Life Design and Strategy - Chapter 1 Bonus - The people in your life and the 80/20 Rule
The people in our lives have a huge impact on our happiness. The 80/20 rule in this case is based on the notion that 20% of the people in our lives will generally be responsible for 80% of our happiness, the same rule generally applies with sadness. 20% of people can often cause 80% of our misery. Don’t get stuck on the numbers, the point is that a small percentage of the inputs in our lives usually have the greatest impact.
There are people in our lives that we feel obliged to spend time with, even if they consistently cause us misery and in the spirit of this exercise, to that I say ‘screw that’. Life is too short to spend time with people that don’t add value to your life. The best relationships have an exchange of mutual value and when that value no longer exists, it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship.
I’m not saying that you should leave your spouse because you had a fight or that you should quit your job because your boss is a bit annoying. Even the most valuable relationships aren't always perfect. What I am saying is that you don’t need to spend six hours every Sunday with a friend who always puts you down or makes you feel bad about yourself, you don’t have to be part of the work bowling team if you don’t want to (do work bowling teams even exist anymore?). Spend time with the people who you love the most and that you’re most excited to spend time with. And if you don’t have any people you enjoy spending time with, go find them. Join a class, join a club or go to an event.
Most adults stick with convenient relationships, because it's too hard to meet new people. In life we need a combination of relationships. Some deep relationships that can only be built over time (family, childhood friends) and some new relationships that align with the current and future chapters of our lives (colleagues, art class).
Time for reflection. Do you love and enjoy spending time with the people closest to you? What is it that you love about them? Who knows you better than most and sees the best in you? Who makes you laugh? Who teaches you things? Who is there for you when you need them? Who are you vulnerable with? Who is your champion? Who do you share a passion with? Who makes you feel loved? Who's someone you admire?
Make sure you spend the majority of your time with these people. These are your most important relationships, they are often the ones that we take for granted.
Be clear on the list of people you want to spend more time with and why? Reach out to them, reconnect with them and tell them why they are important to you.
Another exercise to clear the soul. Is reflecting on a person that you wronged that you need to make amends with. It’s easy to craft a story where we believe we were right and the person deserved what we did to them. I’ve found that regardless of who was right there's usually a weight that comes with these situations. Remove the weight, send the person a message appreciating the relationship you once had and apologise if you did something you regret. How they react isn’t important, it's about clearing your conscience.
Note - This isn’t an invitation to rekindle a toxic relationship - it’s simply making a kind gesture to provide some closure or a fresh start to move forward.
If you do feel obliged to spend time with someone - have a long think about the relationship and how it's serving you both. This might be as simple as letting the relationship fizzle out by not initiating contact, at work it might mean looking for a new role, or it might mean having the courage to end the relationship by being open and honest about why it’s not working anymore.
Remember, the key to great relationships is a mutual exchange of value which comes in many forms: shared dreams, passions and values, complementary strengths and creativity, fun, joy, kindness and laughter.
Some relationships just need a bit of re-alignment due to a wall of resentment that’s built up over time. The best way to overcome the wall is by knocking it down, and the best way to knock it down is by honestly exploring each brick that represents an issue and removing it together. To knock down the wall of resentment there are few things you need to do.
Tell the other person three things you love about them and you’re grateful for.
Openly discuss the issue and how it made you feel. Do not attack the other person.
Tell the other person what you’d like to change.
Clearly define a few actions you will both take.
Let the other person have a turn. Keep going until the wall is broken.
I’ve found fights are usually due to ego. Our mind tells us that we were attacked or treated unfairly. Look past this, do the above exercise. Fighting with our loved ones isn’t fun. The best way to win a fight is by breaking down the wall of resentment and letting go.
A lot of the most memorable moments in our lives are the ones shared with the people who we love and enjoy the most.