If only the maligned fates of relationships were this obvious up front. Unfortunately, they're not, which accounts for both the mayhem and magic we experience. The unpredictability, the surprise, the chase- call it what you will- it propels us all to do some pretty exciting and embarrassing stuff (exciting like start a family, embarrassing like drunk dialing).
So when an astute reader sent along the following inquiry about whether it was possible and/or advisable to set an intention to fall in love and, even, become engaged within a year, I panicked a little. I got cold feet. I stared at the email for weeks . . . OK, months, actually. The question was out of my league, to be frank. Here's what it said:
Do you think it's possible to set a goal to "fall" in love, or to be in a happy, committed relationship within the year?
I was once in a public speaking class, and one of the members, an accomplished and driven businessman, gave a speech about goal setting. He referred to statistics I had heard before, and which I've seen on the Lululemon website. Essentially: people who set goals (in this case it was 3% of a graduating class), live happier, wealthier lives than those who do not. When the 3% looked back on their lives, they felt they had achieved and often times surpassed their dreams. The remaining 97%, who neglected to regularly set and work toward goals, said they felt disappointed in how their lives unfolded.
This story was familiar to me, and I found it inspiring both the first and second time I heard it. However, the business guy ended his speech by saying, "Whatever it is you want- if it's to start your own business, or to travel around the world, or to get married- you need only to map out the steps to attaining your goal, and then get to work." This was new. The marriage goal was something I had not heard before, and I was a little surprised.
Wondering your thoughts?
Eventually, I recovered from the cold feet. Sure, it's a lofty question, but not entirely unfamiliar for any of us. Let's start with the subject of goal setting. I believe wholeheartedly that it's an extremely powerful, if not essential process, for living the life you want, rather than a life that "happened to you." But, before I go all Tony Robbins on you (and, let's be honest, no one does Tony Robbins better than Tony, so I won't even try), let me explain. Intentions are not about summoning perfect partners or jobs or NCAA bracket predictions out of the ether. In my opinion, they're more about readying ourselves for the life paths we want. In other words, by setting an intention (the more often the better) to find a wonderful guy or gal, you place yourself in a frame of mind that supports this goal. Truthfully, you can only control your own actions, and actions begin in the realm of intention. Let's be clear, however, intentions require cultivation. If I set an goal to write a book, then, damn skippy, I better start tapping away at the keyboard on a regular basis. If I set an intention to lose weight, then I better quit delving into the pint of Chunky Monkey at 2 a.m. In other words, the speaker you reference seems spot-on to me. If we don't map out specific, tangible steps toward our goals, then we're just pie-in-the-sky dreaming, which can be fun but isn't very effective.
A few more helpful tips for goal setting:
- Set goals in the present tense, and be specific. Instead of saying, "I will run the Boston Marathon someday," try saying, "I run the Boston Marathon in 2009."
- Write them down, and take the exercise one step further. How will this intention come to pass? Sometimes, I find it helpful to identify three steps that will get me closer to my desired result. While it raised an eyebrow for you to hear that you could set a goal to find a mate, you probably could easily come up with three ways that might help you meet the right type of person for you.
- Visualize yourself achieving your goal, especially right before dozing off to sleep at night. What do you look like in this new role/experiencing your goal? How do you act? What are you wearing? Be very specific.
- Identify the obstacles too. While it's important to be strategic about how you can achieve your goals, it's also necessary to pinpoint which barriers (real or imagined) are holding you back.
Readers, what do you think? Can someone set a goal to meet his/her mate? Tell us about a goal you set and how you successfully achieved it.