Q: I just moved to a new area and want to plug into my community. How do I go about doing this?
A: Moving to a new area comes with a laundry list of things to do. All the logistics, work arrangements and details can feel overwhelming. But once you settle in, finding community should be a priority.
I can testify to this truth: Wherever you are, your community will shape you. I travel often and stay in some places for a few weeks or even months. So, when you are in a new place, where do you begin? I follow three simple and effective strategies for boosting my community involvement.
But first: I want to be sure you know that you don’t have to be an extrovert to venture into social situations. Keep your efforts aligned with your passions and do it in a way that fits your personality. Do what suits you. All three of these tips are highly adaptable and will work no matter how you’re wired.
No. 1: Investigate your surroundings.
Do some research on the local community: What does it have to offer? Does it have the best water park in the world for families? Is there a book club that hosts famous authors? Is it known for its outdoor movie theaters? Uncovering these local secrets will help you understand the local culture and find something that might align with your own interests. It’s a nice and easy starting point to get you out and active.
No. 2: Pursue your interests.
Anytime I go somewhere new—whether I’m there for a few weeks or a few months—I look for fitness classes and concerts. Those are two things I’m always interested in and know that I’ll enjoy. I also know I’m more likely to make a connection with like-minded people in those places. When you pursue your interests, your chances improve to connect with people who like the same things you do. This is a fast way to build relationships because you already have something in common.
No. 3: Proactively invest in the community itself.
Volunteering is always a great opportunity to jump into a new place with both feet. Find out what’s going on through the local chamber of commerce website and social media groups. What events are going on? What organizations are active?
Finding a cause close to your heart will help you meet people who share your values, contribute to your community in a meaningful way and get that great feeling that comes from making a difference. If you’re a social butterfly, this could mean joining a philanthropic society and fundraising. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a dear friend who is very introverted and recently moved to a new city. She connected with a local cat adoption agency and was able to get involved right away through fostering.
Combat Loneliness with Community Involvement
Ultimately, remember that it is natural, good and necessary to connect with other people. Americans have been battling increased loneliness since the pandemic, and I’m here to tell you, virtual exchanges aren’t going to meet all of your needs. You are biologically wired to want to be around other people, doing life together—growing and going places together. (Read about the scientific benefits of community involvement in “Can Community Help You Live Longer? This Harvard Study Says Yes.”) Don’t reject this impulse. Create space for it.
Your instinct to make deep and meaningful connections is a good one. A fresh start is a perfect time to build new practices. I wholeheartedly encourage you to pursue opportunities and find your place.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo courtesy of Debbie Biery.
The post Dear Debbie: How Can I Increase My Community Involvement? appeared first on SUCCESS.