One thing I’ve observed about myself and others over the last several years is that we all have our areas of life where things come so easily we take them for granted.

For me, those areas are relationships and jobs. I can always make a new friend or get a boyfriend. I can always get the job I want at the pay I want.

We all also have areas where things are consistently a struggle, no matter how hard we try. We can be stuck in these places for years! For me, right now, I struggle with improving my health, building a sustainable business, and spending my time efficiently.

Only recently it occurred to me that I could take the lessons from an area of my life that I understand perfectly and apply them to areas of my life that I am struggling with.

I created a little exercise for myself that I’ve been using to great effect the last few weeks:

***** Journal Q4: What can I change about this relationship? *****

Step 1: Answer “Why is my relationship with _______ successful?” for each area of life that comes easily.

Why is my relationship with Patrick successful?

Why is my relationship with job hunting successful?

Step 2: Answer “Why is my relationship with _______ difficult?” for each area of life that comes difficultly.

Why is my relationship with time difficult?

Why is my relationship with eating/exercising difficult?

Why is my relationship with money/building a business difficult?

Step 3: Take things that you do in Step 2 and imagine applying those tactics to the areas of life from Step 1. What would happen?

Step 4: Take things that you would do in Step 1 and figure out how to apply them to the areas of life from Step 2. What would you do differently?

***** EXAMPLE *****

For step 1, I came up with stuff like:

– I’m not clingy in my relationship, nor am I aloof. I spend just the right amount of energy on it.

– I appreciate my partner’s efforts.

– I communicate with him regularly.

– I’m not obsessed or anxious for marriage and kids—they’ll come when it’s time.

– I listen to him and what he needs, then deliver it.

– I handle setbacks with grace and find ways to make amends after a short period of breaks.

– I apologize often.

– I am patient.

– I show up even if I’m exhausted.

– I don’t keep score.

– I make our lives easier by habitualizing a lot of the things that make us happy—laundry, cooking, cleaning, scheduling dates.

– I don’t go into a job interview worried about whether I get the job or not—there’s always another opportunity if this one doesn’t work.

– I look for matches in energy and say no when my gut is telling me to.

– I look at finding a job as a two-way street of finding a good fit.

– I tend to be passionate about the jobs I want and learn as much as I can about the company and/or the founder as possible.

– I appreciate the opportunity to interview, even if it doesn’t lead to a job.

– I act like myself, no matter what. Even if I say something stupid, it’s not a big deal.

– I answer questions honestly.

– I treat the interviewers like humans and laugh and joke with them.

– I listen when they speak rather than thinking about what I want to say.

– I smile.

For step 2, I came up with stuff like:

– I don’t budget enough time for myself.

– I’m a workaholic, yet my efficiency (total productive hours divided by total hours) is low, especially when working alone.

– I don’t separate work and life enough; it all blends together.

– I never go off the clock; I always want to squeeze in one extra thing.

– I waste time on the internet.

– I don’t keep track of my time well.

– I don’t count enough stuff toward productive hours. I only count fiction words and not non-fiction.

– I eat too much.

– I get into exercise routines that bore me.

– I don’t make exercise a habit.

– I prioritize other things over exercising (namely, work-related stuff).

– I eat when I’m sad or bored.

– I’m clingy to money.

– I chase money in and of itself.

– I take opportunities for the money, not because I’m excited about them.

– I don’t always meet money halfway.

– I’m impatient with building my business.

– I’m not always focused on adding value to my business, but rather on extracting value.

– I don’t always appreciate the progress my business has made over the years.

– I let setbacks get me in a funk for days.

– I start things and don’t nurture them, even when they’re gaining momentum.

For step 3, I realized how laughable it would be to act in my relationship the way I act toward my business or my health.

For example, if I dated anyone who would have me, was extremely clingy toward my partner, and didn’t meet him halfway in terms of needs, I would expect to have a string of failed relationships and tons of drama in my life.

Or if I went into a job interview and was so bored that I zoned out halfway through, got impatient with the interviewer when he was trying to tell me about his company, or tried to get everything out of the interview in terms of a free lunch, extra bottles of water, or network connections, I wouldn’t expect the company to hire me either.

For step 4, I came up with some actions I could take to make more progress in the difficult areas of my life. (I’ll just share the health ones)

– I can appreciate and celebrate any weight loss or good eating decision.

– I can be patient with changes and let my health take its natural course.

– I can habitualize the things that I know will help: jogging every morning, eating one healthy meal a day, cooking more often.

– I can show up for my exercise every day, whether I’m tired or not.

– I can switch up my routine so that I’m not bored (perhaps have three options for exercise instead of one each morning).

– I can listen to my body more and do what it wants/needs.

– I can handle setbacks with grace and know that things will work out as they should.

*****

This is probably one of the most powerful journaling exercises I have ever come across in my life (it is not mine, but a combination of multiple things I’ve read coming together). I’ve been working through it every day, focusing specifically on building my business (though I have ideas for the other two, I know I want to focus on only one change at this time). Looking at my daily activity toward my business, really analyzing the energy I’m putting out and the tasks that I’m completing each day, has helped me see the patterns that are holding me back in this area. I’m slowly and subtly shifting my mindset each day to be more aligned with the mindset I have toward my relationship.

The thing I really love most about this exercise and the reason I think it’s helped me so much is that I’m not looking at someone else’s skills and how they solve their problems. I’m looking at skills I already have in one area and trying to transfer them to another area. So much easier than trying to build a new skill, don’t you think?

If you want to share your answers to this question, you can do it in a personal journal or share using the hashtag #amjournaling. Or you can leave a comment here!

(I’m going to be doing little posts like this for the foreseeable future. Enjoy!)

#amjournaling #amwriting #wrotetoday

2 thoughts on “#amjournaling Q4: Changing the Relationship

  1. When i read what is working in your relationship, i saw “Presence.” You listen with intention and act with intention… One moment at a time.

    Be present with yourself every moment. You know what to do!

    This is my journey as well. Thanks for the reminder!!

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