I need to make a BIG change this year.
Recently I was in full-blown goal-setting mode for the new year, and a friend posted something on Facebook that caught my attention. They were choosing one word to focus on in the coming year. They had other goals, but this word would be their focus. It would be the Year of __________. This spoke to me. I love the simplicity of a single word. So, I started to think and pray about what my word should be. It didn’t take too long. I know the area I need to focus on. Actually, I’ve known it for some time.
It’s just been too difficult to face.
I’ve written on the subject before. I opened up about this issue a few months ago. Back in October, I wrote an article called How to respond when you’ve been burned. As I read it, it spoke to me. This area was still raw. I had only begun to scratch the surface. In the article, I shared how some of my past mistakes had really affected me spiritually and emotionally. Because of my past, I had slowly pushed people away. I know I’ve caused damage to several key relationships in my life. It’s hard to explain, but this isn’t what I wanted. I know some of my friends wonder why I don’t call, text, or write. They probably think I don’t care about them or don’t care about the relationship. They couldn’t be more wrong. For some reason, I just can’t seem to pick up the phone.
I really do.
I can’t tell you why I don’t reach out. I’ll go weeks without answering calls or emails. These are from people that I respect and love. I’ve always been an extrovert, the life of the party. I went to several schools growing up and never had any trouble making friends. Now, if I want to call a friend, I immediately come up with 5 excuses. I start to do other things until it is too late. “I guess I can’t call now. They’re probably in bed,” I tell myself.
In my previous article, I said we need to overcome those barriers and walls in our lives by choosing to connect, choosing to love, and choosing to trust. It’s not advice I have followed.
I haven’t been a very good friend.
If I have hurt you, I am sorry. If I’ve ever made you feel slighted, unwanted, or unimportant to me, I apologize. You mean the world to me, and I’ve just done a crap job of showing it.
So, this is my word for 2016: Connection
My Year of Connection
I am tired of doing life by myself. I have an amazing wife. She’s my best friend. She knows everything about me. But she can’t be my only connection, my only healthy relationship. That isn’t good for her or me. This year, I’m putting myself out there. I’m going to share my life with others. I want to rebuild some of the relationships that I’ve wounded and create new friendships, as well. I know this will be scary, at times. You may not understand. How is it scary to call someone who is already your friend? I can’t explain it. I feel guilty for being so irrational.
I know this won’t happen on its own. I have to be intentional. I want to make healthy relationship-building a way of life. So, I created a system to follow. I know this is what I need to do. When it comes to making friends, I need to “learn to walk” again. The list below is my physical therapy.
Relationship Building 101
- Weekday afternoons are dedicated to building friendships.
First things first. I need to set a time to work on this area. I am going to begin with my afternoons. I have a little more flexibility to connect on social media, text and email. After this becomes a habit, I will add in other times in the evening and on weekends.
- Create an Evernote list of connections and frequency
Who I am connecting with and how often. Connections can include phone calls, text, email, and social media.
- Family and close friends (1-2 per day)
- Other friends and acquaintances (3-4 per week)
- Colleagues (2-3 per week)
- People I would like to know/connect with (2-3 per week)
- Engage on social networks
- Post a daily status update (I rarely post to a personal status to Fb)
- Like, comment, and share daily
- Say Happy Birthday (I would rarely to this also. But on my birthday, I was counting how many people wrote on my wall!)
- Tweet 2-3 times per day (in addition to link posts from blogs)
- Reply to tweets and actively engage with the community daily
- Comment on other videos daily
- Ask questions
- How are you doing?
- How is life?
- What is one cool thing you are doing right now?
- Any new projects?
- What church do you attend?
- How old are your kids now?
- What goals do you have for this year?
- How can I help you?
This list isn’t perfect. In the future, I will need to update it and modify it. But I know if I start here and build these habits, 2016 will look vastly different.
I’m tired of blazing trails alone.
I want to build bridges.