Just like with New Year’s resolutions, it’s easy to come up with a plan of action in your head or on paper, but harder to actually accomplish the goals you set for yourself. Diligence, practice, time, and constant focus are the only ways to make your aspirations into achievements.
Many people struggle with the idea of being social. You could be an introvert, lazy, insecure, unmotivated, depressed, anxious, or a combination of all of the above, but the first step is knowing that you want to change and admitting that it’s a shortcoming.
Like any journey to self-improvement, you can’t climb the mountain in a day. Every effort you put into surrounding yourself with more positive people who will uplift you and round out portions of your personality or call you out on your blind spots is a worthy pursuit. Lay a single brick toward this end every single day.
Below you’ll find 5 easy ways to trick yourself into being more social and push you down the path to a sense of community and out of the isolation of this digitally connected, but emotionally disconnected world that we live in.
Buy Tickets Ahead of Time
Sometimes, I’ll see an event online or hear about it from friends and I’m really on-board to go. It sounds interesting, I like the group of people I’d be going with, and I have ambitions of showing up.
Then, the day arrives and I have a sudden need to be introverted, to bail. I have an extreme history of day-of bailing and it’s not something I’m particularly proud of.
One of the methods I’ve found works best in ensuring that I don’t miss out on things I actually want to do because of sudden changes of heart or a day of particular depression or anxiety is to buy the tickets ahead of time.
By committing money to social obligations instead of just delivering my intentions as lip service, I’m far more likely to actually show up to the event that I was planning on attending.
While it’s not 100% effective because I’ve still resorted to selling my tickets to friends or on StubHub if I’m really feeling a strong bail vibe, it has certainly improved the odds.
The only time I’m 100% committed is when it’s an event that someone else is paying for. I would never leave someone hanging with a bill on my account and it’s another solid way to ensure that I actually show up.
Listen to Music that Pumps You Up
Music has an incredible effect on a person’s life. When I’m in a bad mood, I tend to listen to very somber or very angry music. When I’m happy, I want something upbeat. In that way, it seems that your own current mood dictates your music choices.
Luckily, it works the other way too.
It’s a Friday or Saturday night and I’m laying on my couch calculating every possible excuse I can come up with to get out of going to something I’ve verbally committed to. I haven’t even started getting dressed yet and I’m sucked into some kind of mind numbing YouTube video about building a custom arcade cabinet.
I turn to my Alexa and beg her for some music. Suddenly, 90s dance hit “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJs comes on. The next thing I know, I’m throwing on a pair of jeans and a Hawaiian shirt, taking a few sips of bourbon and getting ready to leave.
Music has a positive effect on my mood and also motivates me. It’s the soundtrack to your life and allows your mind to picture scenarios that you may be ignoring. It takes you on a nostalgic journey to previous nights out on the town where you were glad you didn’t hole yourself up inside playing Super Nintendo.
Watch Instagram Stories
While social media can often be an incredible gaslighter in terms of instilling jealousy, insecurity, and depression about your own situation versus that of others, it can also be a motivating force.
Sometimes, on nights where I’m feeling particularly anti-social when I know I shouldn’t be, I’ll pull up some Instagram stories of my friends or acquaintances to see what they’re up to.
Often times, the simple experience of watching other people have a good time at a bar, club, party, traveling, or on any other myriad of fun adventures is enough to push me over the edge.
FOMO, or the fear of missing out, can be a powerful motivating force for people who need to get over the hump of their social anxiety and standoffish tendencies.
Take a moment to step back and think in your head if you’d be more mentally satisfied being alone at home wallowing or out meeting people, seeing friends, or experiencing new things that will push you to grow and have fun.
Commit to Talk to Strangers More Often
As scary as it is to spark up conversations with people you don’t know at all, it’s a really nice exercise in gaining self-confidence and feeling comfortable approaching someone new.
Even if it’s just a cashier, a waitress, someone next you on the train, make the effort to comment on something, smile, or say hello if it looks like it might be welcomed.
Judge their body language and receptiveness and if the opportunity comes up to comment on something or ask a question, do so. Compliment them, ask them something specific, or just make a funny comment. Just don’t comment on the weather because that is the most cliche and asinine topic of conversation in human history.
Part of the confidence of conversation is looking approachable yourself as well. Smile or at least look neutral and somewhat friendly, speak clearly and with conviction, and have an opinion. There’s nothing more boring than someone who agrees with everything you say.
If you’re out at a bar or club or live event alone and there are other people standing around alone, talk to them. You never know where this kind of interaction could lead. I’ve made some really good friends just inserting myself in a non-threatening, non-overbearing way into random conversations out in the world.
The feedback and validation you get from making an active effort to put yourself out there can be a motivating force in making you want to be social more often. Even bad attention or negative experiences are something to learn from and you can find a way to cope with rejection and keep trying until you find groups of people you jive with or have mutual interests with.
Find a Community-Based Hobby
If you’re looking for either friends or romantic partners, the bar isn’t always the best place to start. The quality of individuals you meet there can vary widely and there’s no guarantee that you’ll have anything in common. Sparking a conversation while inebriated is easier, but you both may forget important tidbits of conversation the next day.
A better place to start is definitely finding a hobby that is based on a community. There are things like local sports leagues, trivia nights, crafts clubs, hiking clubs, book clubs, or basically anything where a common interest leads to a group of people hanging out.
Your interests may range from Super Nintendo to BDSM (or maybe that’s just me), but it’s guaranteed there’s a group out there who wants to talk about it and do things together.
I find it easier to want to do something if you know that everyone there has a similar frame of mind to your own. You won’t feel like an outcast. Alienation is alleviated when surrounded by folks who you preemptively know share at least some of your interests.