How often do you mention to your partner ways that you could or should begin improving your relationship? Often, these goals are mentioned in casual conversation, but couples never take the time to plan out a way to achieve those goals. It turns out that the thought is not all that counts when you continue to have the same troubles in your relationship, despite your good intentions. Instead of just talking about it, take control of what you'd like to change. Sit down together and set SMART goals that will help you take active steps toward improving your relationship. The acronym SMART will help you break down your goals to make them concrete and achievable for you and your partner.
S - Specific: "We should start adopting a more healthy lifestyle" is a very general goal that could manifest itself in a variety of ways. From diet to exercise to taking multivitamins, the possible ways to begin working toward this goal might overwhelm you. Instead, set a specific goal that outlines exactly what you would like to achieve and why. For example, "Because we want to start eating healthier food, let's cut down the number of meals we eat out" is a more specific and less overwhelming goal.
M - Measurable: You can say, "We really need to stop arguing so much," but how do you know when you've achieved what you've set out to do? You need to be able to objectively determine when your goal has been met, using a quantitative measure. If you say instead, "We will only allow ourselves to raise our voices toward each other once per week," you will be able to keep track of how many times you raised your voices and track your progress toward your goal.
A - Attainable: Sometimes people set goals that are not reasonably achievable. You need to consider your life's circumstances and any limitations that would keep you from attaining a goal. For example, your goal might be to start spending more quality time together. However, if you have a project going on at work that will inevitably keep you there late each night for the foreseeable future, you won't want to try to achieve your goal by having dinner together every night. Perhaps you could make your goal to have a one-on-one date every Saturday, instead.
R - Relevant: The goal that you set with your partner should be something you both really want that will make a difference in your life. Don't get distracted by goals that are irrelevant. Instead, sit down and discuss the big picture - what do you both agree really needs to change? If you don't have this conversation, you might end up setting the goal of saving up enough money to buy new living room furniture when what you really need in your relationship is to begin praying together more.
T - Time-bound: It is noble to agree, "We should cut down our frivolous spending," but it is easy to continue pushing such a goal off each month as reasons to spend the money keep coming up. Every goal should have a realistic deadline to keep you motivated and accountable. Using the SMART method, a good way to implement the above goal would be, "In order to buy a new house, we should be able to cut our entertainment budget by 20% over the next two months, based on our income and necessary expenses."
It's time to stop tossing around ideas of ways you could improve your relationship and take action! Sit down with your partner to set some SMART goals today, and you'll be amazed how much you can accomplish together.
Loo, Tristan. "Create SMART Goals." Selfgrowth.com.
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