We sat across the table from each other, drinking coffee, watching our baby play, and dreaming about the future. We made lists of things that needed to change, things we wanted to achieve together.
Stop wasting money on fast food.
Lose 20 pounds by Sadie’s first birthday.
Spend more quality time together.
In true “Amy” fashion, I took notes and broke things down into goals and objectives and even gave timelines. We had a plan. Life was going to change for the better. The future was so bright we had to wear shades.
And then life got in the way: Sadie is now 10, and two babies later, I still want to lose those 20 pounds. I still have that paper I took notes on. It’s amazing how much our life would be different if we had actually achieved those goals.
Andy Stanley calls it “The Principle of the Path.” You can have all the dreams, plans, and goals you want, but the path you are actually on always trumps them. We let the path of life take over and lead us instead of purposefully putting one foot in front of the other toward those goals.
In marriage, just like everywhere else in life, we have no idea if we have arrived at our destination if we never actually made a plan and mapped it out. I’m not talking about dreams, or even resolutions, I mean actual, achievable goals that you’ve discussed, written down, and made a step-by-step plan to achieve.
This is especially true in marriage because God has made us a team. We should be working together to move in a common direction. Imagine a team on the field with no idea how to play the game, just a nebulous goal to “win.” I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the other team would crush them.
Michael Hyatt says that only 5% of people actually achieve the goals they set, and the game changing difference between them and the 95% losers (ahem) is that they write them down. So simple. They write out the goals, break them down into steps, and keep it visible. Wow. So simple.
So, that’s what we did.
Together, we reviewed the ones that we wrote 10 years ago (He couldn’t believe I still had the paper, either) and talked about where we have taken steps forward and where we have backslidden.
A few of our past goals have made some progress: He has committed to fitness and consistently become a Crossfit follower for the past year, so that goal only needed some tweaking on my end. We had both grown spiritually individually and as a couple, but our prayer life together has waxed and waned, so we made some recommitments there.
But our real area of need, and our biggest struggle as a team, was our finances. Ten years ago, we wrote down, “Get out of debt and commit to saving more.” I tried to not let the past bog me down, but if we had really committed to this then, where would we be now?
A good honest talk about it really helped us to nail down some of our worst culprits and the steps we need to take to financial freedom. We’re tracking our spending closely, keeping every receipt in a box so that we can sit down together at the end of the month and review. Even without a receipt we’re writing our own, like this morning’s $1.99 episode of “The Blacklist” on Amazon.
I also made detailed (maybe too detailed) charts and lists with our Dave Ramsey-ish snowball calendar. Working together as a team on this will make huge strides forward.
Your specific goals will certainly look different from ours, but here are the 3 steps you can take in setting your own:
1. Set aside time.
Get a babysitter, take your spouse out to dinner, bring a notebook, and answer: What needs to change? Where are you struggling? Where are you thriving?
2. Brainstorm together and then make a plan.
What are your goals? Use the SMART rule for setting them. They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. The difference between a SMART goal and one that is not is the difference between “Spend more time together” and “Have a date night once a week for the next month.” One is too vague; one is very specific, realistic, and sets a time for action.
3. Revisit your goals monthly.
How are you progressing? What needs to change? Celebrate your victories and troubleshoot the areas that need improvement.
I know our lives are busy, and it’s hard to find time to sit down and stare into each other’s eyes and dream together, but imagine the outcome. Think of one of those goals right now and then mentally follow it to the end. Wouldn’t it be beautiful? Don’t let the path lead you, you set your own–one foot in front of the other toward your mutual goals.
A year from now you’ll be glad you did.
Do you and your spouse set goals together? Start a conversation with your friends by sharing one of these photos: