Running a business can be an all-encompassing thing that takes you away from your other interests and important people. None of us do it on purpose, but the business can become the main priority for a while because you want to succeed. Then one day you look up and realize you haven’t invested time in close relationships outside of your business buddies.
I believe that having business friends and keeping up your relationships with non-business friends is important. People you grew up with, went to college with or built a rapport with one random day at the coffee shop keep you grounded and can even provide some of the most objective advice as an outsider looking into your business.
Here’s how to keep those relationships strong while still being ambitious:
Be Careful of Making Your Business Your Identity
I was guilty of making my business my identity for a while. When you make a business your identity it becomes what you do for a living and what you do in your spare time. Your business is just one aspect of your life. You’re also much more. You have other hobbies, talents, hopes, and dreams that go beyond what you do for income.
If you’ve lost yourself in your business, go back to basics and start revisiting some of the things you used to like doing. These hobbies and activities are likely what you had in common with friends you may be growing apart from. Rekindle the relationship by doing things you enjoy doing together.
Work on Your Conversation Skills
If you’ve found yourself talking a lot about your business and your friends are disappearing, it could be time to bring some variation to your conversation. It’s great to share exciting news with the people you care about, but a conversation is a two-way street where you talk and listen.
Hearing about your business all the time can even make certain people feel uncomfortable or intimidated. Friends who are stuck in a position they hate may feel awkward when they hear you constantly raving about your passion projects, especially if you aren’t showing much interest in what goals they’re working towards.
I’m not saying to dumb yourself down or play small to appease the people around you. Please don’t get me misconstrued. But different relationships serve different purposes. There may be some friends you go to for encouragement when you want to share big ideas and others who know just what to say when you’re going through spouse drama. The bottom line is, reflect on what you can give and receive from your relationships and do the work to get them back on track.
We’re all busy, but you should make time to interact with friends and family. Humans are social; we thrive when in fulfilling relationships. Make maintaining your relationships a priority. Work smarter to free up more time for social activities. Call people. Shoot out a couple of emails. Schedule nights out for drinks or dinner. Book spa or yoga appointments together.
Put in an effort even if the other person isn’t reciprocating yet. It’s true that sometimes romantic and friend relationships run their course, but there are some connections that are worth fighting for. Don’t let running a business monopolize your time so much that relationships you enjoy crumble.
[Related: Financial Red Flags That Might Be Hurting Your Relationships]