Five Quick Ideas about What "Doing Better" Really Means in a Relationship

Anna Quindlen, at this year's Grinnell College graduation ceremony, said "This is a moment to consider what 'doing better' really means."  She was referring to how we think about personal success, but I think the quote is just as relevant to relationship success.

I urge you all to think about what ‘doing better’ really means within the context of your relationship.  Each person will have their own take on this question, but I thought I would share my own ideas.  After years of thinking of this, I’ve decided that for me, ‘doing better’ means:

  • Focusing my energy on people and loving relationships, not stuff and projects
  • Actively creating happy moments with those I love
  • Encouraging everyone in my family to pursue something for which they have a passion, no matter how foreign that passion might be to me
  • Learning how to say ‘no’ to obligations for which I have little time
  • Finding something every day for which I can say “thank you”

This list, of course, means there are things that 'doing worse' means, too.  For me, that list would include:

  • Imposing my values or way of doing things on others, particularly my husband
  • Allowing anger and frustration to fester, rather than quickly work through the underlying issues that cause them
  • Getting too caught up in what other people want me to do, rather than what I think I should be doing (i.e. letting others set my priorities for me)
  • Not getting enough sleep (bad things cascade into all facets of my life when I'm tired)

Perhaps what's most relevant is that in my early 30s I might have told you that my priorities were those on the "doing better" list.  But my actions would have been much more in line with my "doing worse" list.  So it's important to not only understand what doing better means to you, but also evaluate whether or not your actions follow your intent.

What does “doing better” mean to you?  And, so this isn’t too theoretical an exercise, are there things you can do to help you ‘do better?’