2021 was a weird year. Vaccines and boosters opened up more opportunities for social gathering, but the pandemic is still very much a thing, and it's tough to break out of inertia and start making friends. After a long time of social distancing and forgetting how to make small talk, breaking out of your shell can feel harder than ever.
The good news is that changing your life still follows the same rules it always did. Start small. Do a little bit, but do it consistently. Keep at it. And when you feel stuck, give yourself permission to start over.
So this is your permission. If you feel trapped, if you feel caught in a rut, let January 1st be day one of something new.
Okay, Daniel you might be saying. That sounds great, but how, exactly?
It's simple. Not easy, exactly. But simple.
First, think of a time in your life when you had a positive social experience.
Doesn't have to be a perfect experience, just one that was fun and satisfying. Ideally it's a recent memory, but if you need to go back a ways to find a good memory, that's okay too.
Second, ask yourself what you could do to make that sort of experience happen more often.
If you remember a game night with friends that was pretty fun, could you invite those friends to meet up again? If you really loved discussing literature with your friends in college, could you look for a local book club?
If it doesn't feel like there's anything you can do, try to think smaller. Ask yourself: "Is there anything I could do that would make it even 1% more likely another positive social experience would happen?" For instance, if your anxiety feels overwhelming, maybe you could spend 10 minutes reading tips on managing anxiety. Or if you have no idea whatsoever how to have a good conversation, maybe you could practice asking one friendly question (like "How is your day going?") to a cashier or barista.
These actions won't instantly give you a perfect social life. But they'll create at least a small opportunity for improvement. And the more you do them, the more that opportunity grows over time. Which leads us to:
Third: Make a commitment to yourself of some action that will increase your chances of having more joyful social experiences. Maybe it's a small daily commitment, like taking ten minutes a day to read social skills tips. Maybe it's a larger commitment, like going to one new social group each week. Maybe it's the commitment to go to therapy or finally ask a loved one for some help.
Whatever it is, choose it.
You can call this a New Year's Resolution if you want - I think there is some power in starting fresh with a New Year. Or you can just have it be a commitment to yourself. Whatever works the best for you.
And hey - you don't have to do this alone. I'd love for you to share your New Year's Resolutions with me by commenting on this post. I'll use them to think of new content I can create in the new year to support you and (if you give permission) I might reach out to you in a few months to see how things are going.
Let's make 2022 your best social year yet!