Reminders of the holidays - shopping bills, tight waistband, and fruitcake - are still ever-present. Thus, 'tis not too late to make or change your new year's resolutions. Before you plunge into February, take a quiet moment with your spouse to count your blessings and consider your future.
Reserve a block of time (at least two hours) so the two of you can reflect and record the things you value. Start by recalling the people who touched your lives over the past year. Next to their names, write down the ways they enriched your life. The immediate list will probably include family, longtime friends, new acquaintances, and neighbors. Don't forget to include those who provide you and your family with services (teachers, pastors, work peers, etc.).
Next, think about the material possessions you have - things that keep you warm, healthy, and comfortable. Write down "home" even if your family has outgrown it and a move is on the horizon. If you celebrate your current blessings, you'll find comfort in knowing that your needs can be met today, tomorrow, and throughout the year.
Remember to include the primary blessings like health, love, employment, and friendship. One RFRF couple felt overwhelmed with gratitude and abundance when they reviewed their list. "We really discussed how lucky we are to have good health and each other," said Lynda Hannan of Ohio.
Then, turn your attention to the future. Create individual lists of the things you hope to accomplish in the following year, and take turns explaining your list. When finished, the other partner should acknowledge in a positive manner the hopes expressed. "When I see my partner's goals, it's a little surprising look inside him!" said a wife from South Carolina. "For example, I never would have thought that learning the piano was a goal of his. It makes me happy that he, too, is interested in music and willing to work slowly at a new skill."
Some goals may require help and support from the other person. For example, if one spouse wants to lose 15 pounds, the other may offer to watch the kids while he or she exercises - and will resist bringing home a five-pound box of chocolates for Valentine's Day.
Elizabeth K. wrote that setting a goal "makes it more important for us to dedicate some effort toward achieving it." She and her husband prefer fine tuning areas of their lives instead of "drastic resolutions that we may or may not keep." For instance, one of their resolutions is to plan family game night or Friday celebrations when they are "feeling caught up in commitments that take away from family time."
The Hannans said that they are going to meet every Saturday morning to prepare a menu for the week and grocery list, in hope to eat better and get into shape.
To share your goals with your spouse creates a support system. When the going gets tough, as it invariably will, your spouse can encourage you to not give up. The time you two spend recounting your blessings will give you ammunition for bolstering hope.
A New York couple said the project was a great way to reconnect for the coming year. "My husband said it made him very grateful. I was happy to do this with him. I was reminded of how he is a man of few words," said his wife. "I think this was a very good end-of-the-year project. I wouldn't know what he was thinking if not for this project."
TAKE IT FROM ME
'About ten years ago, my spouse found Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People a great way to prioritize and list goals for himself, both short term and long term. I hadn't been a goal setter until recently and I found that it definitely helps put things in perspective. Having set a goal makes it more important for us to dedicate some effort toward achieving it!'
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