7 Relationship Goals For 2017 That Are Realistic Game-Changers

New Year's is coming, which means New Year's Resolutions are coming too. While they have a tendency to be forgotten as soon as they're made, don't feel bad— most of mine don't either. So instead of thinking in terms of resolutions, it's a great time to set goals for 2017. Because goals exist until you achieve them, rather than disappearing as spring hits. And it's not just for yourself — it's a great time to set some real goals for your relationship — and not the kind of #relationshipgoals you see on Instagram.

"Some of the #relationshipgoals floating around the web are not the stuff of real happy, long-lasting relationships," marriage and family therapist Esther Boykin tells Bustle. "Kissing on a cliff, proposals that include Broadway-sized productions and his-and-hers Bugattis are not the stuff of true love. They’re props and fantasies — albeit nice fantasies that people occasionally live out."

So instead of focusing on fantasies, focus on something realistic for your relationship. Self-improvement is a great tool, both as individuals and for your relationship. It keeps you from getting complacent or from not facing issues head on. Plus, it can make you more productive. Setting goals for yourself and your relationship will set you up to accomplish way more — and it holds you accountable — all while keeping your relationship strong. 

Here are seven realistic goals to consider, because doing something new can totally transform your relationship. 

1. To Be Actually Happy Together

Make sure you're happy together, rather than just being together. "The number-one relationship goal should be for happiness with your partner," online dating expert Anita Covic tells Bustle. "A recent international online dating survey notes that companionship (67 percent), true love (60 percent), and a life partner (59 percent) are the top things sought by online daters. Each partner should recognize what makes him or her happy and strive to find that element with the other as well as alone." Be self-reflective every day and focus on how to make it a happy relationship. 

2. To Do Something New Once A Month

It doesn't matter what it is, but make it new. A new restaurant, a new city, a new activity— even a new sex position— just commit to mixing it up. "When you try new things together you are creating shared experiences that are new and exciting," dating coach and licensed marriage and family therapist Pella Weisman tells Bustle. "That shared excitement is a way to have both closeness and stimulation, which is a great combination for sparking things back up." 

3. To Keep Remembering What You Love About One Another

No matter how annoyed or angry you can be with your partner — and that's fair, nobody's perfect— you need to able to focus on the positive. "Researchers found that the only common trait amongst couple in long-term happy relationships was the ability to maintain positive illusions of the other," Dawn Maslar, aka “the Love Biologist,” tells Bustle. "Over time, we can focus on the negative traits instead of the good." So remind yourself why your partner, and remind yourself often. 

4. To Have Regular Date Nights

"This is a little cheesy, but the reality is that in long-term relationships, couples drift apart and mistake the business of taking care of a long-term relationship for romance," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "Going over bills and choosing paint colors for walls is not going to keep your relationship fresh." It doesn't have to be a flowers and a movie. You should give it your own twist, but just make sure it happens. 

5. To Find A Way To Give Back

It's too easy to get introspective as a couple. You're so focused on each yourselves and each other that you can forget the world outside. Make sure you're doing something to give back together. Find a cause you both care about to donate too or volunteer opportunities to take part in and make it a goal to help others. 

6. To Show Your Appreciation For Each Other Every. Damn. Day. 

I don't know how many times I say 'Thank you," to my girlfriend every day, but it's a lot. And I hear it a lot. Even when it's over something small, the recognition is good to hear. "Maintain an atmosphere of appreciation and admiration," relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. "Couples don’t disconnect overnight — it takes months or years, but they often stop focusing on the positives about each other." Being appreciative is good for connecting with your partner and staying positive, so it's doubly important. 

7. Support Each Other's Separate Goals

Supporting to each other is so vital to a relationship's happiness. Whether it's your partner's career change or you taking grad school classes at night, make sure you're each setting individual goals and encouraging each other to reach them, rather than doing everything as a pair.

It'll make you stronger as a couple — and isn't that the best kind of relationship goal of all?

Want to have an awesome 2017? Then check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for tips on how to have the most empowering year yet.

Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Ashley Batz for Bustle (2); Hannah Burton/Bustle; Fotolia

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