At the beginning of 2020, I was successfully serving women around the country as a life coach, excited to have my first book released in the Fall and anticipating both of my kids leaving for college on opposite coasts for Fall semester. My husband of 23 years and I were set to become empty nesters. 2020 was our year of big and exciting changes. And while 2020 has proven to be a new and different year, it certainly is not new and different in the way any of us had ever planned. I’ve had to remind myself several times this year that the biggest and most profound growth in my life has always come from life’s unexpected struggles.
There were times this year when I’ve had to dig deep to stay positive and not allow the weight of the pandemic and the countless horrific daily news stories to get me down. While my work energizes me, I realized more than ever that I also need social connection to fill my cup. Given that there is a high correlation between relationships, happiness, and longevity, I’m not surprised that when our country went into various stages of social distancing, we saw rates of depression and suicide increase. The Blue Zones and similar longevity and happiness studies outline the need for social connection to maintain a life filled with purpose and happiness. But how do you cultivate and nourish friendships in 2020?
It takes intention. Before the pandemic, over the course of a year, I challenged myself to set one-on-one dates with 50 women who were in my life to simply share with them what they’ve brought to my life – these dates have become part of the movement known as the #5050friendshipflowchallenge. The movement challenges each of us to commit to one-on-one meetings with friends over a course of a year, not necessarily 50 friends but a commitment to meet with 5, 10, or 20 friends for the sole purpose of letting them know what they have brought to your life.
Realizing how powerful the meetings were for me and feeling isolated through the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to repeat the challenge, but this time over Zoom. These calls have kept my connections and have nurtured my relationships during this time of social distancing. I have an opportunity to listen and learn from my friends’ own life experiences. During the current Zoom round of the challenge, I have chosen to ask each friend, “What is the mess that became your message?” Hearing their stories has reminded me that this year is one of those life messes for many of us and to recognize that through the messes, the greatest opportunities and messages may just arise.
The 50/50 Friendship Flow Challenge:
- Set a date. One on one.
- Set your intention and let go of ego.
- Share your admiration and your observations.
- Ask questions.
- Finally, write it down, take a photo, keep a journal, and capture the moment.
Originally Published in bizjournals.com on November 4, 2020