Three Steps to Building Community

Three Steps to Building Community

Three Steps to Building Community

Building your community truly consists of 3 simple steps. Simple to understand steps. 

      • Doing what you LOVE
      • Dating the community
      • Choosing vs. Settling

The goal of these steps is to take advantage of the clean slate of relocation and only invite into life that which serves and supports the life desired.

Doing what You LOVE

Doing what you love is just that, seeking out what you like to do in the new community.  That is where you will find others, here, who love what you love. 

These activities can be found on programs like MeetUp, at businesses (riding clubs from a bike shop), through the chamber of commerce, the local parks and rec department, the library, and churches.  The last two Jazzercise groups I found were at a local church and the other was a city recreation center.  You never know.  Look everywhere.

Whether you want to play in an orchestra, do volunteer career counseling, train for a marathon, learn a language or hang out with other people who read Brene Brown, these activities are everywhere.  It is important to not assume they are only in one type of place. 

Doing what you love vs. trying something new

Participate in an activity you already know and love. This makes every outing into the new community a rewarding experience.  Regardless of whether the people you meet are friendship material or not, you do something you love.  This makes finding friend prospects a bonus.

Yes, the point here is to meet other people. However, we can never count on our future friends to be there. We cannot count on our tribe revealing themselves to us in a first meeting.

When interacting with the community early on, choosing activities we already know we like allows us to control the experience and therefore our expectations. We walk in knowing, we have a win.  We do not depend on other people for our happiness or contentment.  In the early months of relocation, this can become an obsessive focus.  When we count on ourselves and we can create joy regardless of others actions or interest.

That joy we create within ourselves will ultimately will be what attracts new friends to us.

Dating the Community

The idea of dating the community can be off putting, perhaps exhausting.  Like we need one more thing, one more unknown to suck energy from us during relocation.

But that is why you start with what you love.  The second reason to begin with what you love is because in order to figure out which of these people would be good friends for you, you must spend time with them.

Finding a friend is not like seeing your soul mate friend across the room. 

Your eyes meet and both of you are struck with the thought, “That is my new best friend.”  From that point on both of you have a friend to do everything with.  That is only a Hallmark movie type of things…and in that case romantic.

One of the things I learned over my many relocations is that “Friendships Don’t just Happen”.  That is also an enlightening book by Shasta Nelson.  Friendships take time, an investment on both sides. 

I know THAT is not what you want, especially if the boxes are unpacked and everyone else int he family is plugged in.  At this point, you are wondering if all there is anything more to life than dishes and laundry.  With your actual friends being across the county or on the other side of the world that exhaustion can just set in with a side of why bother.

But bother, you must.  You can do this.  And in your heart of hearts, you know how you will feel on the other side.  Those friends so many miles away are proof of that, so let’s get started.

Invites and more invites

Invitations extending outward, not toward you…unless you happen to move to Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama then you might receive a few.  Most of the invitations will be from you to others.

As you extend invitations know that the first obstacle is the busy established lives of others.  They are in a groove.  Most people and families have each week laid out roughly as to what happens where they go and what they do.  Breaking into that will take some time.  No matter how lovely or enticing your invitation, that schedule must be shifted and morphed to accommodate a new activity or invitation no matter how small.

This is both a practical and mental shift for the people you are reaching out to.  Both of which affect those weekly activity expectations.  Rarely do the delays or nos mean anything about the activity or you.  As with many things it has to do with them.

With these delays, nos and perhaps last minute cancellations again it is important to schedule the first couple of “dates” with what you LOVE.  And if there is a cancellation, you still have something happy making to do.

Keep inviting and manage your expectations.  We have to meet people and spend time with people to create relationships.  Those invitation will lead to the dates.

Time equals Connection

When I was struggling to connect in my last city, I decided to research what this was all about.  I wanted to figure out why I was having so much trouble.  It had been 4 years by this point. Was it me or was it them?  Was it this community?

In my research I came across a book called Connecting: The power of Female friendships by Sandy Sheehy.  The relationship concept in the book changes how I looked at the place I had landed.

What I learned through “Connecting” was that in order to connect with people, in order to form relationships I needed to spend time with people.  We needed to have shared experiences and through that a relationship could find its footing.  Without time or shared experiences nothing could be formed.  I was expecting that Hallmark movie type connection when that didn’t exist in my world and especially not in the culture I had relocated to.

Which takes us back again to doing what you love.  Doing what you love provides that shared experience in a safe non-pressure environment for everyone.  No one has expectations except for doing that activity.  This is important because when our only goal is to make a friend, that is a bit creepy and just about every person picks up on that.

We have to let people get to know us in a safe and unpressured way.  We can only do this through dating.  I wish I had another word for that but that is what it is.

And the last words on dating your community…please take your time.

Choosing not Settling

In that first few months of relocation, and if it drags on the first couple of relocation years, when we are not connected and we are still feeling like a flag blown off its flag pole tossing in the wind, we can get desperate. 

This is a place that we make poor decision.  Poor decisions about what we do and who we let into our lives.

Being desperate for a “friend” leads us to settle for any warm body that will meet our need for connection.  We settle for that who without considering the effect they have on us and our family.

When we settle for someone who does not fit who we are or our lives the results are everywhere.  We can see them and so can our family. 

You know you have settled when:

      • That friend date has been exhausting
      • It has been all give and serving
      • Even doing what you love is draining
      • You are agreeing to things you never would have before
      • Or you no longer do what you want to do

Consciously Choosing

We all think that all the people in our lives are all there by our choice. But there are many who just kind of got in.  And they are not too annoying or harmful to kick out. So it becomes easier to just let them stay.

However, it is time to not live like that anymore.  There are no shoulds in relocation because of the clean slate, which creates a wide-open opportunity to choose everything.  So, choose according to who you are and what you love.

