A Manifest for Goal Alignment
An exercise for adding clarity to a relationship, based on Jack Butcher's 'Daily Manifest'
A while back, my girlfriend and I did something that changed the dynamic and trajectory of our relationship for the better. I'm going to share the outline for that experience in the hope that it may do something similar for others. What I'm about to describe isn't exclusive to a romantic relationship. Try it with a friend, a business partner or even a sibling.
The objective of this exercise is to align goals. If you are working towards a future state with someone in any domain and desire success in that pursuit, this exercise will be for you.
Before I outline what we did, I want to highlight the tool and inspiration that I largely borrowed from when figuring out a model for how we were going to align our visions for the future. That tool is one I've mentioned before- the Daily Manifest, created by Jack Butcher of Visualize Value.
In short, the DM is a worksheet meant to be filled out daily. It helps users work towards far off goals, tracking daily measures of success along the way. On your first sheet, you will start off by setting a 90 day goal in each of three categories- Happiness, Money and Time. For each of the three, you'll then set a 30 day achievement to mark progress and one thing you plan to accomplish for the day that will bring you a step closer to each goal. I've spent a lot of time with the DM, well over 100 days actually. It’s for this reason that I played with adapting Butcher’s model as a tool for setting goals between 2 people.
Defining the Future
When we first sat down, we started by each filling out a separate 3 x 3 grid that looked something like this:
On one axis, we took the same three categories of time, money and happiness from the daily manifest, and individually thought of goals to apply for each on time scales of three years, one year and one month labeled on the other axis.
We didn't do a whole lot of thinking together beforehand, so it was an interesting point of discussion afterwards as we talked with each other about how we each went about filling out our sheets of paper. For example, I started with the farthest off goals and worked my way down to the month out and my girlfriend did the opposite, but she started off creating mutual goals from the get go whereas I was filling out goals that were more self serving (Typical guy, surely?).
Present Your Vision
When we'd each completed our sheets, instead of jumping straight to comparing notes, we took a few minutes to present our individual charts before the other straight through. This gave each of us the opportunity to hold the other's full attention while outlining with full context how we envisioned the next few years playing out.
Listen, Listen, Listen. Don't let the gears in your head start turning for alignment just yet. The most valuable part of this step for us was deepening each other's understandings of our separate perspectives before coming back together to find common ground.
Create Something Together
Finally, we redrew the initial grid on a whiteboard.
This is where the bulk of our time was spent with easily 10-15 minutes discussing each of the nine categories, working our way from time first, then money, and ending with happiness. We let ourselves explore in full depth sidebar discussions that came up because who knows when we'd be on the subject again, always working our way back from the detour to determine our mutual goal.
Some squares were easier than others. The numerous nuances that hover around any goal, much less for three years out leaves a lot of ground to cover, but no matter how different your starting positions, look for that one thing in common and build towards each other from there. In no time, you'll find yourselves stepping back to look upon a blueprint you both believe in, for your path ahead together.
Censored, So I don't give away all our secrets. (:
The Cathartic Finish
Ours became a shared experience that we've continued to reference as time go by. There's a refreshed sense of clarity in our relationship which had progressed far past the 'Let's prolong this as much as we can' goal all relationships initially share. When this goal isn't shared, relationships inevitably fail, but in time, you may reach a point with a loved one or business partner where the goal of playing the broad, infinite game isn't good enough to promote longevity.
When you reach that point, the answer in our experience was to double down and define new goals. How to do that though is hard. The most valuable thing this model did for us was that it has given us tangible things to be excited about together, and we've become aligned on the path to be working towards those things with each other.
If you are playing the infinite game with someone in your life, and feel you would both benefit from more clarity, I hope you give it a try. If you do, comment below or send me a DM on Twitter how it went. I'd love to hear about your experience.
Next week, I’m going to celebrate one year of doing this newsletter and announce some changes going forward.