Plan B Strategies
"When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another." - Helen Keller
WHAT ARE THE THREE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING FRIENDS PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY?
The research shows there are three main factors:
How have I made new connections?
As Ghandi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I've started my own Meetup groups for small-group conversations where folks get to know each other well. I've attended classes, volunteered, hosted social gatherings at my home, served on a local Parks and Recreation Commission, and taken regular fitness classes at the gym.
What have I learned?
Friendships, like romantic relationships, take chemistry, openness, energy, and substantial time to take root. Living in a state like Minnesota where 70% of residents are natives and most friends have a well-established social circles of friends and family by young adulthood, befriending new folks was very challenging. It takes substantial time, patience, persistence, and a very thick skin!
On the other hand, moving to SW Florida where it seems like everyone is a transplant was a brilliant decision. We are all in the same boat - many of us have family living elsewhere, so we are motivated to make new friends. I've successfully made several new friends in a very short time.
Building community can be valuable while trying to make real friends.
After I bought my home, I started a Resilience Circle in my community. Resilience Circles are informal groups of neighbors helping neighbors save money and resources through sharing tools, skills, services - they are basically "neighbor to neighbor bartering initiatives." For details, visit: Local Circles.
Our Resilience Circle planted a garden and a memorial tree, made meals for homeless teens, and provided dinners to neighbors grieving the loss of family members. The ripple effects of our efforts made our community stronger and I gained a valuable sense of belonging in my new neighborhood.
To connect neighbors online, I launched a Nextdoor.com community in August 2012. It's like Facebook meets Angie's List! Neighbors, who never would have met offline, are recommending home repair professionals, advertising things for sale or give-away, exchanging favors, and sharing community news. It's a great resource!
HOW DO YOU MAKE MEANINGFUL SOCIAL CONNECTIONS?
Where are your opportunities for deep and substantial conversation and getting to know people on a deeper level? Where are your opportunities to see the same people on a repeat basis? Joining a gym, serving on a non-profit board, volunteering, committing to regular participation in specific Meetup groups, and taking classes are great strategies.
Keep in mind that proximity and frequency of unplanned interactions are key ingredients for discovering shared interests and creating that comfort factor which is a springboard for friendship. I tried a lot of groups and activities, but I didn't stick with them long enough. Persistence and patience pay off.
While you build new connections, become the kind of friend you wish to have. Remember that your relationships - platonic or otherwise - will only be as strong and positive as your relationship with yourself. Charity begins at home, so treat yourself well, take good care of your health, eat and sleep right, and treat yourself as your own best friend - because you are and always will be!
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