows up.)

The truth is this:

MOST couples are very different from one another.

These differences do not need to be a deal-breaker – neither for accomplishing specific objectives nor for compatibility in general.

What I discovered this time is that the process of the couples goal setting retreat is not necessarily that couples choose goals together, to be achieved together. In fact, it may very well be that we sit there together, working individually, come up with our own goals, and then share them… with NONE of them being the same.

And that’s totally fine.

Because the point is not so much to create common goals (thought that’s cool of course, if there are things that both of you care deeply about achieving) but rather about the process of setting goals itself AND supporting one another in the pursuit of those.

We get better at everything over time, with practice.

Last year we sat in a room with over 100 people, going through this process over a two-day period. Jason and I didn’t prepare much in advance, and we didn’t schedule specific follow-up time either. In addition, it was my husband’s first introduction to the tools that we spend a lot of time talking about within Keller Williams, namely a GPS (a one-page business plan) and a 411 (a tracking tool for activities that lead to accomplishment of a goal.)

(You can find both of those tools  and more for free here, if you’d like to have a look at them.)

We left the event of 2018 with one goal (set by me) and no real commitment to how to measure and evaluate progress over the coming year. Fast forward to this year, and that goal was not achieved. However, we DID end up having several conversations about time-blocking, as well as commit to a habit of weekly night dates, which we’ve done consistently. The experience was worth it for that alone, in my view.

This year, we were both familiar with the tools and concepts, and we also booked three days to go through the process rather than two. We accomplished significantly more than last year.

For example, we worked together to calculate our net worth and spent time discussing a goal around increasing that, as well as strategies and tactics for achieving the goal.

We also discussed the various vacations we want to take, time we want to spend for birthdays and anniversaries, and blocked our 2020 calendars for those events.

In addition, we discussed two large “someday” goals and set a handful of one-year goals that, when accomplished, will cause us to feel like we’re on track for the someday goals.

Connecting on a deep level requires commitment and effort. And it’s worth it.

For me, the most important facet of the retreat by a wide margin was the question-asking section. We began our retreat with several sets of questions, designed to get us thinking about what’s important to each of us.

(You can also find those questions for free on this page, under the “Kickass Guide to Your Couples’ Goal Setting Retreat.”)

The questions revolved around the seven circles indicated in The One Thing book – spiritual life, physical health, personal life, key relationships, job, business, & financial.

Some of the questions I found most interesting were:

What should we tell our children about God?

What can we do to incorporate exercise into our family activities?

What do you NEED from me this year?

Are there people we should help, befriend, and care for?

The discussions which emerged from these questions were meaty and satisfying. These were also not discussions we would have likely had, were it not for being prompted in this way by the questions.

And reminded me that one of the best things we can do to grow in our lives is develop a habit of asking powerful questions.

It took a significant amount of time to go through all the questions in the guide, which made me very grateful for the extra day that we budgeted in our retreat. Going forward, I can see how we might incorporate some of these conversations in advance of the actual goal-setting retreat. At the same time, I’m not sure if doing it too far in advance might dilute some of the power of the process. At a minimum, if the discussion of the questions took place in advance, I’d want to start the retreat with a review of them.

The purpose of a goal is to act appropriately in the moment

In the book The One Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan tell us that the purpose of a goal is to act appropriately in the moment.

That is to say, the goal is there in order to help us see the pathway to reach it. We don’t just throw out a goal, stick it on our wall, and never think about it again. That doesn’t work. The purpose of a goal is to help us break down the pieces to the point that we can answer a question like:

What is the one thing that I can do TODAY, such that by doing it, reaching my goal becomes easier or unnecessary?

Suffice it to say, one of the things that Jason and I time-blocked for 2020 along with vacations is next year’s Couples’ Goal Setting Retreat. We will be making this an annual practice, and I expect we’ll get better and better at the process as we continue.

What do you think about goal-setting? Do you set goals?

And if you do, have you ever considered setting your goals with the people who matter most in your life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this. Connect with me on Facebook and let me know what you think!


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