Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda: How to Make a Decision You Won’t Regret!

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could always approach big decisions head on, and feel little or no regret, regardless of the outcome? As Yogi Berra famously said; “when you approach a fork in the road, take it”. But seriously, why are decisions often such a source of conflict? Usually, there are three options:  making the safe choice, maintaining the status quo, or taking a risk. Any decision would be a no-brainer— if it didn’t involve some risk or uncertainty— since certainty of outcome is one of the biggest myths we harbor. So while big decisions can be daunting, there are pitfalls to avoid as well as ways to make a decision you probably will regret. Think about a current situation in your life in which you’re contemplating a big decision. Here is how to avoid second-guessing or regrets to feel best about your decision as well as to master the decision making process itself:

Be willing take risks-This isn’t to say you should be impulsive, overly risky or reckless. But keep in mind that when you’re entering the unknown there may be unanticipated hazards. Gathering as much information about possible outcomes can help to make the most informed decision; but remember, there are no certain outcomes. So ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Imagine your worst-case scenario has already occurred. Feel your emotions. What reaction would other people have? How likely is this outcome? If some of these things did happen, would it really be as bad as I feared? And if things don’t turn out exactly how I hope, will I be able to handle it? Chances are you can absorb the consequences you fear, a lot easier than the “what if” consequences of inaction.

Set goals- Without setting specific goals related to an important decision, you’re setting yourself up for an unclear path moving forward. Set specific goals related to the choice you’re considering. What exactly would you like to happen, and when? Who else will need to be involved and who will likely be affected by this decision? Are there things you’re willing to give up in order to make your goal happen? Once you’ve thought about these things, ask yourself, “Is this goal still a priority in my life?” If the answer is yes, let yourself feel more confident in the choice you’ve made.

Be flexible-As you move forward with a decision, a change of course might be called for.  At this point, ask yourself if you’ll still be able to pull off meeting your goal.  Do you need to stick with the original plan, or change direction? The ability to recognize when a goal starts to become unrealistic is an important skill. And don’t let this get you down! Today’s accomplishments were yesterday’s goals, so continue to raise the bar even higher for yourself.

Conquer ambivalence-Ambivalence is actually a choice in itself—the choice to not make any decision at all. Remember, up until now you’ve most likely been able to make choices and take responsibility for your decisions and you will be able to do it again. Think of a crucial decision you’ve made that you feel proud of. Recall how exhilarating it was to achieve the goal you set for yourself. Making a decision to better your life and strive for greatness, regardless of the outcome, is still an accomplishment you can be proud of.

By doing these things, you’re on the path to competently and consciously take charge of your life. What life decision(s) are you considering making now? Maybe it’s a career change, taking steps to get more serious in a relationship or to end a relationship, making a large purchase, having or adopting children or going back to school. Whatever’s the choice at hand, allow yourself to dream.  Most of all, accept no excuses; and think about how far you could go if only you stopped getting in your own way.

Does Every New Relationship Feel Like Déjà vu? How To Break That Pattern

We, as humans, are creatures of habit. But while patterns and rituals are typically helpful in maximizing brain space, certain patterns in our relationships don’t usually serve us. For example, finding yourself in the “same relationship” over and over again can feel like déjà vu– and not in a good way.   If you find yourself saying “hmm, I’ve been here before.” and feel caught in the same issues with one relationship after another, maybe it’s time to take a look at your particular relationship MO in order to break the pattern once an for all, so that you can find the person you’re really looking for and then make that relationship thrive.

