Whether in your personal or professional life, this seems obvious if you think about it. Relationships make life interesting. They can lift you up, but can drag you down (if you let them). You want healthy relationships that make you a better person, or business owner, or attorney, or whatever it is you are.

You have choices. You don’t have to have an unhealthy relationship with someone, even if it’s a family member or business partner. You always have the ability to make choices about who you deal with and how. This isn’t necessarily easy, but, as my wife is known to say, “hard choices, easy life; easy choices, hard life.” If you think on this you know it’s right.

No one becomes an attorney without an interest in helping people, me included. Sometimes the want to help leads to poor decision-making. Not everyone can afford to pay for the help they want or need, or want to listen to the recommendations they are paying for. The real answer is for me to understand my client’s goals and financial situation to craft a strategy and plan that is aimed at reaching their goals and which they can afford. This results in better working relationships and trust because our respective expectations are taken into consideration. If I don’t think a potential client is willing to hear the truth of their situation or wants to go down a path they can’t afford, I know I am saving myself headaches by declining the representation.

By making hard decisions such as to not take on all clients or their work, I know I am working on one of my goals, which is to work with clients who are realistic about their options and truly open to my input, whether positive or negative. That’s because honesty is important and is a good basis for healthy personal or professional relationships.

A good exercise is to think about the relationships you have and whether they add value or not. If so, you should nurture and work on the relationship. If not, you need to decide whether you are willing to make the hard choice of either ending the relationship or, at least, giving it less energy. If you do this, a year from now you will have less stress and a better network of personal and professional connections and relationships.