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04
Jan

Relationship Goal-Setting: It Isn’t Sexy, But It Works

It’s January and if you are like us, you are busy thinking about your New Year’s resolutions and 2011 goals.  When you think of goal setting, it’s not a sexy topic. At first blush, you might not think about goals and your relationship at the same time. However, unless you give attention to your relationship, it will stay the same. We just love that quote defining insanity:

 “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

So ask yourself: Has your relationship been “stuck?” Are you going insane? Maybe it’s time for you and your partner to start creating some relationship goals.

For example, if you are dating casually, you may have a goal to advance the relationship to exclusivity.  If you are in an exclusive relationship, you may have a goal to get engaged, get married or move in together.  If you are happily married, you may have a goal to build an extraordinary relationship. If you are unhappily married, you may have a goal of reviving your relationship.

Individual Goals  vs.  Joint Goals

We will make this very simple. There are two categories of relationship goals:

(1) Individual goals about the relationship, and

(2) Joint goals about the relationship. 

Here is an example of each.  “I want to become a better listener” is an individual goal.  “We will add more play and fun to our relationship by making an extra date night on Wednesdays” is a joint goal.  Here’s the difference: with the joint relationship goals, both partners must agree to them and participate in them.

Our Goals Setting Process

Our process every year is simple.

1. On our own, we revise our own individual goals for the new year.  These individual goals include personal goals and individual relationship goals. These do not need to be agreed upon, and sharing is optional.

2. Next, we individually write some ideas for joint relationship goals.

3. We share our joint relationship goals with each other and begin the process of crafting mutually agreeable joint goals.  When we both come up with a similar goal, it’s easy to meld our individual versions into a common goal.  When they don’t meld, we discuss them. Some become joint goals, and some get pitched.

For example, Lewis’ proposed goal of a scuba diving vacation got nixed when he discovered Diane is not a fan of the underwater world.  However, Diane’s proposal for working together on a flower garden was happily adopted by Lewis.  We never try to coerce each other into adopting a joint goal that we are not both excited about.

Things Not To Forget

We make our goals comprehensive, covering all aspects of our relationship: home, family, work, leisure and finances.  We ask two questions that help us create our joint goals: (1) What do we value in our relationship, and (2) What do we want to improve in our relationship?

We write down our goals. Why? The kinetic energy of hand writing goals seems to helps with the manifestation process.  Our goals, whether joint or individual, become clearer and easier to understand when written. Most importantly, we can refer back to our written goals to see how we are doing. This helps us stay committed.

Think Big, Plan Small

We think BIG about our goals so that they excite us.  For example, a set of financial goals might include: be debt-free, obtain a vacation home and retire at age 62.  However, once we agree on the big goal, we plan the small steps necessary to achieve those goals.  These small action steps are things we can achieve in the current year. We love feeling successful and we always celebrate our little wins.  We make sure our celebrations are ridiculously fun!

Benefits Of Goal Setting

First benefit: We connect to each other as we dream about our future together. 

Second benefit: We discover where our dreams are not in alignment and decide how to deal with that without judging or arguing

Third benefit: We create action steps that will ensure our success as a couple.

In our office, we took the advice of the wise and created a vision bulletin board.

“Hold an image of the life you want, and that image will become fact”.  Dr. Vincent Norman Peale

The Fun of Sharing Our Individual Goals With Each Other

 Although our individual goals don’t necessarily have anything to do with our relationship, we choose share these with each other.  This helps us understand what is important to each other.  Intimacy is instantly created. Furthermore, we find ways to help and support each other accomplish our goals.  For example, Lewis has a goal to walk 20 minutes each day and Diane has a goal to do two Toastmaster speeches a month. We support each other by scheduling daily walks together during which Diane practices her speeches.  

Using a Coach

When you have a coach, you do what you say you’re going to do.  Why? Because you know that your coach is going to ask you if you followed through. We like to call it “healthy pressure.’

Throughout history, kings, presidents, rulers, athletes and actors have used coaches. Today, coaches are used in many areas of life, including relationships.

There is no lack of information about coaching. Suffice it to say that we have used a fabulous coach and now offer relationship coaching to others.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Here it is–an oldie but goodie–like business goals, relationship goals should be S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.  The more your goals embody these five characteristics, the more likely you will achieve them.     

Speaking of  Goals

“There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.”  Jim Rohn