The first thing to acknowledge is what you really like about new relationships in the first place.  Is it something specific to this new and unique person, or is it that intoxicating feeling of excitement and intrigue that comes with almost any initial attraction? Chances are, it’s the “high” you have when you first connect with a perspective new partner along with the exciting prospect of a new relationship—with all the related fantasies— and the great sexual attraction. This together can feel so ecstatic and so right. Rogers and Hart nailed it in the song, “Falling In Love With Love.” It’s not until that initial fire dies down that you get to see if the relationship stands the true test of time. After this “honeymoon” period, you have a choice: move on to the next short-term relationship (aka déjà vu) or explore the prospect of you and your partner moving the relationship toward long-term status. At this point, do you find yourself having the same issues and arguments you did the last time around?  For example, is this person scared of commitment just like the last person you dated? Are you blaming him or her for your disappointment that the effortless initial passion you had together has gone away—as by definition, initial passion always does?

So now is the time to ask yourself what’s the pattern I keep finding myself in that keeps me from having the long term relationship I want? Once you recognize your specific pattern and take responsibility for it, you have empowered yourself to break that pattern and avoid revisiting your old relationship traps. For example, if you find that you often become another person’s rebound relationship, you can make sure to ask the right questions to satisfy yourself that a new person you meet is ready for a new relationship. Also ask yourself what do I really want now that’s different?  Make sure you enter the dating world with clear criteria for what you’re seeking in a new partner. In other words, use your head as well as your heart when searching for a mate. For example, if you’ve found yourself more than once in a situation with a person who is smothering or too demanding of your time, you may want to make sure a new partner has enough of a life of his or her own this time.

Remember: recognizing and then moving beyond the patterns that haven’t worked up until now is the most important step you can take toward find a truly fulfilling and long-term relationship.

If You are Single this Valentine’s Day, Defiantly Celebrate It!

At this time of year, the media couldn’t be busier reminding you to enhance your relationship, celebrate your romantic life and establish more intimacy as a tribute to Valentine’s Day. There are endless deals for romantic dinners and getaways, ads for Hallmark, flowers and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.  But what if you’re not in a involved with anyone special right now?  In my practice, I’ve seen many people over the years who feel badly about themselves and their lives, only because they’re not currently in a relationship. And somehow when Valentine’s Day comes around, it accentuates those negative feelings.  But holidays or other yearly milestones don’t need to be triggers of gloom.  Instead, honor your single status by acknowledging it in a positive light.

When you’re feeling down on Valentine’s Day, (New Years Eve, your birthday, or even just an ordinary Saturday night), it’s possible that you’re comparing this year with the best Valentine’s Day of your life, when you were with a person you wanted to be with and it all felt great.  But if you really think about it, you’ve also probably had holidays when you actually may have preferred being alone.  Remember, loneliness is not about being by yourself. It’s more about that faulty notion that the rest of the world’s having a party, and you weren’t invited.  In the specific case of Valentine’s Day, you’ll set yourself up to feel lonely if you dwell on the happy and loving people around you and see yourself as—perhaps even being the only one—somehow failing to meet that standard.  And when you think about it, is that completely true?  Here’s a fact I’ve seen prove itself countless times: When you truly enjoy your own company and accept yourself as a single person, you will be so much more likely to find the right relationship. After all, it is out of the fear of being alone, that the worst and most dysfunctional relationships manifest. Become comfortable with your own solitude; and your next relationship becomes a true choice, never a lifeline. In other words, you’ll never stay in a bad relationship again.

The best thing you can do for yourself when you dread an upcoming holiday for lack of a significant other is to refuse to wrap yourself in negative feelings. Try this on Valentine’s Day: deliberately and defiantly stay home and have a wonderful evening for one.  Treat yourself, as you’d want a great date to treat you.  Maybe rent a favorite movie that you know always makes you laugh or smile.  Fill your home with candles or fresh flowers to create a happy or calming environment.  Have an indulgent meal—even if it’s takeout—from your favorite restaurant and enjoy a glass or two of wine.  You might even get yourself the gift you’ve been waiting for a special occasion to buy.

