3. Choose fun priorities. Often, I tend to tackle the biggest challenge just to prove I can. Just as often? I run out of steam really quickly, like that time I committed to becoming a vegan but was noshing on a cheese pizza by Valentine's Day.
"In our culture, experiences that are really hard and take much effort are highly valued as the path to success," says Joyce. "The real truth is that our talents and abilities come easily, are fun and engage us." Whether you're exploring goals for yourself or as a couple, your relationship is going to thrive when you're having fun and feeling fulfilled—and it's only going to suffer if you're feeling snippy because you miss cheese. "Approach the process as a fun adventure giving you both the opportunity to explore what would most enhance and contribute to your relationship and each other," she recommends.
3. Keep the communication going. If you're working towards a goal you set together, make sure you're keeping the dialogue going.
"Do a periodic check in to see how your agreement is working for each of you," suggests Joyce. "State what is working what isn't working and why. If change is necessary, brainstorm what shifts could create a smoother process." Chances are, you're both going to fall short of the high hopes you had at the beginning of the year, so make sure you leave all judgment at the door.
"An open and flexible discussion without judgment can bring new possibilities and strengthen communication," Joyce says. "Keep time frames flexible and engage in check-ins when needed, not firmly attached to a schedule. Address issues as they arise. If something isn't working, deal with it quickly. Letting it fester only makes everything worse." Be cautious not to let your efforts at being supportive make you sound like a cranky football coach, though – or worse, his mother. "Holding your partner accountable isn't your job," says Joyce.
4. Ask questions—without expecting a specific answer. Both when setting goals and during your check-ins, be sure to ask your partner questions without anticipating a specific answer. Desperate for your man to quit smoking? Ask him how he feels about it. Be ready to hear his answer, and seriously consider his perspective before explaining why you're concerned about his health.
"Explaining how your changes will enhance your life and the relationship increases the chances of success on all levels," Joyce says. If you and your partner can't seem to win the other to your side of the argument, it's time to go back to the drawing board. "Keep asking, 'what other possibilities are there?'" advises Joyce. "Surprises abound when you release attachment to an answer or outcome."
5. Keep your eye on the prize. Remember that when it comes to New Year's resolutions, sometimes the worst-case scenario isn't that bad after all. I know my husband loves me, jiggly parts and all. I'm determined to do something about them this year—after we have a talk about how to tackle our health in a fun way, together, of course—but if Valentine's Day rolls around and we're both none the lighter and craving some chocolate cake, it's OK. We still get to be together, with the person we love, and that's something about our lifestyle I never want to change. 12 New Year's Resolutions Every Couple Should Make