Do you wonder why so many marriages fail? Are you in a marriage that is destined to fail? Or one destined to succeed? You can find out, but it takes guts.
Have you noticed how couples with rocky relationships seem headed in different directions? How they don’t listen to each other? How they compete with each other for scarce resources?
Not enough couples have direct discussions about where they plan to be in 5, 10, 20, or 30 years.
A couple I knew competed with each other saying “if you get to spend $5,000 I should get to spend $5,000.” It resulted in financial ruin and divorce. He’d buy a motorcycle then she’d demand a new car. She’d gamble in Vegas and he’d demand a golf trip to Florida.
What if one partner’s life goal is building a dream home on 400 acres of prime pheasant hunting land in South Dakota, while the other’s dream is owning a health spa in a trendy city? How will this work out when their dreams are in direct conflict? One may say, “Oh she’ll come around to my view someday.” Maybe he’s right; maybe she will sacrifice her dreams for his. But do you want to be stuck in the grasslands of South Dakota with a woman who would rather be in Seattle? How strong will your relationship be? Strong enough to last? Or will it cost you your marriage and your dream house?
Christine and I have been talking about her business and we discovered we had a major misunderstanding about our goals. Every time we talked about hiring help, the conversation became tense and confrontational. We avoided the topic for a while, but when we returned to the topic, the same emotional friction was present.
I was frustrated because I thought I was helping her. I didn’t realize my vision of the future, the one I was trying to help her create, was not the same as her vision. Our views were different. Then I realized…
Why are we wasting energy in a tug-o-war when we could be working together toward mutual goals?
Is planning your family’s future any different than planning any other project?
You can bring this stuff out in the open and resolve it before it causes damage.
This weekend, Christine and I mapped our future. I recommend you do this too if you haven’t done it already. I’ll tell you how we did it.
What is future mapping?
Future mapping is imagining what you want your future to be and then working back from there to the present. It is inverted planning and goal setting.
When you start in the present and map toward the future you usually end up somewhere didn’t intend to be. But when you start where you intend to be and work backward to the present, it keeps you focused on where you want to be, not where you are.
Saturday evening, we hired a babysitter, picked up some take-out, and went to the software ‘war room’ at my office and white boarded our future.
Here’s is what we did:
- I created two columns on the right side of the whiteboard, one for me and one for Christine.
- I wrote my vision of our future in bullet points under my name
- I asked her for her vision and wrote it in bullet points under her name.
- Our visions included finance, education, business, parenting style, and leisure. Anything we are not today – that we want to be in the future.
- The process revealed conflicting goals and misunderstandings. Once we had them identified, we made compromises.
- Once we had a clear joint vision of the future, I moved to the left side of the whiteboard and wrote down our current finance, education, businesses, parenting style, and leisure time status.
- Then I returned to the right side of the board, where we listed the things we need to meet our goals including dependencies and obstacles.
- Then I mapped the requirements, obstacles, and dependencies backward (right to left) to the present. This gave us sets of intermediate goals.
- Then we wrote down what actions we can take this year to reach our first set of intermediate goals.
- We repeated #9 for the next year and the next year until our actions and results met our long-term goals.
If everything goes as planned, we believe we can reach our goals by the end of 2010. It might not go as planned and our goals may change over the next three years, but at least we have a plan for the future that we both agree upon and understand, which is more than most people have.
So now, as a family, we have a clear road map into the future with action plans and goals. If you map your future with your partner, there aren’t any secrets, no hidden agendas, no misunderstandings, and no scamming for resources because you both know where you are going, why you are going there, and what you need to do to get there.
Don’t allow your future to create you, allow yourself to create your future.