Happy New Year everyone! Since it’s January, this is the time that I typically start talking about setting goals for the year: all the things you want to do, be, have in 2013. While I would still encourage you to set do, be, have goals and I do every year myself, this year we will take a different approach by looking at the most important area of our lives: personal relationships.
I was reminded of a great exercise from the Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly effective people book and workshop. I originally took the three day class back in 1994 and am fortunate enough to be re-taking in now. The work shop taught me several valuable lessons and tools that I still use to this day. I’d like to share one with you now.
Identify the key roles you play in your life, both personal and professional. This list will include things like daughter, wife, sister, manager, church member, mother, friend, volunteer, employee, neighbor, Sunday school teacher etc. etc. etc. Be all inclusive in listing the roles you’re in. As an example:
Next, identify a key person or two for each role. For example, as “Mother” you would list your children’s names. As “Sunday school teacher, you could list a key student in your class”. Example:
Role: Friend Key Person: Friend Mary
Role: Aunt Key Person: Niece Lindsey
Now comes the fun part: imagine it is your 75th birthday. Attending the birthday celebration are the key people from each of your roles. They will each get an opportunity to speak about you, a tribute statement of sorts. What would you WANT them to say about you? How would they describe you and the influence you’ve had on their lives. What adjectives would they use?
Role: Friend Key Person: Mary
Tribute Statement: always challenged me to be the best person I can be. She encourages me to try new things. And see the positive in everything. She never judges me and I know her friendship is a safe place. She is my biggest cheerleader She smiles a lot.
Role: Aunt Key Person: Niece Lindsey
Tribute Statement: my aunt Tracy has always been like a mother to me. In fact, I call her my “Mother Equivalent” I know she is always there for me, but more than that, she seeks me out and is involved in my life. She calls me often and involved in my daughter’s life. We sometimes go on trips together and though I live far away, we occasionally get to celebrate holidays together. I feel very close to her.
Continue making this list and tribute statements for each roll you have in life.
Now here comes the real deal part. I just checked webmd and they say that in 2010, the average life span in the United States was 77.8 years. That puts me well past the middle of my life. I don’t yet feel middle aged, but mathematically, I am past mid-life. I don’t have unlimited time to do the things we need to do with the people I care about it and neither do you. Start now! What steps can we take to nurture and develop our relationships, to make sure our tribute statements actually come true.
I’m doing pretty good in the friend department, but lately I have not devoted the time and attention I should to my niece Lindsey. Why not? What am I waiting for? What is more important than our relationships? I’m busy? It’s January and the Wellness Center is super busy? Again, what are more important than our relationships? This is particularly profound today, as I write this. She works at the Lone Star College in Houston, where the school shootings occurred. Thankfully, she is fine and thankfully, I have another opportunity to be the best Aunt I can be to her. So what steps can I take this year, as a goal, or resolution, or plan or whatever we want to call it that gets me to the tribute statement I want from her?
1. Speak with Lindsey at least one time per week
2. Remember her birthday and her daughter Alyssa’s birthday with cards
3. Arrange to spend Thanksgiving together
4. Two random surprises from me this year (could be flowers or anything unexpected).
Identify the people you love and care about. What will you do to devote the time and attention to them NOW and what are you waiting for?
Tracy Stebbins is Director of Wellness NMMC-WP-Wellness Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org View more articles in: