Ask a counsellor: Friends and family unsupportive of goals

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I’m working really hard on goals that I’ve set for myself… but my friends and family are not being supportive – and are actually getting in the way! What should I do?

This is an issue that many people encounter. We see it a lot in the counselling field when helping students to work on personal or career goals; however, it’s also possible that you’re working toward something on your own and are feeling like other people in your life just “don’t get it”! This often leads to feelings of bitterness or frustration, and sometimes your motivation takes a hit if you don’t feel supported.

There are three important guidelines to remember whenever you’re working on any sort of goals (academic, personal, sexual, whatever): (a) Check-in, (b) Track and (c) Care.

(a)    Check-in: Take some time to remind yourself of who this goal is for. Ideally, at least part of the answer should lead you back to yourself. What was your motivation in the first place for setting this goal? What resources do you have internally (ex. time management skills, sense of pride, etc.) that can help you with this goal?

(b)    Track: Often when we start moving toward a goal, it’s very exciting and we’re driven… then it becomes difficult, for whatever reason, to see some of our progress. This is amplified if we rely on others to provide feedback.

Try keeping a log of the smaller steps involved in your goal – for example, if your goal is to research at least 10 possible jobs related to your degree, make sure to track websites that you’ve visited, people you’ve talked to, etc. This is a great way to keep an accurate perspective of where you’ve been and where you’re headed.

(c)    Care: By now you may have noticed that your focus has possibly shifted away from your goal itself and toward what others are doing/not doing to help you – and this shift isn’t healthy. To be able to shift back, you need to have energy to devote to the goal and to do this, you need to build up some of that energy through self-care. Make sure that each week you’re spending time on yourself (not academics!), in order to fill your “self-care buckets.” Whether through social, physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual means, self-care can help put you back in the place to help both yourself and others!

As per usual, feel free to talk with a counsellor about any issues you may have! If you have a question for a counsellor, you can also e-mail it to sjcounsellor@unb.ca and see it featured here!