Do you and your spouse set aside time once a year to plan for the next 12 months? Making time together for planning, intention, and strategic thought as you move into the future together will bind you closer together and give you shared goals to work toward as a couple. We’ve found that there’s great value in pausing to talk about the direction you’re headed going forward.

The New Year’s celebration might be behind us already, but you don’t have to wait until next January to build a shared vision with your spouse. It’s never too late to dream and plan together, and the beauty is that you can choose any date to do that: your anniversary, a holiday that’s special to you both, or any “normal” day of the week.

To begin building your shared vision, it’s vital to ask yourselves the following three questions:

1. WHO ARE WE AND WHERE ARE WE HEADED AS A COUPLE?

This question isn’t about who you are as individuals, but rather, who you are as a married couple. It’s about your identity as a pair and your dreams for where your relationship is headed in the next year. Answering this question will help you chart your course, then navigate it successfully together.

It can be helpful to focus on where your relationship has been over the past year. If you want to trace back further, you can do that, too (this is especially helpful if you have never built a shared vision before). Looking into the past will inform the road your relationship is on, and it can help you to identify aspects of, or patterns in, your relationship you need to change in order to set a healthier, happier course.

2. WHAT DO WE WANT TO CHANGE OR IMPROVE IN OUR MARRIAGE?

Once you’ve started to dig deep into where you’ve been as a couple, you can pinpoint what that (potentially) says about your future. Do you like where you’re headed? If you don’t, you can begin to envision where you’d like to go instead.

Discuss unhealthy or unhappy routines you might have fallen into. How can you alter those routines to improve your trajectory? If you’ve found yourselves in a rut, what are some things you can do to get out of it?

Talk openly about the things you need to change in order to reach the vision you’re building together. We often ask the couples we talk to, “If your marriage could be 10% better in 12 months, what could that look like for you?” Ten percent may not sound like much, but it can be a complete game-changer in your marriage.

3. WHAT EXPERIENCES DO WE WANT TO HAVE TOGETHER IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?

Another component of planning your next 12 months is discussing what you’d like to do together. What are some experiences that would help you build happy memories for yourselves and your family? You could make a list of your dreams for the year, like:

  • Vacations you’d like to take
  • “Staycations” or smaller day outings
  • New habits you’d like to begin together
  • New traditions you want to start with your friends or family

Dreaming of all the ways you can make new, happy memories together is fun. Get creative–you can even revisit old memories and experiences that made you happy in the past. Recreate them if you’d like. The point is to focus solely on the experiences and dreams that breathe life into your relationship and get you excited about the future.

WRITING IT DOWN HELPS IT HAPPEN

Be sure to write down your dreams for the next 12 months. Research shows that when you write something down, you’re 80% more likely to do it than if you don’t put it on paper. Those are pretty high odds for achieving your goals together!

Write down your top six or seven goals for the coming months, including the things you’d like to improve and things you want to accomplish together. Then, stick to your list. You’ll be surprised at how much can change when you make a plan, write it down, and keep it nearby.

Do you and your spouse set goals each year?

Do you do it at New Year’s, on your anniversary, or at another time?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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