Welcome to week #4 of my 5-week series inspired by the the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, a compilation of the stories of longtime caregiver to the dying, Bronnie Ware. 

The book is stirs up thoughts on how we can ensure that we show up fully for our limited time here on earth. This series highlights some connections to how we can be mindful of the regrets that Ware identifies, as we focus on ways we can dream and set meaningful goals. 

If you missed them, go back and read the first three messages inspired by Ware’s regrets. 

#4 I Wish I Had Stayed in Touch with My Friends 

This one might seem simple to some of you, and likely quite tricky for others. There are so many things that impact our ability and desire to make, maintain, and uphold friendships. Some are connections through proximity, others through shared interests or life phases, and some basically from the ease of seeing each other regularly. Most long term ones wax and wane through life. Some die off naturally, and others are for life

For most of us, it would be impossible to stay in touch with every friend we have ever had in our entire life. 

My message last week was pretty lengthy, so in the interest of keeping your attention, I will get straight to the point: Friends are important for a full life. And, it is likely not a surprise that they can also greatly improve your goal setting and actualizing experience. And, as adults we only have so much time and energy to put into relationships, so we want to ensure that the close ones are recharging our body battery, rather than draining it. 

A few tips on allowing friendships to serve a reason, and stay around for your goal reaching season: 

Let go of expectations. We are inundated with messaging all around us that we need to rid our lives of “toxic people” in order to have the emotional space to pursue our own interests. I choose to refrain from defining others as toxic, and instead reflect on my own wants and needs, as well as where I am inviting a victim mentality through creating unmet expectations. Do you want love and/or support from a friend in a certain way? Ask. Be specific and give them the opportunity to show up. Example: If you want more time with a friend– then ask them to get together, and offer some dates and times to choose from, rather than saying vague things like, “we should get together sometime.” If they still prove to be consistency unable, instead of judging and labeling them, choose to move on to honor your own energy. You can do this while keeping your own integrity intact. 

Align closely with those who have an understanding of your core values. There are many kind people in this world who are well-deserving of your friendship. But, not all of them will align with you well enough for you to honor the relationship in a way that serves you both. If the friendship feels like a constant burden because you consistently want, or believe, different things, it is likely less about either of you as individuals, and more about your values (and possibly interests) lining up well enough to tightly bond. **I am not suggesting only making friends with those who think like you, even close ones. Beautiful friendships are filled with differing opinions, some which you may agree to disagree on. I am speaking to a connection at your core to have very close friendships that are built on trust and vulnerability. And recognizing when values don’t align so that you can still love from afar. 

Be real. Put yourself out there you so you can attract those who are ready to connect with YOU. It is possible to feel lonely when you are not alone, if you feel unseen or misunderstood by others. Stay the course of showing your authentic self to the world. Your people are out there, waiting for you. 

Fight the urge to people please. Instead, communicate your needs clearly, and commit to listening and thoughtfully processing when friends disagree with you. Conflict is part of meaningful friendship. When there is trust and willingness to vulnerably share, there will be things you will disagree on, or ways you will hurt each other unintentionally. Be honest. Apologize and forgive when you are ready. (Revisit last week—feeling it all is part of a full life!) Establish boundaries. Strive for interdependence over codependence. 

When you find people who you believe “get” you, be careful to not only set goals because your fiends are. Set your own goals. And, simultaneously consider how you can connect with, assist, and support your friends in ways that also honor your values, time, and energy needed for your own process. Good friends will do the same for you!

Find community around common goals. Not all friendships have to be close ones. Some amazing bonds are made simply through connection over common interests. Demand respect and kindness, but overall allow the communities to serve your needs, without getting too caught up in all of the above. Some friends are truly for a reason—and that’s okay! 

Have grace and love for yourself through the process of finding new friends, and when shifting relationships that don’t serve you anymore. Also, don’t be afraid to reach back out to old friends who you might have lost touch with. There could be opportunities to reconnect with joy. Or, when desired, healing forgiveness. 

Be friendly. Find community. Be you. And when you attract “your” people, love them with intentional honesty, respect, kindness, support, and communication. The “work” will fill your cup, and it’ll overflow into all parts of your life, including your goals.