The point is to allow yourself to experience exactly what you fear the most–being alone.  When you purposefully face your oneness—really experience it and even enjoy it—you’ll learn that there is really nothing to fear.  And the truth is, if you can’t enjoy your own company, how can you expect someone else to enjoy it? So try to make this February 14th a day that’s just like, or even better than any other day of the year, by really caring for and nurturing yourself.  Allow yourself to experience the joy that solitude has to offer. It’s there if you acknowledge it and available 365 days per year, 24/7.   When you can truly enjoy your own company, that enjoyment will become contagious—and if it’s what you really want, the right relationship will find you.  Here’s the best news of all: If it still proves to be difficult for you, Valentine’s Day only lasts a mere 24 hours!

Motivation in the Workplace For Optimal Results Is Not a “One Size Fits All” Implementation

Business leaders and manager at all levels usually agree on one thing: It’s a constant challenge to keep others in the work environment motivated and productive. This is especially true given the reality that what drives one person, can be quite different than what drives another. Thus, to be effective in creating a maximally productive work environment, it’s crucial to understand on an individual basis exactly what motivates each unique person you are trying to influence. So with this in mind, here are several different examples or prototypes of people you might find in the workplace and what’s most likely to inspire optimal productivity in each.  Believe it or not, these characteristics even correspond with the stages of development as humans by which each individual views his or her career. By understanding what drives each unique member of your team, you can effectively tailor the approach you use to get the most out of each person you’d like to motivate.

Some people are principally motivated by the simple belief that their job is secure and the reassurance that their work won’t become too hard or overwhelming. When motivating someone like this, accept their limitations and avoid pushing them toward advancement (which may feel to them like more of a threat than a reward, whether or not they admit it). Assuming that their work is satisfactory, however, continue to assure them of their security by maintaining consistency in their tasks, so they remain capable of sufficiently doing their jobs.

For others, the structure itself that exists within a company or organization is a perfect ongoing motivator for those who thrive in environments with clear and perhaps even rigid rules, procedures and guidelines. Doing what is expected, not making waves and staying on “the good side” of the authority is what keeps them going on a day-to-day basis as well as their power to “rule” their subordinates. Military type operations and certain large companies are good examples of where these people thrive. For these employees, provide positive reinforcement for following procedures and rules or doing things “by the book”. However, like the first group, avoid pushing them out of their comfort zones.

For many, it’s the opportunity to impress others or receive praise or validation, since their primary motivator is actually to gain recognition or approval from others. While you might correctly assume that practically everyone likes the approval of others, some people actually need it to flourish and don’t do as well when they aren’t feeling validated. So take the time to recognize that these individuals are doing a good job, for example, in the form of awards (such as, “employee of the month”, etc.) to help them feel appreciated and as though they are part of a “family” that appreciates both the job they do and them as people . Any way you can convey the message to “keep up the good work” can have a huge impact.

In our society compensation via salary, perks or other tangible rewards and benefits is obviously the most common form of motivation offered; and for some employees, it’s enough to motivate them maximally. Such employees or coworkers respond best to such things as raises, bonuses, time off and better benefits.

Notice that it’s the employer—managers or company policy—that provides all of the motivators discussed so far. However, those who fall into the next two categories distinguish themselves by the fact that the principal way they are motivated is intrinsically or from within. In other words, they are most satisfied by doing and being challenged by what they love and feel passionate about. As a manager or supervisor, it is crucial to recognize such individuals for the unique abilities and inner drive to perform them that they can contribute to your mission, since they see their work as a calling and their work environment as a place to be creative and to apply their unique gifts and talents. They need enjoy their work; and fit best in an environment, which values their contribution. When these needs cease to be met, they will be most likely to burn out and seek a new assignment or environment where they can once again thrive. They feel best about their work and themselves, when given the opportunity and freedom to apply their unique magic to the task. My advice to managers regarding these individuals is to resist any micromanaging and remember that they bring the lion’s share of their own motivation to the table. The only other things they need are the opportunity, some broad direction, the resources to get the job done and a way to measure the impact of their contribution. I believe that anyone who is willing to do what it takes to let their passion be the guiding force in their career can join this category. When I coach people on career change, I teach them many ways to access this part of themselves.

