Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.
Face Dragons wants to arm you with the skills you need to live a successful life which almost always means changing your behavior and learning new things. One of the parts of life that will make more difference to your life experience than any other is your relationship with your partner (boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.) Couple Goals will give you something to work toward together.
Full disclosure: I’m not a relationship expert and don’t have the skills to turn around a terrible relationship. But after over a decade of happy marriage, I can give you some hints on how to make your relationship a success and to stop you from ever needing to find a counselor or couples therapist in the first place.
Do You Need to Make Relationship Goals?
“My Grandparents were married for 146 years and never made no relationship goals! And they smoked too!”
Of course, you don’t need to make relationship goals for a successful relationship. If you have someone you love, trust, and are happy, keep doing what you’re doing!
But we do many things that we don’t need to do. For example, you don’t need to have that slice of cheesecake on your cheat day, but you do, and you enjoy it, and why not! So relationship goals are like cheesecake? No, they’re more like a pizza where you can choose two different toppings, but you both have a piece of each other’s half, even though it’s not your favorite.
Let me explain.
Despite what Disney movies and Ol’ Grandpa Joe might have told you, you probably want different things than your significant other. Shock!
Sure, you likely have many expectations in common; you might want to move in together, get married, have kids, etc. But those things are expected by almost everyone. But what about the other expectations you have of life and your partner?
I grew up in the English countryside and always imagined living in a large house with views of fields, tractors going back and forth all day, and a big dog at my feet (a Doberman.) But my wife grew up in a Chinese city with a population larger than London and never saw herself living anywhere but a highrise apartment with views of neon signs and gridlock down below.
If you don’t sit down and discuss these things, two decades will pass, and one of you will wonder what happened to their dream house.
So how do we set a goal for where we want to settle down or for anything else?
How to Set Couple Goals That You Can Achieve
I don’t know whether I’ve convinced you of the need to make a couple goal; either way, try this exercise with your other half; it will be enlightening and maybe even a little fun.
Step One: Brain Dump
Ask your partner if they want to do this exercise with you. Warning: it might highlight some conflicting goals or expectations that must be discussed and worked through. We call it a brain dump, dumping things out of your head and onto paper.
But for now, just take a piece of paper each and write down any things you want to do, achieve or own in the following areas:
- Experience you want to have or things you want to own
- Things you want or expect from your partner
You can set a time limit of three minutes per topic, so this doesn’t last all night. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get everything down; just write down whatever comes to mind.
Step Two: Pick Three
Now look back at your list of goals and circle three in each topic, so you both should have 15 circled goals. These should be the most important of your ideas, the ones you really care about achieving and turning into a reality.
Step Three: Compare Lists
If, for example, your three circled “Home” goals are
- Own my own house
- Have a large garden
- Build a treehouse in the yard for kids
And your partner’s three are:
- Live in Italy
- Buy a house with a wine cellar
- Live in a village
Then although you both probably have different ideas of how and where you want to live, it is possible that you both get the three things most important to you. If neither of you has objections to the other person’s goals, you have the beginnings of a couple of goals there.
If your goals don’t match up and you find conflicts, you must talk it through and compromise. The key to a successful marriage, I have found, is that the relationship’s success is more important than getting what you want.
Does that mean you should give up your dream of living in Italy if your partner is against it? Maybe.
Your partner will recognize the sacrifice you’ve made and will likely return the favor one day.
Step Four: Create a Couple Goal
The last step is to turn the outcomes of step three into a relationship goal that you both can get behind with min goals to help you along the way.
Using the example above, you may set goals that look like this:
- Buy an Italian villa with a large garden
By researching potential properties online, you can find out how much you need to save, the visas or career situation you’ll need, and maybe even some Italian lessons. These are mini-goals that will help you get to your main goal.
Tips for Making Relationship Goals
Make Short Term Goals
Long-term and short are relative terms, and what they mean to a 16-year-old may be very different to a 40-year-old. Regardless of your specific time frames, a good mix of goals will keep you making progress on the urgent things you want to get done and the achievements that will increase your well-being later in life.
I think of short-term goals as anything I want to get done in the 1-5 year
Make Long Term Goals Too
By setting long-term goals, you keep the finish line in mind, but because the time horizon is so far off, there is less pressure on you.
A long-term goal list is especially important when you are busy and stressed out. By identifying goals that you won’t be able to accomplish in the short term, you can just move them onto your long-term goal list, knowing that you will still get to them eventually.
Set a Stretch Goal
If you’re not aware of stretch goals, you should check out this guide to stretch goals. You’re leaving so much on the table if you don’t have an active stretch goal right now. Stretch goals are objectives that seem almost impossible, either because of the amount of work, the intensity or because they are time-bound.
You don’t necessarily need to complete a stretch goal. Working toward it is enough to get the benefits.
Motivate Each Other
Everyone has those days when you just don’t want to get out of bed, not to mention working on demanding a task or project. It’s those days that having someone helping you to stay accountable and follow through with the things you need to accomplish that day. It’s like both partners have their own cheerleading squad.
Studies show that the most motivating words and key to a successful relationship is a simple “thank you.”
Set SMART Goals
If you’ve never heard of SMART goals before, it stands for:
The SMART goal framework is only a tool. After making your couple goal, go through the list and see if your goal is specific, measurable, etc. If it isn’t, don’t panic, it doesn’t have to be. But you might find that reworking your goal might make them better.
Personal Goals Are Important too.
Aside from the couple goals that the two of you set and work on together, you should also have your own personal goals. Relationship goals are great as they keep you communicated and pointed in the same direction, but there are also times when you want to work on your career goals or business goals that don’t involve your partner.
Maintaining a strong sense of self is a good practice for both partners. It helps maintain balance and a healthy relationship. That might mean having to commit to spend time outside the relationship to achieve this goal. That could be hard on a new relationship, but it should pay off in the long term.
22 Couple Goals You and Your Partner Can Start Working on Today
- Change Location
- Build a Shared Second Brain
- Start a Business Together
- Build a Reading Habit Together
- Start a Morning Routine for Couples
- Start the Ketogenic Diet
- Homeschool? Private School?
- Choose a Martial Art to Train Together
- Go to Church Every Sunday
- Children? How Many?
- Learn a Foreign Language
- Start a Hobby for Couples
- Get Married
- Quit Your Bad Habits Together
- Move in Together
- Decorate the House
- Play Video Games Together
- Couple Charity Work
- Learn to Cook Together
- Improve Your Sex Life
- Go to Bed Earlier