When it comes to a romantic relationship, what's in your future? If you think it's out of your hands, think again. Your focus is what drives your future.
"You can't get what you want if you're not sure what you want," explains Sharon Shenker, therapeutic Family and Relationship Coach. "Part of knowing what you want involves asking yourself questions that will help you pinpoint and visualize what it is you're looking for."
And that's just as true with a new relationship as it is with one you're already in. "Think about it," says Sharon. "Most couples spend a year planning their wedding but no time planning their marriage."
Questions that lead to answers
According to Sharon Shenker, a good way to start is to ask yourself questions about your must haves and wants, your "won't accepts" or deal-breakers, and the specifics of what you want your relationship to look like.
What are your priorities? Getting married (or not), caring for your parents, having children, climbing the corporate ladder, getting higher education or living in another country are all things to consider.
What are your passions? Do you enjoy a challenging political debate, reading a book every week, having a night out with friends, or is it watching as many hockey games as possible? Take your passions seriously because they make you who you are.
How do you handle money? If your last relationship was with someone who didn't like to spend a dime on non-essentials, you may think you want your next relationship to be with someone who is free with money. However, they may be more comfortable with debt than you are and that could lead to problems later. Once you have knowledge about your relationship with money, you will have a better idea of whom you want a relationship with.
How would you like weekends to be? What will you do together on the weekends? Will you work around the house? Go out in search of an adventure? Dinner and a movie? Visit your parents?
How would you like your relationship to be? Analyze what your emotional needs are on a daily or weekly basis and specify what it means to each of you. Do you want romance in your life? If so, what does that look like? Roses? Slow dancing? Cuddling while watching TV?
Seeing your future
Once you have a good understanding of your wants and needs, it's time to get it down on paper. "You can write things down in a journal," says Sharon Shenker. "Include what your relationship will look like and who it will be with. Try to focus more on their character traits and qualities more than their looks. What will you do together? Where will the relationship lead?"
You can also get creative and start to piece together images and/or quotes that will help you better visualize your relationship.
"Don't limit yourself," advises Sharon. "Think about what you really want and start collecting pictures and quotes to remind you of your goals. Then get creative and start pasting them on a board so that you have a visual image of how you'd like your relationship to evolve in the best possible way. When creating a board with images and/or quotes, always put a picture of yourself in the centre."
Your board will be as individual as you are. It could be quite simple with just a few images or very complex with a collage of pictures and words. "The point is to make it inspirational and clear at the same time," says Sharon. "Just remember it's about what you want; not what you don't want."
"Once it's ready, display it where you'll see it often, like in your bedroom, to keep you focused," she explains. "You can also make a copy to keep in your wallet or put up as wallpaper on your computer."
The actions of intent
Once you have a clear picture of what you want, you need to take action. "Awareness of what you want is just the beginning," says Sharon. "That is just the guide for your intention, but then you need to do the work in order to make it happen." And that includes consciously choosing a partner who will be able to create your vision with you, not just anyone who shows an interest in you.
The payoff, she says, is well worth it!