The highest level of self-motivation comes from the opportunity to serve a purpose greater than oneself. This may be the commitment to play an important role in serving a cause one believes in or solving an important problem— that’s much larger than oneself.  For these employees, the satisfaction of bettering the lives of others, changing some aspect of the world or simply giving back is what actually motivates them. In other words, they are beyond self-gratification in this part of their lives; and enjoying their work is far less important. When motivation appears to dwindle, it could be a sign that the work is done and/or another mission is ripe. At times they should also be reminded of the big picture, and how the impact of their contributions serve something larger.

So the next time you’re struggling to find a way to further one of your employee’s ability to thrive in the workplace, explore what he or she might really be needing—on an individual basis–to give you the best they’ve got. Consider the various possibilities. The key is to know what makes each employee ‘tick’. Of course, in the real world, most of us seek all of these motivators from time to time, but knowing a given person’s default position will go a long way toward both retention and helping them to serve your mission the best. As a business leader, never forget the power that a highly motivated team can deliver.

Don’t Let the Wedding Ruin Your Marriage!

When you dreamt about your wedding as a child—and maybe even later on— you probably envisioned a beautiful white dress, wedding bells ringing and smiles all around while the bouquet is being tossed. You probably didn’t picture the possibility of the stress of planning the wedding itself reaching the point where much of the joy surrounding that special day disappears and actually becomes a burden on your relationship! While wedding planning can be an exciting time for you and your family, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re planning it in the first place. If you’re in the midst of planning your wedding, take a few minutes to remember it’s just a party and the main event happens after the honeymoon literally and perhaps figuratively ends. Don’t fall for some of the classic wedding mistakes many couples make that can wreak havoc on your relationship:

It’s a family affair-Some say a marriage is the joining of two families. This is lovely in theory; however, two families mean more opinions, agendas, and the possibility of clashing personalities. Family members can be at their worst when under the stress this can create. The priorities that exist for you and your partner can get lost when you’re trying to please too many people. To make matters worse, you might be drawn to defend your own family’s agenda, while your partner is doing the same, leading to arguments and conflict between the two of you. Remember, the wedding is a celebration of your love as a couple. If you find that you’re listening to your families more than to each other, make it essential to take some time on a regular basis to discuss what’s important to both of you for the wedding and in your relationship as it transitions to a lifelong commitment. In-laws can only be a problem here if either of you let them get between the two of you.

Getting lost in the details- Another common problem before walking down the aisle is getting too caught up in trivial details. If you’re obsessing over whether the tablecloths are eggshell or off-white, you might not be paying attention to the day-to-day nurturing your relationship needs. Just because you’ve made the decision to get married and made it past the engagement, doesn’t mean your relationship is without conflict. In reality, the best relationships are those where both partners realize the value in working on them on an ongoing basis. You may find it helpful to isolate wedding planning to a select time during the week. During other times, agree to make sure talk isn’t only wedding-related. Instead, stay connected to and focused on the other elements of each other’s lives.

Practice for the future-The stressful nature of planning a wedding gives you and your partner the opportunity to practice resolving many of the issues you will face as a couple. Learning how to compromise is essential. It’s quite rare to find two people who want the exact same things. There may need to be tradeoffs. One of you may want a band while the other wants a DJ. Maybe one partner wants a small wedding, while the other a very large one. When contemplating these differences, practice the art of compromise. For example, financial issues also come up while planning a wedding, as they are costly events. If you haven’t already, this is a good time to have a discussion about priorities when it comes to spending and saving money. If it turns out that you and your partner have very different ideas about how to handle money, the best time to address and resolve it is before the wedding!

