It’s 2017, and I don’t know about you, but I do not feel ready for the New Year. I’m behind on my personal and career-related projects. I spent the holidays in distraction. And I’m still drinking pumpkin spiced beverages. But here we are, and this year, I’m determined to focus on my goals (I’m not calling them resolutions – that’s not what they are. We are works in progress, and resolution sounds so final.) But I digress. One important and often overlooked goal has to do with cultivating our relationships – which means creating relationship goals for 2017.
Goals to me are more defined by progress rather than results. We can’t lose those 20 pounds without plotting how we are going to exercise and what specifically we will eat on a daily basis. It’s about all the small steps we take toward something we want. Each day, we can reflect on what we did to contribute to that goal, which is empowering. Goals allow us to set our intention. And we can make progress toward them bit by bit, at our own pace.
For 2017, I would like to focus on finding or improving romantic relationships. We are all so focused on our phones, our images, our tasks, and our careers that we don’t take the time we need to really connect on a personal level. Whether you are looking for love or you’re having a tough time in your current relationship, there’s always room to learn about ourselves and our romantic challenges and aspirations.
In this spirit, I challenge you with 5 relationship goals if you’re currently in a relationship:
Remember what you love about one another.
When you have been together a while and know the weird and annoying traits of your partner, it can be difficult to remember the things you fell in love with. Focus on those things that warm your heart or make you smile, like the way he listens intently when you speak or how he loves exploring new places with you, so you don’t get bogged down with the daily annoyances. Perspective is important, so focus on the good parts of your relationship as well as the challenges.
Express gratitude/ appreciation.
Sometimes, we all want a little acknowledgment for our efforts. This is especially true of your romantic partner. Even if you feel you give signs of your appreciation, it’s good to express it in specific terms. For instance, “thank you for making me dinner today. I was tired and it really made me feel loved.” Don’t you love being appreciated and acknowledged? The more you express your gratitude, the happier you both are.
Keep things fresh.
It’s easy to think you know everything about each other, but what really keeps passion burning is curiosity. Ask your partner questions, or explore something new together – like learning a language or a new sport.
Practice good communication skills.
Good communication is the cornerstone of a good relationship. If you are at an impasse with your partner, why not try a new, healthier approach? Here’s an example: if you tend to bottle up your feelings, try expressing them a little bit instead. If you act upon your anger, then try taking a few deep breaths and refrain from lashing out the next time you’re triggered. Over time, these small changes make a huge difference.
Refrain from the blame game.
If everyone else is always at fault, then you are perpetually a victim. Instead, own up to your part in each argument. Take responsibility for what you want as well as what you do. Instead of blaming outside circumstances, you assume much more power when you hold yourself accountable for what you can change.
If you’re single, here are 5 relationship goals if you’re looking for a long-term partner:
Let go of the exes.
When you’re not emotionally available, you’re not available for a new love. If you are finding it difficult to connect with someone new, often it’s because you haven’t let go of your ex. Do you find yourself comparing all your dates to your ex, or falling back into old habits when you meet someone new? Now is the time to get real with yourself, and do the hard work of letting go.
Stop being so hard on yourself.
Dating is hard. So is meeting the right person. So when things don’t work out, don’t beat yourself up – it happens to all of us. Remember to take care of your own needs when this happens – connect with friends, start a new creative project, or spend some time in nature – whatever is healing for you.
Date someone who brings out the best in you.
Relationships should cultivate your personal growth, too. Your best isn’t the insecure, emotional woman you might become with guys who are mysterious and leave you wondering what they want. Seek out men who complement your personality and values, and who boost your confidence rather than deplete it.
Mix things up.
I know, you hate online dating. Welcome to most of the dating population! Nobody likes it until they meet someone special online – but here’s the truth: many committed couples did meet online, so it can happen. If you are averse to online dating, be willing to give it a try. Or if you want something different, join a class or hiking group. Attend networking events. There are many ways to meet people – you just have to be open and willing to put yourself out there.
Find a mentor.
Do you know a couple who’ve been happily together for years? Even better – do you have a friend who has been through rough patches in a relationship and come out stronger? Here’s a motivator for you in 2017: find that person or couple who inspires you and spend more time with them. Ask questions about what it takes to make a strong relationship. Ask them what challenges they have faced. The more you know about what makes a relationship last, the better you’re able to handle life’s challenges.
Happy New Year, and happy dating!