Can friendship goals help us create and maintain longstanding, enriched friendships? Sonia Vadlamani shows how to set and achieve best friend goals with the help of some examples.

 

We meet different people along the journey called life, and while some leave, some stay in our lives as a part of the sojourn. However, not everyone we interact with on a daily basis can be considered a friend.

 

Indeed, most of us have close associations that we classify further into groups as per their significance in our lives, like high-school and college friends, work-friends, hobby-friends, and then the chosen few who we consider as our “squad”; members of our core friendship group. Sadly, sometimes we tend to ignore our closest friends for far too long or end up taking their presence for granted. 

 

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Indeed, friends are the family we choose willingly. A study conducted on nearly 280,000 individuals by Michigan State University in the US revealed that over time friendships are more accurate predictors of one’s health and personal happiness than their family members. Therefore, it’s important to sustain friendships that matter to us. And friendship goals can help us strengthen and cherish these crucial relationships.

 

What are friendship goals?

We’re social beings for the most part, and researchers agree we need closely bonded relationships – like friendships – to thrive. There’s no denying that our friends form a vital part of our lives. In addition to playing a larger role in boosting our well-being and happiness, friends also influence the way we perceive everyday situations, make decisions and our worldview. 

 


Indeed, there are different types of friends one can and should ideally have. But, it’s also true that we attach certain core values to our associations and seek friendships which best fulfill these values or ideals. Friendship goals comprise of ideals, values, activities or experiences that help us govern our relationships. In fact, the lack of clearly established friendship goals can result in estranged or strained relationships, because one or both the friends felt ignored or isolated.

 

Why set friendship goals?

Some of us believe that only romantic relationships in our lives require sustained efforts, and that maintaining friendships is practically effortless. No matter how easily we may make friends, and how easy these friendships may seem, all friendships require some degree of effort to sustain. 

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Friendship goals: travel can reinforce friendship bonds

 

Setting friendship goals can help you foster true friendships that can enrich your life, boosting your well-being and happiness levels. Furthermore, Robert Faris, professor at University of California highlights the role of stable friendships for fulfilment of one’s life goals, suggesting that those with reliable relationship networks are more motivated towards realizing their goals.

 

Examples of friendship goals

Friendship goals can vary for everyone, and there is no “one size fits all” approach possible that you can apply to all your friendships. However, the following examples can be used as a broad benchmark for formulating your own best friend goals.

 

1. Friendship goals for good friends

“Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant,” as the eminent philosopher Socrates stated. Though we may feel that we already know our friends inside out since forever, even the most enduring friendships are a result of continued efforts to uphold the relationship. 

 

“Friendships are more accurate predictors of one’s health and personal happiness than their family members. Therefore, it’s important to sustain them – friendship goals can help us strengthen and cherish crucial relationships.”


Here are some examples of friendship goals you can set for your close friends, with the intent of maintaining the relationship forever:

 

  • Take a keen interest in their lives – Taking your friends for granted and not being attentive to their needs can ruin the friendship. Inquiring about their day, remembering their birthdays and other important milestones, bearing their needs and preferences in mind are some of the ways to show that you care about your friends.
     
  • Listen without criticism or judgment – Remember to listen mindfully as they discuss their dreams, struggles, hopes and aspirations and refrain from offering unsolicited advice. While constructive criticism on certain occasions can be helpful, avoid the temptation to shout “I told you so” too often. Instead, trust them to learn from their setbacks on their own, while offering constant support and encouragement.
     
  • Show your appreciation – Be sure to appreciate every gesture and effort – grand and modest ones alike – that your friends have extended towards you. A simple acknowledgment in the form of “thank you” goes a long way to help build a lasting friendship.
     
  • Spend quality time together – Yes, time is a sacred commodity which we seemingly can’t have enough of, given our fast-paced lives. Be that as it may, take the time to indulge in common interests or hobbies with your friends, like knitting, gardening, cooking or even exercising together. Make time for a movie night, chat over a cup of tea every so often or catch up over drinks and dinner regularly. Attending events that you find interesting together is also a great way to spend time together.
     
  • Travel together – A 2019 analysis by researchers Xavier Matteucci et al revealed that traveling together can help reinforce close friendships through bonding and intimacy, quality time as well as “relational realizations” or a sense of learning through shared experiences. Traveling together can prove to be one of the most effective and enjoyable friendship goals.
     
