Is Busyness Killing Your Relationships? Ask These 3 Questions
Harvard has been conducting the longest study on human health and happiness, and do you know what they found?
The key to happiness and fulfillment in life is not money, power, time, or vacation. The key is healthy relationships.
This study has been going on since 1938, so this is not new information. They have followed people for generations.
Relationships are the key to your happiness, which means you have to work on them.
The Impact of Loneliness on Health and Well-being
I heard a new term the other day: “social fitness.” (They’ll come up with a new term for anything, am I right?)
I liked this one, though, because relationships are a living, breathing thing in your life and they need to be nurtured.
You’re not going to grow a garden without getting out there and working on it. If you don’t water it, that thing’s gonna be dead.
Taking care of relationships in your life is ultimately a form of self-care.
Loneliness kills. A lack of connection in your life is as deadly as alcoholism or smoking. That’s how much we need people in our lives. This goes for your personal relationships and your professional relationships. It’s your family of origin and your coworkers.
But what’s the first thing that goes when we get busy? Our relationships.
When we get super busy, we tell ourselves we don’t have time for anything else. Attorneys are infamous for this. I can’t tell you how many female attorneys I’ve talked to who look like they’re crushing it in life, but feel like they have no friends.
It’s because they got really busy and stopped taking the time. They eliminated that part of self-care. (Let’s be real, lawyers are busy, high-achieving people, so self-care is not our strong suit).
We often make the mistake of thinking if we’re already friends with someone, that should be good enough. We think they’ll always be there. We don’t have to nurture our friendship, we can just kind of leave it alone.
That’s a lie. You know it as well as I do. The longer you’re out of touch with someone, the harder it is to go back to that relationship.
You find yourself canceling plans. You can’t make it to dinner. You can’t make it to the soccer game. You say you’ll get home at 5:00, but you get home at 8:30 again. You skip calling your mom again.
Your schedule is controlling your life. You're distracted, you're not present, and you’re irritated with everyone. But you just keep saying, “Well, when this case is over, when I make this much money, when this slows down…”
Here’s the truth: You are never getting more time back.
If relationships are the key to your happiness, fulfillment, and joy, then you have to make them a priority.
3 Questions to Ask About Your Relationships
You might be saying, “Okay Erin, it's really easy for you to say let's foster relationships. I don't have time to just go have cocktails with my girlfriends on a Thursday.”
Fair enough. Maybe you don’t have time for that…
But there are things you do have time for.
If you start telling yourself a story about what’s not possible, your brain is going to believe you. It’s going to believe this is too hard and that it’s not worth it.
But if you start telling yourself a different story and recognizing the importance of having relationships and showing up for people, then your brain will find ways to make time.
So let's ask ourselves a couple of questions about how we're showing up in this world.
Are you chronically absent from important events?
Do you miss soccer games? Are you home late every night? Are you at the office on Saturdays and Sundays? Are you on your phone when you are home? Are you constantly missing things?
Do you repeat promises that you're gonna do better?
Are you always making promises, to yourself and others, that you're gonna do better? Do you say things like, “I’ll be there next time,” but when next time rolls around, you’re still not there?
Are you always pointing to a future time?
Do you find yourself saying things like: when this case closes, when this client does this, when I get this check, when I get this job, when we move, when so and so does this…Are you always pointing to a future when X happens, when Y happens?
If you found yourself saying yes to any of those questions, I first want to tell you, “It’s okay.” I’m not asking you to shame yourself or beat yourself up for being a bad mom, wife, daughter, partner, or whatever. None of that is true.
Instead, give yourself compassion and grace. You’ve been doing the best you can. Now that you know better, you can do better.
You owe it to yourself and you owe it to the people you love to do better. Your health, happiness, and fulfillment demand it.
So what can you do?
I’m not asking you to alter your entire life tomorrow. Simple, small changes have long-reaching effects.
If you feel like your schedule is totally crazy, let’s start there. What can you eliminate? What’s not working and what can you do about it? A great way to do this is with a brain dump.
Overwhelm and stress live in your head. So if you can get all of that on paper, you can see it in written form and start doing something about it. Write everything that’s demanding of your time on paper and figure out what you can eliminate, what you can delegate, and what you need help with.
Just because you’re asking for help, delegating, and eliminating certain things in this season doesn't mean it's going to be the way it is forever. You owe it to yourself and your health and your happiness to foster and be intentional about your relationships.
Time-Block Your Schedule
The last thing I would recommend is to time-block your schedule. If there are times that you have committed to be somewhere, either for yourself, your business, or your family, that time needs to be blocked off the calendar. Everyone at the office needs to know that you are not available for those times.
If somebody comes to you needing something, you say, “I can absolutely do that for you. I can get it to you and [insert deadline that works for you].”
This is how you create healthy boundaries.
I hope this gave you a little bit of encouragement today. I know you’re busy. I know you’re a high-achiever. I know your schedule is crazy. But the data doesn't lie. Relationships are the main key to happiness, fulfillment, health and longevity in life.
You owe it to yourself to nurture your relationships and be present for the people you love.