We use goals to improve all areas of our lives—from health and finances to career and marriage. And accomplishing a goal isn’t even the only benefit of setting one in the first place!

It turns out that the very act of setting and working toward a goal can boost your well-being and self-confidence. Having a personal mission or objective provides a grounding sense of direction, purpose, and responsibility that can have a positive impact on you and those around you, as well.

For example, goal-setting with your spouse can be a rewarding way to strengthen your bond and grow together, in addition to growing personally. Here are three effective strategies for setting goals as a couple:

1. Talk Shop

Communicating openly, regularly, and specifically about your goals and dreams helps you solidify them in your mind and develop a realistic action plan to help you achieve them. Research also suggests that telling someone about a goal enhances accountability and improve your odds of success.

Include what, how, and why in your discussions:

  • What do you want to accomplish? Be as specific as possible.
  • How do you plan to accomplish it? Think about specific daily behaviors you’ll need to develop or practice.
  • Why do you want to accomplish it? Look at the underlying values driving these goals—e.g., to provide for your family, improve your relationship, or make an impact on your community.

Be each other’s cheerleaders and make a conscious effort to bring goal-setting into your conversations!

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2. Write Things Down

Writing down your goals is consistently shown to improve the odds of success. As a follow-up to your goal-setting discussion with your partner, write down your individual and/or shared goals. Make it fun and purposeful by buying a special journal or storing written goals in specific areas in the house where you’ll come across them regularly.

3. Designate Time for Progress Updates

Routinely update each other about how your goals are going—daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly could all be appropriate, depending on the nature and context of your goal. Not only does this help keep goals at the forefront of your minds, but it also provides an opportunity for feedback, problem-solving, and modifications.

What to Do When Your Partner Isn’t Interested in Setting Goals

If your partner doesn’t share the same zeal for goal-setting, you can still find enjoyment and momentum by focusing on your own vision. Find additional support systems in friends and other family members.

Remember: sometimes we become a source of inspiration to others (including our spouses) simply by diligently working toward things that matter to us, whether that’s becoming a better partner, losing weight, or learning a new skill. Witnessing your efforts and success may end up inspiring your spouse to set out on a new challenge, too. Just resist the temptation to shame your partner or make them think they “should” be setting goals. See if you can find acceptance for your partner as they are.

You might also ask yourself honest questions like:

  • Am I placing unfair expectations on my spouse?
  • Am I not recognizing the ways my partner is pursuing growth or improvement?
  • Is my partner’s disinterest in goal-setting bringing to light an incompatibility in our core values?
  • When I talk about my goals, is my partner encouraging or discouraging?
  • Does my partner support or undermine my efforts?
  • Am I willing to hold peace and acceptance for my partner?

Navigating these questions is difficult. Talking to a marriage counselor can help. If improving your relationship is a major goal for 2021, contact us to schedule a marriage counseling session today or learn about our 2-day intensive marriage counseling retreat or online DIY marriage course.

Jennifer Long

Jennifer Long is a writer, author, and multiple hat wearer with experience across many different industries.