Are You Investing in Your Relationships?

Investing in your relationships can help you reap financial returns as well as personal returns.

There are a number of ways to invest. Not all of them have to do with stocks or bonds or real estate. Indeed, there are a number of ways to view investments. The way you use your time is an investment, and the effort you put into improving yourself is also an investment.

But it also makes sense to think about investing in your relationships.

What relationships should you invest in?

First of all, think about your relationships. How are you investing in your relationships?

  • Family. Investing in your family relationships can be a way for you to ensure that you have good support systems. Not everyone is on good terms with their families, though. You don't need to keep family members in your life if they're toxic.
  • Children. One of my treasured relationships is with my son. I love that we've grown and progressed in our relationship over the years. Now that he's an adult, I like our relationship even more. I don't expect him to take care of me later in life, but it is comforting to know that I probably won't die alone because I've cultivated a good relationship with my son.
  • Friends. Trying to keep up friendships can be exhausting, but rewarding. As an introvert, I struggle with most relationships. As someone who married early on and was in a high-demand religion, making friends has been something that's come later in life. Now I have friends that can help me when I need it — and I help them. It's a way to do good in the world.
  • Romantic relationships. For some people, romantic relationships yield dividends. You have someone to do things with and companionship. A good partnership can be fulfilling personally and financially. Since my divorce, I haven't been interested in getting married again, nor having a boyfriend again. But I know some people like having a partnership.
  • Professional relationships. Cultivating good professional relationships can help you get ahead with your business, find the next job, and just have a place to turn for advice. My professional relationships with editors and other freelancers are personally and financially enriching.
  • Community relationships. Finally, I invest in my community by serving on local nonprofit boards and being involved in local politics. These relationships increase my quality of life and help me feel a sense of purpose as I work with others to make a positive difference.

Personal benefits of investing in your relationships

There are a number of personal benefits related to investing in your relationships.

Your relationships with your life partner, children, and family dictate a number of things, from how you spend your money to how positive you feel. When you have a good relationship with your significant other or other important people in your life, it spills over into your physical and mental health. It can also help you feel good about yourself, including boosting your confidence level.

I recently attended a writer retreat with some of my favorite freelancing colleagues. I consider them friends as well as professional relationships. Being able to deepen our bonds was deeply fulfilling, even though I paid to go on this (tax-deductible) retreat.

When you invest in personal relationships with your friends, relatives, and children, you are more likely to feel fulfilled, and reap the benefits that come with social interaction. This is a great way to improve the quality of your life in a way that can't be improved by mere money.

Financial benefits of investing in your relationships

You can also reap financial returns when you invest in your relationships. The people you know can result in job offers, promotions, and other opportunities. And, while you want to be careful when using your social network for career purposes, there are ways to see returns on your investment of time.

Some of the ways that you can benefit from your time investment in relationships include:

  • Business contacts. Connect with people in your career field. This can be done online as well as offline. You can follow people on Twitter, and get a profile up on LinkedIn to help you make business connections and build professional relationships.
  • Co-workers. Your co-workers can provide references for your next job, or offer you the opportunity to learn more about the job you are doing. It can also help to have allies at the office.
  • Bosses. When possible, it helps to build a good relationship with your boss. That way, you will be able to get a good recommendation when you move on to another job. Plus, you will have a better chance at promotions and raises. Your boss can be a great ally.
  • Mentors. Learning from a mentor can be a great way to improve your skills and learn about a particular career field, or get tips on money management and investing. Connect with a mentor, and learn what you need to improve your success.
  • Social networking. Whether you do this in person at conferences and meetups, or whether you do this online, social networking can help you down the road. Whether your friend knows of a job opening at her father's company, or whether you meet a potential business partner through a Facebook connection, your social networks can be tapped to help you find opportunities and make money.

Bottom line

Of course, in any relationship, you have to give back. When you invest in your relationships, you need to provide a benefit to the other person as well — even if it's just your support. You can also indicate your gratitude for the help you have received by, in turn, helping others. Even as you enjoy the benefits of having a mentor, don't neglect to mentor someone else if you can. Investing in relationships can be a great way to find personal fulfillment. A financial benefit is often a secondary concern.

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