Making friends in midlife can often seem a little bit like dating and leaving us feeling a bit out of our comfort zone! Often, we would love to initiate a conversation with someone we find interesting but are left feeling insecure and embarrassed about making that first move. Sound familiar?
Today we are going to talk about ways for you to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people and find that network of people you find interesting.
Perhaps as you’ve aged, you may have lost so friend to illness, a move, or divorce? We tend to want more out of our friendships and a bunch of Facebook friends just don’t support us with the deeper connection we crave. Let’s face it though, as you get older it seems difficult to meet new people. We can’t rely as we did on the old networks; career, school sports, PTSA, Scouts, and more…
You may even notice now that you have certain friends for specific instances. Personally for myself, I have a small group of friends and we connect on specific occasions. I have walking friends. We connect and get our exercise while talking about our lives, recipes, and support one another. I have an adventure friend. My partner in crime can take off for a weekend and explore a new location. I have a gardening friend, and we share our love for gardening and plants. There is even a safe friend that I can spill the beans and don’t have to worry about anyone finding out! Sound familiar?
Below I am going to share eight tips on how to put on your Wonder woman cape and make new connections!
Volunteer! Is there an organization that in the past you’ve wanted to participate in but haven’t had the time to prioritize? This is a great way to help an organization in need with your skills and meet like-minded people who have the same level of interest. One year, our local lavender farm was looking for volunteers to come and cut lavender over one weekend! I went and was paired with very interesting women and we began to chat, found out we had a lot in common and now we are the best of friends! I can’t imagine my life without her friendship! Can you list two organizations that are calling your name?
Join a Meet Up Group! Meet Up groups are extremely popular and growing with lots of opportunities to connect. I participated in a local meet-up in Seattle: NW Bread Bakers and learned more about baking bread and I met several wonderful women and now we walk together frequently and trade bread secrets. You can find people who are meeting up for walking, hiking, book clubs. These groups are meeting online and in-person so there is something for anyone’s comfort zone!
Take a class. I’m not suggesting going back to school full time but do you have a local community center that offers classes? Or perhaps your local kitchen store is offering cooking classes online or in-person? What is something you have always wanted to learn? Jot that down. Taking a series of classes is the best way to meet someone who has a common interest. Perhaps invite them to coffee before or after the class to discuss the content or collaborate on an assignment!
The Health Club. Trust me, I’ve met a lot of interesting men and women at the health club. The trick is to consistently go at the same time. I am an early morning warrior so I see the same people swimming or on the equipment. After a while, we begin to know each other and share what we are doing after the workout that day! I even had a swimming buddy give me Valentine’s gift one year. Not only will your body thank you for the consistent work schedule, but you’ll also start making some new connections!
Start A Group. A couple of years ago, I wanted to start a Supper Club, so I did! I wanted to meet some new friends and have my friends meet each other. We met once a quarter and had a different food theme and created a potluck event. It was so much fun sitting around the table long after the meal was over, sharing and learning a lot about the friends I already had and them connecting! What group could you start with a handful of people?
Seek Friendships in Unusual Places! I host the podcast Calm the Chaos and have met some wonderful men and women as guests. I’ve been able to connect with some on a personal level and have invited them out to Seattle to come to see the area and stay in my home. It’s putting yourself out there and making the effort to show you care about them on a personal level.
Put Down your PHONE! When you are out in public, put down your phone! Look around you and make eye contact with people and share a smile. Find something to genuinely compliment someone on and get out of your comfort zone. That way you are ready to initiate a new friendship! That memory muscle of making friends will know what it feels like to be vulnerable and you won’t be as self-conscious to make that first move.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP! Reach out to any old friends with whom you may have lost touch. Most likely over the years, they too have been busy with a career or family and are looking to reconnect. You had something in common once and perhaps you each have something to contribute to the relationship in the future. In Bronnie Ware’s book: The Top Five Regrets of The Dying, regret number 4 is I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. These are friends with who you share a history and are part of the foundation for who you are now. Don’t wake up one day and regret that you didn’t keep in touch with an old friend. Remember the song, Make New Friends but Keep the Old, One is Silver and the other Gold?
I hope this has inspired you to take action and put yourself out there to introduce yourself to someone you find interesting and would like to get to know better. Like anything else, you need to take that first step! Do you have one idea of where you could start? I would love for you to reach out and let me know how this article inspired you and how you were able to make a new connection!
If you feel that getting out of your comfort zone is difficult, I am happy to help! Please reach out to me at www.deborahvoll.com. I would love to connect with you and be your friend!