Get that corner office, increase salary by 20%, bench press 315, complete the 10k run in under 45 minutes. All represent goals that may exist in your life in some form. And all share some measurable outcome to let you know if you’ve achieved them or not. I’ll call these goals, professional goals. Often men seem particularly drawn to such goal-setting and that’s not a bad thing!
Now how about these: be more present, be caring, foster intimacy with your partner, raise your child properly? Goals for sure. But the difference being, in case you missed it, there is no specific measured outcome. You can be quite sure you’ve achieved your professional goal while sitting in that corner office Monday morning grinning at your most recent bank deposit while rubbing your chest – still pumped from putting up three plates that morning. But how do you know when your partner feels that you’re being sufficiently present in the relationship, thus increasing the overall intimacy between the two of you? Most likely it’s pretty obvious when you aren’t meeting this goal, as you adjust yourself on the couch cushions at 2 am! And how do you know your child feels safe and comfortable coming to you with the life problems of a 6-year-old? This one, unfortunately, you may not know until it’s much too late.
These, personal goals let’s call them, are much less easily definable in terms of measurement.
They often rely on feelings, emotional states and connection which, unlike how much those weight plates add up to, can fluctuate, ebbing and flowing with seemingly countless influences. On top of that, incremental differences can be hard to discern. It’s not like you know your wife is 5% happier in the relationship this week – but you sure as hell can know you added 5% to your overhead press.
Maybe this is why it can be easy for men to slough off the idea of having personal goals. Or perhaps you haven’t even considered the activity of making personal goals. They may not seem to make sense, and therefore may not seem worthwhile, or at least that’s what we can tell ourselves.
After all, why put the effort in if the result cannot be understood?
Or with a lack of immediate benefit, it may seem we have plenty of time to work on these things, or that they will just work themselves out. With the divorce rate over 50% this doesn’t seem a good bet. So right off the bat, there is a need to understand a difference in how we can measure personal goals and professional goals. And from there, apply the correct measurement.
Sure, it may be that you and your significant other periodically rate each other with a Likert scale of 1-5 on the satisfaction level of the relationship. Yes, there are these couples out there. But more likely the measurement metric is how close you feel toward each other. How open and how vulnerable, you are with each other. These metrics can play out in behavior, intimate physical contact, conversation, sharing experiences, not arguing, etc. They can also be realized a general sense of enjoying each other’s company, a relaxed evening after work together or not having the feeling of walking on egg shells or being nagged by the other person.
It might be possible to quantify these things between two people, but that’s not really the point. That would be an example of trying to understand the personal goals through the lens of how professional goals are measured. It’s important to realize the measurement of professional goals, that often comes so readily understandable to men, might not be best applied to the personal side of life.
Instead why not make it easy on yourself and just be open to the idea that goal measurement can differ depending on the nature of the goal. It may be the case that you are not good at understanding personal goals. Ok, fine, start there. If you’re not good at spreadsheets and they are vital to your cooperate ladder climb, you dig in the latest version of Xcel for Dummies. In your relationships, recognize there is a goal and then go about how to achieve it. It most likely will be a very different path than professionally, but if it’s important to your life, the effort must be put forth.
Here’s where the notion of intention comes in. I’m a huge advocate of intentionality across the board, and it can be applied here specifically.
By knowing what you intend to do, you can then measure how well that has been attained.
Keep in mind this is very different from a wanted or expected outcome (more on this in another post). But the point is, know why you are doing or not doing something. Filling in the blanks to statements such as…
I’m going to think (blank) so I can be (blank).
We’re going to (blank) so we can do (blank).
I’m going to do (blank) so she can feel (blank)…will help define your intention. And now the measurement becomes your degree of adherence to the intention.
So the initial question would be: do you have a personal goal? And the follow-up question would be: how do you measure it? Once those answers are in hand you can begin to understand and ‘do’ the behaviors necessary in achieving your personal goal. As a extra benefit, the rewards from personal goals can help lend some stability to your life, that will work in your favor of obtaining your professional goals.