I took this picture yesterday as I was out and about on the Hawaiian island, Oahu. As I watched the gentleman saunter to the bench under the tree in the distance, I began to ask myself, “What’s his story?”. Is he seeking a few minutes of rest? Is this his happy place? Was he waiting on someone? or did something else bring him here? Loneliness? Depression?
This sparked thoughts pertaining to the loneliness that many entrepreneurs and myself endure during our personal journeys. Although business owners may face other issues tailored towards their specific situations, this is one challenge that remains common amongst us all. Here are some ways you can combat loneliness:
1. Join an Offline Community
Often times we feel that our abundance of work prohibits time for socialization. When in fact, we have to make the time. Do some research to find local events and mixers where you can connect with other entrepreneurs or explore your interests. These events can be found on Facebook, Eventbrite, or Eventful. Once you find an event that you’re interested in and have committed to it, add it to your calendar to emphasize its importance to you.
Are you willing to volunteer in your free time? There are companies and non-profit organizations seeking individuals with your skill set to add value to their projects. Use these opportunities to gain experience and communicate with passionate, like-minded individuals. Maybe your alma mater also has an organization or program where you can play a role. Even if you did not graduate from the school, express how much you enjoyed the time while you were there and how passionate you are about contributing to its continuous development.
2. Join an Online Community
If you are not able to travel at the moment — or you don’t want to– then have no fear! Social media has been a powerful tool that allows you to connect with anyone at any time, no matter where they are in the world. Instagram and Facebook allow you to form group chats with other users, including your friends! Use the chat to share valuable information or to see how everyone else is doing. Mute the chat during periods of time where your heavy concentration is required. The live feature on each platform can be pretty useful whether you’re scheduling a live video or randomly streaming your activity. This gives people a chance to interact with you while they have your attention. Facebook Groups are another alternative that allows you to not only join a community but also create one. If you’re looking to get acquainted with a different social media platform, you can try Reddit. On this app, you are able to post in groups curated for certain topics or interests (ex: startup, streetwear, etc). Instead of liking, you can vote on posts and include your positive feedback.
Most people may be sceptical in regards to contacting strangers on social media, but networking with new people can open opportunities or lead you to useful knowledge. After evaluating a user’s profile and deciding that they are someone worth contacting, fest up the courage to message them. Introduce yourself and compliment them on their page or business to break the ice. Then, let them know you’re looking forward to hearing back from them.
3. Work With a Mentor
One of your most important relationships may be with a mentor. Mentors bring support and valuable conversation since your experiences are relatable. Mentors can also bring a professional perspective to the table when you are in the process of making a decision or working on your endeavours. Consistently meet with your mentor at least once a week. Choose a convenient location like a restaurant you both like or their office.
4. Look For Opportunities To Have Shared Experiences
At times we refrain from connecting with our peers because we have to exert more energy and it takes up some of our time. Be patient and push yourself to make a move. If you do decide to take a break by enjoying exercise, watching sports, or eating out, it can be more enjoyable if you meet with friends who support you, share experiences you can learn from, and lift your spirits.
5. FaceTime / Video Chat
As much as we may want to meet in person, spontaneous occurrences are inevitable. Have some flexibility. If a meetup is cancelled, you can explore options like FaceTime on Apple devices or a video call on platforms like Skype, Zoom, or Whatsapp.
All habits are not formed immediately. Give yourself a chance to gradually work these methods into your lifestyle. The main thing to remember is that you must stay positive during your personal and professional development. Leave a message for me in the comments below to share any challenges you had forming these habits or to share how these tips worked for you!