Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that community and making my neighbourhood a better place to live is a huge part of my being. Unfortunately as I get busier with my business I find that I don’t have the time to organize things around my neighbourhood that I once did. Now my friends Tabitha and Melanie are the ones that keep us together as neighbours and friends way more than myself for sure!
Isolation is a problem that effects entrepreneurs the hardest (along with seniors).
Many of us small biz folk have home offices and once our kids start school, we spend a lot of time ALONE. I often wonder if this is gender related? Do men who work from home have the same issues? Do we feel plagued by the same sense of responsibility to stay equally on top of household and business duties? We all get so busy throughout the year that it makes seeing friends and family challenging and seems to be creeping in to take over the whole year if we aren’t careful. We lack boundaries – holidays are no longer real holidays. Weekends are no longer real weekends. My corporate friends might accuse me of being self absorbed like Gwyneth Paltrow who states she has it harder then most moms that work 9-5
I remember months ago being so angry with myself. I had complimentary tickets to the Art of Leadership Conference for Women. I made arrangements to go with two of my wonderful entrepreneurial friends, Doris and Patti. I remember being mortified that as the day crept on it was apparent I was not going to make it. It started with me texting Doris updates. At the time, I felt overwhelmed with deadlines. I couldn’t see how I could make it. I felt stupid for not having my sh*t together. I remember Patti saying to me weeks later, when I couldn’t make a lunch, that I needed to get out more often. It makes me laugh considering that I run a social network for women. What a fraud I am. I turn down dates for lunch far too often (my beloved Kathy Buckworth) because I find that I can never find enough hours in the day to work due to juggling a schedule of parenting and wife – ing duties.
I can almost hear you laughing at wife-ing duties but marriages suffer the most due to lack of time for each other. My marriage last year was in rough shape so I vowed after reading “Getting the Love You Want” to place a real importance on giving to my husband. Call me corny but it seems to working. Focusing a little less on me all the time and little more on his needs is good for me. Being an entrepreneur can make you a little self absorbed sometimes because you make so hard to make it all come together all by yourself.
I decide my family had to take priority so I would choose that over a social life this year. The problem is though that according to research we need to have a network larger then just family and spouses.
A new perspective on the importance of a good network – with some interesting tidbits from the article:
The end of neighbours – How our increasingly closed-off lives are poisoning our politics and endangering our health
“It’s a new day in the neighbourhood all across the Western world. More than 30 per cent of Canadians now say they feel disconnected from their neighbours, while half of Americans admit they don’t know the names of theirs. An Australian sociologist investigating community responses in the wake of the 2011 floods in Queensland found relations in “a precarious balance”; neighbours were hesitant to intrude even in emergencies—leading the scholar to conclude that “we are less likely than ever to know” our neighbours. Quite right, too: A recent poll of 2,000 Britons found a third declaring they couldn’t pick their near neighbours out of a police lineup.”
So here is where the health part comes in:
“Two new books, The Vanishing Neighbor by Marc Dunkelman, and Susan Pinker’s forthcoming The Village Effect, mine the data and sound loud warnings. The health aspects are alarming enough for Pinker, a Montreal-based developmental psychologist, to have changed her own habits of a lifetime. She argues that humans need face-to-face contact, as they need air and water. We have evolved for it, to the extent that those surrounded by a tight-knit group of friends who regularly gather to eat—and, crucially, gossip—live an average of 15 years longer than loners. Quality face-to-face contact is essential for a social species, Pinker writes, citing research that shows it fortifies immune systems, calibrates hormones and increases chances of surviving heart attacks, strokes, AIDS and cancer. “People with the most integrated social lives—overlapping relationships among friends, family, sports and other recreational or religious pursuits—have the best prognoses,” with the most life-threatening diseases. It’s true even with dementia: A 2004 Swedish study found its lowest prevalence among those with the most extensive social networks.“
Wow. There’s more:
“For decades, Americans and Canadians have been steadily less likely to vote, to play bridge, to volunteer, to invite people over for dinner, to join parent-teacher groups or local organizations the way previous generations did—from the Rotary Club to bowling leagues. Family remains strong, possibly because, in the solo age, even very close relatives are not living under one roof. Between the mid-1990s and 2008, the percentage of Americans who reported eating at least once a month with relatives with whom they didn’t live rose from 52 to 59. Over a longer period (1974 to 2008), the percentage who spent an evening socializing with neighbours tumbled from 44 to 31, while the percentage who never did so rose from 20 to 30.
So how big of a network can we handle?
About 150, calculated Dunbar.
It’s a number that reverberates in human history: the approximate size of modern hunter-gatherer bands and agricultural villages from Neolithic times until the present, including contemporary Amish settlements; the size of effective military units; the number of employees a company can manage without rigid hierarchies; even the number of Christmas-card recipients on a typical list. What it means today, says Dunkelman, “is that our capacity to reach out may be infinite, but our capacity to make something meaningful of it is not; we only have a certain-sized bucket of social capital, a limited number of cognitive slots.”
So now what? Start small.
Neighbourhood love sounds too much for you (but do know that a connected neighbourhood keeps you safe and happy – plus you can walk home after a few drinks!) ? Then, start with your friends:
This showed up in my in box this morning fresh from Marie TV about how to deal with friend guilt and ways to overcome it too.
Here are her tips:
- DBRC– Death Bed Reality Check – good for deciding what is most important. Ask will I care about whatever seems most pressing and stressful in 1 week, 1 month , 1 year? Adds perspective when asking can I take a break.
- NGA – No Guilt Agreement. So critical with friends and family eh?
- TYF – Train your friends – respect each others limits. When calling – do you have time to talk? Know the difference between when a friend needs you urgently and when it can wait.
- NNFT – Non negotiable friend time. Put in the calendar. What gets scheduled actually happens – most times (see number 2 – flexibility is key)
Okay those are great tips but I am really feeling isolated when my friends are at work. What about that?
Good point. I gotcha ya. Okay. I have yet to master this or any of this by any means but here are a few things that you might want to consider:
- Have music playing in your office. Done that and feeling less lonely and more pumped. I bought a radio ipod speaker thing and it charges my phone, displays the time and keeps me bouncy.
- Exercise. Get to the gym. Run/walk where you will see other civilization. I can’t wait to tell you about the story of how I land on TV from a run on the Lakeshore. It is top secret but very funny.
- Consider a co-working space. There are tons of them out there – google it! Even just for the occasional meeting
- Join a place like the Spoke Club where you belong to a place where you actually have a name. They plan lots of networking events and it is helpful to belong to a place where you can have a fancy business lunch to impress those new clients 🙂 – NOTE: new members of WIBN get a free 1 month pass to check out the Spoke Club. Inquire with me and I will hook you up.
- Join a business association like Women in Biz Network
- Attend a conference or social event like the Passion to Profit Conference on October 20th
- Pick up the phone and call someone
- What are some other suggestions. Leave a note in the comments
Bottom line is just do something.
Anything to feel less alone. Even if it is just talking about how your friends or connections manage to have a social life better than yours!
Women in Technology Careers Face Many Barriers
Watch our Women in Biz Network Presentation on the journey of two women tech leaders and review resources from the Women in Biz Network Author-Led Book Club featuring Debra Chrismas and Kelley Irwin's book Please Stay. How Women in Tech Survive and Thrive. We'll be sure to invite you to our next book club.