A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article focused on the significance of figuring out what it is you want in life. Doing so can be of tremendous value and importance to you, as it will solidify your end goals and help you determine a course of action to best achieve them. Just be sure not to leave out your spouse!
I personally undertook this exercise a little while back, and while I enjoyed the challenge and the freedom it gave me, I missed something very important along the way: I hadn’t included my wife in my work!
Imagine my surprise when I opened up to her, to share my version of what I wanted our life to include, and it was met with a cautious smile. As it turns out, my wife and I have very different ideas on what we want the future to look like.
And that’s ok, it’s perfectly normal even. We are different people. We have different passions, interests and tastes, so it would make sense that, separately, we would have different wants as well.
Once we both knew what the other wanted, it was easy to sit down and figure out how we could compromise on certain aspects to include things we would both look forward to. And this is important because if only one of you is on board, chances are you’ll never achieve what it is you want.
Think of the time and effort that will be required to realize what it is that you want in life. Maybe your dream is to retire early and travel the world. Maybe you’d like to build a home on the lake and to spend your golden years golfing and fishing. Or maybe you have always wanted to put your kids through school so that they could graduate debt free. All of these are great goals, but none of them will come without some type of effort, compromise and/or time.
Picture the struggle you face if your end goal is early retirement up at the lake while your spouse is planning a retirement abroad. You might be squirrelling away money to make improvements to your lakeside dream, assuming you’ll move in when you’re done working, while your spouse might be under the impression you are getting the property ready to sell in order to fund your new life of travel. All along a compromise could have been made to include both sets of dreams, but you never talked about it and so now one of you will be entirely disappointed.
To make sure that doesn’t end up being you, I have outlined some tips to make the process a little bit easier for you and your spouse:
1. Make sure you start by figuring out what you want on your own first.
Figuring out what you want is not an easy thing to do, especially with all the noise that is around you trying to influence the direction you choose. This can include your significant other. Spend some time apart and get at least an outline of what you want in place so that when you do come together to share you won’t just go along with what your spouse is saying because it is hard to figure out what you want.
Try out some of these questions if you are having trouble getting started:
Where do you see yourselves living 10 years from now? How does that change in retirement?
If life was perfect, what would you be doing in 10 years?
If there is one thing you’d like to accomplish, what would it be?
Close your eyes and picture your retirement years, what do they look like to you?
2. Be willing to compromise
When you repeated your wedding vows to each other on the day you got married, they were full of the compromises you were willing to make and commit to in order to spend the rest of your life with your true love. Remember that when you start to figure out together what it is that you both want. Trust me, you will find great joy in making your significant other happy.
3. Openly communicate and be respectful of each other.
You want to be as honest with each other as possible so try to set the stage right when you plan to have your talk together. Make a fancy dinner. Take a walk without the kids. Whatever you decide be open with each other.
Note: The fastest way to ruin that open communication is to be disrespectful of what someone else is sharing, even if it is only done jokingly. Make your time together a time of excitement and joy and keep that other stuff out of it.
Don’t be put off if this seems like a lot of work for one conversation. After all, it is quite fun to sit down and dream about your future together. You will also come away with the benefit of knowing what it is you are striving towards together. You could have multiple goals, or you could have just one major goal, but you’ll experience a wealth of freedom knowing you worked together and can now create a plan of action to achieve your dream life together.
Wade Bedard, CIM®