Let me ask you something — because it's time to get personal. What kinds of texts do you send your partner on a daily basis? A good morning and good night text? Maybe you shoot them a mid-day “How’s work going?” or a “What are we doing for dinner?” text on occasion, too. Well, about a year ago, I told my boyfriend that I wanted to start a new daily tradition — one in which we would acknowledge our aspirations, the things we’re grateful for, and the things that make us feel accomplished and fulfilled. I hoped that if I could send my partner this kind of text every day, it would not only shake up our day-to-day communication, but also help us to boost our productivity and overall positivity. And I completely underestimated the powerful effect this simple move would have.
Here’s how it works: This exchange, which my boyfriend dubbed “The GFT,” involves sending one goal (G) for the day, one thing you feel good about (F), and one thing you’re thankful for (T) every day (excluding weekends). The goal could refer to health and well-being (like drinking 60 ounces of water or making it to the gym), work (like clearing out my email inbox or pitching an idea to my editor), or personal relationships (reaching out to a friend who’s going through a tough time, or planning a fun date night for that weekend). As for the F, that could range from a noteworthy career-related accomplishment, like getting a raise or a glowing employee review, to something small, like resisting the temptation to hit the snooze button, or remembering to pack a healthy lunch. Similarly, the T could apply to anything from hearing from an old college friend to feeling well rested after a quality night’s sleep.
When we began this tradition, we hoped that it would offer up a daily opportunity to reconnect in a meaningful way. What we didn’t know was that the GFT would actually enhance our relationship, as well as our overall well-being in many other respects.
First and foremost, it helps us to feel more accomplished. To fully understand how and why, there are some things you should know about me. For one, I’m a planner through and through. I take comfort in having a daily to-do list, and there’s nothing more satisfying than checking things off, one by one. That’s where the goal portion comes in. Admittedly, I'm also a perfectionist, as is my boyfriend. Given that we both have pretty lofty expectations for ourselves and can be pretty critical about what we do or don’t get done, the F section is crucial. It helps to counterbalance the G portion and remind us that while we may not cross every single thing off that to-do list, we have still been productive in other ways.
It also inspires us to appreciate the little things. The T portion of this daily exchange is actually part of a larger effort we’ve both been making on the gratitude front. We’re both all about spreading positive vibes, and we’re both firm believers that your attitude is everything in terms of how you cope with life’s challenges. When we’re focusing on all we have to be thankful for, there’s little room for complaining or pouting when things don’t go your way. In other words, the T enabled us to hone in on everything that’s going right in our lives, rather than what’s going wrong.
Not only that, but it also gave us an avenue to show gratitude for each other. I can’t count how many times my T referred to something thoughtful my boyfriend did, like dropping off a bagel from my favorite spot on his way to work, or lending a supportive ear when I was struggling with family drama. Sometimes, his T was simply about waking up next to me, or knowing that we had some QT coming up that weekend. This aspect of the GFT also played into the love language that we (conveniently) share — words of affirmation — because it provided a reason to express appreciation for each other.
Let’s be real here. If you tell your BFF that you’re determined to hit that evening spin class, you’re far more likely to go than if you tell no one. There’s something about sharing your goals that helps you to hold yourself accountable. And that’s precisely why the G aspect of our tradition proved to be so powerful. By letting each other in on what we hoped to accomplish that day, we were more inspired to actually make it happen. Because at the end of the day, there’s hardly a better feeling than being able to tell your boo that you reached your goal. Plus, having a personal cheerleader to provide some much-needed encouragement for reaching that goal definitely helps.
We started the GFT last June, and to our surprise, it really stuck. Sure, there were days when we just didn’t get to it because work was particularly crazy, and we didn’t beat ourselves up for having to skip it. There have also been phases we dropped the ball for weeks at a time (like around the holidays, when things were super hectic). But eventually, on a random Monday morning, one of us would feel inspired to start the GFT up again, and we would resume the tradition as if no time had passed. Ultimately, neither of us wanted this exchange to feel like a chore or another task to simply check off our list. Rather, it was intended to be something we could look forward to.
I realize that the GFT may not be for everyone. If you're not goal-oriented, or you or bae simply aren't big on texting, for example, then it might not be an ideal tradition to take on. But for us, it proved to be pretty beneficial not only for our relationship, but also for our own mental and emotional well-being. So, what are you waiting for? An enhanced sense of motivation, accomplishment, and gratitude could be just one text away.