“A nurse who cares for the terminally ill says that she has often asked a simple question of her patients as they prepared to depart this life.
‘Do you have any regrets?’ she would ask.
Being so close to that final day of mortality often gives clarity to thought and provides insight and perspective. So when these people were asked about their regrets, they opened their hearts. They reflected about what they would change if only they could turn back the clock…Perhaps the most universal regret of dying patients expressed was that they wished they had spent more time with the people they love” (Dieter Uchtdorf).
Today, we are preventing that regret in our own lives.
Welcome to Organize Your Life Day 2: Organize Your Relationships.
This is part of a mini-series on overcoming parenting (and life!) overwhelm and stress by organizing your life. Click here to see the introduction and links to other days.
One of the most universally accepted truths is also one of the easiest to forget in day-to-day life: People Matter.
In our hearts, we know this. People are more important than money, prestige, or even a clean house.
Unfortunately, it is shockingly easy to disregard this creed during our small, daily moments. Our “To-Do” lists often feel pressing, so we put off playing a game with a child. Sometimes we are running to do the next errand and do not notice the gentleman who would probably appreciate a friendly, “Hello.” Maybe we are focused on getting homework finished, so we miss an opportunity to sit in a quiet moment and listen to a child’s frustration.
Sadly, I have been in each of those situations. I know many of us have. On the other hand, we have also experienced putting aside all else and focusing on the people in front of us. When we do this, we seldom have regrets.
I have also found that when my priorities are in line (people first), other needs in life usually fall into place. The dishes eventually get done, I find I didn’t actually have to run that errand, and homework is completed more smoothly. Somehow, things work out.
As we organize our lives, let us put and keep people first.
We can (and probably should) make a sweeping declaration for our lives that people matter most. As we apply that principle to the individual people in our lives, it will have a power to do great good.
Open your journal or Workbook to Day 1 and review the Vision Statement you created yesterday. Now flip to your space for Day 2: Relationships.
List all the individuals with whom you want to have a meaningful relationship. You can also think of this in terms of the roles you live: spouse, parent, child, friend, and so on.
Take note, did you include your God and yourself? If not, I invite you to add those to your list. They are among the most important of your relationships.
Write the name of one individual to focus on first. List at least five reasons you are grateful for this person. Gratitude helps bring clear perspective to every sphere, but especially if it is a situation or relationship we would like to improve upon.
Next, honestly consider and write your thoughts to answer, “What does this person need from me right now?”
These answers will vary greatly from person to person on your list. If you haven’t done this exercise before, you will begin to understand how you are uniquely suited to help meet the needs of those around you. Can you see how as you live out the purpose you defined yesterday, those around you will benefit? You will also find that as you seek ways to meet others’ needs, you will be stretched and strengthened into a more complete individual yourself. You will find that purpose fulfilled and magnified.
A word here to those who feel the need to be all things to all people: You can’t be. Please don’t try because you are only one person with finite time. You will only drive yourself and others to a feeling of desperate failure.
For example, your son doesn’t really need you to provide gourmet meals, weekend entertainment for all of his friends, and daily homework help. He probably actually needs you to validate his unique personality and help him overcome his fear of failure.
Focus on your Vision Statement and one or two ways that your purpose aligns with an individuals needs.
Lastly, answer, “How can I spend one-on-one time with this person?”
One-on-one time is among the greatest gifts we can offer our children and others around us. Consider how you might make time for this relationship and meaningful ways you could spend that time. Maybe you could invite a child to make dinner with you. A brother or sister might appreciate a thoughtful text. Grandparents love visits and cards in the mail. These do not always need to be grand gestures and expensive outings. Rather, brainstorm the small ways you can include this person in your day to day life.
Complete these three thought tasks for as many individuals on your list as you feel you should at this time.
Over the past two days, we have focused on the purpose and relationships of your life. These are the most important topics of this whole series. Moving forward, we will turn to the nitty-gritty systems, routines, and tips that will help your life run smoothly. While these are fun, helpful, and super exciting to put into place (I’m a little bit of a nerd here), please, please, please remember where we started and why any of this matters.
Your organized, stress-free life is fulfilling if you are heading the direction you actually want to go and doing so amongst meaningful relationships.
Take the time now to record any thoughts, insights, or future action items you have from today. In the comments, please share ways you have learned to keep people first.