A new year means new resolutions. And if you’re married, these new resolutions will likely be influenced by your other half. Unfortunately, goal setting can get complicated when there are two people involved with different priorities and opinions. Innocent suggestions like, “I want to cook carb-free dinners this year,” might be rebutted with, “Carbs are my life—are you trying to ruin me?” Yes, even the simplest of goals can become a point of contention in a partnership if you’re not intentional about it.
Thankfully, goal setting with someone else has plenty of pros to balance out the cons, like goal development help, built in accountability, and regular encouragement. So if you’ve never set goals with a partner (or you’re just terrible at it), here are a few tips for keeping the peace and developing a plan to reach your goals…together.
Start with the big picture, then identify and resolve conflicts.
What are the biggest things that you want to accomplish this year? How do those break down in your day-to-day life? Are there any conflicts between your goals and your partner’s? For example, if you want to quit eating after 7:00pm every evening and your partner gets home at 7:30pm, you might need to adjust your goal to accommodate your shared dinner schedule, especially if one of your goals is to spend more quality time together.
Write that mess down.
Everyone knows that research has shown the benefit of written goals. So this year, let’s resolve to make it a priority. Decide whether you’d like to keep a shared notebook or separate ones, and then sit down together and write it all out. This process will bring clarity to your big picture goals and help you devise a plan to accomplish them.
Get into the habit of encouragement.
Now that you’ve written out what you and your partner are hoping to accomplish this year, make a habit of encouraging each other to stick to it. Send an uplifting text message, buy a card, or take an active role in helping your partner reach their goals. You’re a team, so your partner’s win is your win.
Hold each other accountable.
In addition to regular encouragement, hold each other accountable so that you both can stay on course. Accountability should never feel like a nag, so agree on a system of accountability together. Maybe you have a daily checklist or a weekly meeting to see how you’re both tracking. Get creative and find a rhythm that feels good.
Revisit and reset—goal setting isn’t a one and done process.
Your hopes will likely ebb and flow during the year, so adjust your goals accordingly. Time commitments, family situations, and even tragedy should cause you to adjust your goals and the expectations you have for yourself. This is easier when you have a partner helping you reset. Revisit your goals together regularly, perhaps monthly, to make necessary adjustments as you go.
Goal setting with a partner might feel like more trouble than it’s worth at times, but if you can work through the conflicts and act as a team, your partnership will help you accomplish more than you could have alone. And if cutting out carbs would ruin you, maybe you and your partner should consider it…but probably not.