It’s Valentine’s Day. Your partner bursts through the door, a dozen roses in hand, a heart-shaped box of chocolate in the other, a beaming grin on his face, anticipating your sheer gratitude at the physical displays of affection. And while you’re appreciative of the gesture, these little gifts don’t do much to warm your heart.
Is it just because flowers die and chocolates disappear, or is it because that stuff does nothing to bring you two closer?
I’m guessing it’s the latter. Receiving gifts from a loved one can be pleasant (unless, like me, you hate receiving gifts—seriously, hate gifts), but gifts are nothing compared to feeling close, connected, and understood by your partner. Aside from sharing your daily life joys and struggles with your partner, what else can you do to become closer?
That’s right, you heard me: get organized. Getting organized to get closer to your partner goes beyond simply rooting through your bins of stuff, closets of clothes, and pantries of food; it’s time to organize your life goals, core values, and game plan.
Whether you’re just starting to date or you’ve been married twenty years, having a discussion about what you both want in life is incredibly important to the success of your relationship. To me, success in a relationship means both people feel understood, valued, loved, and supported. But you can’t feel supported or understood by your partner unless you know your own goals and values.
Luckily, figuring out who you are, what you want out of life, and how you’ll make it happen is easy enough. It just requires… ORGANIZATION.
Grab your partner, two pieces of paper (maybe four), two pens, and hunker down somewhere comfortable. Maybe brew a pot of coffee, too.
You and your partner are going to list and organize to later discuss:
Your Core Values
Your Life Goals
Your Game Plan
1) Start out by individually deciding your twenty most important core values. You can find lists of values online, with or without explanations. You know what values are, but if you don’t, there are plenty of resources on the web.
Here’s an example of 10 of my 20 core values:
Assertiveness: to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want
Compassion: to act with kindness toward those who are suffering
Courage: to be courageous or brave; to persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty
Creativity: to be creative or innovative
Humor: to see and appreciate the humorous side of life
Independence: to be self-supportive, and choose my own way of doing things
Love: to act lovingly or affectionately toward myself or others
Self-development: to keep growing, advancing, or improving in knowledge, skills, character, or life experience.
Spirituality: to connect with things bigger than myself
Trust: to be trustworthy; to be loyal, faithful, sincere, and reliable
*No value is “right” or “wrong,” “better” or “worse” than another value. They just are. And you can always change your values as you grow and develop as a person. They’re not set in stone. Might I add: don’t think of this as “branding” yourself. This is how you want to see yourself—who you want to be for yourself (which, in turn, will end up being who others come to know you to be). So, who you want to be, not who you think others want to you be.*
2) Have your partner do the same thing.
3) Then, compare your list of values by individually reading through each value and explaining WHY that value is important and HOW you can implement it in your life.
4) Discuss the values you share.
5) Discuss the values you don’t share.
*Remember that your dissimilar values don’t mean you’re not compatible, just like one value isn’t inherently better than another.*
6) List ways you can actively pursue your shared values in life, and how you can help each other pursue your different values.
*Something to think about is if a dissimilar value might cause your lifestyle to change in an unfavorable way. For instance, if your partner values generosity and wants to donate 30% of your yearly income to charities, but you don’t, that’s something you’ll both need to discuss.*
Based on your core values, you have probably decided on some major life goals. If you value independence, your life goals might include owning your own home, or becoming financially independent, or starting your own company.
1) List your 10 major life goals. Have your partner do the same.
2) Discuss your shared life goals and how you can achieve them together.
3) Discuss your life goals you don’t share and how you can support each other to achieve them individually.
You’ve figured out what you value in life, and what you want to achieve. The question is how do you get there? How can you individually achieve your personal goals while encouraging and supporting your partner to do the same?
This is where the Game Plan comes in.
1) You’ll make a table.
Here’s an example (I literally wrote this off the top of my head; it is not my personal Game Plan!):
3) Encourage your partner every day to follow his game plan to achieve goals, stay true to core values, and live his best life… with you by his side!
It’s hard to feel close to your partner when you’re uncertain of what he finds important, what he wants to achieve, and if those ideas align with your own. That’s why it’s imperative to communicate honestly, openly, and often with your partner to discover your shared and dissimilar values, goals, and game plans. By listing your values, goals, and game plan will help you connect with your partner, feel mutually understood, and inevitably bring you closer together as a couple.
Organizing our thoughts and feelings not only helps us see clearly and focus on what matters to us in life, but also it helps us help others see clearly and focus on what matters to them in life. By empowering ourselves, we can help to empower other people. And I don’t know about you, but I find that incredibly romantic.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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