By Aaron and Hilary Bernstein, Contributing Writers
As we shared in November, our marriage proves that opposites attract. One of our many differences involves planning. Hilary makes a detailed to-do list every.single.day. Aaron almost never writes any tasks down, but keeps a flexible list in his head.
In much the same way, each year Hilary loves to make New Year’s resolutions – and follow through with them. Aaron doesn’t see the point in having a “special day” to resolve to make big changes in someone’s life.
However, early in our marriage we started sitting down together in the first few days of the new year to talk about what we wanted to accomplish in our marriage. We learned that people tend to be more successful when they write down their goals when compared to those who don’t. In those dreaming sessions, “Our Goals” list was born.
Every January, we brainstorm what we would like to achieve – individually and together – in the six months, year, two years, five years, and ten years. We pray about and contemplate the spiritual, social, physical, personal, professional, and financial areas of our lives and marriage. We narrow the list to our definite goals and write them on poster board. Then we hang the poster up in a spot the two of us will see often. (For years, it was in our bedroom closet. When we moved, it moved to our laundry room.) As soon as we accomplish a goal, we mark it off.
Not only does our goal list keep us focused on what we’re trying to achieve, but it also motivates us to do more once we see goals crossed off. It’s truly rewarding to look back at past goal charts and see how much we’ve accomplished as a couple. Truth be told, we set our goals pretty high. By the grace of God, we have reached several of the goals that had once seemed only to be dreams.
Because of a few very uncertain years, we did take a three-year goal making break. God was moving us in a direction neither of us could predict, and we hunkered down into survival mode – working hard to reach ambitious goals was a little far-fetched when our immediate needs were to adjust to our expanding family, find a new job (twice), and settle in to a new home. At first it seemed like we were too busy or unsettled to set goals, but in hindsight, not having shared goals left us like a ship without a rudder.
While we encountered a lot of stress and change during that time, we were faithfully reminded of Proverbs 16:9 – “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” God answered years of prayers, but did so by taking us in a direction we never would have imagined.
Now that our marriage has returned to a fairly normal rhythm, we worked on our goal list again over New Year’s. It was refreshing to talk, pray, trust God, and dream big together. Entertained by our old goal lists, we revised our expectations of what we’d like to see in the next decade. And once the ink dried and we hung our poster, we got to work.
Do you and your spouse regularly take time to analyze the direction you’re headed? How do you make goals and dream big together?