Limitations can spark creativity, reveal opportunities, and force us to focus on what matters most. Here’s why…
We all have limits. Take time for example. Once we factor in things like sleep, the amount of television we watch, and how much time we spend on our smartphones, we have less than we might think!
No one is unlimited.
The same is true for relationships. We can only cultivate so many.
In my last post, Who Will Bleed with You? I revealed three secrets to finding and cultivating those in your inner circle:
- Identify the people who will bleed with you
- Clarify your roles
- Invest Sweat Equity
Why does it matter? Because your inner circle relationships are the most valuable people in your life and the people who will shape you the most! Today we will hit #2, clarify your roles, and by the end, you should have a clear picture of which relationships you need to invest in and whether or not you are relationally overloaded.
This is a continuation of a series called Rhythms of Life. A Rhythm of Life is a way of life that provides structure and enables us to thrive and be whole in ALL of life rather than just ONE part. Here are the four core rhythms as I’ve defined them. We are currently on “Relational”:
- R – We are RELATIONAL beings
- E – We are EMOTIONAL beings
- S – We are SPIRITUAL beings
- T – We are TANGIBLE or physical beings
If you missed one, you can access the whole Rhythms of Life series from here.
Lean Into Your Limitations
Limitations are a normal part of life, and while I find them extremely uncomfortable at times, over the years, I’ve come to see them as beneficial.
In order to find and cultivate our most important relationships, first, we need to clarify our roles.
Many people think it’s impossible to have more than 5-7 major roles and stay healthy and balanced.
I tend to agree.
In order to clarify our most important and life-giving roles and know which relationships need time and attention, first, ask:
Who are the key people in my life and what roles do I play?
You may be a husband or wife, friend, mentor, boss, business partner, father or mother, pastor, coach, or some other role.
And some roles require more attention than others.
This simple exercise by author Stephen Macchia helps will help you evaluate how many roles we are fulfilling and how fulfilling those roles are to our lives:
- List all your key relationships (names) and the role you play in each (father or mother, brother or sister, boss, best friend, colleague). Some relationships carry multiple roles, but it can become an issue if they fulfill too many. For example, if someone is your friend, your boss, and your confidant, this can get complicated. List multiple roles next to more in-depth or complex relationships.
- Place a qualitative number (1, unhealthy, to 5, healthy) next to each key relationship.
- Place a “+” sign next to the roles that are most life-giving for you and a “-” sign next to the roles that are most draining, or a “=” sign next to the ones that are neutral. This is a good time to ask yourself if there are investments you need to make in any of those relationships.
- From the list, identify your five to seven most important roles (in order of priority) with key relationships named in each. If you have more than seven roles, prioritize the remaining roles and determine if any can be eliminated or minimized for a better life balance.
This exercise can help you further clarify your inner circle, but it also can help you determine if you are relationally overloaded.
Making the Tough Call
Life is full of tough choices, and your relationships are no different. Now that you’ve figured out how many roles you are fulfilling and which of them are the most life-giving, it’s time to make some potentially difficult decisions.
If you fulfilling more than 7 roles in your life, which ones may need to go so you can focus on the most important ones?
I’ll admit, I’m not there yet myself, but that’s what I’m working toward that end.
What do you find most difficult about this exercise?
Once you’ve identified your inner circle and have clarified your roles, how do you cultivate those relationships? That will be the subject of the next post.
¹ Macchia, Stephen A. Crafting a Rule of Life, 30-31