Setting Relationship SMART Goals
In any relationship, whether it's romantic, familial, or platonic, setting goals is a crucial step towards growth and longevity. However, not all goals are equal; for the best outcome, you should try your best to make them SMART goals. The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In this blog post, I’ll explore the concept of relationship SMART goals, how they work, and how they can pave the way to deeper connections and a more fulfilling partnership.
Being specific means setting clear and well-defined objectives. Vague goals like "improve communication" can be hard to measure, which can make them harder to achieve. Instead of a broad objective, aim for something specific like "spend 20 minutes each day sharing our thoughts and feelings without distractions or technology." The element of specificity creates a clear call to action, and often the clearer the goal’s instruction, the better your chances of success.
Measuring progress is essential for tracking the success of your relationship goals. When you can identify where you’re starting in your goal and later can identify where you fall now, you can see how far you’ve come or where you need to make adjustments. This measurable quality can make room to celebrate your achievements or more clearly evaluate your areas of opportunity. For example, if your goal is to "strengthen trust," you could quantify this by saying, "share one vulnerable experience with each other per week." This way, after a few weeks you'll have a metric to track your progress.
For goals to be achieved they need to be realistic. It's important to acknowledge both partners' capacities in a relationship and consider factors like time, resources, and character limitations. While it's great to set the bar high and challenge yourselves with your objectives, setting unattainable goals will likely lead to frustration and disappointment. For example, if both of you have demanding jobs or children, allocating two hours each day for quality time might not be realistic or manageable. Instead, try creating goals that work with both of your schedules and are ideally something to look forward to. For example, "plan a monthly date night” might be a more feasible goal in terms of time and resources.
Relevance to the Relationship
Make sure that your goals are relevant to the unique dynamics of your relationship. It can be helpful to tailor your objectives so that they address the specific areas of your relationship that need the most improvement. For instance, if you spend a lot of quality time together, but trust is a concern, setting a goal like “have a weekly date night” might not be as beneficial as a goal related to building trust. In this example, a more relevant goal could be "attend couples counseling once a week to work on rebuilding trust." This goal gives direct attention to the bigger issue at hand, making it more likely to bring about positive change where it’s needed most.
Adding the above elements to your goals are important, but to ensure that they don’t fall to the wayside, it can be helpful to add a timeframe. Setting a deadline that works for both you and your partner creates mutual commitment and adds a sense of urgency. Without a timeframe, it's easy to postpone or neglect working towards your goals. For example, instead of setting your goal as "travel more," create a time-specific plan, like "plan a weekend getaway within the next two months." This sets a concrete target, encouraging both partners to prioritize the plan and take action.
Relationship SMART goals are a powerful tool for fostering growth, understanding, and resilience in any partnership. By making your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, you create an easy to follow map for success. Remember that the aim of this technique is not perfection, but progress. It’s okay to regularly revisit and adjust your goals as needed. It’s also important to celebrate your achievements along the way.
If you would like to learn more about setting SMART goals, feel free to reach out and schedule an appointment. I work with clients located in California.