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9 entries from July 2012

Decision making in relationships. A step by step process to understand expectations

Recently I started a not series on conflict. This series will not be posted on a schedule but will come at random times and the mood hits me and I feel I have something to write. To see the first post, click here. To catch all of the post filed in the category conflict, click here.

I believe the core issue in conflict is mismatched expectations.

That is to say that one or often both people in the relationship have frustration that leads to conflict because they had expectations that were not met. Dr. Bob Lehman recently shared an interesting perspective with me that reinforced this belief. We talked about decision making in marriages. Think about the conflict in decision making for most relationships.

In any relationship, you essentially have three choices on who the decision maker will be. It can be you, them or both of you. When couples disagree on who this decision maker is they will almost always fall into conflict in the relationship. Give a try. Follow these steps to see how well matched your expectations are to your spouse.

  1. Take two sheets of paper.
  2. Draw three columns in the paper
  3. Write the decision issues in your relationship in the first column
  4. In the next column write down who you think should be the decision maker (you, them or both of you)
  5. In the next column record your spouse’s answers (they should have the same list of decisions on their own sheet, which is the second sheet)

How did it go? Are you in agreement? Are there some surprising disagreements? Tell me in the comments.


Where does Anxiety come from?

Recently, one of my partners and I had a discussion on anxiety and where it comes from for people. He told me that he was once told it comes from four places. They are the following:

  1. Relationships
  2. Trauma
  3. What ifs?
  4. Internal noise

Before I comment on them. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the topic? Do you think this list is accurate or do you think there is more or less? What do you think causes anxiety?


6 rules of communication. Beginning thoughts on conflict.

Conflict is something we all have in life. No matter how good the relationship, people disagree. Typically, we do everything we can to avoid conflict. Some people use aggression to blow the conflict up while others use passiveness and run away. Probably most of us fit somewhere in the middle of those two positions. But how do we navigate conflict in a manner that really is constructive?

Can two people disagree about politics and still truly be friends?

Can two people be really angry with each other and still engage in a way that doesn’t destroy people? I believe the answer is yes. I want to start a series (that will not be regular) on conflict and conflict resolution. Below you will find what we call the 6 Rules of Communication. I believe if you use them, you will find that they can change almost every relationship in your life. I will list them here and come back and pick them up at a later time to break each one down.

  1. 1.Facts Only—Be Honest
  2. 2.Today’s News—Deal with the current issue
  3. 3.Issues Only—Talk about the problem not the person
  4. 4.Be Intentional (don’t react)—Find a way to build your spouse up even while disagreeing.
  5. 5.ALWAYS avoid always and NEVER say never
  6. 6.Does “IT” have to be a problem?

Good goals are about actions not outcomes

Are your goals activity orientated or outcome orientated?

This is a huge difference between the two. I often talk to people about what they want to accomplish in life. Most of the time, I find at least two problems with their responses. It’s rarely that what they want to achieve isn’t worthy of their attention.

The problems are usually they don’t actually know what success would look like. When I ask them what succeeding at that goal would look like they have no idea. The bigger problem is often that their goal is completely outcome orientated.

They know what success will look like, but they define it by ceding control to something other than themselves.

Look at your goals that you have. Are they about actions or outcomes? If they are about outcomes, do you control those outcomes? In other words, an outcome goal that most people do control to some extent is how much money they can save.

A good goal might in this vein might look like the following:

By December 31, 2012 I want to have $1000 in savings.

In my experience, this is an OK goal for people who want to make change happen in their life. It is an outcome that they can control.

Assuming that they make enough money for this to be possible, it is a goal that is definable, measurable and controllable.

A better goal might be worded like this:

From now until December 31, 2012 I want to save 15% of every dollar that comes into my bank account

This goal is better because it makes the goal an activity as opposed to an outcome.

A bad goal often involves outcomes that we don’t have control over. It might look like this:

I want to lose 25 pounds by the end of the year.

A better goal would be:

I want to work out three times a week for twenty minutes and not eat snacks between meals except on Sundays and Wednesdays where I will allow myself a snack.

This goal is better because it focuses on activity and it is action orientated.

Outcome based goals can be detrimental to true change because they don’t create new routines so once the outcome is achieved the old routines come back. A second problem with outcome goals is the fact that sometimes, we can’t control the outcomes. Think about the two following goals:

  1. I want to be published by a major publishing house
  2. I want to write a manuscript on ______________.

The first goal is dependent upon a lot of variable that are outside of the goal setters control.

The second goal is completely under their control. How about you? Do you have some goals for 2012? Are they measurable? Are they about your actions or about someone else’s? Talk back in the comment section.


Five ways to meet goals. A mid year check up.

How is your 2012 going? We’re past the half way mark. Are you on track to accomplish your goals? How much progress have you made? As I’ve previously written, I have New Years resolutions. I love goals.

But goals that can’t be measured are worthless. Goals that are vague and nebulous don’t help.

Did you set goals for 2012? Did you want to lose weight? Did you want to save money or write a novel? Do you even remember what your goals were?

Maybe you didn’t set any.

Maybe it’s time to reset your goals or start planning for the second half of this year. If you do here is some helpful hints on goal setting.

  1. Write them down. This seems like a no brainer but so many of us don’t actually write our goals down. I always tell my friends, that if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.
  2. Make them measurable.
    • I want to lose weight = bad goal (no way to really measure it)
    • I want to lose 20 pounds = better goal (measurable)
    • I want to work out for twenty minutes three times a week for six months = best goal (goes to activity not results)
  3. Determine your pay off. Why do you want from this activity? Why are you doing whatever it is you are attempting to do?
  4. Share them with someone. Accountability is a huge motivator for many people. Having someone to share your goals with not only provides this, it makes it more fun. There are scores of studies that show people who share their goals have a higher success rate.
  5. Revisit them often but not too much. Come back to your goals often enough to be motivated but not so much that you demotivate yourself. Revisit your goals to be able to measure your progress. Breaking them down into small subgoals cant help but don’t go crazy making a long list of sub goals.

What about you? What have you found to be helpful in keeping goals? How has 2012 gone for you in this area? What advice would you share?