Uncommon Relationship

How successful and happy we are depends on the relationships in our lives. Period. It doesn’t matter if you are a millionaire, celebrity, sports icon, or the CEO of a corporation; if you don’t have good relationships you will not be successful  or happy.  If you are doing well and get into bad relationships, for whatever reason, you stand to lose what you worked so hard to accomplish.

When developing my Vision Plan, I took a long hard look at the relationships in my life.  Let’s face it, we only have so much time for so many people.  First come our families, then friends, then co-workers and business relationships.  I was surprised at how much time I wasted with people who were going nowhere.  And what bothers me most, is that at the time I felt I had to impress or please them.  Once I began to examine the quality of my relationships, I realized I had issues on my side of the fence.

Ask yourself these questions.

  • Who are the people you are giving your time and resources to?
  • Are your relationships healthy?
  • Are your relationships growing?
  • What are you getting out of them vs. what you put into them?

I have a large family compared to most, which includes ten siblings. The toughest relationship for me wasn’t with any of them, or my step mother, it was with my father.  He had a gruff exterior, but could turn on the charm when he wanted to and had a good heart, which my mother reminded me of often.  As I grew older I learned to love him from a safe distance because of the pain I felt from his behavior. He had a flippant, sarcastic personality, and drank fairly heavily at times, which contributed to his lack of follow through and broken promises. By my late 20’s I realized he was not going to change into the warm and fuzzy type of father I wanted. The kind of father who would seize opportunities to have heartfelt conversations and share pearls of wisdom with me. Or the kind of dad that would put his arm around my shoulder and tell me how proud he was of my accomplishments. I’m not trying to get sympathy here; I’m trying to make a point.  Rather than spending my adult life agonizing over a less than fulfilling father-daughter relationship and hoping he would change, I decided to change my expectations. We can’t change others, but we can change our reactions to them. I learned not to rely on his actions or words to feel loved. I met him where he was and expected nothing more.  He wasn’t intentionally trying to make me feel bad or disappointed; he just wasn’t capable of behaving any differently.

After I got over being disappointed at my dad for what he didn’t give me, I began asking him questions about his life and why he made the choices he did. I wanted to know how he became the type of person I knew him to be. I asked him about his experiences growing up and began to understand to some extent what formed him emotionally. Through this process, I realized he gave me a lot more than I had given him credit for. Funny that our parents become smarter the older we get.

This is just one example of how to set boundaries with people.

If you struggle with setting boundaries with the people closest to you, I recommend the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

Here’s a nugget:  Just because you were born into a family does not mean they are all healthy to be around, or that they can offer you the best guidance and life advice; but you can still love them.

Take inventory of your relationships.  Which ones are you putting your time and resources into vs. what you are getting  out of them? In the past I spent too much time with nice, fun people doing unproductive things.  I was allowing myself to be distracted from focusing and developing my talents and abilities for the future.  As a result, my life was not moving forward in a way that I could be proud of. Spending time with the wrong people sapped my time and resources which could have otherwise been spent more productively.  It is true, we do become like the people we surround ourselves with.

Here’s a nugget:  A wise person once said, “When choosing friends, take a step up.”

You can read more in my book, YOUR ULTIMATE LIFE VISION, a Handbook for Life, available on Amazon.com.