Most of all, enjoy the day!-Entertaining out-of-towners, keeping track of your vendors and tracking the weather can be taxing. Trust me on this: When the wedding actually happens, the small details won’t really mean very much. During the reception, take a minute to step outside of the party with your new spouse and look in at the joyous occasion. Everyone is there to celebrate your love and wish you a happy and healthy future together. Most of all, don’t forget to have fun! And the best way to do this is to let your wedding day be one you look back on with positive feelings, by leaving all the trivial nonsense behind.

What Are You Waiting For? Make Changes in Your Life Today

If only you were less stressed, had more free time, felt better in general or with respect to a certain life area—what changes would now you make in your life? In my practice as a psychologist, I frequently hear people talking about waiting until they feel better, for example, to do something they’ve been wanting to; such as beginning the process of a career change or dealing with a glaring relationship issue. What do you tell yourself you’d do or change if only some ongoing state in your life were different? Perhaps you’d start dating or redo your resume, but believe that now isn’t the right time because you’re feeling down. Maybe in your case, you’d try a new hobby or take on a home project, but instead you postpone it because you’ve been feeling too anxious or overwhelmed. If any of these things resonate, ask yourself this simple question: “If not now, when?”

This is a fact: What you have the least direct control of are your feelings and emotions. What you do have control over are your behaviors, or the things you choose to do. In other words, if you wait for an emotion to change before taking some important action in your life, you could be waiting a very long time!  

So the best question to ask yourself is why won’t I do it now? What beliefs do you have that are holding you back and keeping you from making a  change or doing something you’ve been wanting to do?  Maybe you’re thinking “I can’t do it,” “I’ll wait until it’s easy,” or “I must be certain I won’t fail.”  Perhaps you’re believing “I must do it perfectly,” or “I need others to approve of my new life choices.”  Such beliefs, however, are not helpful. All they will do is keep you stuck in that rut.  If you don’t try taking piano lessons, you’ll never know how much playing the piano could have added to your quality of life.  If you wait until someone else pushes to you to go on a date, you may miss a potential long-term opportunity with a great person, or even just a fun night out.

The time to break out of the rut is now! So begin by choosing that one thing you’ve been waiting to accomplish and make an irrevocable commitment to start doing it now.  As a bonus, once you do what you’ve set out to, it’s very likely that the positive emotions—which are now eluding you— will follow.  Nothing can beat the rewards that come when you take control of your life and make the decision to move forward.  Today is the day to stop holding yourself   and just go for it!

So You’ve Broken Your New Year’s Resolutions…Now What?

It’s now been a few weeks since you set your goals for yourself for the upcoming year. Maybe you wanted to get in shape or eat healthier. Maybe you intended to manage some aspect of your finances better or start the process (resumes, networking, etc.) toward your next career move. If you’ve already found that your motivation to stick to those goals is waning, sure you can wait until late December and try the resolution route again for next year. But seriously, wouldn’t it be better to get focused now and ask yourself what do I really want to accomplish this year?

Now that you know what resolutions you won’t keep, which ones are you now actually ready —no, more importantly committed— to stick to and make happen for you? Make a list of the areas of your life that you feel could use some improvement or where you just don’t feel fully satisfied.  When you look at this list, which items are important enough to you to make a no nonsense commitment to change? Focus on only one or two of these things at a time. Trying to change everything all at once will practically guarantee that you’ll change nothing. Perhaps you’ve even experienced this principle already in 2013! Once you’ve identified which part of your life needs some tweaking or major change, set a few specific, reasonable and realistic goals that you are truly determined to reach. This time, think about whether you want to tell anyone else what your resolutions are. If sharing them with others helps you to reach them, tell anyone who will listen. If not, just keep them between you and yourself. In other words, it’s only your success that’s important, so use what works.


When you choose your resolutions, honor your uniqueness and never compare  yourself to others.  If your coworker or friend is going to the gym five times a week just like he or she set out to do, but you are struggling to make it there even once, it doesn’t matter.  Someone else’s goals are not necessarily realistic for you. The only truly valid comparison you can make is the one that compares yourself now, to your potential or what you can realistically become. This principle applies to any part of your life.


