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One way that me and my husband are complete opposites is how we view the future. While I am the planner in the relationship, my husband is more spontaneous and often has difficulty seeing too far into the future. As a result, I end up taking point on the things in our lives that need planning in advance. I usually plan most of the details of our trips, our budget, and savings goals for the future.
I am the one that is thinking about the kind of house we want when we move in a couple of years and the schools that will be available to our future children. In my husband’s mind, these things don’t need to be worried about until years from now. In mine, if we don’t prepare and plan for them they will never happen.
Whether you are a planner or fly by the seat of your pants, goal setting in a relationship can be an effective way to explore each of your dreams for the future together. Marriage or a long-term committed relationship can change the way you look at goals and dreams, because your significant other is now a key part of your future and it is important that you discuss what that looks like together.
Although I am the planner in our relationship, planning for the future has had me a bit more stumped lately. With two large things in our life, moving and having a family, being up in the air right now it can be hard to see what exactly will happen in the future. Since the timing of when we will have our first child and buying a new home are largely based on factors that are now out of our control, it can be hard to know what the future will hold. Which is why last weekend I decided for us to have a date night to put together a couples vision board to focus on the goals that we do have more control over.
Benefits of goal setting as a couple:
Vocalization of dreams- Sometimes we want to keep our deepest dreams and hopes for the future secret, because they either seem to be unachievable or perhaps a little embarrassing. But in your relationship with your partner you want to be able to share these hopes and dreams so you can deepen the connection you have by learning more about what is important to each other. This is especially important before you make a long term commitment to each other. If you don’t feel comfortable vocalizing your goals and hopes for the future with your significant other, this is a definite red flag.
Getting on the same page- Do you have contradictory goals? Is your plan for both of you to work so you can retire early while your significant other wants to be a stay-at-home parent? Or does a mutual goal such as traveling Europe for a year clash with your desire to have children as soon as possible? Discussing your goals and dreams can help you make sure that the goals are actually realistic and fit with your significant other’s view of the future. You can also start by reflecting on your previous year. I now sell printables (both dated and undated) in my Etsy shop to help you do exactly that.
Help you set the wheels in motion- From a very practical standpoint, if you don’t do any planning for future goals, they are just not going to happen. If you want to buy a house, you have to make room in your budget for saving for a down payment. If you want to have children, you will want to figure out what that means for your relationship, career, and even living situation. A big European vacation may need to be worked around your limited vacation days and your budget could determine whether you are staying in hostels or 4 star hotels. So setting goals can help you identify the practical steps needed to actually achieve them.
Create accountability- Whether they are personal goals or ones for your relationship, verbalizing and displaying them can have the added benefit of keeping you accountable. A couples vision board is a visual reminder, but determining goals together also gives you a built in accountability partner in the road to achieving them.
How to create a couples vision board
Supplies you need for a couples vision board:
Small bulletin board or poster board
Old magazines, brochures, and pictures
Embellishments such as washi tape, maps, trinkets etc.
Thumbtacks or glue
Time Frame and Categories
Begin by establishing a time frame for your couples vision board, this could be just for the next calendar year or the next five years. We chose two years. Also decide on what categories you may want included on your vision board. Examples include: travel, career, hobbies, experiences, home projects, relationship, volunteering etc.
Brainstorm and Clip
Gather a pile of old magazines, fliers, and photos and a pair of scissors. Both clip anything that inspires you or may be representative of a dream or priority that you have for the future. These can be pictures, phrases, or words.
When you each have a collection of pictures, discuss what each means to you and how they represent a dream for the future. We chose to arrange the images by category. Since travel is a big priority in our relationship, this ended up taking up a good part of our vision board. We also chose to center growing our relationship and our hope for a child in the middle of the board.
As you can see from our “finished” project, there are some holes still on our vision board. A vision board doesn’t have to be a one and done activity. It can facilitate the start of a discussion about goals and dreams. It can be continually evolving as you decide on new goals or dreams or simply remember something you forgot to add. This is why using a bulletin board and thumb tacks is a great option for this project, because it is easy to move things around and add or remove items.
Pick a place in your home to display your couples vision board where it will be continually visible to you, but can be kept private from house guests. Having this reminder of your goals and vision for the future is key to the accountability part of the project.
What would you add to your own couples vision board?