When my wife and I got married last September, one of the first things I resolved to do was to create a list of questions and topics we would need to discuss in order to arrive at a comprehensive list of goals for our life together. I think my wife is used to my organized nature by now, so when she received an email request for a “meeting” with the list of questions attached, I’m sure she was not surprised. Actually, I think she rather enjoyed it.
Just as goal-setting with yourself is important for achieving what you want out of life, when two become one, your goals must also be compatible, or at least non-conflicting, in order for the marriage to succeed. The wonderful thing is that you can build goals on your partner’s strengths and take them to levels never before thought possible.
The Basics of Goal-Setting
I’m sure that you’ve heard the SMART acronym used at least once before when talking about goals. It’s defined in different ways, depending on who you ask, but essentially drills down to the five major qualities that all successful goals should have:
- Specific – Having a very defined purpose and end in mind
- Measurable - Being able to apply a means of gauging progress
- Attainable - Not too far out of reach
- Relevant – In alignment with your life’s mission and overall goals
- Time-Constrained – Having a set deadline
If you can manage to set goals that address each of these five key areas, you are five steps ahead of the average person trying to figure out what to do with their lives.
Why Time Frames are Important
I believe the most critical component to goal-setting is a time frame in which you want to achieve your goal. Without time frames, goals are just wish lists that may or may not ever happen in your life. A time frame, defined both for the end result, and for intermediate checkpoints, allows for you to understand that not taking specific and measurable actions day by day or week by week would result in falling behind and negatively impact your ability to reach the goal. Try doing that without a deadline!
Back to Partners – What Questions Do I Ask?
Here is a list of questions that you can use to start a comprehensive conversation with your partner about your joint goals. It’s based loosely around the list I used with my wife, but I’ve made a number of additions that I believe are relevant, and removed a few items that were very specific for our family:
- Where do you see your career going?
- What kinds of jobs would you like to have in your lifetime?
- What hobbies will you pursue?
- Do you intend to further your education, and if so – where?
- Is home ownership a desire?
- Would you like to have kids, how many, and when?
- Would you like to donate your time and/or money to charity? Which ones?
- How do you see retirement? How long do you intend to work?
- What importance do you place on health care? Do you want to invest in preventative care? Vitamins? Gym memberships?
- What are your views on borrowing money to make purchases? Would you borrow to buy a car, boat, etc.?
- How important is travel to you? Where do you want to travel and when? How elaborate do you envision the trips?
- Are friends and social interactions important to you? Do you like expensive outings or affordable entertainment?
Okay, now what?
You’ve read about why goals are important, the basics of setting goals, and some of the questions and topics to cover when discussing joint goals with your partner. Now, create a list of your own questions and set aside some time to have a heart-to-heart with your loved one. It may not happen during the first session, but you will soon create a shared feeling of trust and excitement as you realize that you are laying out your new life together for the first time. Enjoy the experience!
Photo by ganesha.isis