If you are having trouble figuring out what you want go back to the 3 Step Relocation Workbook and work through the 1st section again.  Sometimes we as wives and mothers have spent so much time taking care and managing our families that we do not know what we want in people anymore.  We cannot identity who would really work best for us.

Ultimately, the people and the new activities that are best for us are those that encourage and support us to become more of who we are.  These people and activities help us grow in our ability to positively impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

We know they are good for us because we pouring into them are creating energy for us not depleting us.  And though giving and taking is not an even 50/50, there is enough give and take that both sides benefit from the relationship.

Use Dating the Community time to test all of this, so that you create your interdependent tribe who freely give, receive and support each other in alignment with your needs and values.

ReloWomen Podcast

On Thursday we will continue this discussion with an interview from Tania Thomas, a serial relocating woman who has lived in multiple countries since she was a little girl.  Tania grew up with the world as her community.  Listen in as she talk about developing community and its impact on her relocations.

Available on Apple Podcast, Spotify and other podcast players.  ReloWomen Podcast.

Have a wonderful week!  For more on Building community and all things relocation explore more here on ReloWomen!

Another Friendship  Blog:
https://relowomen.com/relocation-the-whos-the-void-and-the-friend/

RELOCATION: Building a Personal Support System

(c) Aleksandrl | Dreamstime.comBuilding a personal support system after relocation is KEY to adapting, creating a sense of community and finding your place.  It provides the connections, information and daily expectations.

Personal Support System Defined: a community based network of family, friends, acquaintances and known partners (mechanics/contractors/medical/teachers/etc.) that provide regular or known assistance, knowledge and encouragement.

This takes how long??

Building it as needed?  12 to 18 months.   That’s quite while.

The dry cleaner is asked about local Indian restaurants.  The PTA Membership chair leads the family through Gifted and Talented testing.  The neighbor’s kid watches the dog for that weekend trip to Florida.  It gets done but SLOWLY.

AGAIN, I’m Exhausted??  After relocating across country, finding housing, unpacking,  and trying to learn the local processes…you are spent.  You don’t have 18 months of energy.

NETWORKING!!! Not Excited? It may seem like a lot of work after the last few months, but you have already started.  But with a system, this necessary system can be created in 6 months or less.

So let’s take a look at the process.

    1. Participating & meeting people
    2. Keeping track of people
    3. Extending invitations
    4. Building relationships
    5. All types

Starting with Fun:

You have had enough work, it’s time for a bit of fun?  What do you like to do?  Cook, run, bunco, write, take photos, play the piano or help others?

This is the time where you explore your community with abandon.  Being new to town has a number of advantages.  With no time schedule or obligations, this open time presents endless opportunities to explore and find what you love, or might love to do.

Check out my blog post RELOCATION: Search and find what you LOVE! for search ideas and groups to start with.

All those people: 

Everywhere you go  you will meet new people, at school,  yoga or even playing the piano at the local nursing home.  Strike up a conversation and keep a journal.  A little notebook and pen that will fit easily in a pocket or a purse is all you need to keep track of your new people.

Even though most will not be a “BEST Friend”, remembering their names and something about them will be a blessing to them.  This will bring a smile increase your connection, and in the end, make you feel known and appreciated too.

In the beginning, this is especially important for your sanity.

How about coffee?

Extending an invitation can be a bit intimidating.  None of us like to be rejected, however, it’s most likely not rejection.  It’s only a busy life you are competing with.

My Daughter-in-Law relocated 1873 miles across country last year.  She and the family had only been in Atlanta for 2 years and now found themselves in Salt Lake City.  Even though she was somewhat practiced at creating her network, she again found it difficult to get a yes to any invitation.  Coffee, play dates or meet at the park?  Frankly, it took a while.

She kept asking though.  They participated in some of the HOA events and even became a room mom at school.  This was so outside of her comfort zone, being more of an introvert, however, she kept asking and participating knowing this is where her support system was going to come from.  Once she got to know these ladies on this level, she started to hear yes for activities outside of these groups.

(c) Aleksandrl | Dreamstime.com

It takes time:

Relationships are built by time and shared experiences.  That is why my Daughter-in-Law decided to start where she was already.  She was there at drop off and pick up. She was going to the HOA pool with the kids. Everywhere my daughter-in-law went, she an effort to meet as many moms in a similar life stage as she could.

Everyone is not a “bestie”, but everyone has the potential to be a connection to the community.  By spending time then you know what type of friend they are.

Connections found:

As you already know by this point, there are different types of friends.  Those you see at school drop-off and have a quick conversation, those you can cry on their shoulders and even those you can travel with.https://www.shastanelson.com/friendships-dont-just-happen/Every friend does not fill every box.  In the book, Friendships don’t just happen by Shasta Nelson, she talks about the different Circles of Connectedness.

  • Connect Friends
  • Common Friends
  • Confirmed Friends
  • Community Friends
  • Committed Friends

Shasta talks about life after relocation and divorce.  She talks about walking by a group of laughing women lunching on a patio, like Sex in the City, and desperately wanting to go over and ask, “Will you be my friend too!!”

With focus and planning though, you will be deep in the community in less than 6 months.  Keep track of that little notebook.  And as they say,

“wash, rinse and repeat”

Efficiently building a Personal Support System is key to the relocation process because having this in place gets the whole family gets back to living.  It takes time and repetition, but will settle the family while finding new things to explore.  Keep you head up!  Life will become normal.


Next week look for  RELOCATION: Maslow’s hierarchy and you ~ moving up to self-actualization and meeting your needs after helping everyone else.

If you need more explanation OR you have moved and don’t know where to start email us at  questions@relomoms.com as well as join the email list.  We love to help!!

Have a great week and see you next week.