One of the reasons I started this blog was because I realized I’m in crappy financial shape for the future. I began to re-learn about and re-consider the kinds of financial investments I need to be making for my future.
But what about other investments?
Yesterday as I drove home from work, I turned on the radio, heard the Goo Goo Dolls and thought out loud that there should be a law prohibiting Goo Goo Dolls music during rush hour. We’ve been working all day. We’ve suffered enough already.
My immediate next thought was to use my drive time to communicate with friends and family. I’ve got 30 or 45 unoccupied minutes there that I am wasting by listening to songs I have heard a hundred times, Goo Goo Dolls or not. It would be more productive for me to make a phone call to someone I don’t get to talk to much, and spend 30 minutes learning about their life.
For starters, it will allow me to reinforce the social and, more importantly, listening skills that I am aiming to improve. But it will also help me reinforce the relationships that I already have but may just be neglecting. (Side note: “relationship” in this post doesn’t mean romantic relationships, although some if not all of the below thoughts apply to those relationships as well.)
Taking a Relationship Inventory
I have neglected a lot of relationships over the years. I have always tended to prefer having a few very close friends and hundreds of acquaintances. The problem is that I have never defined to myself how close those acquaintances could or should be to me. As a result, I didn’t invest anything in those relationships because I already had the close relationships I required in my life. Even worse, I sometimes wondered why people weren’t trying to be closer to me.
I haven’t ever had anyone tell me they thought I was being cold or closed off to them, but perhaps they just wouldn’t tell me that to my face anyhow. However, I have often had people say that I seem intimidating to talk to. I still don’t know why, but this leads me to two major conclusions.
- First, if people are intimidated by talking to me, then it falls on me to be the person who opens up the dialogue. And, yes, this may involve stepping outside your comfort zone a bit.
- Second, it is entirely possible, even likely, that people have been willing to be close but I have not been prioritizing that and therefore didn’t notice their interest in having a relationship.
Is it possible that the person who seems interesting, the person reading a book I have read or want to read, the person I have reason to believe has a lot in common with me, the cute girl who keeps glancing my direction, or the coworker who I continue to see at every event I go to, are all avoiding talking to me because they don’t want to get to know me? Sure, but it is highly unlikely. Instead, the most plausible explanation is that they would be open to talking to me, but I seem intimidating or am giving off signals that I don’t want to know them. I’m more likely to get a good response if I start the conversation. I can’t be afraid of being brushed off, even though it is going to occasionally happen. I need to be better about reaching out and strengthening existing or creating new ones (hence the photo of The Creation above).
So, armed with all of this knowledge and these revelations, a new means to an end for the week is to have a phone conversation with someone that I haven’t talked to in a while during my drive home. That should be easy to fulfill. I have an address book packed with names of people I rarely reach out to.
I’ve classified this as a “means to an end” rather than as a “goal” for the week because it is the first step out of many in accomplishing the real goal, which is to invest more in all my existing relationships and in creating new ones.
Think about this question long, hard, and honestly and leave your answer in the comments if you’re inclined. What relationships should you be investing in this year?