Relationship Zen in a Jar

“A goal properly set is halfway reached” — Zig Ziglar

As our long-time readers may know, we’re big on goal-setting and implementation. We may not always achieve them, but we do enjoy the process of setting them and become better people as a result of working towards them.

What makes our process a little unique is that in addition to setting individual annual goals, we also set joint goals. We talked about setting couple’s goals in our Relationship Zen Strategic Planning articles: part 1 and part 2.

Last year, one of Lindsey’s closest friends suggested adding a fun layer to this process by putting our couple’s goals in a jar. At the end of the year, we reviewed the goals to see to what extent we’d achieved them and we wrote new relationship goals for the coming year.

Why “Goals in a Jar”?

We typically reflect on our yearly/life goals either directly or indirectly at least once every few days via our journaling practice, but taking time once a year to explicitly revisit our overarching vision or big goals helps to renew our motivation, take stock of what we’ve accomplished (together), and ensure that we’re still going in a direction that feels right for us.

Setting goals has been shown to improve mood and motivation. Doing this with your teammates, friends, and/or life partner(s) can create reciprocal motivation and warm feelings too.

In addition, we find that giving activities like goal-setting a bit of a ritualistic, playful, or symbolic spin – such as putting goals in a jar – makes it a fun exercise that sticks. We feel it makes it less of a “to-do list” or task and more of a game with benefits.


The Process

The goals that we put in the jar are very simple and actionable steps to make our relationship happy, simple, and fulfilling.

Think about what you do well as a unit, what you’d like to maintain, what you’d like to discover, and what you’d like to expand upon or improve. Most importantly, make it fun! We seal our papers with candle wax and only open them at the end of the year. The jar is next to our bed to remind us of our mutual responsibility to nurturing our relationship goals.

Need some ideas for relationship goals? Last year we had: “Be present and aware even though we are living together via team time“, “Host positive, meaningful, and uplifting gatherings with friends”, and “Create new and nutritious meals together!”.

This year features goals such as: “Meet new uplifting people”, “Support each other through career and well-being breakthroughs”, and “Continue with our nightly partner appreciation practice“. Those spoke to us, but you might have very different goals or activities that you’d like to put in your jar.


  • Empty Jar

  • Strips of paper

  • Candle

  • Journal

  • An open mind

  • An emotionally safe space

When we did this last year, we did it in February with the goals that we had written in a Google document a month before. This is to say that goal-setting doesn’t have to be rigid or bound to a new year’s ritual.

As long as you believe in it and are prepared to implement your intentions, you can start this practice anytime! As always, count on the Relationship Zen Facebook group to be one of your support groups.

Sending you positive vibes,

“It’s better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than at the top of the one you don’t.” — Stephen Kellogg