While growing up I had what is probably a relatively unique experience. I had the same group of friends from elementary school through high school. We were all born in the same small town, and, with one exception, all of our parents still live there. Last weekend most of us got together for the first time in about 17 years. I was surprised by the deep fulfillment I felt from renewing these relationships. I thought we had all moved on, and since high school I haven’t made much effort to keep in touch. I didn’t realize what an enduring bond we had built during those formative years.
I tend to be more task-oriented than people-oriented, but this experience reminded me how fulfilling relationships can be. I realized I haven't put that much time and effort into many relationships since then. I realized I have been missing out.
I've been thinking about how to build relationships while still satisfying my “need to achieve” personality. Here are some thoughts:
1. Don’t be afraid of imperfection
My drive to maintain my habits and accomplish my goals can get in the way of relationships. Many of the experiences that build the meaningful relationships can’t be scheduled. Often they are spontaneous activities, such as late-night discussions or last-minute ice cream runs.
I often miss out on these opportunities because I want to maintain my habit of getting enough sleep before my structured morning routine. I want to stick to my healthy eating program. And so on.
I need to remember that I can still accomplish my goals if my normal habits get disrupted once in a while.
2. Look beyond instant gratification
Accomplishing a task and checking the box provides instant gratification. While experiences along the way should be enjoyable, building the most fulfilling relationships usually takes a long time accompanied by sacrifice of our own needs.
3. Believe that relationships trump accomplishment
Building relationships can be hard for goal-oriented people because they tend to focus their efforts on measurable outcomes. It’s difficult to set goals to build relationships, and it’s even more difficult to measure progress.
However, goal-oriented people like me need to acknowledge that relationships trump any other accomplishment. This is especially true for family relationships. As David O. McKay said, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home."
4. Choose carefully
Of course, we don’t have the time or emotional capacity to build deep relationships with a large number of people. Consequently, we can be selective with who we build relationships with.
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
I’ve resolved to make it a priority to build relationships with those who will help me become the best person I can be.
Question: What tips do you have for making relationships a priority?