Goals in Your Relationship

Having goals is important in life, and specifically your relationship. However, many couples I talk to do not realize just how important it is to have goals. The old adage if you don’t have a target you will miss every time applies. Goals allow for the following:

  • You can dream about how you want your relationship to look and create a way to reach your dreams.
  • You can see where you need to work on your relationship and create a plan to move your relationship better.
  • You can loo back and see what you accomplished by reviewing how you did toward your goals.

These are just some of the more obvious items. It is important to note-not all goals are created equal. A goal that is too broad, or not measurable will not be of much help. If I tell Abigail “my goal this year is to be a better husband.” She would say that is nice, but what does that mean? Better than what? How will I know if I am succeeding? The goal is too broad and not measurable. Instead I recommend using S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Using S.M.A.R.T. Goals will help you move your relationship forward by applying: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, time-bound goals to your everyday relationship.
In our examples we will assume a couple has been frustrated by their lack of time to communicate about their relationship on a regular basis. They call this their “communication time.”

Specific: The goal should detail out what you want in unambiguous language.

Examples:
Non-specific: “I want to spend more time with my significant other.”
Specific: “I will spend more time with my significant other by talking to them for at least 10 minutes daily.”

The non-specific example is too broad. What does it mean to spend more time with my significant other? You want to be specific in how you want to accomplish your goal.
The Specific example allows for you to record how often you talked to your significant other.

Measurable: The goal should give you clear evidence of whether it was completed or not.

Examples:
Non-measurable: “I want to spend more time with my significant other.”
Measurable: “I will spend more time with my significant other by by talking to them for at least 10 minutes a day Monday, Wednesday, Friday.”

The non-measurable example is very subjective. If I spend 30 seconds more with my significant other in the course of the month I am achieving the goal but that most likely was not what I wanted.
The measurable example allows for you to record how often you talked and know if you achieved the goal.

Achievable: The goal should not be so difficult it is not achievable. However, you do not want it to be so easy it is not worth writing down.

Examples:
Non-achievable: “We will spend at least 3 hours a night talking about how we are doing as a couple.”
Achievable: “We will spend 10 minutes a day talking about how we are doing as a couple so we can reach out goals.”

For most couples, the non-achievable goal is very difficult to achieve. This goal could set you up for failure if you do not end up talking for 3 hours a night. Eventually, you may give up on the goal.
The achievable example gives most couples who are not used to talking about their relationship on a regular basis an achievable timeframe for discussion. As you become more versed in talking to your significant other you may want to increase the amount of time you spend doing it. It is important to be realistic.

Results focused: The goal should give you a clear result to move your relationship forward, not just to complete an activity.

Examples:
Non-results focused: “We will complete 80% of our “communication time” each week.”
Results-focused: “We will complete 80% of our “communication time” each week so we will engage each other at a deeper level on a regular basis improving our communication.”

In the non-results focused goal, it is all about the activity of doing an activity to check it off the list, it does not look at the question “why are we doing this?”
The results focused example gives you the “why” behind the task. If you want deeper communication and acknowledge communicating more will help you get there then completing 80% on a weekly basis becomes easier to accomplish.

Time-bound: You want to make sure the goal has a specific duration to it. Otherwise, it is easy to put off and never accomplish.

Examples:
Non-Time bound: “We will complete 80% of our communication time.”
Time bound: “We will complete 80% of our communication time each week so we can engage each other at a deeper level on a regular basis improving our communication. We will evaluate this o in our third conversation to see how we are doing in completing our time together.”

In the non-time bound example, you have not given a timeframe to evaluate whether you completed 80% of your communication time. The non-time bound goal makes it to difficult to know if you achieving your goal.
The time bound example gives you a clear expectation of what you are evaluating, how you will evaluate it, and when you will check your progress.

Our S.M.A.R.T. Goal might look like this:
We will complete at least 80% of our communication time on a weekly basis so we can engage each other on a deeper level to improve our long-term communication. We will review our goal weekly in our third conversation.

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