In a review of the results from our "Most Urgent Personal Decision" survey, choosing relationship priorities has become the third most pressing personal decision, coming in behind #1 - career change decision and #2 - choosing a personal vision.
Relationships take time and effort. Prioritizing relationships enables fulfillment of your personal vision and mission by establishing the importance and precedence that each relationship has in your life. This choice consciously addresses the question of "Who will be most important in encouraging me to become the person I would like to be now and into the future?"
Factors that can help in prioritizing relationships come from two major categories: criteria that support growth toward a personal vision and mission, and factors that promote the health, effectiveness, or goodness of a relationship.
Criteria that help prioritize relationships that encourage fulfillment of vision and mission include:
Most of what we value comes from relationships, so relationship success factors will typically reflect what we value. Here are criteria that can be used to assess and prioritize healthy relationships:
Choosing your core values before prioritizing relationships helps generate alignment with guiding life choices (the decisions highlighted in green), increases clarity, while making it much easier to reduce and adjust this list.
If you have ever coordinated a large social event, you have some sense of the difficulties that come with managing interactions with a large number of people. In reality, our day is filled with social interactions that are often the result of routine or unconscious decisions. Choosing relationship priorities helps to make us aware of time spent with others and reveals the impact relationships can have on our lives.
Here is a partial list of key relationships or relationship categories to consider for prioritization:
With our world being more connected than ever, it is easy to see from this list how time for important relationships can get squeezed or lost.
Besides the challenge of time for each relationship, we must also contend with different priorities from those we are related to. Each person will have different views on how much time to spend together, and on which activities. In many cases, needs may not yet be understood, making time planning difficult.
Choosing relationship priorities provides the guideposts for maintaining balance in relations. The choices for daily activities can be evaluated against these priorities to determine if they are in service of guiding life decisions. Harmful and unsupportive relationships are more easily identified and ended. Highest priority relationships can be given the time they need by taking time from those of lower importance. Opportunities to build multiple relationships simultaneously become easier to accomplish. Compromise takes less effort when the significance of the relationship is clear.
Many of our relationships are the result of circumstances. We don't choose much of our family. In most cases we do not choose our manager. Prioritizing relationships allows us to choose having a relationship in some cases, and manage time and effort for relationships in cases where we don't choose.
Here are some ideas that can help when working through this decision:
It is easy to go through life getting involved with relationships as they occur. Use this framework to help guide your relationships to enable a more intentional life.