Next, visualize your goals.  If this area of your life were to be optimal, what specifically would it be?  What would be different now, next month, next year, in five years, 10 years, 20 years, or ultimately if you achieve the goal you are now setting?


If you find yourself getting off track, go back to this visualization.  If you truly want to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself, this image you have created of your optimal life situation with your goals met will keep you moving forward. And don’t forget – making a life change doesn’t have to happen at the beginning of the year.  You can absolutely set and reach goals for yourself to better your life at any time. However, don’t let this reality become a rationale for procrastination. Instead, remember it for the next goal and the one after that until your life is exactly what you want it to be. You have the capability to make any area of your life optimal. If you never forget that,  the possibilities are endless!

Be The Master of Your Emotions

Do you find that at times your emotions get the best of you? What do you usually do when you feel that you’re on the brink of a “meltdown”? Maybe you turn to someone else to console you or maybe you self medicate with drugs, alcohol or something less obvious like overwork. Perhaps at some point, these things no longer do the job and you’re unable to stay on your game because you’re too overwhelmed by emotions. If this is the case, maybe it’s time to learn how to bring the emotions themselves under your own control.

The good news is it’s never too late to start learning some skills to nurture yourself when you’re feeling under the gun or overly emotional. When you’re feeling distressed, and too consumed by a problem, it can be quite difficult to come up with a solution to make things better or at the very least get yourself feeling better about things. For those times, it can be extremely helpful to make a list that can become your own custom “toolbox” of ways to help yourself that you know will work for you.

During those times , you might want to try “activating your senses” as sources of comfort. For example, you can tap into your sense of touch by wrapping yourself up in a comfy blanket, cuddling with a pet, or snuggling up with a large body pillow and enjoy the feeling of being embraced. Maybe you can listen to a favorite song or the sounds of nature, focusing on the positive feelings you associate with those sounds or treat yourself to a soothing cup of tea to provide yourself feelings of warmth and comfort. As you do this, focus on taking in the different smells and savoring each sip. Even lighting a candle with a calming aroma can indulge your senses, which can help bring you to a place that feels more stable, grounded, and secure.

Another effective strategy is to imagine that you’re in a completely safe place; such as a beach, a lake or somewhere else that perhaps exists only on your imagination. Imagine in detail what it’s like to be in this safe, calm place. Focus on what you can see, hear, and feel. As you take in this image, allow your stress to fade away as the feelings of calm arise.   Once you have created this place in your mind, it’s a place you can easily return to whenever you’d like a feeling of calm or peace.

Your emotions don’t have to get your way! That’s the best news. The trick is to realize that you can gain mastery over your emotions rather than it being the other way around. As you discover more of your own techniques to sooth yourself effectively, add them to your list. Then put them to work when you need them the most.

It’s Passion That Blurs the Lines Separating Work and Play

According to Forbes, in 2012 only 50% of adults reported being satisfied with their jobs. Job dissatisfaction can greatly increase levels of anxiety, depression and stress. If this speaks to you, there are a variety of reasons why you may be dissatisfied with your job— ranging from disappointment with salary to feeling unchallenged in your work environment. In a difficult economic climate, it can be frightening or overwhelming to think about making a change. However, the good news is that finding the job you love, or loving the job you have may be within reach, because the main resources you need to achieve happiness in your career —or any other part of your life for that matter—reside within you.

As a psychologist, I have seen with great consistency that those who are committed to doing what they’re passionate about, find that money and opportunity follow. Thus, it’s important to connect with what your passion is, so that you can decide if your current job has the potential to allow your passion to flourish and expand. If not, it may be time to look within yourself and take the time to explore job and career options that will truly capitalize on your talents and passions.

