Your Shitty Relationships are Hijacking Your Time

Start operating from a place of inspiration, not obligation.

It’s a common refrain: There’s never enough time. As a society we’re overwhelmed with work, kids’ schedules, social activities, and generally fast paced lives. We just can’t seem to fit it all in. Instead of inspecting your calendar for space to squeeze in the needy friend you’ve pushed off all month, take a holistic approach to the people that fill your calendar. You are a product of the five people with whom you spend the most time. This combination of people significantly shapes who you are. Who are your “Top 5”? Chances are, you’ve been spending your time operating from a sense of relationship obligation instead of inspiration.

“When it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. It affects our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions.” ~Jim Rohn

Over time, we naturally grow and evolve, yet we are often attached to relationships that are dysfunctional. We tend to operating from outdated or inauthentic versions of ourselves. While it may be easier to observe this in a marriage or with a romantic partner, the concept also applies to your toxic coworker, your “debbie downer” childhood friend, and the gossiping mom at the soccer field.

Your “Top 5” are either your biggest champions or your biggest energy vampires. Even if we do realize it, it’s hard to gracefully exit the relationship or confront our friends. Fear of change, rejection, and criticism often prevent us from functioning as the current “software version” of ourself. Conversely, remaining with the status quo leaves you drained, resentful, and stagnant. This trade-off is affecting your life more than you realize.

The crucial reality we rarely consider is: YOU get to choose. At times, the choices aren’t apparent. It often seems much easier to avoid discomfort when the uncertainty of addressing the situation appears unpleasant and potentially painful. However, you are in the driver seat of your life and if you want to be living from a place of “inspiration not obligation,” deeper action is required.

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/@sidharthbhatia

Who are you spending most of your time with? List them out. What are they bringing to the relationship? What are you bringing to the relationship? Where do you wish you had more time? After you’ve assembled your list, review it and ask yourself if it aligns with your goals.

It’s possible you’re not thrilled with what you’ve discovered. What next?

Reset: If you find yourself out of alignment with some of the people in your “Top 5” and are looking for an exit plan, here are two approaches to consider:

  • More honesty: This does not mean going to the “complainer friend” with accusations and judgment, making him or her wrong. It’s important to start the conversation with a compassionate mindset, recognizing our role is not to change others. Nevertheless, an honest conversation opens the door to share developing or changing perspectives. The key in starting these conversations is to speak from “I,” centered solely around your experience: “I feel uneasy…I am feeling disconnected regarding…”
  • New perspective: Before “ghosting” (which is never the right answer), or a making a long list of excuses, remember that just as you feel different, your friend probably does too. Give them the opportunity to level-up and be seen in a new light. Try something such as, “I’m interested in learning about what’s important to you these days.” A singular conversation can be a catalyst for change and unlock potential for future growth.

Refresh: Have a few open spots in your “Top 5”, but don’t know how to find new, fulfilling realtionships? It begins within you: “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” If you’re unhappy and unmotivated, it’s challenging to foster new meaningful friendships. Try out some activities that get you into your most essential self (meditating, exercise, connecting with nature, art, and listening to good music are activities to explore if you’re unsure). Then, set the intention to create more connection. Find a few places to bring the revitalized version of yourself into the world. You could try an improv class, find a Meetup Group that interests you, or volunteer for a local cause that is important to you.

Photo Credit: RawPixel.com

Recharge: Big goals and dreams? Who is inspiring you or moving in a direction that resonates with you? Prioritize people with the skills you are looking to augment. Want to lose ten pounds? Evidence suggests you need a partner in crime. Starting a new business? Bring people into your circle that understand the entrepreneurial mindset and can help during bouts of uncertainty and fear. Your “Top 5” are fundamental to your success at new efforts. You don’t have to do it alone!

Renew: Already have the people you want? Great, now go deeper. Many of us stay in stale versions of our friendships, complaining about bosses or employees, talking about the latest reality TV drama, or gossiping about others. What if, instead, you set the intention to learn something new about someone you’ve known forever?

Review: Just as you’re not the same person you were last year, it’s integral to check-in on a regular basis (at very minimum 1–2 times per year) and track your progress: “Am I operating from a place of inspiration, not obligation?” As your desires evolve, reassess your crew and rotate new people into the mix. There is no finish line, the key is finding a balance that fits with your current goals and life stage.

Resonate? Pass it on. We are grateful. 👏