While I am a big proponent of alone-time, in order to make space for self-evaluation and creative breakthroughs, I believe the other side of the coin must also be given ample attention: relationship time. Left to ourselves for too long gets us disproportionately in our own heads, which often isn’t healthy. We are wired for community with others, and it can do wonders for our pursuit of emotional wellness (confirmed after I watched the miniseries and social experiment Castaway).
So, resist the pull to remain inward-focused for extended periods of time, and consider who you need to make time with this month:
- Spouse. Next to God, your main squeeze needs your main focus when it comes to relationships. Think back on your vows and to what you committed to be for your husband/wife. Establish a regular date night weekly and a quarterly getaway to re-establish them as a priority. More ideas here!
- Children. For those with kids, a lots of time/energy/money is spent readying them for their activities in their lives, but what about just hanging out with each of them individually and ask them questions that get them thinking and developing their values.
- Extended family. You don’t have to wait for the annual family reunion to check-in with a periodic phone call, email or IM to sincerely inquire about their joys/ struggles.
- Friends. Most people I know want more time with their buddies, but their schedules don’t make way for them to connect. Friends give us the pressure-relief valve for the stresses of life in a way that family cannot. Don’t just say, “We need to get together” when you see a friend in passing; get our your calendar and carve out a coffee chat or do a recreational fun activity together.
- Colleagues/cohorts. You are probably a member of a community, club, church, non-profit or work group. (If not, step one is to find one that interests you and explore joining it.) It may be time to take your relationship within that group to the next level by choosing one or two like-minded people to invite to lunch. By expanding your circle of influence, many more positive connections can form and you’ll learn of other resources to enhance your life.
- Others? Leaders, consider investing more in getting to know your direct reports. Neighbors, consider strolling over and starting up a conversation in the driveway. To what else can you both give and receive the benefits of relationship-building?
Make it a goal this summer to get out more, and that will keep you growing forward!
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