With a career that’s personally gratifying, motivation comes from within you. Financial status, recognition, praise, and approval are certainly great, but no longer the driving forces responsible for your satisfaction.

If changing your job feels too frightening or is not possible at the current time, there may be ways to turn your current job into your dream job for now, or at least one you can tolerate while thinking about making a change. Once you’ve connected with what it is you’re missing, it will be easier to search for ways to make it happen for you. Examine your current job from a place of childlike curiosity. What opportunities for growth are available that you have not yet taken? Who can you connect with to enrich your daily experience? Are there creative ways to use your talents to do your job? Are there any obstacles, which contribute to your sense of unfulfillment that can be removed? If you ask these questions and still come up blank, a career or job change may be in order.

If you are ready for a career change, use those resources within yourself to think outside the box. For example, look to the ways in which you play (hobbies, pleasurable activities and interests) to begin connecting with what you truly enjoy. What activities allow you to feel best about yourself? If you had all of the time and money you could ever possibly need, what would you do then with your life? Asking yourself these “what do I really want?” themed questions will allow you to be more creative in identifying a career path to pursue that will be in line with your personal passions.

Recognize that no two people have the same talents and desires. Looking within yourself rather than outside of yourself will help you find many ways to blur the lines that separate work and play. Your inner resources are available to you twenty-four hours a day. With your commitment and a few strategies to access them, you —or anyone for that matter—can be living a life governed by your passions very quickly!

When the work that you do is the work that you love, not only will it come easier to you, but you will feel more aligned with your purpose as well as more satisfied, engaged, fulfilled, and inspired in your daily life.

5 Ways to Improve Your Social Life as an Adult

Every milestone in your life comes with meeting new people.  As you get older, it can be harder to make and maintain friendships than it was when you were a kid.  As a child, you were probably surrounded by peers at school day after day.  Perhaps you were involved in activities where you could easily connect with friends who had similar interests.  Merely playing together at recess was likely enough for you to foster the roots of a long lasting friendship.

As an adult, there’s no longer a cafeteria table for you to sit at or after school activities for you to attend with the same people everyday.  As you become involved with life’s many obligations like making a living or taking care of children, friendships might fall by the wayside.  Over time, relationships may grow apart for a number of different reasons.  Since close friendships are associated with positive outcomes through life transitions1, promoting self-esteem and wellbeing2, don’t neglect this important area of your life! If you’re feeling like your current friendships are less fulfilling than you might like, try some of these strategies to make and keep new friendships.

  • Surround yourself with likeminded people- Get involved with something in your community where you can find others who have similar interests.  This could be volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about, signing up for a sports league, or taking a class on a topic you’re interested in.  Chances are there will be at least one person to connect and you’ll easily have things in common to talk about!
  • Put yourself out there- It’s not easy to make an initial contact with potential friends.  Get used to making small talk throughout your day.  Put on a smile, and make contact with as many people as you can.  You never know where you’ll find your next close friendship.
  • Use social media-You might have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but struggle to think of one person to call in the midst of a crisis.  Using social media is a great way to reconnect with old friends or acquaintances.  It’s easy to see who’s in your area to get together with.  Online forums are also excellent outlets to find people in your area with similar interests.
  • Take a genuine interest-Once you have made initial contact with a new person, it’s important to take a true interest in who they are and what they’re all about.   Ask questions and truly listen to what others have to say.
  • Be patient-Don’t expect to have a new BFF overnight.  It will likely take many encounters with one person to start feeling like friends.  Give it time.  Once you find someone you’d like to get to know a little better, put in the effort get together over multiple occasions and watch the friendship grow!

Friendships are a unique part of the human experience and with a little time and energy you can build your community to feel more connected and cared for!


1. Hartup, W. W. (1996). The company they keep: Friendships and their developmental significance. Child Development, 67, 1-13.
2. Hartup, W. W., & Stevens, N. (1999). Friendships and adaptation across the lifespan. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8, 76-79.