Can you think of a relationship you struggle to maintain? I mean just staying in regular contact with the people you love? I know I do.
Whether it’s living too far away from extended family and old friends, being too busy with work and other obligations, or simply not having the energy by the end of the day, we have plenty of compelling excuses for letting our most important relationships fade away.
Sure, most of us loosely follow each other on social media these days but, let’s be honest, looking at and liking someone’s vacation pictures is NOT the same as actually having a conversation with them.
Most people I know would love to have better contact with certain people in their lives. And yet how many of us actually make an effort to change it? This has been on my mind recently because, personally, I’m pretty terrible at keeping in touch with people. The most poignant example of this is my contact with my dad.
He lives in Sweden and while we have a great relationship and I try to go visit when I can, neither one of us is very good at initiating contact or doing so regularly. I hated that sometimes months would go by without us talking.
So I decided to finally do something about it!
I used one of my favorite time management hacks, which is putting things on a calendar instead of (or in addition to) a to do list, as a way of truly committing to and prioritizing them.
This is something I recommend to clients all the time. And I realized it’s also a powerful strategy when it comes to deepening relationships. Here’s what you do:
Simply add a regular recurring event to your calendar as a standing date with the person you’d like to reestablish or deepen your relationship with. That’s it!
A couple of months ago I suggested to my dad that we schedule a weekly phone call. We found a time that would work most weeks, despite the 9 hour time difference, and now every Monday I get to start not just my day but my week with a 30 minute phone call with my dad to go with my morning coffee. I get off the phone feeling so happy (and tender) after our conversations and it’s very comforting to know it’s a weekly thing.
Whether we are simply catching up and sharing our plans for the coming week or laughing together and telling stories, or going deep and philosophizing about the world and life, it’s been incredibly meaningful for us to have that regular check in, since we historically haven’t. It’s been working so well that I even set up a similar but in person version of the same thing with my sister!
Now, it’s your turn. Is there someone in your life you’ve been wishing you could have more frequent contact with? Get them on your calendar!
Make it a monthly or weekly thing. Whether it’s a get together, a Skype date, a phone call, or even just a text check-in, committing to the regular practice, just like you would with any other practice (e.g. a morning ritual), removes so many of the challenges – the mental challenge of remembering to reach out, the scheduling challenge of finding a time that works, and the emotional challenge of feeling guilty that you’re not maintaining that relationship. Try it and let me know how it goes 🙂