"Friends Circle", an exercise where you define and categories your friends in different levels based on closeness which in the end helps you appreciate the people in your life.
Last week during a "Check-in Meeting" at Adaptivity. The check-in question we had was "how do you make friends as an adult?". This question itself is interesting enough since the definition of friend changes as you grow older - more responsibility, less time available, and more benefits involved in the process.
The discussion sprouts different ideas, with different perspectives shared as usual. An underlying question emerged. The question is "how many best friends do you have?". On top of my head, I would say 1 or 2, an expected answer for most people.
A few days passed and now I have more time to think about this more methodically. There seem to be many concepts that need clarification. These include . . .
- What is the definition of friends?
- What is the definition of best friends?
- How do these definitions evolve as you grow up?
- People usually categorize relationships into family, best friends, friends, acquaintances - are there more? and how do you define them?
- Is it a good idea to have more or less best friends?
I do not have answers to these questions, but I did a little exercise that I would like to share with everyone, which I believe would be interesting if you give it a try as well.
Defining Your Categories
Start by defining the different categories you would like to set up based on the closeness.
For my self, I simply call them circle levels, and I have 3 of these - which I define as follow . . .
Circle Level 1: Mutually, these are the people who I will not hesitate for a second to go an extra mile and assist in whatever the situation may be.
Circle Level 2: Mutually, these are the people who are quite close and I would be happy to share my vulnerabilities.
Circle Level 3: Mutually, these are the people that I am happy to see, and would be good to catch up from time to time.
Putting Friends in those Categories
Categorize the people in your life into these categories you have created. With the category defined, try hard to think about what role each individual plays in your life, and how much impact they have on you at a personal level.
Most likely, you'll discover that after the first 10 or 15 people, you'll get stuck. Something useful to do is reflect your life in phases and think about the people who have made a lasting impact on you in those different phases.
For the phases of my life, I divided into my education and professional timeline, communities I have engaged with, and finally, the group that doesn't fit into these timelines since they are here from the beginning . . . your family. You now have a list to work with, now put them into the circles.
Reflect and Re-engage
Now that you have categorized your encounters by how close or how far away these people are from you in terms of relationship, you can now use this as a starting point to reflect upon why each person is in that circle, what experiences did you shared in the past, what can you do to maintain the relationship you have, what can you do to strengthen the relationship.
Note that the people in your circle will change, some will become close, some will move further away - that's just life.
The take away from this exercise is that you can be intentional with your relationship and you can use this as a framework to keep people that make you happy close by - show your friends some appreciation in having them in your life. Nowadays, technology lets you reach someone via a few taps on your smartphone. Make a small effort to do so. Send a text, write a postcard. They will be smiling reading your message, but you will also do writing one 😊