How To Take Care of Your Relationships
When I look back on the moments in my life that have been the most impactful for me, it’s always been the result of someone knowing and loving me deeply. One of my 2017 PowerSheets goals is to love others well. Now, anyone familiar with the SMART goal criteria is probably shaking their head at that goal. Why? They might argue that it isn’t specific enough or it cannot be measured. To which I say: traditional goal-setting doesn’t work for us. Goals can be overwhelming when they aren’t connected to what matters, and one of the most important legacies I want to leave behind in one where everyone in my life feels known and loved by me. I would argue that my goal can be measured by the way my loved ones feel when they leave a conversation or interaction with me. My hope is they never leave a conversation feeling better about me, but they leave feeling better about themselves because I have encouraged them.
With that said, I wanted to share some tips that have worked well for me! I’m by no means an expert at this, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments, too!
My 2016 and 2017 PowerSheets goals were quite similar!
Hold yourself accountable. One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding it your Monthly Tending List. For example, on my personal PowerSheets, I add monthly goals that are specific to certain events. For March, one of my monthly goals is to finish my perpetual Google calendar where I track birthdays, anniversaries, and other big events for my friends and families! Sometimes, I’ll add specific weekly goals for particular relationships. This month, I added, “call my momma!” to my weekly goals because I realized that a lot of our recent conversations have been hurried due toÂ her new work schedule. Adding it to my weekly goals reminds me each week to cultivate that relationship!
Keep a list of your loved ones’ favorite things. Our team has a document with all of our team members’ favorite things that is easily accessible to everyone! It’s been so helpful when I’m at the store and want to pick up a snack for one of the ladies; I can easily open our document and grab everyone’s favorite treat! Replicate this for yourself. Keep a note on your iPhone (or anywhere) where you track these things. Some suggestions: favorite Starbucks drink, favorite flower, what they order from Chipotle, favorite color, t-shirt size, favorite candy. The possibilities are endless!Â Same goes for gift ideas. If you come up with a great Christmas gift idea in May, write it down!
Ask “what can I do to serve you?” I heard this suggestion years ago in a sermon on marriage at my church, but I’ve adopted it for all my relationships. Asking “what can I do to serve you?” shows your friend or significant other you have the time to care for them and are choosing to spend your time that way. If possible, go one step further and try to be specific here. For example, if a friend is grieving a loss, offer specific and tangible ways to serve them. There’s a chance she’s had many people say “let us know if there’s anything we can do” and she doesn’t quite know how to ask for specific help. Anticipate something you can do to serve her-whether it’s doing grocery shopping, running a few loads of laundry, providing childcare, or simply being a listening ear-and giving her specific things to choose from will make it easier for her to ask for help!
Never underestimate the power of snail mail. Find a pack of cards that you love or a cute postcard set (bonus that mailing a postcard is actually cheaper!) and keep them nearby. You’ll have a quick way to drop a note of encouragement in the mail for someone when you are thinking of them. Add addresses to your phone’s address book, or keep them online using a service such as Postable. My favorite tip: you can buy stamps on Amazon!
Listen and remember. One thing that has helped me with this is the Reminders function on my iPhone. I will often set reminders to follow up with friends after they share something with me. For example, if my friend shares that she is nervous about her doctor’s appointment next week, there’s a good chance you’ll hear me say “Siri, remind me to text Laura about her appt next Thursday at 3 pm.” At first, that felt insincere to me. Why couldn’t I just remember? Then I realized it was no different than adding a note on my to-do list or writing a sticky-note, and it’s helped me immensely cultivate deeper relationships with those that I care about!
I know there might be some of you thinking, “Well Jess, you make this seem so easy; it must come naturally to you.” I want to offer some encouragement to you: this is something I try to practice, and it does not always come naturally (you can ask some of the people closest to me!) I often have the very best of intentions, but I don’t always execute on them. In fact, sometimes I say the wrong thing or just forget something altogether, and I have to apologize and ask for forgiveness. However, knowing this is one of my goals helps keep me accountable and encouraged to continue to improve!
I want to hear from you! What would you add to this list? I’d love to learn some new tips to help my accomplish one of my 2017 goals.
Be sure to read Emily’s post on her personal blog which is full of practical ways she’s working on loving others well. I’m grateful to work alongside women who have similar hearts and desires to cultivate deeper relationships!