  • Improve and enrich with new knowledge – Learning new things together and helping each other discover new interests or skills can help foster stronger friendships. Additionally, setting academic achievements, personal milestones or just learning a new hobby together prevents the interactions from becoming monotonous or boring. 
     
  • Allow them their space – Lastly, while it may sound counterintuitive, being close friends doesn’t require you to be overly imposing or inseparable at all times. Researchers Helen Owton et al suggest that good friends can stand to benefit from being close but not too close and letting go periodically. Setting this friendship goal may require you to devise a careful balance between always being there for your friends yet allowing them to recharge in solitude as well as focus on their needs and priorities. The amount of space you allocate to each other will depend on your personalities, socializing needs and “me-time” requirements.

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2. Friendship goals for long-distance friendships

Here’s how you can prevent the physical distance from affecting your friendship:

  • Keep each other updated – You may be living in different cities or continents apart. Still, it’s possible to keep in touch by taking an active interest in the various events in each other’s lives, new developments, goals, interests, etc. It's important to update each other regularly to feel connected with each other, no matter the physical distance.
     
  • Utilize technology – A definite upside of the digital era is that we can stay connected with our friends with ease, thus furthering our friendship goals. In fact, a study by Karen L. Fingerman revealed the positive role of technology in aiding social connectedness and higher happiness levels. While it may not be practical or advisable to call your faraway friends every day, keeping in touch with the help of technology could help evoke a sense of connectedness and dissipate the feelings of isolation and loneliness.
    friend-goals.jpgVideochat with faraway friends to maintain connection shutterstock/insta_goals
     
  • Meet up whenever possible – Try to visit your friend or invite them to your place whenever possible. Alternately, you could chalk up travel plans for a favorite destination and bond as you continue to make new memories along the journey.

 

3. Friendship goals for colleagues/ work-friends

Finding a friend in a co-worker can be a difficult task, especially in a competitive atmosphere. However, it is possible for workplace friendships to blossom with the help of some skillfully strategized friendship goals.

  • Uphold their trust – Workplace environments can be competitive. It’s nice to know when you and your colleagues have each other’s backs. Indeed, you may even make new work-besties with this supportive attitude. Motivate and inspire each other to aim higher and succeed together for nurturing a longstanding relationship.
     
  • Help each other set and fulfill goals – Instead of harboring negative feelings like jealousy and resentment, encourage mutual growth by recognizing each other’s unique strengths, and set growth goals accordingly. Sit down with your workplace buddies to track and review these goals together on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis.
     
  • Socialize after work – Friendship goals can extend beyond routine workplace interactions. Meeting up after work to discuss your day over a drink or socializing with each other’s families can cement the friendship further.

 

How to set friendship goals

Before you set out to draw elaborate plans or strategies for setting your friendship goals, it's important to understand which values, ideals or experiences matter the most to you. Start by determining what you look for in your friendships, and what makes a friendship goal ideal for you. For example, do you seek friendships with like-minded individuals and those with shared interests, as opposed to those who have extremely diverse interests than you? 

 

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Once you have your preferences figured out, proceed to set actionable, timebound goals. Be sure to involve your friends in this process and take their inputs as well. After all, friendship is a two-way street built upon mutual efforts. Be sure to make these friendship goals specific and realistic as well, as it’s easy to get carried away or overwhelmed in the process. Resist the temptation to go overboard – it’s wiser to opt for practicality over thoroughness.

 

RELATED: Goal setting – using SMART goals for motivation and success

 

It's essential that you review your goals periodically, in order to track and measure your progress. These goals can be further categorized into daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals, to enable hassle-free tracking. Attaching a deadline for each of these categories may sound strict but it can keep you more accountable and driven towards acting upon them.

 

Takeaway: friendship goals

Indeed, friendships are unusual, voluntary relationships that we enter willingly, and hence we also need to put in the efforts required on our behalf to maintain these relationships. Setting friendship goals in place can enable us to treasure and benefit from these relationships for the foreseeable future, through consistent efforts. • 

Main image: shutterstock/Cookie Studio
 

 

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Written by Sonia Vadlamani

bert.jpgFitness and healthy food blogger, food photographer and stylist, travel-addict and future self journaler. Sonia loves to write and has resolved to dedicate her life to revealing how easy and important it is to be happier, stronger and fitter each day. Follow her daily pursuits at FitFoodieDiary or on Instagram.

 


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