Make a list, check it twice
Relationships are an interesting thing. When they’re functioning at their best, they can bring us joy, fulfillment and even propel us forward in the direction of our dreams. When they’re functioning poorly, they can drain us, cause guilt, anger, resentment or, simply, just confusion. According to the 2018 World Happiness Report, there are 6 variables to well-being; income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. If 'Social Support' is one of the 6 variables to well-being, why do our relationships so often fall to the sidelines?
Life is a balancing act of keeping relationships afloat while driving forward in our careers, achieving our goals, mastering our demons and so on. There are only so many things we can juggle at once before something is bound to drop. The realization of this ignited a thought in my mind. We have gym schedules, schedules at work, to do lists for after work, and 5-10 year life plans. Why don’t we project manage our relationships in the same way? I don’t mean micro-manage our relationships. I just mean, be more purposeful with them, just like we are in other areas of your life.
How often does a long-lost friend who you were once close with but can no longer find the time to see cross your mind? We too often attribute the fact that we’ve lost touch with people to the idea that life just ‘gets busy’. But what if you could manage that so that you never actually lose touch with people (unless you wanted to!). Even better, what if you were able to make time for every person that holds some level of importance in your life? Whether it be an acquaintance that you always have a great time catching up with or an old boss who you know would be a good contact as you progress in your career? What if we could make this happen for you? Would you be happier? According to research, you would.
So let’s give it a try.
Step 1: Build your list
Sit down with yourself and really reflect on ALL the people in your life. Focus on the ones that you want to continue to have a relationship with. Family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, coworkers, old coworkers, old bosses, profs, etc.
Step 2: Reflect on how often you need to see each of these people in order to feel satisfied. Think about what fulfillment in that particular relationship looks like to you and how much time you need to invest in order to achieve that fulfillment.
Step 3: Make a plan. This is where you get to make a plan with this person. Take a look at your calendar for the next month and determine where you can slot this person in based on how much time you'd like to spend with them.
Step 4: Contact them! Take the initiative and be the one to make a plan with them. This is where YOU get to direct when and how you'd like to see them. Be open to them needing to move the date or the type of plan but at least you can own the fact that you took that first step. It also shows them that they're important to you.
Step 5: Be accountable. Create a checkbox for yourself and only allow yourself to check it off once you've actually seen this person. If plans keep shifting, keep following up. Don't let distractions direct you away from something you’ve decided is important to you. Follow up until you've seen this person and then, check that box!
Now here’s the catch. It’s not enough to just do this for one week or one month. Check back on this chart you've created at the beginning or end of each week and make a schedule of who you’re going to reach out to in week 2 that you didn’t get to in week 1. Have this up on your fridge and look at it every day. This will help you clearly see who you’re neglecting, who you’ve seen too often and which relationships you’d like to spend more time working on.
The key is balance and the goal of this chart is to help you get there so that you can achieve fulfillment in your relationships and, ultimately, maximum happiness in your life.