As I told you in the latest newsletter, I’ve had friendship on the brain all fall. I’ve been sitting on several drafts about friends for months now, but I keep sitting with them because I don’t feel like they do the topic justice.
This one doesn’t do it justice, either. But I’d like to start the conversation with you anyway.
Shauna Niequist said something at the Influence Conference that perfectly captured the inarticulate swirling thoughts I’ve had recently about community: Good intentions get you nowhere.
I’m an idealist by nature: I’m full of good intentions. But I can see when I scan my life that Shauna’s right: my good intentions are crushed beneath my daily realities of life and work and kids and place.
I may be idealistically committed to local, in-person relationships, but good intentions don’t make those relationships happen. Too many of my adult friendships–especially since I entered my 30s–have fallen victim to too many dreamy ideals and too little action.
When it comes to maintaining adult friendships, good intentions don’t work. But a few things do: recurring coffee dates. iPhone reminders. Appointments on the calendar. The concrete trumps the aspirational, every time.
Looking back, I can see that my adult friendships have succeeded best when they were supported by the structure of my life. It’s been easiest for me to grow close to the people I saw regularly: the friends I’d bump into at school pickup every day, the girls at the gym, my (now-defunct) regular girls’ nights. Those relationships had more than good intentions going for them. They had a regular, recurring place in my life. I could count on them.
This fall, I’ve been thinking about how I can again build the relationships that matter–and I mean local, in-person relationships–into the very structure of my life, the rhythm of my days.
It’s not easy. But it works far better than my good intentions ever did.
I’d welcome your thoughts about good intentions and planning for friendship in comments.