I've traveled the world, been on incredible adventures, and lived a lot of life in my years.
Most of them were spent alone.
Traveling by yourself is especially difficult. Imagine you're in an airport and you need to go to the restroom. When you're alone, you have to drag all your bags & crap with you in there (and those stalls are not what you'd call "spacious").
If you're traveling with a buddy, however, you can each take turns watching the stuff while you both go to the restroom, grab lunch, or do whatever needs doing.
Pick the right partner, and adventures become much easier (and more fun by extension). No wonder Einstein said relationships are the most powerful force in the universe.
Whether you're talking about your personal life, or your business life, it stays the same: picking the right partner is one of the most important decisions you can ever make.
Easier Said Than Done
How do you know you've picked the right one? How do you know the problems you'll invariably have are healthy issues, and not huge red flags that you can't ignore?
No matter how healthy your relationship, the road will get bumpy. Problems creep up, and cracks start to form in the perfect veneer. Maybe things get really bad.
It can be tough to know whether you should stick it out, or cut your losses while you can. Confusion sets in, and making a good decision gets more and more difficult the longer you stay frozen in indecision.
In a healthy relationship, challenges help you grow as a person. They foster communication skills. You're forced to face your own shortcomings & work on improving yourself in ways you'd never need to if you were by yourself.
In an unhealthy relationship, you spend so much time on fighting, avoiding conflict, pulling the weight of two people, and much of your energy on being anxious about what fresh hell you're going to run into tomorrow.
The very real impact of both of these dynamics ripples out into every single area of your life. (I don't care how good you think you are at compartmentalizing. All areas are affected.)
To help you cut through the weeds of mental doubt, use the following 4 questions. If you answer "yes" to them, you're heading the right direction. If you answer "no" it might be time to start looking at exit strategies. . .
The 4 Essential Adventure Buddy Questions
1. Do You Both Have the Same Fundamental Principles?
I don't care how much you love each other. I don't care how much you respect each other. If you do not share the same core beliefs about the world, yourself, the nature of relationships, or what you want out of your time on this planet, things are not going to go smoothly.
I used to be married to an incredible woman. She's one of the smartest, kindest, most wonderful people I've ever known; it's no wonder I fell in love with her. We got along great, and we were madly in love, so we decided to get married.
One hiccup: we didn't have the same fundamental beliefs. Our core structures were not in alignment, and over time those cracks widened into a canyon that became impossible to cross. Cue major issues.
I put this question first because it is absolutely the most important question. If you disagree on this single issue, you're doomed from the start, no matter how much you want it to be otherwise. So make sure you can answer this one "yes" without hesitation before even worrying about the others.
2. Are You Each Pulling Your Weight?
I get it. People get tired. You might fall down, and need some help getting back on your feet. But, on a broad scale, are you both pulling your own weight? You don't have to both do 50% of every activity. Maybe you do 100% of one thing, and they do 100% of another. Strengths and weaknesses can complement each other in a healthy relationship.
What is important, however, is that you're both committed to the success of the relationship. You're both willing to put in the hard work required for even the easiest relationships. The instant you go on auto-pilot is when your relationship starts dying.
So each person should contribute according to their ability, and put in effort to sustain the relationship.
If you're the only one putting in effort, you're putting in twice as much energy for half as many results. Not good.
3. Do You Feel Challenged to Be At Your Best?
People say they want to be with someone where they can "just be me," but you know what? You're a procrastinator. You don't remember birthdays. You can eat 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting (and often do).
In short, you're basically an awful person.
Turns out, being that version of ourselves is not what makes us happy.
What does make us happy, is being with someone who challenges us to be our ideal selves.
This is akin to "Be the person your dog thinks you are." But instead of "dog," substitute "partner."
Living up to that ideal will encourage you to go after those big projects. You'll put more effort into making things happen for yourself.
As a consequence, you'll wind up winning more often, which will give you something to talk about other than this week's Netflix binge session.
Plus, you'll get better at celebrating other people's success, too, which is a huge marker of emotional maturity & relationship strength.
4. Does Spending Time With This Person Make You Feel Safe?
Are they more like a harbor (calm)? Or are they a whirlpool(drama llama)? Do they help you feel calm when you're stressed out? Or does the thought of being in the same room have you looking for an exit?
This can happen in all sorts of relationships.
Some clients are a dream to work with. They value your expertise, they trust your decisions, and encourage you to innovate.
Some clients are a nightmare to work with. They constantly change direction, tell you "some person you've never heard of said they don't like that color, so I'm going to change the whole website design," and try to get discounts.
Same goes for business partners. Same goes for romantic partners. Same goes for movie date partners.
Same goes for everyone.
Each relationship has the potential to be a net calming effect in your life, or a net stressor in your life.
If they're an energy vampire, time to invest in some relationship garlic. #ForcedMetaphor
So how do the relationships in your life stack up? How many people can you honestly say are whole-hearted YESES on all counts?
I've worked very hard to make sure that I live my life in a way where I only spend time with people who are like that. Everyone in my life is a 10/10 on the awesome scale for each one of these four questions.
If they aren't, I never see them again.
It takes a lot of courage, time, & energy to live like this, but the alternative is slow suicide.
Need help figuring out how to build your life like that? Let's talk.