Who are the important people in life
The average person interacts with around 10000 different people in their lifetime. We tend to believe that one individual is insignificant compared to the greatness of the whole world’s population. However, it is eye-opening to realize that you have the potential to impact so many people. This high number is both a blessing and a curse. No matter how you look at it, interactions take effort and/or time. Interacting with 10000 people takes a significant amount of the energy of your life. Therefore, knowing who are the important people in your life helps you channel your energy more effectively. People who matter to you the most should get most of your attention, and the thousands of others should get less. Sorry about that, folks, but this is how it works, as we are humans and humans have limited resources.
The most important person
Who is at the top of this hierarchy of essential people then? Well, amazingly, it is you. It may sound selfish, but it is not. It would be selfish if there was no hierarchy at all, but as long as there is a balance, that balance has to start with you. This is so not only because it is your life, but also because if you are not ok with yourself, everything else will be affected, one way or another.
This is the most important group of people for most of us. This group may include your parents, spouse, children, any close family member, and even people that you consider “like family.” Although such people may be somewhat more like “close friends” than “close family.” They deserve the most of your attention because family is deemed vital for an individual to grow and survive. Close family is supposed to offer the invaluable gift of unconditional love and a safety net when the shit hits a fan nearby. They are the ones worth the effort of trying to change, and their relationships are worth nurturing. At the end of the day, they are those who deserve most of your compromises. Because this type of relationship is very effort-intensive, it is worth keeping it in the range of 5-7 people. However, if your family is big and you are all indeed very close to each other, you may go for a higher number.
Well, these are people who are like brothers and sisters to you, without actually being your relatives. This group is small, too, as close friendship is effort-intensive. Some people may think that they are close friends with people to whom they haven’t spoken in years, but the reality is that those relationships that were maybe close once are now dormant. Sometimes such relationships never actually wake up again. And in those who do wake up, both sides of them probably became very different than what they originally were. The relationship would even be a totally different one too. The bottom line is that a close friend relationship has to be active; otherwise, it would be something else.
The third most important group of people in most people’s lives are close business partners. They can be coworkers, employers, bosses, partners, freelancers, investors, or suppliers. They can be any type of relationship that involves professional activities that help us make money to fund our life quality. This group must be very selective, too, as it contains peers that require effort to continuously interact with. An important business partner is someone who has the power to singlehandedly make or break your most important goals in life.
These were the three main groups of important people in your life. Knowing who these people are and the group they belong to will help you purposefully channel your energy. If you had infinite energy and time, if you had unlimited resources and no constraints, this categorization would not be necessary. In real life, though, having these names figured out helps you make better decisions, meant to maximize your resources. What about the rest? Well, let’s take a look at them too.
All your other relatives are in this group. They are part of your family, but you interact with them less often, they may be less interested in you and in your life. And so are you, most probably. So it makes sense that less energy is invested in the relationships with them. Maybe some of them will get to your close family group one day, and that is ok, as these groups are not set in stone.
Extended business partners group
All those you interact with in a professional/business setup and who are not in the close business group should be here. You may be interacting with them quite often, especially if they are coworkers you see every day in the workplace. They will get less of your energy as you are less involved in solving their problems. You are not ignoring them, though, but you are mindful, and you have stricter limits with them. Because you cannot afford to please them all.
We all make friends that are not close friends, but with whom we enjoy spending time. We also know them a little bit better than we know other people. We can open up to them more, and they may open up more to us too. In general, we tend to make friends that offer us easy, quick, and positive interactions. This is why we feel individual connections to others, and then.. we start calling them friends. Of course, we, too, offer easy, quick, and positive interactions to them, as it takes two to tango, right?
Acquaintances and strangers
The vast majority of those that we interact with are part of this group. It is a chaotic group, characterized by a large number of quick mixed positive and negative interactions. Due to its size, this is really a group that needs structure and optimized responses. Otherwise, it can quickly draw a lot of energy (or give us a lot of energy) that can destabilize us and lead us to bad decisions. Think about how depressing a negative work environment can be. Or how people get stuck in their plans just because they got attached to a nice bubble – this is not a bad thing per se, unless it is an unconscious decision that hurts other goals.
That’s it. Now you have a system to organize your relationships to know who are the important people in life. These groups change in time, and that is ok. Also, sometimes a less important person may become important temporarily and vice-versa. That is ok too. It is also a simple system, and it better remains this way. As you get a better hold of it, you may decide to have sub-categories in each group. However, if you remember the rules, this simple categorization helps you make better decisions, stay out of unnecessary conflicts, and of significant energy hogs. And ultimately, make the most of your limited resources in life.