December 23rd – “Your friendship is the best gift of all.”

If you’re my friend and not receiving a gift from me (which none of you are!), I hope that you find my gift of friendship enough for the holidays.

Like any relationship, we all of our own definitions of what a good friendship is. Here is what I VALUE in a friendship:

  1. Fun! I think this is self-explanatory.
  2. Celebrating and Recognizing Accomplishments. Drinks are awesome and even better if there’s a good reason for them!
  3. Respect and Honesty. Most of us don’t like the truth, but if we first respect others, being honest comes easier. This doesn’t mean that you have to be honest about everything (i.e. I hate that shirt on you), just about things that the other person needs to know (i.e. I saw your significant other cheating on you). When I respect someone, I will do my best to be honest with them without trying to hurt the other person.
  4. Listening and Supporting. Support can often come in the form of listening. The best listening happens when I have no agenda and put own my thoughts and feelings second to the person I am listening to. Listening doesn’t mean giving your advice or opinion. It’s just listening. How often do we really take the advice of others when you ask for it? My theory is that sometimes we seek advice so that we can hear something that validates our own opinions.
  5. Accepting others for who they are. That means recognize other’s VALUES and FAULTS and being okay with it. If your friend values drinking everyone night and you can’t accept that, it’s time to call it quits! Nagging your friend about what you don’t value every time you see him/her does not make for a good relationship.
  6. Participating even when you don’t want to! That doesn’t mean saying “YES” every single time, but it’s important to occasionally show up for activities, especially for significant life events.
  7. Helping when asked as long as it’s within your capabilities and only if you can do so without harming yourself.
  8. Helping when not asked. Sometimes we don’t know that we need help or are too frazzled to ask for help! If I say “Yes, thank you so much!” then I want help. If I say “No”, and you keep insisting to help me, you’re no longer being helpful, you are now BOSSY!
  9. Respecting boundaries. No means no!
  10. Agree to Disagree. It’s fine that we have different opinions. That’s why I like you!
  11. Apologizing and forgiving/letting go. I personally don’t need verbal apologies, because let’s face it, there are so many ineffective apologies! Apologizes and forgiveness are often mistaken as something that has to be said. That’s not the case at all. What good is it if someone apologizes, but does the same thing over and over again? Do more apologies help? NO! What I do appreciate is someone who recognizes a wrong and takes action. That’s the best way move forward.
  12. Interdependency. When we are young, we are DEPENDENT on our family to take care of us. When we grow up and support ourselves, we are INDEPENDENT. Sometimes we don’t and still need others to support us (especially emotionally by relying on others to give ourselves value) and we are CODEPENDENT. INTERDEPENDENCY happens when all participating in the relationship can mutually benefit and exist independently. For example, an adult child moves back to his/her parent’s house. She/she pays rent which in turn helps to decrease the parent’s mortgage. The child isn’t reliant on the parents to provide housing, but makes a choice to. The parents financially benefit from the situation, but no longer dictate most aspects of the adult child’s life. The key difference between codependency and interdependency is the power dynamic. In codependent relationships, there is an imbalance of power, whereas one party has more control over the other. In interdependent relationships, all parties have about an equal amount of power. In short, if one party left an interdependent relationship, no one’s world would crumble. For more, check out this article.

As you can tell, I tell friendships seriously. Like many people do, I have different kinds of friendships. Sometimes they change and that’s okay.  It makes life interesting and opens up more possibilities for learning.

In the spirit of learning, I would love to hear what you think.  What do you value in friendships?

September 20th and 21st – “Pretty much everything is open up for negotiation…Have a list of what’s acceptable and isn’t and don’t stray from it.”

At past jobs, I’ve consistently put intrinsic rewards above extrinsic rewards. I loved learning, working on meaningful projects, and becoming friends with my coworkers. I needed to believe in what I was doing and enjoyed being in the company of people I cared about and respected. What this also meant was that I consistently took lower paying jobs than what my skill level offered.

This is not to say that I have been doing what I loved this entire time.  I took jobs that I could find some intrinsic value in, but it wasn’t exactly what I loved. I have been financially independent since I was 17 and needed work that paid me enough to cover ALL my living expenses, bills, college tuitions, and those awful used cars I kept having to buy new transmissions for. I was responsible for myself and didn’t have a back-up plan when things didn’t go right.

My situation now is quite different. I am debt-free (yep, I paid off that $55K I owed for graduate school) and enjoy the luxury of having enough financial security that I can take a little time to decide what I want to do next.  Does that mean that I should go and “do what I love?” I’m not so sure about that. After reading an enlightening book called Do What You Love And Other Lies about Success and Happiness by Miya Tokumitsu, I’m not convinced that I want to continue putting time in any job that doesn’t compensate me well for the work I do. Click here for her interview if you want to get a better idea of what the book is about.  I no longer dream about having a career, or working long hours on some exciting project that is intellectually or creatively challenging.  All of that sounds too exhausting! To help me clarify my direction, I took a second look at my priorities.

A year ago, I prioritized things that I valued most in my life and I think it’s still the same today:

  1. Health
  2. Intimate relationships (my significant other and pets)
  3. Learning
  4. Relationships
  5. Work
  6. Finances
  7. Family *I’m sure at a future date I’ll explain to you why they are at the bottom of the list.

I’ve changed a whole lot over the years. Ten years ago, work and learning would have been on top, with everything else falling to the wayside. Fifteen years ago, I prioritized my intimate relationships and finances.

For work-specific values, I’ve definitely made some changes:

Last Year:

Flexible/part-time

Local/remote

Creative

 

Today:

Good pay

Local/remote

Easy and low stress

 

Time and energy available to spend with my significant other and pets, work on my garden, and exercise

It feels a little disappointing that I put “good pay” and removed “creative” from my lists, but hey, how am I going to get myself out of this rut I don’t don’t change anything?