You may be wondering why it’s important to have friendship goals. Well, humans are social creatures for the most part and our friends can have a significant influence on how we think and behave.
While you might think you left the whole peer-group pressure thing behind in high school, you’d be surprised how adults can also be influenced by the company we keep.
So setting friendship goals is important for our overall well-being. And it’s not so much about how many friends you have, but how valued they are – and everyone will have a different idea of what makes a valued friendship.
So once again, you need to develop friendship goals that suit you and your friendship needs.
Setting Friendship Goals
Like all goal setting, you need to take a look at your current situation regarding your friendships to allow you to identify what you want to achieve and then how to set goals to achieve it.
So develop a hierarchy of friends – a bit like this.
You can also use the mind mapping technique to do the same job [click on the “Life Skills” tab on the NavBar and look under the section on “Decision Making” to find out how to do a mind map].
Of course, don’t show this to your friends, but use it as a starting point for setting your friendship goals by looking at the balance of friends in each category – are all your friends just colleagues and acquaintances? Do you feel like you have enough good personal friends? Or perhaps you have too many bad friends?
How many friends do you think you would like to have in each category? Keep in mind that it takes time to nurture good friendships – so a few close personal friends is probably more manageable than setting your sights on a whole army.
Armed with this information, you can go about setting your friendship goals. Now keep reading to find out more on how to make new friends, how to foster good friendships and how to deal with bad friendships.
Golden rules of friendship
The number one golden rule of friendship is for you to be a good friend first – you will get the most out of your relationships with your friends and they can never accuse you of being a bad friend.
If your friendship goals include being a good friend, consider the following:
- Don’t take your friends for granted – appreciate what they do for you and take the time to thank them for this.
- Don’t abuse their trust – all relationships are built on trust, so if you loose it, you can loose your friendship as well. Be honest with your friends, keep commitments and promises, and don’t gossip about them behind their back – you risk loosing their trust and friendship if you do!
- Spend quality time with your good friends – invite them to dinner, go camping or fishing, go to the movies – whatever the two of you find fun! Or just have them over for a coffee and a chat – friendships need to be developed and maintained, and the only way you can do this is by spending time with your friends.
- Give them your personal attention when they need it – make sure you friends know that you care about them and that you are there for them when they need you. Listen to their problems, empathise with their grief, encourage them in their ventures and be enthusiastic about their achievements.
- Be understanding – everyone makes mistakes. Be forgiving and understanding when your friends put a foot wrong, but be honest and open with your feelings at the same time.
- Don’t be overly critical – constructive criticism is OK if it’s wanted, but you’re better off offering support and a friendly ear. And NEVER be critical of your friend’s children, house, pets, cooking or family – this is a recipe for disaster! Be positive instead.
- Let them have their own life too – you aren’t the only person in your friend’s life. Don’t try to control what they do or who else they see.
In short, treat your friends how you want to be treated by them. By doing so you will foster your good friendships and maybe even have a positive influence on some of your not-so-good friendships.
How to make new friends
Whether you’re the new kid in town or you’re looking to expand your circle of friends, finding and making new friends can be a daunting task – particularly if you’re not a Peacock! [read the ”About YOU” tab on the NavBar under the section on behaviour profiles if you don’t know what I mean].
And particularly if you personal life circumstances have changed your circle of friends – maybe you’ve had a baby or have moved town – you can often feel on the back foot when it comes to breaking into existing friend circles.
So if your friendship goals involve making new friends, then consider the following:
- Be prepared and open to making new friends – always be on the lookout for opportunities to meet new people. Communicate with people to let them know about you, and vice versa.
- Know what you are looking for in a friend, and how you expect to be treated. Choose your friends wisely as it takes time to develop a friendship and you don’t want to be staring off with too many or the wrong ones – so screen potential candidates.
- Lever off your interests – we are all interested in something, so join a relevant club as a way of hooking up with other people with similar interests. Or join a volunteer organisation to meet like-minded people – see under the “Community Goals” tab on the NavBar to find out more.
- Use your existing contacts or family as a source of new friends – you never know sho you’ll come up with.
- Accept invitations to work, school or club social activities and functions and use these as an opportunity to network for new friends.
- Don’t compromise – if you come across someone that just isn’t working out, don’t compromise on your morals or behaviours to make it work. You’ll only be disappointed in the end. A few good quality friendships are better than any number of so-so ones.
- Be approachable – you may find it daunting looking for a new friend, but try not to look too nervous as you’ll only put off prospective candidates. Smile and be pleasant. Give a little of yourself, but it’s too early to be sharing your deepest secrets, and ask open ended questions to get something out of the person you’re talking to.
- Follow-up – if you’ve struck accord with someone you’ve met, get their contact details and keep in touch!
If you are a little shy or perhaps just find it difficult to start a conversation, it may be difficult to make new friends. But it’s important to get over your shy urge and just get talking, or else you’ll never build new friendships.
Try targeting other shy people at social functions (they’re the ones that look just as awkward as you) and introduce yourself. Start with simple question like “What do you do?”, or ask about their kids – that’s always a good topic of conversation.
Don’t forget that it takes time to develop a good relationship – so don’t expect a new close personal friend overnight, but expect to spend more time nurturing your new found friendship.
How to deal with bad friendships
Perhaps you have some existing friends that you know are bad for you, take advantage of you, or maybe one of your good friends starts behaving badly – whatever the reason, bad friendships are not good for you and either have to be repaired or ditched.
The important thing is to discuss the problem with your friend – perhaps they don’t realise what they have done or that it has upset you, or perhaps they are having problems of their own. If you open up the dialog, you may be surprised by the outcome.
It’s important to pick the right timing – don’t try to discuss the problem when you or your friend are angry. Explain how you feel and patiently listen when they talk about their feelings too. Avoid accusations and blame – just deal with the facts, rather than emotions.
You may need to give them some space - in this time you may both may get over it, which will just strengthen your friendship further, or you’ll realise that your friendship really is over. If you come to this realisation, don’t deny it and just move on.
The important thing is not to let bad friendships make you become a bad friend yourself, and certainly don’t let bad friends influence the way you behave.
What are YOUR friendship goals going to be?
And make sure you monitor your friendship goals too – good friends can go bad, and normal friends can turn into close personal friends without you even noticing! Use the friendship hierarchy above to do a periodic review of the health of your friendship goals.