Maria has been working for one of Chicago’s biggest graphic design firms for the last two years. Her days are filled with design sessions, meetings and client calls. On weekdays she often doesn’t leave the office until 7 pm and has noticed her personal relationships begin to suffer because of it. She only sees her boyfriend on the weekends, her friends periodically and has not talked to her parents in weeks. One day after a particularly stressful day at work, Maria commits to making sure that she keeps her personal relationships on the top of her priority list. Although she is driven to make the change, she feels like she doesn’t have the time needed to dedicate to nurturing all her personal relationships. What should she do?
Setting aside time for the ones that matter
We all have people in our lives that matter to us and who are consistently there for us when we need them. Whether it’s your parents, kids, friends and/or your significant other we want to be able to give them the attention they deserve. However with all the different time commitments in our daily lives, it can seem impossible to maintain all these relationships. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t take much time and/or energy to maintain strong relationships with important people in your life. I’ll go through and give you some quick tips on how to enhance your relationships with these 3 key groups.
Your relationship with your parents is one of the strongest relationships you’ll have in your lifetime. Not only did your parents raise you from birth, they’re also a strong support system for you to lean on when you have doubts or worries. Maintaining a personal connection with your parents is an important part of having strong personal relationships. Some of the recommendations I’ll give you for maintaining strong family ties may seem trivial but they’re extremely effective:
Call your parents at least once a week
Your parents like to know that you’re still alive and doing well. Taking 10 -15 minutes out of your day to call your parents at least once a week is important to them. Set an alarm on your smart phone for a time on the weekend to give your parents a call. This simple action will make a world of difference.
Visit at least once a year
Getting away from the stresses of day to day life can be a great way to reset. What better way to relax and enjoy the company of your family than by visiting your parents? The holiday season is a great time to pack up your things and head home. They’re always happy to see your smiling face.
Show appreciation for all they’ve helped you accomplish
Sometimes in the midst of all the craziness of day to day life, we forget to stop and think of all the blessings we have received from others. Your parents have been there in your best of times and in your worst of times and have constantly supported you. Showing appreciation for all they do will mean the world them and will make you feel good as well. A neat and creative way to show your appreciation is to send an unexpected post card thanking them for all they do. This is also a great way to earn brownie points over siblings.
We as humans are social creatures and therefore require attention from other individuals who share similar interests. I can tell you from personal experience that my friends have always supported me and pushed me to become the man I am today. Having strong and meaningful relationships with your friends is something that every person should strive to achieve. Below I have listed some quick tips on how to connect with your friends and ensure that your bond stays strong throughout your life:
Start a side project together
As with anyone with a busy schedule it’s important for you to have something away from work to unwind. Why not incorporate your friends into what you’re doing? As part of the side project that I started with one of my friends, we were able to create an organization that helps business-minded engineering students achieve their career and entrepreneurial goals (Engineers for Business). Having a side project that you can work on together will not only bring you guys closer together, you may even learn some new skills along the way.
Make the commitment to explore together
This is one of my favorite tips. It’s important to explore the world and take in different sights and sounds to broaden your horizons. I recently went on a trip with a few friends to New York City and Boston for the 4th of July weekend. It was awesome catching up with them while exploring new places I had never been before. These kinds of experiences not only strengthen the bond you have with your friends but also enrich your mind as well. These trips don’t have break the bank. Organizing a picnic at a place you’ve never been, checking out a free show at local the park and/or taking a road trip to a nearby lake to cool off are just some ideas of things to do with your friends on a budget. Make the commitment to explore with your friends at least once a year and see how much your relationships will be enhanced.
Your relationship with your significant other could very well be the most important in your lifetime. Whether it’s your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse this is the person that you will be sharing your life with. Making time to enhance your relationship with your significant other is crucial to maintaining a lasting healthy relationship. Below I have listed some of the things that I’ve done in the past that worked well for me:
What do I mean by being spontaneous? I don’t mean dropping everything in your life to move to Tibet to become a Buddhist monk. Although this may be something you feel compelled to do, it’s definitely not necessary. What I’m suggesting is that every once and a while you get out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve never done before with your significant other. Whether it’s waking up one morning and deciding to take a road trip to the Grand Canyon or going to the airport and buying a ticket to random place you’ve never been before or maybe going to another side of town to explore the sights and sounds. Make the commitment to be spontaneous at least once a year and I bet you’ll see a difference.
Show that you care
It’s not enough to just tell your significant other that you care about them; you also have to show it through your actions. Making some time to truly engage with your significant other is very important to sustaining a healthy relationship. My recommendation would be to have a weekly dinner date where you and your significant prepare a meal. This is a great activity that engages you and your partner in working together as a team to accomplish a goal. You’ll also get a great meal out of it. Here are some great recipes to get you started. (http://www.eatfatgetthin.com/dist/assets/hyman_Meal_planner.pdf)
Making the commitment to maintaining solid relationships with those you care about is an important part of living a happy life. It doesn’t take much and can be as little as asking them how their day is going. Even this one small act can make a difference. Have you reached out to someone you care about in the last week? Do you have any other recommendations for tips that you use in your everyday life? I would love to hear from you.
My book recommendation for this article is “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Although this book is not specific to relationship building, I feel that the lessons that you’ll learn in this book will help you enhance the relationships you have with the important people in your life. I have posted a link to the book below.