Make A Business Plan For Your Marriage & Post It On The Fridge
In working with companies to create business plans, I always start with a conversation about goal setting. How could you possibly create a business plan without a goal to achieve by working the plan? Clients are taught to create milestones to measure success along the way and they are held accountable for doing tasks to achieve each milestone. Tracking activities to reach the goals is critical. But before any of that can occur they have to dream.
Step One: Dream
When given the task of “goal setting” people typically start with an amount of money they’d like to earn. Sometimes they’ll have a clear idea of what they will do with that money, sometimes they just choose a dollar amount because they think they are supposed to do that.
In business there is an old story that’s been recycled for years about a graduating class from Harvard. On graduation day when the class was asked “do you have clearly written goals?” only 3% responded “yes”. Ten years later, the same group of people were assessed. The 3% that had clearly written goals were worth more than the other 97% of the class combined. Humm… I can’t think of any reasons not to set goals, just in case that story is accurate!
The key to goal setting is to be as specific as possible and create milestones to measure along the way to make sure you are on the right path working toward a longer term achievement. For example, if your goal is to earn more money, you first have to be more specific. How much money will you earn, by when will you earn it? What do you have to do to get there? Look for a new job? Ask for a raise? Sell a new account? Go back to school and finish your degree? What steps do you need to take to get to the earnings goal? Create a plan to move through each step with a timeline attached.
Step Two: Set Goals Together
Two things are important regarding goal setting as a couple. Number one, it’s fine to set individual goals, but you must share them with your spouse and make sure they fit with their goals. You both might want to earn a lot of money, but if one of you is working to earn money to send kids to college and the other is working to earn money to travel first class all over the world without kids, you both have nice dreams, but you may be out of whack as a couple.
My recommendation is to dream on your own first. It’s important that you discover what is important to you and share that with your partner. If you skip that part and go directly to step two, the more vocal or determined of the partnership will dominate the conversation and the other will go along with their goals, simply because they don’t have any other dreams to include in the master plan.
Setting goals together is an on-going activity. Check in with your partner on a consistent basis to see if their ideal dream today is the same as the plan they shared years (or months) ago.
Step Three: Create Your Dream in Pictures
It’s important to dream together in pictures. Most people on the planet are highly “visual” meaning, they think in pictures. When you are dreaming, dream big and allow your subconscious mind the opportunity to play along by creating a visual display of pictures of your dreams. The mind thinks and processes information in pictures. If you want to train your mind to deliver what you want, do it in pictures.
Why this isn’t a “no brainer” in a marital partnership I will never know. Why people are surprised to learn after years of marriage that one spouse wants to travel the world and the other dreams of spending free time visiting with family doesn’t make any sense. Dream together. Dream in pictures. Discuss your goals and plans together. If you are not on the same page, decide if it’s worth fighting for or if you want it because you think you should based on what we’ve been taught by society and the media.
Save some old magazines for an evening of cutting & pasting to create your dream in pictures. As you cut out a photo, describe to your partner why you chose that for your visual display. When you agree together on all the photos for your joint picture board you are ready to paste them onto a piece of cardboard to make a collage of dreams.
The most important part of creating the picture board of your dreams together is taping it to your refrigerator to remind each other everyday that you are working together toward a common dream. Keeping your dreams present makes it easier to stay connected to what’s important to you as a couple. Companies create business plans and hang mission statements in their lobby area to keep them focused, couples create picture boards for the fridge.