Think of a relationship you are in right now, it could be a friend, family member, significant other, or even a coworker. Do you have his or her name in mind? Good, now think about this, could the relationship be better?
If you answered yes, and I hope you did, when you follow these simple steps, it will be! I’ll give you an example of my own stupidity in my relationship with my wife that made me use these 3 steps to foolproof my own situation.
Kari is a nurse and her shift has her work late 3 days a week. This schedule can be rough, but it gives us a lot of time with our kids and with each other on every other weekend.
On this weekend, she had to work and despite her schedule, life goes on as usual. On almost every Sunday we go to church, this weekend was no exception. The service starts at 9:30 am and it generally takes the family an hour and fifteen minutes to get ready. We need to leave by 9:05 am to make sure we are on time.
It’s 8:15 am and Kari is still in bed. For some reason, this annoys me and when I walk in and notice she is awake I ask her if she is going to get up. She says she is about to then I get annoyed and tell her we only have 45-minutes and she usually takes an hour to get ready. Undeterred, she gets up and starts getting ready.
So I walk off and brush the girls’ teeth. In the middle of all this, I realize I am being a bit of a jerk and realize I can quickly remedy this situation with 3 quick questions.
First, where am I in this situation? I am not in a good mood with a good attitude and I am reflecting this to my children and my wife. I sure don’t think Kari appreciates waking up to my crappy attitude and demeanor.
Second, is this where do I want to go with this situation? No, I want this to be an enjoyable morning. After all, I only have until about 10:30 am with Kari until she needs to head to work. I would much rather be hugging her and enjoying the few minutes we have together instead of having a foolish attitude.
Third, how do we get there? I want a different attitude and to enjoy the little time we have together, so I better change my attitude and mentality. As a result of these answers, I took action. After running through these thoughts in my head, I walked into our bedroom and told Kari I was sorry for my attitude. We then quickly resolved the time concern and were easily able to get to church on time.
Using the questions from the LifeMap process simply and quickly resolved the situation and helped our morning in a big way.
Using The LifeMap to Build Your Relationships
The LifeMap is a simple tool to help your life in big ways. It can also be a simple tool to help your life in little ways. The steps below can be applied to a little situation, like mine, or a big one. In either case, it starts with a simple question, and must end with you taking action.
These 3 steps, though simple, can change an ugly situation into a great one, a nasty family gathering to one filled with joy, a broken relationship to a lasting friendship. But you have to dive in fully and own the process.
Establish a Foundation: Where are you in the relationship?
The first step is simple: figure out where you are in the relationship. You can do this by asking the 50,000-foot question of where am I? From here you dive in to get an honest, gut check answer. In my situation, I realized I had a bad attitude and was being a fool.
Sometimes it’s not so simple to recognize where you are in a situation or relationship. This is when you have to dig a little deeper and ask questions related to your situation to help you determine where you are.
You can start by asking:
- Am I happy with where this relationship is or where it’s heading?
- Are we communicating well?
- Are we being honest with each other?
- Do we show gratitude to each other?
Depending on the situation, there are many other questions you can ask to help you arrive at a clear answer. The key is refocusing and starting the process by asking: Where am I (in this relationship)? This will trigger other questions and will eventually lead you to the second step.
Create a Path: Where do you want the relationship to go?
Where do you want to go? In the case of a relationship, where do you want to take the relationship? This question becomes far easier to answer when you’ve established where you are. When you go through step 1 and ask/answer the where am I? question, you then can take the next step from a place of clarity instead of confusion.
Maybe your answers are as simple as mine, to enjoy the time we had together that morning or your answers could be more complex. Your desire may be to improve the overall communication in your relationship or to break through some barriers that have been put up over the years. In either case, when you go through steps 1 and 2 you will have established where you are and where you want to go, laying a great foundation in which to create your path.
Just like the first step, it can be a challenge to determine which questions to ask to get you headed in the right direction.
You can start by asking:
- What changes do I need to make in this relationship?
- What about my behavior needs to change?
- What do I need to be more honest about?
- In what ways can I show more appreciation for this person?
- Do we need to work on our trust?
This is just a sampling of questions you can ask and you may have questions that are a better fit for you, the goal is after answering the questions you move to the next step. The action step: How am I going to get there?
Each of these steps is key to successfully foolproofing your relationship or relational situations, but I find the third step is where most people get stuck.
Take Action: How are you going to get there?
Let’s be honest, this is all silly if it is only a question and answer exercise that never leads to action. And this is exactly why the third step needs to happen immediately, if at all possible. Determining how you plan to get to where you want to go will foolproof your relationship or relational situation.
I’ve seen too many situations where someone makes a statement of where they want to be in life, or in a relationship, at work, etc., but they fail to get there. The reason they fail is simple, they didn’t take the third step. You have to answer the question: How am I going to get there? if you want to see the changes you desire.
This step is the most challenging because it challenges you to take action and calls your integrity into question. If you answered the first two questions, you already made some promises to yourself and possibly to others. This may only be in your own head, but they are there.
Now that you have honestly assessed where you are and determined where you want to go, you have a choice to make. You have already decided to change your path in the relationship, in fact, you have the makings of a plan for where you want it to go. Are you going to abandon these plans and pretend you didn’t think of them?
This is where our own honesty and integrity comes into play. Choosing to take an action step and follow-through on where you want to go or you can let it hang out there unresolved or unchanged.
Step 3 moves you to action and helps you to follow-through. Your answers may not be perfect, but the more thoroughly you answer the questions of steps one and two, the more likely your actions on how you will get there will work. When you and I come up with answers to step 3, we now have actions we can take. In my case, my action was to apologize. A simple action, but a powerful result allowing me to avoid being a fool in the situation and taking the situation to a much better place.
Establish a Foundation: Where are you in the relationship I asked you about in the beginning?
Create a Path: Where do you want that relationship to go?
Take Action: How do you plan to get there?
When we follow these simple steps relationships change, lives change, and since relationships are the only thing that lasts forever in this life, we are forever changed. What’s your next move?