The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

Spend 15 Minutes Dreaming Up a Sexier Life

by J. Money on Monday, March 14, 2011

why do this every single day
(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)


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angie March 14, 2011 at 7:19 am

My husband and I have never had a problem with the dreaming part. We have always talked about our dreams for the future. Our problem was while we had big dreams, we had no plan for how to get there. That is what finally brought us to the fork in the road to budgeting. Dreaming wasn’t enough. We wanted to ensure we actually get to live those dreams someday.

Reply

2 Jon the Saver March 14, 2011 at 11:18 am

Action, action, action. It’s so true, if you want to live out your dreams, start taking steps today to make it happen! I have my own story about this, dreams really do come true. But it doesn’t happen overnight. Once you have an idea, you gotta go out and conquer the goals leading up to the dream. Great topic and inspiring post, well done!

Reply

3 retirebyforty March 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm

The hardest part is “really listening” to your spouse. We really need to sit down and talk a bit about our future. We just had a baby and she is thinking about being a stay at home mom. I don’t think that’s what she really wants though because she loves working. I’m going to send her back to work after the maternity leave for a couple of months and see how it goes….

Reply

4 Jason L March 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Definitely some good points here. I’ve actually went through a similar exercise, and one thing I’ve found that helped me is to actually write down some of your goals and posting them up so they’re visible … and not just to you, to others close to you as well. It’s really helped keep me accountable and on course, especially when I feel myself getting lazy or bogged down with my day job.

Reply

5 Dustin | Engaged Marriage March 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

@ Angie – Right on! We did a little too much dreaming and not enough planning early on too, to the tune of $54,500 in debt. Then we got with the budget and were doing pretty well financially while we had concrete goals to get out of debt and save an emergency fund.

But then…we reached those goals and got soft. It took some “dreaming time” together to get refocused and ready to make our money work for us on purpose. The dream was what refueled our intensity to pay attention to our money once again…it can be a viscous cycle! :)

Reply

6 Dustin | Engaged Marriage March 14, 2011 at 3:32 pm

@ Jon the Saver – Thanks! It’s all about action, but of course you have to be pointed in the right direction before you know where to apply your efforts. I’ve always been a hustler, but I’ve found myself drifting off-course at times where I’m working really hard but not towards a goal that I actually want. This is true in money, marriage, fitness, career and so many other aspects of life.

Reply

7 Dustin | Engaged Marriage March 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm

@ retirebyforty – It’s actually pretty incredible how difficult it can be to really listen at times. Life is SO distracting, and that’s why I preach so much about those magical 15 minutes.

I’d encourage you to really listen to your wife as well since she might just know what she wants. :) But a little trial should be good to make sure.

Reply

8 Dustin | Engaged Marriage March 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

@ Jason L – I’m a big believer in written goals and, even more than that, accountability partners. It’s much easier to stay on track with your goals when someone else knows about them and asks you how things are going. If you’re married, your spouse should make a great accountability partner.

Reply

9 Debbie Beardsley March 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm

“Do you ever daydream about how you really want your life to look?” Uhm Yes!

Great ideas. My husband and I are just about to get the last one through college and are doing this for the next phase of our lives! It is fun and exciting.

Thanks for this post. It is something everyone can use.

Reply

10 LB March 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Sounds like fun! My husband and I have been so busy with life and responsibilities lately we seem to just be going through the motions unless something comes up that must be done quicker. I think a little dreaming sounds good after a busy day like today :)

Reply

11 Dustin | Engaged Marriage March 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

@Debbie – Wow, what an exciting time for you and your husband! You’ll definitely be entering unchartered territory as you hopefully cut the purse strings and have more time to really focus on each other and your wants. I appreciate the kind words!

Reply

12 Dustin | Engaged Marriage March 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm

@ LB – I can SO relate to your lifestyle! We still catch ourselves doing the same, but setting aside just a little “sacred time” each day really does make a world of difference. Just 1% (15 minutes) of your time spent being a couple in a quality way can make the other 99% much happier and more fulfilling!

Reply

13 Julie F March 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Timely post. My husband and I had our first conversation with a financial planner yesterday. When he asked our visions of retirement we were kind of dumbfounded. Of course, we’re saving for it financially, but we never really talked about the details of how we want to live in retirement. Practical person that I am, I figured we’d just attack it day by day with the stack of money we’d saved. But now I realize that planning for specific dreams is a luxury and going to be fun! It will also be challenging. It will really help us focus and give us more specific goals than simply gathering as much money as we can. The financial plan we bought is pricey by my standards but I’m starting to realize that the short-term payout will yield an amazing long-term gain.

Reply

14 J. Money March 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm

It’s still on my list to check out a financial planner myself. I’m pretty sure I’d learn a lot from it, but really I’m just curious to see how the whole process works and what not. I have a hard time planning for the wayyyyy future than I do this week.

Thanks for helping me out Dustin!!! Made my life much more easier the past two weeks.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: