Here’s one secret which I have learned over decades of exploring and adventuring toward success and fulfillment: “Having it all” (whatever “it” means to you, individually) can ONLY happen when you build community.
Though online connections have become commonplace, I still maintain that there is no substitute for in-person connection. There are many different types of communities where you can find (or create) such resources and support, including: a friend or group of friends/family; a professional or religious affiliation; a conference, class or workshop; your neighborhood or community center; a book group, etc.
What happens when you no longer have the burden of going it totally alone? You may experience an improvement in health and overall well-being, less stress, greater meaning, more ease, energy, manageability and pleasure in life. As an added result, you touch others’ lives and the positive effects get reflected into the world.
What is a good way to begin forming, or adding to, the interpersonal foundations which will ensure your desired future? Networking. And here’s another secret. Networking does not have to be nerve-racking, groan-inducing, or boring. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Networking is not just about selling, the idea of which makes many people cringe. It is more about meeting others who are open to sharing passion and ideas and can respond with meaningful perspectives, support and wisdom. It is about expanding your genuine connections and enhancing, rather than detracting from, your confidence and achievements.
Networking is simply about meeting others so you can move forward with the support of your chosen community(ies). This will not only be more beneficial to you with your desired accomplishments, but it also makes life a lot more fun. Instead of being a stressful chore, when you connect with others who can assist you with your specific needs, you build your life’s tapestry in a way that is not only innovative and enjoyable, but something you will look forward to and want to keep creating (as well as fostering it in others).
It simply requires one person taking action to begin making that difference. And as with a pebble tossed in a pond, the ripples keep moving ever outward. I have seen real examples of community collaboration happening time and again, and have been both host and beneficiary of such connections.
~ Friends got together for a New Year’s dinner where conversation led to sharing and writing down goals for the coming year. Upon reflection a year later, the participants marveled at how many of those goals had been accomplished with each other’s encouragement. Out of this gathering came the creation of an annual public event so that other women in the region could also improve their lives with group support.
~ One person at a networking event shared information about a non-profit working to end child sex trafficking. A magazine publisher in attendance felt moved by the conversation and printed an article about the agency, which, in turn, inspired a group of readers to create a volunteer group to support the organization.
~ I was able to find the courage to embark on an encore career because I had a supportive community of family and friends.
All of us have something of value to offer, which, when shared, can result in a better life for ourselves, each other, and the world.
You, too, can begin creating, building on or joining a community right now to exchange ideas, companionship and encouragement. Having a sense of community simultaneously enables you to stay grounded while also being able to soar.
What is your idea of community? Do you have suggestions for others to build theirs?
Anne Garland,“The Pollinator,” is known for inspiring events enabling women over forty to share support, ideas and connection. Garland is managing director of the Greater Hartford and Shoreline chapter of eWomenNetwork, whose aim is to assist women with finding ways to turn networking interactions into new clients while connecting with other professionals to enhance business success. Opportunities include in-person meetings, events and a 24/7 online community of professional women. Garland is also founder and creative director of Anne Garland Enterprises, based in Connecticut. Contact: 860-575-4970, AnneG@AnneGarlandEnterprises.com and ewomennetwork.com/chapter/Hartford, AnneGarland@eWomenNetwork.com.