Good friends make a great life.

The Ides of March is almost here. That’s the day Julius Caesar was stabbed in the back by his friends.  Every March 15th, in honor of Caesar, I celebrate friends.

“Caesar got killed though…”

Yes, indeed. How many of us have friendships that are killing us slowly–sucking the lives out of us day by day? Meanwhile we miss out on the people who bring us joy.

The Ides of March is an excellent time to reflect upon this.

On this day, I take a moment to be grateful for the friends who make life worth living–the ones I always want to see more but never seem to get on the calendar for “today.”  I also consider whether there are any people in my life I need to let go–those who no longer align with the values I hold dear.

That’s tough to do, but important.

Why do I get this wrong?

Time and circumstance get in the way. Fires need to be put out. Squeaky wheels get the grease… And life is busy for everyone.

“I can’t make it today, let’s reschedule.” Sometimes the important friendships get put on the back burner because these are the people most likely to understand. Then, we drift away.

That’s why I dedicate the Ides of March to fix that–to reflect on the people who really light up my life…and make a plan in my heart to take action.

Time’s limited…what do I do?

I want to improve the friendships that make me want to be a better person, be closer to people who are positive and inspirational, who see the world in terms of possibilities.  Their goodness is contagious. I want to see them more.

It’s not that the rest of the world isn’t full of good people–they’re just not good for me today.

On the Ides of March, I recommit myself put an end to social procrastination and reach out to the people who’ve always made me smile. Life can be isolating, I need good people.

In honor of Julius Caesar–who got this all wrong–reach out to one or two people today. Here are a few simple ideas:

Schedule a weekly coffee for a half hour after school.  

Stay after work with a small group of the friends you never have time to see, and have coffee once a week, briefly. A half hour will do. Set rules, like “work-free coffee.” No venting! A couple minutes of problem solving is okay, but do not form a group where people display toxic and negative behaviors.  This is what this Ides of March reflection is supposed to avoid.  Enforce the rules!

Start a book club

Pick a pile of books and read one a month with friends. Get together to discuss them over a snack or drink, or do a Google Hangout if your friends aren’t local. The important thing is scheduling a predictable time and maintaining a solid connection with good friends over topics you love.

Have a “Kibbutz”

Kibbutz is Hebrew for “gathering.” Bestselling author and behavior expert Nir Eyal wrote about scheduling a bi-monthly “kibbutz” dinner with friends on the same day every other week so there’d never be confusion about dates and times.

Eyal cited a collection of research showing nearly 150 studies correlating weak social ties and increased health issues.  Maintaining positive friendships isn’t just a matter of having fun, it really is a matter of life or death.

Make a “reach out” list

Make a list of all the people you want to reach out to, then pick one every week or month and follow through. Send emails or texts, but schedule a few in-person visits, too. Then don’t cancel. Then, if that person’s a “stay in my life” person, I’ll schedule the next event before I leave the first. Otherwise, life will get in the way.

Do a focused dinner

Host a dinner with a purpose. My parents used to do prayer meetings and church events.  Chef Michael Hebb brought thought leaders together to talk about subjects ranging from death to meditation–he curated the guest list full of game-changers who could get things done. This strategy rests somewhere between maintaining connection and social activism. It’s powerful.

Save time for new people

In this Tim Ferriss podcast entrepreneur Naval Ravikant explained the importance of saying “no” to people and things in order to save time for spontaneous connections with new people. It’s important to have enough unscheduled time to say yes to someone I really want to get to know. I find the universe often sends amazing people to me, and I want to be able to do a call or go out for lunch.

Ides of March housekeeping

Relationship housekeeping is as important as physical housekeeping.  Leaving friendships unchecked is no different from leaving piles of clutter in the home.  If I’m growing and improving, I want friends who do the same–who share my values, and make me smile.

On the Ides of March, I take a moment to be grateful for the amazing people in my life, and I look for ways to be a better friend.

I’m sorry for poor Julius Caesar who got this so wrong.