Relationships are a critical part of success, both professional and personal.
Last week, in part 1 of our yearly planning series, we looked back at the past year, taking time to celebrate our successes and be honest about our challenges. Today, we’re going to focus on the present, and on our current relationships, in particular.
Sometimes when we’re thinking about our big dreams and plans, we can lose sight of the things that are most important in our life — the people who are with us along the way. This second installment is going to help you focus in on the people you cherish the most, which is a crucial part of the process to set you up for success in 2021.
Here are links to the other installments of the series so far:
Take time to reflect
Once you have your worksheet downloaded, find a quiet time and place to sit down and fill it out. The more thought you give to this process, the more you will get out of it.
We’re going to be thinking about the people in your life who mean the most to you, so it might be helpful to take some time to reflect on the experiences you’ve had and the people you’ve shared them with this past year.
Take out your planner and flip back through the pages, paying special attention to notes about time spent with friends and family. Scroll back through the photos on your phone (or even on your Instagram or Facebook) and savor the beautiful memories you’ve made this year.
Now that you have your relationships in focus, let’s dive into the worksheet.
Identifying important people and relationships
On the first page, we've changed things up a bit from part years! For 2020-2021, we've created a list of superlatives, like your high school might have done, to help you think creatively about the people in your life.
Friends and family are obvious choices to fill in on this list, but they don’t have to be the only ones. Is there a colleague or a mentor at work who has impacted you? Is there someone you admire or aspire to be like? Anyone who fits the category is important to list here, because it helps you expand your understanding of the people who make the biggest impact on you.
The followup question to this list is simple and direct: What can you do immediately and in the next year to improve your relationships?
Because 2020 was such a unique experience, it's likely that your relationships have been through a lot. Maybe there are people you're closer to because of proximity or ease of hopping on a video call, whereas other people might have fallen through the cracks.
Try not to judge yourself or your actions; just observe. Notice what is working and what could use improvement. What can you do to keep up your strongest relationships? Which relationships need more attention?
If you’re struggling for ideas, here are some thoughts:
- Set up a regular time to call/Skype/FaceTime with someone you want to do a better job of keeping in touch with
- Send snail mail to loved ones
- Ask your partner, friends, and family what they need most from you
- Practice putting your phone away when other people talk, and using active listening skills like eye contact, nodding, etc.
- Make notes in your planner of birthdays, anniversaries, and special days so you’ll remember to get in touch
Once you’ve completed this week’s worksheet, you might consider reaching out to some of the people on your list and sharing some of your thoughts with them. Letting someone know how much they mean to you is often under-practiced but always appreciated.
What relationships will you nurture — and how?
On the second page, you'll answer the question: Are there any new or stale relationships you hope to nurture?
Maybe there’s a new team member at work you could mentor, do a 1:1 with, or include in team happy hours. Or a new in-law in your family who could use some kind words at your next family gathering. Or maybe there’s someone in your life whom you really enjoy, but you have fallen out of touch with.
Consider this your opportunity to start 2021 on the right foot with those people. Clearly list your plan of action for how you will nurture each relationship in the coming year. Don’t let yourself get away with just naming names — be *specific*.
Experiences to look forward to
Finally, we’ll start looking to the year ahead to get you ready for Week 3 in this series with one final question: What are you looking forward to in the year ahead, and with whom?
End your planning session on a high note by listing some of the things already on the horizon for 2021 that you’re excited to experience with another person. Given the uncertainty of when we'll be able to get together in person in 2021, this can be a space for dreaming as much as for concrete planning. What would you like to do, given the chance?
Are there ways you can implement that important time with someone, even if you can't be in person?
Now that you’ve spent some time reflecting on your relationships, read back over your answers. Are there any trends or themes that jump out? Is there anyone on your list whom you could reach out to right now and tell them how much they mean to you?
Relationships are a crucial part of your happiness, so allow this exercise to carry you into 2021 ready to make the most out of the year and the people you surround yourself with.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment (all about your yearly theme), and the rest of the series, which will release every week through the end of the year! We can’t wait to see how this process goes for you!(And don’t forget to order your 2021 Ink+Volt Planner now to make sure next year is your best one yet!)