What kind of person do you want to be?

Photo by Ahmed Rizkhaan.

Recently I was chatting with a close friend and they were describing traits in others that they wished they had: the intentional fostering of friendships, kindness, generosity.

I realized as we were talking that those aren't necessarily traits a person is born with. They are based in actions. They are habits more than anything else.

Want to be the kind of person who is intentional about maintaining friendships? Start doing things that are intentional about maintaining friendships. Rinse, repeat, and there you are. A person who maintains friendships.

If that sounds overwhelming and impossible, think about the things other people do in order to foster their relationships. They reach out, make plans, remember special events like birthdays, and share in trials and celebrations together, right? There's your list of actionable items.

You can start pretty small:

Pick one friendship you would like to be intentional about. Just one! Set a reminder on your phone at some interval (weekly? Monthly? What seems right to you?) to check and see if you have plans with that person and, if you don't, make them.

Next, think for a minute about important events in this person's life - birthdays, anniversaries (happy or sad ones). Make a note of those days on a calendar (one you look at), or set more reminders. That way you can send them little "happy birthday!" or "I'm thinking of you," messages on those days, even if you haven't seen other people post about it on Facebook.

When you're together, be open and honest with them about your life and ask them about theirs. Share and share alike.

Keep on going like this until it becomes a habit. A way of life. Now you are the kind of person who makes people feel welcome and fosters friendships.

The same process can apply to pretty much any trait: kindness, generosity, integrity, optimism, compassion, confidence, self-awareness. Sure, it would be great if these things all came naturally to all of us, but they don't. Instead we have to work on it by breaking them down into actions that, the more we repeat them, the more natural they will feel.

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