Focus: Connections - Make New Friends But Keep The Old
One is silver and the other GOLDEN
Photo by Юлія Вівчарик on Unsplash
You want to be happy in retirement, right? That’s really the main goal for most people. So, what is a great predictor of your happiness? Well, according to The Harvard Longevity Study, there is a strong association between happiness and close relationships like spouses, family, friends, and social circles. Wow, so we have also learned in a past newsletter that these close relationships are good for our health, reducing the kind of inflammation that leads to just about every preventable ailment that Western doctors are aware of - things like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and even the dreaded cancer. It turns out solid relationships are kind of magic. But keep in mind that the magic relationships are the close, strong relationships - people we know we can count on in a pinch. And, here’s something about those relationships…. they take a while to build.
How long is “a while?”
Research shows that making a casual friend takes 50 hours on average, while close friendships (the kind that make you happy) take upwards of 200 hours! And, did you know that the average adult hasn’t made a new friend in 5 years? Why is that? Well, according to a study conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Evite, mostly it’s because we don’t spend 50 to 200 hours with the same other people.
Being introverted/spending time alone 42%
Most people just want to drink/go to a bar but that’s not my scene 33%
I feel like everyone has their friendship groups already formed 33%
My family takes up a lot of my time 29%
I don’t have any hobbies that allow me to meet new people 28%
Your GOLDEN Opportunity!
Why am I telling you this? Because, if you are not retired, you likely DO spend upwards of 200 hours with other people right now, at your job. In fact, you may be getting enough of the social interaction that you need there, that you are not even aware that they are driving some of your happy feelings. But, when you retire, you may become keenly aware.
So this is your golden opportunity to make some golden friendships of the kind that matter in your golden years.
There are three stages to building these solid friendships.
Establish: This is the “getting to know you” stage. It takes at least six meetings, on average, to determine if these people are ones that you want to put on your list of “friends.” So, establishment takes some tenacity!
Deepen: This can be an AWKWARD stage. You’re kind of doing a dance to see if the other person is interested in being a friend. Don’t worry. Everyone goes through it. Ask them to coffee or lunch, or see if they want to participate in something where you have established a common interest. Even family can go through this awkward stage if dynamics have changed. Did you move closer to someone, or did two of you retire at the same time? You may be in this stage with them, too.
Nurture: Just because you’re friends doesn’t mean you’ll always be friends (or close family members). You need to nurture the relationship. Regular, established rituals can be important, here, like family Zoom calls or regular coffee dates. But mix it up! Find something fun to do and invite them. Check in with them when life happens (to you or to them). They need to trust you and you need to trust them. That’s the bottom line. These are the relationships that keep you healthy and happy, so invest in them! And don’t worry so much whether they invest in you. The research says if you invest in them, you’ll reap the benefits.
Most likely, you have already established a convivial connection with the people at work that you would like to hang out with more, so you’re going to jump right into the awkward stage. Ugh. But if you want to be truly happy in the Third Act, you gotta get over yourself and do it. Because, seriously, where are you going to spend 200 hours with the same people in retirement? It’s HARD.
Oh! You’re already retired?
If you are already retired and didn’t bring your phone a friend lifeline with you, it is still possible to establish and deepen new relationships, of course. It’s just harder. First, know that it’s going to take 50 hours just to have a casual relationship with someone and hundreds of hours to build a solid relationship you can count on - and you’re going to have to meet lots of people to find one or two you even want to go deeper with. Don’t go to a MeetUp group thinking you’re going to find your best friend the first time you go. But DO go to MeetUp groups! What you’re going to have to do is manufacture places that you will go again and again, to meet the same people. Go to MeetUp groups. Volunteer. Take a college class. Start a MeetUp group. Find a place of worship that is comfortable for you. Start a neighborhood watch group. Ask friends that you do have to introduce you to their friends and hang out as a group. Even going to the coffee shop at the same time every day can work. There are lots of possibilities. In fact, here’s 10 ways to make (and keep) friendships as an adult. You’re going to have to work at it a bit more than your counterparts that aren’t retired, yet, but you can do it. After all, your happiness depends on it.
So, if you’re not retired, DON’T MISS this opportunity to build deeper relationships with your work buddies. It truly could lead to some friends that are pure gold in your golden years.
If you are retired, don’t despair! You get to go out and have some fun finding your peeps. Be patient! And know that there are lots of other people in your situation. Don’t be afraid to reach out. They’ll be relieved that you did.