If you’re anything like me, you often face a classic conundrum when it comes to how you’ll spend your time, asking: “Should I prioritize the important or the urgent?”
And, ya know, if you’re like me, urgent matters often win. Gotta get the kids out the door, dinner on the table, work assignment turned in. Log a few hours of sleep, wake up, and repeat again tomorrow.
But then, dare I say it, if you’re like me, you wake up some of those mornings and think, “This isn’t how my life is supposed to look.”
Okay that moment—right there—that’s the one. That’s the feeling we want to tap into today. That’s the prompting we want to heed.
After all, this isn’t how our lives are supposed to function day in and day out—running from one task to another, high-fiving folks as we pass them by, and wondering how we lost ourselves along the way.
We were meant to grow in relationship with each other and ourselves. To be known and loved for who we are and to extend this same grace to our close friends and family.
And so, prompting in mind, let’s take a few minutes to prioritize one of the most important, enriching aspects of life: our relationships. We’ll tackle this in three parts—but I promise it won’t take long.
The kids—and their incessant hunger—will still be there when you’re done.
Part 1: Listing My Key Relationships
Grab a pen and paper, open up the notes app on your phone or—if you’re like me and wanna get nerdy with it—start a spreadsheet.
List the main relationships in your life by name. Be sure to include your spouse or partner, parents, in-laws, siblings, close friends, your kids, and yourself. Yes, you!
Part 2: Assessing My Relationships
Consider your relationships overall as you ask yourself the following:
What are my favorite ways to connect with others?
What hinders my ability to be fully present with friends and family?
How do people generally feel about themselves when we part ways?
Then, consider each individual relationship listed and ask yourself:
How well do we truly know one another?
Am I the real me around this person?
What about this relationship energizes me?
What about this relationship drains me?
You might feel a little awkward when you get to the end of your list and have to consider: “What about my relationship with myself energizes me and what about it drains me?” but give it a go anyway!
After all, you might learn something. Perhaps your self-talk could use a boost, or maybe you simply need to turn on some music and dance around the kitchen when you’re washing dishes. Ya know, if you’re like me.
Part 3: Making New Commitments for My Relationships
Reflection works best when it’s followed up with action. And this action is where you begin to change the trajectory of the future ever-so-slightly.
Because, sure, you’re still bound to rush through your day, crossing one item and then another off of your to-do list in a frantic fashion but—and this is big—you’ll also be more likely to prioritize relationships over the long haul.
Take a few minutes to look again at your list of key relationships and consider how you answered the questions above. Write out a few ideas for how you might improve your relationships. Things like:
- I’ll plan ahead for connecting with people in a way that I enjoy—by setting out a board game or inviting others along for afternoon walks.
- I’ll put my phone away during transitional times of the day so I can give goodbyes and hellos my full attention.
- When someone I love shares information with me, I’ll ask thoughtful follow-up questions so they know that I’m listening and I care.
- If I’m having a tough day or a difficult season, and a person I trust asks how I’m doing, I’ll be honest.
- I’ll make more room for relationships that energize me.
- When a relationship drains me, I might complain a bit, but mostly, I’ll look for ways to either make things better or to move on in love.
- I’ll make time for myself—both my needs and my wants.
List complete, choose one or two to start working on today. Then make another commitment: that you’ll revisit this list once a season to see how you’re doing and what you might like to work on next.