(Guest post by Dustin Riechmann at Engaged Marriage)
Do you ever daydream about how you really want your life to look?
Back in my bachelor days, I had a little more time to think about the future in between college classes and rounds of beer. But when I got married, life got busier plus there were two lines of thinking to try and get headed in the same direction.
Then we had kids and all the other craziness that comes with being a busy young couple, and long-term planning got lost in the mix of diaper changes, career moves and all the hustling that comes with this stage of life.
Can You Relate?
You hit this stage in your life when you have a decent income and you have lots of good reasons to be planning well for the future, yet it’s so easy to let all the urgent stuff set the course for your day, then your week and before you know it, your entire life.
I know you appreciate the power of budgeting, but have you taken the time to really think about what you’re preparing for financially? And if you’re married, have you actually talked to your spouse about it? It’s time to do some dreamin’ together and get your finances and every aspect of your life really rocking. And the best part is that it can literally take just 15 minutes flat!
This exercise is adapted from one of the 28 easy 15-minute exercises in my new book 15 Minute Marriage Makeover: Refresh Your Relationship, Add Sizzle to Your Sex Life & Be Happier in Just Minutes a Day. It’s got good stuff to help you with your communication, romance, sex life and (of course) money if you’re a busy couple trying to level up in your life together.
So, What’s Your Life Really Like?
Every couple’s situation is unique, but we should all have an idea of where our lives are now as well as where they are headed. It’s easy for us to get stuck in a rut where life just seems to pass us by, where we simply let things happen to us as they come.
A much better alternative, especially if your dream lifestyle is to become a reality, is to actively take steps to make things happen when you want them to. That’s what being proactive is all about.
Think about your everyday life right now. What do you enjoy about it? What do you not enjoy? Maybe life is a bit too stressful and you would like to chill out more. What is causing that stress in your life? What things in your life can be changed or removed in order to lessen that stress? Perhaps it means you need to be involved in fewer activities, or more. Maybe your children are over-committed. It could be that you need to get serious about paying off debt so you can get that weight off your shoulders. Should one of you be moving toward a different career, or a plan to stay at home with your children?
The answers are obviously going to be different for every couple, but you’ll never find them if you don’t first ask the questions. If you want to achieve your dream life, you’ll definitely need to address your finances and plan your money accordingly. However, you can’t take aim at your ideal lifestyle if you don’t first define what it looks like as a target.
Here’s the 15-Minute Magical Part
Spend 15 minutes today with your spouse (or a buddy over beers if you’re single and looking to figure out similar goals) discussing what you think of your current lifestyle and how you would like it to change now and in the future. Basically, do your best to answer this question:
What does success look like for your marriage and family?
If you don’t take the time to think about what you are aiming for, you’ll never be able to achieve success. Once you’re able to define success, you’ll be ready to move ahead and set your priorities toward getting there.
Be sure to listen carefully to what your spouse has to say. It’s very possible that their idea of a dream lifestyle may be different than what you thought.
I can still remember when my wife and I did this exercise as part of a marriage retreat. I had no idea that her thoughts toward her career had changed significantly over the previous few years, and she never thought her “idealistic plan” was possible, so she never brought it up. It took this proactive conversation to set us on a path that allowed her to make the changes in her job that made her (and our family) the happiest. This “little chat” literally changed the course of our family’s future!
When you’re trying to define success, it may be helpful to think about some previous goals that you and/or your spouse have that have not yet been accomplished. If they’re important to you, get it on the table now so you can be aware of it and plan accordingly.
Go Forth & Be Sexy…With a Plan
The most important idea I can leave you with is to have specific targets in mind for your dream lifestyle. You can’t just let life happen to you, or you’ll never get where you want to go. You have to hustle and make things happen.
This is true for making money, paying off debt or taking your net worth to new levels. And it’s also true in figuring out why the hell you want to do all of those things, and how you’re going to use your financial awesomeness to truly be happy in the long run.
Dustin Riechmann provides practical advice for busy couples looking to get more from life at Engaged Marriage. He also helps busy couples improve their fitness and rock their marriages in the process at Fit Marriage and through his podcast The Fit Marriage Show.
(Photo by Leo Reynolds)