As we navigate transitions in our 60s and beyond, one of the most important assets to support us is a strong social network. Whether we are entrepreneurs, executives, or exploring what's next for our Executive Encore, our ability to connect with others, build new relationship and maintain existing ones is essential to our well-being and fulfillment. In this post, we'll explore the benefits of creating a strong social network and some practical strategies to nurture what could be our most valuable asset.
The Importance of Connection
Research has shown that social connection is a key factor in maintaining physical and mental health, especially as we live longer. Independent studies have demonstrated that more social isolation can lead to more health issues, including increased inflammation, a weakened immune system, and cognitive decline. Isolation, loneliness, depression, and overall quality of life are intrinsically linked. On the other hand, people with strong social support systems have shown better resilience and emotional regulation along with better physical and mental health.
Building New Relationships
As we live longer, our social network will change due to factors such as retirement, relocation, or pursuit of different interests and paths - yours and others in your network. Sadly, we will experience loss of friends and family members. To counteract these changes in our social network, we need to intentionally seek out new relationships to broaden our social circle and avoid isolation.
Some ideas to consider include joining a local community group, volunteering with a cause that interests you, or taking a class to learn something new that stimulates your interests.
Expand your scope to include a variety of people throughout multiple generations to share, learn, nurture, and build your social network and relationships.
Nurturing Existing Relationships to Build Strong Bonds
Even with the advent of social media, nothing can replace the personal touch of regular contact and interaction with those dear to us. Take the time to pick up the phone and call old friends, or make plans to visit them in person. As some of us relocate, a visit with friends is a great excuse to act on our desire and ability to travel - even if it's just a day-trip.
Reach out to family members with whom you may have lost touch and rekindle old memories. Many families have spread around the world. Online tools make it easy to reconnect. Time zones and travel restrictions are no longer a barrier.
Consider initiating a regular meet-up with a group of colleagues or fellow entrepreneurs whose company and camaraderie you enjoy. Attend networking events. Treat yourself to a conference in another city.
The ultimate goal of nurturing our relationships is to build strong bonds that will serve us as we live longer.
Honouring Solitude and Connection
While being social can be energizing, it's also important to have a balance of solitude and reflection. Taking time to be alone, free from distractions, can help you gain clarity, recharge your energy, and explore your own interests. You might find that certain activities, such as reading, writing, or listening to music, bring you a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment. Retreat to enjoy your own company by engaging in regular "Day-out Adventures". You might enjoy the sense of freedom and joy with a visit to a museum or art gallery on your own and at your pace.
Investing in Yourself
Building a strong social network also includes investing in yourself. Take time for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self-care:
- Get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise regularly.
- Explore interests and activities that bring you joy and a sense of accomplishment.
- Protect your personal boundaries and build self-trust.
By investing in yourself, you will not only enhance your personal well-being but also attract new relationships that align with your interests and values.
Final Word - Your Executive Encore
Our 60s and beyond can be a time of great exploration and opportunity. A great time for adventure on our own terms. Our Executive Encore. It can also be a time of challenge with loss and changes in our identity, status, and environment. By taking intentional steps to build and maintain connections with others, we have a powerful resource to help navigate these transitions.
We can build new relationships, nurture existing ones, find balance between solitude and connection, and invest in ourselves. Building a strong social network is not only good for us as individuals but also beneficial for our families, communities, and society as a whole.
Caveat: This is not about "collecting" friends as we might have done in the past or as social media has encouraged. This is about being intentional and being discerning about who we allow into our social network, with whom we can build strong bonds, and the quality of our relationships.
Let's make a commitment to prioritize connection and invest in the power of strong bonds as we live longer. Our social network is truly an asset that is worth the investment.
For resources available to aspiring women entrepreneurs and business owners of all ages, contact me with your request at [email protected]
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