I love Ariana Huffington’s “12 Steps to Thrive” infographic. I have this image saved on my desktop and I look at it every now and then. I get a sense check of what I am doing well and where I need to make more effort.
The last time I checked-in with this nifty tool for thriving, I observed that I was doing well on sleep, movement and meditation but I could be much more of a thriver if I focused on, for example, connecting more deeply with others.
Step 11 in the diagram reads as follows: Make a personal connection to people you might normally take for granted. This will make you feel more alive and reconnected. Restoring connection is not just for devices, it is for people too.
This got me thinking. How can I ritualise making personal connections at work and in my personal life so that it becomes a part of my daily routine?
As they say, the way you spend your day is the way you spend your life. So, if making personal connections is a long-term goal, I need to find a way to get it into my every day. Easy to say but incredibly hard to do especially if your schedule is already packed and you are trying to squeeze in something more.
Creating more waking hours in the day is out of the question (especially if you are prioritising sleep), therefore the only option is to make better use of my existing time. I came up with two ideas that I have started experimenting with.
The first idea is to call a different friend or family member every evening on my drive back home from the office. It could be a quick five-minute call or last a bit longer depending on my mood. This would mean I had to switch off from the office (at least for a bit) when I left rather than continuing to check e-mails and be available for work calls.
The only rule I made is that if the first person I tried didn’t pick up, I had to keep dialing others until I reached someone who has some time to speak (a hard ask in itself!).
Well, I’ve tried it for a few weeks and I’m delighted to report that it’s certainly lifted my spirits on my way home. It helps in leaving the stress behind and it usually helps me arrive home in a much cheerier mood. Of course, a phone call is no substitute for a face to face connection but it’s at least much better than no time for a connection at all.
The second idea is lunch time at work. I’m a creature of habit and tend to eat the same food around the same time at the same location (sadly, my desk). It was time to shake this up. Not only is eating at your desk a no-no for mindful eating, it is also terribly anti-social.
The solution: join the community lunch table on the terrace at work. Or grab a colleague and share lunch a bit earlier or later than everyone else for a one on one connect. I’m already starting to see the great benefits of getting out of my personal space at lunch and being more social. New perspectives, new ideas, new insights into the lives (and loves!) of others have been emerging. All very useful fodder for creativity.
Will this just be a fad, or will I succeed in embedding time for personal connections in my routine? Only time will tell, but I’m certainly giving it my very best effort. I hope this inspires you to do invest in personal connections to boost your sense of well-being.
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