The why and how to deepen relationships
Hello Kind Over Matter friends!
Earlier this week one of my mentors, Brendon Burchard, said something that really caught my attention: “Relationships need to be built as much as businesses, teams, and bank accounts.” I hope you will pause for a moment and think about this.
What he’s saying is that we need to be just as intentional about growing our relationships as we are about other areas of our lives. Oh, my goodness. I so agree with this!
We know this; but do we DO it?
We have all heard those “deathbed regrets” that people wish they’d worked less and spent more time with people they loved. It’s never surprising when we hear it, is it?
Yet – do we heed those words? Do we REALLY pause and consider what changes we can make that would put our relationships first in our lives?
Let’s do that! Let’s do that right now. Let’s think about being more intentional in the way we love. Okay?
Are you game?
Let’s start with our WHY!
When you think about a typical day in your life, what comes to mind? Where does your energy go throughout the day? What kinds of moments stand out?
I’m asking a lot of questions today! But here’s why: when we ask questions we are inviting ourselves to reflect in a new way. Asking questions helps us get clarity.
I know you thought you were simply reading an article. But this is too important to gloss over! I’m wondering if you’d be willing to grab a piece of paper or your journal right now.
[Pause. Inserting time for you to go get it. Or, you can open up your notes or a document on your computer. That’ll work.]
Now, would you think about three moments in your life in the past week that really stood out for you? Please jot them (or type them) down.
Next, will you write next to each one a single thought about WHY that moment stood out?
Here’s what I just wrote:
- My conversation with Rachel. (Why it stood out: We helped each other see some big things about who we are and what we want in life. It felt alive, fresh and nurturing.)
- Sitting on my deck listening to my Zen teacher on a call. (Why it stood out: I felt connected to nature at the same time she was talking about how important it is to slow down and to linger more. It felt like she was right next to me, sitting quietly.)
- Dinner time with my family on Tuesday. (Why it stood out: I had received some champagne to toast with on a Zoom call that was right before dinner. I had nearly a full bottle left after my toasting. So, at dinner, we used the champagne as a prompt to think of things to toast! It was unexpected and fun!)
You can see that the moments that jumped into my mind all had to do with some connection to a person in my life. There was something fresh and alive that got created by that connection.
Now it’s your turn. WHY did the moments you jotted down stand out?
I’m guessing that at least one, but likely two or all three, stood out because of a relationship to someone. When we have a meaningful connection to another person, it’s like a warm light being turned on in a dark room. Something inside us clicks on. We feel alive in a new way.
It feels so good to connect. That’s WHY we should spend time and energy building more and deeper connections with people.
Now, here’s HOW!
Connecting with people gives our lives a sense of meaning and depth; however, I know from experience that if I leave connections and relationships up to randomness, I would have a lot fewer memorable moments with people. It just wouldn’t happen.
So, I’ve learned to create intention. I’ve made “relationship habits.” Many of these habits take very little time and don’t cost anything. You could liken them to doing a push-up a day!
Here are a few “push-up” habits:
- First thing in the morning, send a text to someone in your life to let them know you are thinking of them.
- After an outing with someone, if you’ve taken any photos together, send them one right away and tell them how much fun you had.
- If you notice on the calendar that it is someone’s birthday, turn on the voice recorder on your phone and send a warm, loving audio message that conveys how much you care.
Other habits can take more time or planning, but they’re really worth it. Let’s call these “full-body workout” habits:
- Mark on your calendar two weeks before someone’s birthday and send something special to arrive on time to celebrate them.
- Offer to help someone when they are moving, after they’ve had a baby or when they need help digging up the backyard.
- Invite someone for a meal at your home. Do it up with linens, candles and fun music.
The last set of relationship habits can require the most from us emotionally or financially; but they will also feel worthwhile and have long-lasting meaning. These are our “marathon” habits:
- Stay connected to someone through all the stages of their grief, reaching out frequently and showing up for them in heroic ways emotionally.
- Host someone’s milestone birthday or anniversary party. Afterward, share memories and photos with them to help keep the feeling alive.
- Offer to be someone’s accountability partner for a dream they have. Meet with them weekly, cheer them on, celebrate the stages of success.
These are just a few examples of some habits that we can create to deepen relationships in our lives. These are not just one-time things for one person, but rather ongoing habits that we act on with many different people.
Just like with any habit, relationship habits take practice. We forget. We try again. We find ways to remind ourselves. We stack our habits.
Remember to be kind to yourself along the way. No berating yourself if you forget or slip up. Your relationship to YOURSELF deserves nurturing and love, too!