“I just don’t know if it’s worth it anymore.”
My client was lamenting the struggles of her relationship. Things had been so easy and delicious in the early days. But after a year together, differences that had been overlookable were taking center stage.
“Do the pros still outweigh the cons?” she asked.
It’s an understandable question, but the wrong one.
Weighing the pros and cons in isolation won’t be clarifying.
You need a standard to measure them against.
That’s the tool I want to share with you today. I call it the Values Alignment Bullseye, and it’s the last in this series on authentic desire.
If there’s an area of your life – a relationship, a job or career, a membership – where you are wondering if you should stay or go, this tool will help you find greater clarity.
What’s a Values Alignment Bullseye?
Before you can know if you want what you have, it helps to know what you want to feel and experience in the specific situation.
What you want to feel and experience are the values of your “Values Alignment Bullseye,” and your values are what you are aiming for, the bullseye.
Picture three rings around that bullseye, each one taking you further away from what you really want, regardless of how the “pros” and “cons” add up in isolation. For example, if your new guy has a hot shot career, but “high status” isn’t in your bullseye, his job doesn’t really matter because it’s not in alignment with your values.
I’ll describe how to fill out the bullseye, and then I’ll share (with permission) an example from my client.
Take a specific situation you are questioning. For this situation –
- Bullseye: What are five things you would love to feel or experience? What might the ideal look like?
- First ring: What will you accept? What might that look like?
- Second ring: What will you accept with limits? What might that look like?
- Third (outside) ring: What will you not accept? What might that look like?
Example: My Client’s Relationship Bullseye
Bullseye: I would love to feel or experience, and that looks like –
- Honesty and communication: We tell the truth directly and quickly. We keep each other informed. We listen well.
- Cherishing: We are thoughtful and enjoy supporting and delighting one another.
- Fun: We are playful and play together.
- Friendship: We enjoy each other’s company. It’s easy and fun to be together. We laugh a lot, but we are just as comfortable sharing hard things.
- Family life: We prioritize being good parents and nurture extended family relationships.
First ring: I don’t love but will accept –
- Communication: Passive, where I have to ask him what’s going on.
- Cherishing: Weekly dates at a minimum.
- Fun: We at least try new things.
- Friendship: We at least spend time together and pay attention to each other.
- Family life: We at least do things together as a family.
Second ring: I accept with limits –
- Communication: Delaying a conversation for a better time.
- Cherishing: Being attracted to other people; being put aside for work.
- Fun: Partying with other friends.
- Friendship: Constructive criticism.
- Family: Being present at family events but not enjoying them.
Third (outside) ring: I don’t accept –
- Communication: Being ignored and lied to.
- Cherishing: Unfaithfulness.
- Fun: Drunkenness.
- Friendship: Contempt. Cruelty.
- Family life: Disloyalty when others criticize me.
My Client’s Bullseye Takeaway
Once she articulated what she was looking for in a relationship, she could see where she and her guy were in alignment, as well as where and how far they were out of alignment.
It helped her to focus on what really mattered and stop bickering over small stuff.
It is worth it, she decided.
She stayed, with a renewed faith in their relationship and a path forward.
Because now she also had a great framework for talking about the relationship with him. Sharing what you value in a relationship depersonalizes it, so that her unhappiness feels less like a criticism. It also makes the conversation aspirational: like, “Is this what you want, too? Then let’s support each other in living up to it.”
Now you try it. What does the Values Alignment Bullseye show you? How does your situation align with your values?