The Collaborative Marriage: What Matters Most

How to keep track of what matters most when mapping your future.

*This is the fourth article in a series about creating a personal 10 Year Plan. To start at the beginning, click here.

Now that we have created a bit of a foundation out of pleasure and gratitude (and those 800 lb gorillas), we are going to zoom in to get a detailed view of the different sections, or landscapes, that make up your life. These landscapes provide further information on what matters most to you, and create a framework to begin mapping out the next 10 years.

In our plan, my husband Hal and I include sections for relationship; financial; career; artistic; attitude, faith, spirit; physical health; space and infrastructure.

Each section contains two parts. First, there’s your overarching idea for that part of your life, a statement. Some call it an intention, or a guiding principle… whatever you want to call it, wing it. Just write something down for each section, you can always change it. It might be super simple, like ours for financial is “we won’t run out of money.” That’s crazy simple, but kind of huge, too. I remember writing that one down, it floored me. Imagine what you would do if you knew you wouldn’t run out of money! A girl can dream…

After the statement there’s a list of things that matter. Keep it simple. Write down what you can imagine — what would be cool or helpful or especially life-changing. For example, I wanted to create a method for keeping track of all the financial details of our life. I actually really hate thinking about money, that’s why I’m focusing on it here. Tackle the icky stuff, and imagine the details of it being easy (because, you know, it’s easier to do easy things).

In our plan we repeat this two step process (statement and list), once for me and once for Hal. Things that matter dearly to me, don’t necessarily matter to him. He has other things. For instance, infrastructure is really important for Hal. I am the lucky beneficiary of his obsession. And then, things that matter dearly to both of us might sit undone for years, while other things that feel less important are getting done. It doesn’t always make sense. But within the context of the plan, things getting done or not getting done isn’t proof of how on top of it you are, or an indictment of what a loser you are. Instead, over time, it simply creates a topographic map of what your priorities are.

The plan is a (somewhat) organized box of the stuff of your dreams. A way that you can live life without having to hold it all in your head. An easy way to come back to what matters and a beacon for adjusting course to make it so.

Next time we will zoom back out and tackle the big picture and tactical stuff — your vision, your goals, and the things you’ll have to do to achieve them.