How I Convinced My Husband to Set Yearly Goals Together

I like setting goals and planning ahead. It’s the only way I can keep all my big ideas straight and to make sure I can accomplish them in a reasonable time frame. My husband, on the other hand, is more of the carefree, live each day as it comes kind of guy. Yet somehow we manage to sit down each December to chat about our personal goals and plans for the upcoming year.

Our yearly planning sessions are crucial to maintaining a happy marriage. Together we both feel more empowered to take over the world. Or at the very least, we have a strategy in place for the next 12 months. It reminds us that we’re a team.

I didn’t used to be a planner, but setting goals made sense when I started my home-based business. Eventually my desire to formulate a five-year plan for my business seeped into our family’s future too. My husband was happy to let me be the bigger dreamer in our relationship, but I wanted input from him too.

Instead of worrying about the future, he’s always optimistic that everything will work out for the best. His ability to be present and enjoy the moment is one of the qualities that attracted me to him. As someone who usually expects the best but plans for the worst, I wasn’t bothered by his lackadaisical attitude about the future until we became parents.

Once we became responsible for tiny human beings and eventually rose out of our sleep-deprived haze, it became more important to me to figure out what we would do with our lives. It’s the overachiever in me. I can’t help it. He resisted at first my early attempts to create our plan together. My mistake was making it a big deal. I wanted to sit down at a table and write down our goals. The formality of the process put too much pressure on my husband. He would just agree to everything I suggested and didn’t contribute like I hoped he would.

Now we just talk, instead of pulling out pen and paper. Our planning session is very informal, impromptu even. The past few years, our discussion occurs on the drive home from his work holiday party. During the 30-minute drive home, satiated with festive food and beverages, we sit in the darkness of our warm car to discuss our future. We start with light topics such as our next family vacation or what extracurricular activities are best for our children’s interests.

After that warm up, we veer into our own personal and career goals. Most importantly we make sure to celebrate each other’s accomplishments from the current year. This chat ensures we’re on the same page. If our goals are incongruent to each other’s, we try to figure out how to make both work. If both won’t work, which one can wait?

My husband tends to put our family’s needs over his own. Our yearly conversation helps me support his dreams and intentions. He’s my biggest cheerleader when it comes to my personal and career goals, and he’s happy to sit on the sidelines. But I don’t want to be the only one running the race. I want him to reach his goals too, even if his finish line looks different from mine.

Our goals and plans are not super specific during this chat. We don’t detail steps to make things happen. It’s not how my husband’s brain works. He trusts me to figure out the steps. Once I have a basic plan, we work together to make it happen. We play on each other’s strengths.

The big holiday work party is coming up. Besides dressing up and hanging out with his co-workers, I’m looking forward to our after party. We’re going to rock 2015. Together.

How do you and your husband set your family’s goals for the upcoming year?

Photo: Getty