Todo List

The new year is here, which means that everyone is embarking on their New Year’s Resolutions.

Or maybe you don’t believe in doing the resolution thing, but you have a Life List of some sort (you might call it a Bucket List, or something else – it’s a list of goals that you want to complete in your lifetime).

Perhaps you don’t have any long term goals written down, preferring to store that particular list safely in your brain.

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It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of making your plans; “Once I get that raise I am going to buy that gadget” or “This year is going to be different, this year I’m going to exercise more.”

No matter what your goals are, do you take into account the most important part?

As someone who is married, it is vital to set your goals with your spouse.

1 + 1 > 2

There are a number of stories and jokes that have the following principle as their core: two items combined are stronger than the sum of the two individually.

I am sure you’ve heard it in some form, whether in two arrows being harder to break together than singly, two ropes combined being able to hold more weight than they could individually, or just a reference to two minds being better than one.

So it is with you and your spouse. Together, you are stronger and can accomplish more than either of you could individually, or even if you added your accomplishments together.

Why shared goals?

Not only will you be able to accomplish more when working together, but it will be easier.

By planning your goals together, you will ensure that not only are you working on the same goals, but you both know it. This can make a huge difference in how easy it is to reach your goal, simply because you are both working toward exactly the same thing, instead of just something similar (or perhaps opposite!).

Making sure that you are both working toward the exact same goal can save a lot of trouble. If you both agree that you want to “save more money this year” but have different dollar amounts in mind (let’s say $500 and $5,000) then you will both try to save but will be using completely different strategies. One of you won’t mind going out to eat each week while the other is hoping to cut out all extraneous spending until the goal is met.

Wouldn’t this be a lot less frustrating if both of you were on the same page?

I’m sure that you are saying that you’d never be working toward opposite goals. But just imagine that you wanted to save $5,000 to take that dream vacation together next year. However, your spouse’s goal is to redo their wardrobe in order to look more attractive for you.

Both are good goals that benefit the other person, but just imagine how hard it would be to see the money that you place in savings disappear a few days later!

How you help each other

There are a number of ways in which you and your spouse make each other stronger. Here are a few:

  • Provide Encouragement – There’s nothing like having your own personal cheerleader to help keep you going. And, assuming that you have shared goals, they will always be rooting for you to succeed.
  • Accountability Partner – Knowing that you have to tell someone the progress that you are making toward a goal goes a long way in helping you continue moving forward.
  • Motivation Booster – The two above combine together to help make sure that you’re always motivated to complete the goal.
  • New Ideas – That second viewpoint is always helpful, especially when you’re stuck.
  • Sounding Board – Maybe your spouse doesn’t have a new idea, but at least they can listen to you talk out the issue and help you think it through.
  • Fill in Strengths – It is commonly said that opposites attract. If that is true, then you and your spouse will have completely different strengths, and by working together you will be able to fill in each other’s weaknesses.
  • Reminder – Life is busy, and that goal you are working for in your spare time can be easily overlooked. Sometimes just having someone remind you can be invaluable.
  • Cover Your Back – Your spouse can help fill in the gaps while you are focused on reaching a shared goal. Perhaps you’re working over-time to get a raise, then your spouse can temporarily cover the tasks you normally take care of at home.

Setting goals together

Fortunately, setting a goal together is just like setting a goal by yourself, with the additional step of comparing notes and coming to a final conclusion together. Simply figure out what you want your future to look like:

“in 10 years we want to be debt free, be earning $x a year, and have visited all 50 states”

then break those goals into smaller steps:

“to be debt free we will cut up our credit cards, live off of one pay check and use the other to pay off debt”.

And then go further still if necessary:

“so that we can live off of one pay check we will cancel our cable, take our lunch to work, and only give ourselves $x spending money each month.”

As you can see, the end goal is very obtainable, but only if you work together.

Without being on the same page, you will inadvertently sabotage each other and struggle to meet the goal. However, by working together you are likely to reach your goal even faster than you thought possible.

What are some goals that you and your spouse share?  Share them in the comments!

This post was written by Matthew from  Be sure to go grab his free e-book full of Ready to Go Dates for you to enjoy together in the New Year!

(photo source)


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. Those are some great ideas. I think common goals work well together because they focus a person (couple) on the future and provide a sense of hope.

    1. I certainly agree with you! A couple who focuses on the same future is far more likely to reach it than a couple who doesn’t share their goals.

  2. I definitely share my goals with my husband and vice versa. It’s an annual “exchange” we do each year. We not only write down goals for ourselves but one or two goals we want the other to work on. And then we hold each other accountable all year long. My list usually doesn’t contain more than 5 things because I want to be able to successfully complete each one. And with my hubby as my accountability partner, it is very rare that I don’t successfully complete all the items on my list.

    1. The idea of an annual “goal exchange” is great! Especially the dual nature of goals for yourself and for your spouse. That could certainly be eye-opening for some. 😀

      Congrats on your continued success!

  3. As a personal finance blogger, I think that shared financial goals are the key to a happy marriage. In 2007, three mos. after we got married, we dove into paying off unsecured debt of more than $55,500 (more than half was due to Mr. Sam’s MBA loans).

    When I suggested we could buckle down and get the debt paid off in one year, Mr. Sam thought I was crazy, but he was all for the idea. I had to communicate with him in a way he could understand and since he’s a numbers guy I created the first of our annual spending plans and I showed him the numbers, what it takes to run our primary home, what it takes to fund our investment properties, how much is coming in via salary and rent, etc., etc., etc. Once I showed him that it was possible, he was fully on board and his cooperation and commitment was key to getting it done. While we fell a bit short (did not pay off the debt until January 2009 – a month late) meeting that challenge during our first year of marriage has made our financial health and our marital health a million times better.

    This year he has resolved to improve his physical health by working out and eating better. I’ll help him by waking him up each day at 5.30 a.m. and by not bring home foods that tempt him.

    1. Congratulations on knocking out that debt!

      It’s amazing what we can accomplish by working together with your spouse. I know first-hand how important active support will be to meet his current goal. Keep up the excellent work!

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