Ever feel like it’s impossible to have it all? Well, one of the reasons it is so hard is that your brain is so good at helping you get what you want. This sounds completely counter-intuitive, but it makes sense. Basically, when your mind is focused on one goal, any other goals become blurry and tend to fall by the wayside.
Your motivational system is exceptionally good at achieving the goals you set. When a goal is engaged, three things happen. First, you are focused on information that will help you to achieve that goal. Second, you increase how much you like things that are related to achieving the goal and decrease how much you like things that are unrelated to the goal. Third, it is easier to think about things that are related to the goal than things that are unrelated to it.In this way, your motivational system prepares you to achieve the goals that it engages.
A consequence of this focus is that it is hard to pursue many different goals at the same time. That can make it hard to excel in your work life and your personal life at the same time, or to give as much time to yourself as you do to your relationship.When you are focused on your personal goals, though, your relationship goals will suffer. The relationship will just not seem as important when you have other goals to pursue. You will not be as interested in spending time with your partner or engaging with their concerns.
If you are focused on improving a relationship, then your own personal goals will often suffer. You will value the time you spend with your partner over the time that you spend on your personal fulfillment.To achieve some balance, it is important to keep track of the goals you are pursuing and to be mindful of the impact they have on your life. If you find that you are focused on the personal goals in your life, then leave yourself little reminders to engage in activities that will strengthen your relationship. It can be as simple as putting a note in your calendar to make a plan for date night with your partner or a Post-it on your computer to send a nice text. It may seem strange to leave these kinds of reminders, but it’s OK to do the right thing for what feels like the wrong reason.
Likewise, if you find yourself so focused on your relationship that you are neglecting to pursue any of your own personal goals, be sure to take some time for yourself. It is hard sometimes to fulfill your personal goals when you are excited about a relationship, but it is important to make sure that you don’t get so bound up in your life with someone else that you don’t also take care of yourself. There is no surer path to resentment than to feel like you sacrificed too much of yourself for a partner.“Having it all,” is a tall order for anyone. If you want to get close, you need to give a little bit of yourself to each of your pursuits and not let any single one monopolize your time, your energy or your excitement.