Let’s talk about relationship goals. No, not the vague social media hashtag, but the actual specific goals that you and your partner have for your own unique relationship. And that’s where it can get hard – putting your good intentions into real action instead of just remaining vague and abstract ideas of what you should or could be.
The CHANGE Model gives you concrete steps to help you develop an action plan for your relationship goals:
- Commit – agree on a specific goal.
First things first. What is your goal? Perhaps you want to become better listeners for each other, or make one-on-one quality time more of a priority, or maybe you just want to improve the overall closeness in your relationship. Whatever it is, lay it out there. Write it down, put it on a post-it on the fridge, do what you need to do to commit to it together.
- Habits – out with the old, in with the new.
Are screens an ever-present distraction in your home? Do your smartphones have a place at your dinner table? Is your television on more than it is off? Take breaks from devices and social media and make time for focused attention on one another. You might not even realize how ingrained these habits have become, until you consciously try to break them!
- Action – one (baby) step at a time.
On the surface, these big-picture goals can seem daunting. Where do you even begin? Break down the larger goal into bite-size chunks. What small, simple things can you and your partner do each day to work toward your goal? Perhaps you log into your Netflix account and make sure the next movie that arrives is one that your partner casually mentioned he/she wanted to watch (show them you were listening!) Maybe you treat yourselves to takeout one evening if one or both of you has had a long day and don’t feel like cooking—not only can you relieve some of your partner’s stress, but you create an opportunity for quality time while sharing a meal. These seemingly small, thoughtful gestures can have exponentially positive effects.
- Never give up – even if you experience setbacks!
Inevitably, life happens, and after weeks of great progress you may suddenly find yourselves back at square one (or even square zero!) The thing about relationships is they are always a work in progress! If you use setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow together, you will always be on a path toward a stronger relationship.
- Goal-oriented – stay focused on the positive.
Don’t let yourself get weighed down by a bad day or a bad week. Acknowledge and give yourself and each other credit for the efforts and changes you’ve made. Compliment each other, thank each other, encourage each other!
- Evaluate progress – and reward yourselves!
Set up a time each week to reflect on the progress you’ve made. Feeling closer, happier, and more appreciated in your relationship might be a reward in itself, but feel free to plan something special to celebrate how far you’ve come together!
Realizing that you and your partner can, in fact, set goals for your relationship and reach them gives you a sense of united confidence, a perfect way to build resilience. Plus, you’ll bond throughout the process – what more could you ask for? Let us know in the comments the goals you’ve reached together or are striving for this year.