Who did you spend the most time with in the past 11-12 months?
Yourself, of course. You are the only person you spend time with around the clock.
And you likely have a satellite of people who are in your life regularly.
Evaluating who you spend time with – and why – can be a powerful way to reflect on your year.
And reflecting on what’s working and what you want to change is a great way to approach goal setting.
Let’s review and celebrate your most impactful relationships from this year.
#1 List your most frequent interactions.
Consider the following life areas:
- Family (immediate and extended)
- Career/business, including day-to-day and networking partnerships
- Social media, including groups you participate in
- Health and community, like people at your gym or at your kid’s school
In general, who are the 1-3 people you spend time with most frequently from each one of those life areas?
Who has had the most positive impact on your world in the past year?
Are there people that you would like to spend more or less time with and…why?
The “why” part of this question is very important. Your answer reveals your values, your obstacles, and sometimes your wishes for your future. There is no judgment about completing this step – just notice what comes up for you and how your mind tells the story about it.
My closest personal relationships are with my kids because they see me at my silliest and most relaxed. I sometimes joke that I wish I could be 100% of the time the way I feel like when I’m with them.
It’s helpful to ask yourself, “How do my most frequent interactions make me feel?”
#2 List the people that you think about most often
There are the people we spend time with in direct interactions.
And many of us think about people that we don’t interact with on a regular basis.
Consider the following prompts to see who your mind thinks about frequently, in addition to the people from #1:
- Old romantic relationships
- Family members that you’ve lost touch with or who have passed
- Friends or coworkers that you’ve lost touch with
What do you feel when you go over this list?
I have someone who appears in my dreams consistently. I used to judge myself, wonder why I wasn’t “over him,” and really felt ashamed about how often he’d appear in my dream life. After coaching myself, I realized that this person continues to have a very loving, enjoyable impact in my life…even if we hardly talk in person. I decided to make it neutral – he’s just a character in my dream stories. It didn’t have to mean a single thing about me unless I let my thinking run away with the storytelling.
It seems most people that I work with feel embarrassed to be thinking “so much” about someone who isn’t in their life anymore…or grief at someone they can’t reach out to any more. Yet it’s nothing to judge and create more stress about. Instead, noticing that you’re thinking about these people has a great deal to teach you about yourself, and can be a wonderful way to connect with the type of people you’d prefer to have in your life.
# Decide what changes you want to make moving forward
Relationships are one area of life where people seem to easily fall into routine.
Close social relationships can be challenging to cultivate in a busy life filled with work and family.
Some people tend to be more social than others, and there is a strong cultural bias for “more is more” when it comes to friendship. This expectation seems to cause a great deal of stress for many of my clients. (Aren’t we all supposed to have at least 5 mixed gender close friends that we see everyday?!?)
In the spirit of celebration, reflect on and acknowledge the strong bonds you have in your life already.
Celebrate the information that comes from reviewing your most frequent actual and imagined relationships over the past year.
I did this exercise myself before writing it up for you. I was reminded that the people I let into my world have a great deal of impact over where I spend my focus, not just my minutes. Some communities just “vibe” better with the behaviors and characteristics that I want to cultivate. Checking in to evaluate my relationship focus helps me be more intentional in this important area of my life. I celebrate those who are traveling with me…and the wishes I have to refine my most impactful relationships in the coming year.
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with the “Less Stress, More Fun” podcast. Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes offer smart, fun ideas to reduce stress and boost your sense of playfulness.