We’ve all been there, at those times when our lives and careers take a sharp turn, sometimes for the best, sometimes for the not-so-good. Whether it’s having a new job, losing a job, moving to a new city, getting married or having a baby, there are times when our friendships suffer the brunt of the changes happening to us.
As working women especially, it can be especially hard to manage all the obligations and commitments in our lives, as we’re constantly subjected to change. I know as I changed jobs, got married, had one then two kids, moved cities and made transitions in my life and career, my friendships had to undergo some changes as well.
Here are a few tips to manage your friendships through the ups and downs of life, career and business:
Learn to know yourself as you evolve and change
The first rule when it comes to managing your friendships as your life and career evolve is to start within. We all change as time passes, obligations pile up, kids are born and our careers or businesses change. Sometimes we can blame our friendships for changes that we ourselves failed to realize we were undergoing.
What are your new priorities? How have you changed your routine and habits? What are your new expectations? Start within and look at all the ways you may have changed which may impact your friendships. Sometimes, it is you who are changing the dynamics of your friendships, and it is ok. What’s not ok it not knowing yourself enough to understand who you are at each stage of your life, as well as what you want and don’t want out of your relationships.
Less is more: Quality over Quantity
The more complex our lives and careers get, which is bound to happen as we age and take on more responsibilities, the more important it is to simplify. Our friendships should also be simplified as well. Gone are the days of the big girls squad hitting every party around the block.
When it comes to friendships as our lives and careers evolve, less is more, and quality prevails. Remember that friendships, the real kind, are an investment of your time and energy. There isn’t enough time to cater to fruitless, purposeless relationships for old time’s sake or just because we feel bad letting go. Choose those relationships that are mutually fulfilling and beneficial, and keep your circle tight and supportive.
Re-evaluate your friendships often
Life doesn’t just change for you. It also changes and evolves for your friends. Which also means that previously thriving friendships may now be a drag on all parties involved. In the worst case scenarios, friends may actually turn into frenemies or even full-fledged enemies.
It’s important to stop and re-evaluate your friendships as often as possible. Remember that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. Relationships that don’t allow you to grow and flourish set you back and hurt all parties involved. As difficult as it may be to admit that certain friendships have run their course, it’s necessary to evaluate where you stand and take the necessary measures, as tough as it may be.
Don’t forget to nurture your friendships
As life gets busy, our friendships may tend to take a backseat. As overwhelming as life may become, it’s important to remember to nurture our relationships. Whether it’s a phone call on the way to work, or checking in periodically, don’t let your friendships turn cold because your schedule is packed.
Set a date with your girlfriends to get together every now and then. Keep in touch via social media. Go on a retreat or getaway with your girls. Whatever it is, make some time to add some life to your friendships.
Don’t be afraid to form new friendships
I agree, it’s not when you’re in the middle of diaper changes, handling new work responsibilities or starting a new business that you’re exactly planning to make new friends. However, staying open to new relationships can pleasantly surprise you.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet wonderful women as I grew myself through my own career and business transitions. It was so refreshing to form new friendships with women who actually got me because we all were in the midst of shared experiences. You’d be surprised how friends you just met can prove to be lifelong relationships, sometimes more solid than relationships you’ve had for decades.
But beware of the wrong fit for you!
As much as you may want to be open to new friendships, be aware! As I mentioned earlier, relationships take time, effort and energy. The last thing you need is to squander your precious resources on unfulfilling relationships that leave you depleted, or even worse, betrayed and vulnerable.
In my 30’s, I’ve learnt to take it slow and allow for time to cement new friendships. I’m also learning to know myself better and evaluate early on whether a relationship is the right fit for me.
Don’t sacrifice your growth!
Last but not least, the biggest no-no when it comes to managing your friendships as your life and career evolve is to sacrifice your growth for them. A true friend would never ask you not to grow so they can be more comfortable. Anyone asking this of you is actually not a friend.
If you must choose between growing and salvaging a friendship, you must grow! Your obligation is to yourself first, and to being the best person you were created to be. You must put on your own mask first, there’s nothing you can do for anyone unless you’re whole! Having to make this choice should be the first indicator that your relationship is on the rocks anyways. Remember: you must choose you first!
What other tips do you have when it comes to managing friendships as your life and career evolved?
To your success,
The Corporate Sis.
Author: Solange Lopes
Solange is the founder of The Corporate Sister, as well as an author, entrepreneur and CPA. She’s passionate about helping women do work they love, build fulfilling careers and living life on their own terms.