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Friendship: Activities Model / Thy Kingdom Come

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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November 19, 2013


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An Activities Model Creates an ‘Island’ Where You and Your Friends Spend Memorable Times Together.

The first part of the social game plan is the activities model. Start with the end in mind. What do you want to achieve? Will two good friends be enough or do you want a large circle of friends as well as a few good friends?

Next, create an activities model. Give some thought to the next twelve months and contemplate what events you will host and attend. What social settings do you enjoy most? What social situations do you thrive in? For me I love to entertain friends at my home and host large board game parties and comedy parties.

Shotgun or Sniper Approach or Both

Before we get to the model you might like to consider whether you’re going to do a shotgun approach or a sniper approach to usher people into your model. I initially started off with the shotgun approach. I don’t regret doing it as it taught me a lot. However, the problem with it is that it is a much longer road to achieving the kind of goal this site is all about. If you do it be mindful of your stamina. At one point during the latter half of the first Project Fellowship I felt the wind go out of my sails.

If I were to start another Project Fellowship I would first do the sniper approach then move on to the shotgun approach if I hadn’t achieved my goal.

The sniper approach focuses on people who have a lot in common with you. They are around your own age, have the same marital status as you as well as the same interests and so on. To put it another way people who share a lot of common ground with you.

What are your friends interested in?

If you have a current circle of friends keep in mind the kind of events they are interested in. Zero in on the best social opportunities in your area. For those events you are not hosting choose optimal ones to attend if possible. For example, there are many hiking groups in the city I live in. I would consider a large group that often has new people attending around my age to be optimal.

Take the time to visit new groups. In so doing, you may discover a treasure trove or oasis. By that I mean a group of people whose company you enjoy a great deal and who you get along with very well.

Now and then host or attend a different kind of event. You may end up stumbling across something you really like doing much the same way as I discovered board gaming.

If you are married with a kid and a bit short on free time consider getting together with other families for a trip to the zoo, a picnic or a beach party.

Public or Private Events?

If you are going to host your own events consider whether they will be public, semi-private or private. I have done all three but I prefer hosting semi-private / private parties and events. That way I have more control over who comes to them. This will be the subject of a new post soon.

By semi-private I mean I first make a list of people I want to invite and if there is room for more I will make it public.

For those people who are on the receiving end of a lot of social indifference and are tired of passive friends be mindful of one of the problems associated with hosting certain kinds of public events. Let’s say you start a squash club and make it public. Within a few months you have 20 people on your list and you are renting as many courts as you can. However, you may find that most of the people coming to play turn out to be passive friends who only really come because they like to play squash. The moment you stop holding the event you never hear from them again. That’s far from an ideal outcome if you are earnestly seeking good friends.

Island Exercise: Creating Your Activities Model

A good way to come up with your activities model is to think of your life as an island. What is your island like and what activities can one do there? Ideally, check out what clubs and activity groups there are in your area as well as nice places to visit before you do this. Have a list of things that you can ‘drag and drop’ onto your island. Then consider what kind of things you are interested in and would like to do with your friends.

Describe your island and it’s activities as though it was a real island. Here’s an example description that you might like to base yours on. “It’s an island noted for it beauty and the warmth and enthusiasm of the locals. There are some fine beaches where barbecues and beach volleyball are sometimes held. Hiking trails take you to some beautiful scenic locations. Here you can admire the view from the tea houses and garden coffee shops.”

“There are many restaurants around the island offering great dining experiences. One can see the latest movies at one of the cinemas. There are a number of places worth visiting on the island. Saint Lucia with it’s scenic views, tea houses and interesting alley ways. Roxton where people walk along the riverside and socialize.”

“On this beautiful island many events are held including scuba-diving, fishing, camping, barbecues, squash and hiking. The owner of the island is noted for his golden hospitality and often hosts events in his home like movie nights, chess events and dinner parties.”

You may also like to draw your island or put together a picture mural to represent it.

Keep in mind that some activities are less of a draw than others. Just about everyone I know would be up for a comedy party where I’m serving red wine and cheese. A number of people I know, however, are not into board games.

Melinda’s Game Plan

You can also write a simpler, more personal kind of game plan. For example, Melinda is in her late teens and attending college. She is rather timid and introverted and her friendship situation is somewhat bleak. She decides to make an effort to make some friends.

Here is what she wrote. “I’d like to have several friends and at least one close friend. I want friends who can show me at least a little interest, enthusiasm and warmth. I want to feel as though I belong to a certain group of people where I’m welcomed, appreciated and fit in.”

“I will make an effort to be more outgoing.The first thing I will do is invite Ben, Eric, Michelle, Sarah and Tina over for a movie. I will join the flower arranging class that Sally goes to and go on the monthly hike with Stephen and his friends. I will check out a few art classes I’ve heard of and enroll in one of them. I will also look for a group of artists that meet-up to socialize and hang out with them a bit before the end of this month.”

“I will attend some parties, host small events and take the initiative to introduce myself confidently. Fake it till you make it! I must also improve my conversational skills as I’m far too quiet when I’m with people. I’ll pick up a book next week about conversing with others socially and pay more attention to the conversations I hear.” I’ll open a facebook account and connect with some people that way.”

She puts the file onto her cell phone and sets a few alarms on her calendar to remind her of her game plan.

Activation Circles

A small additional exercise are Activation Circles. Simply take a note of activities that you usually do by yourself. Which solitary activities could you invite friends to join you for? Do you usually only go to see a movie with your significant other? Do you eat out or go for a walk in the park alone? You might consider inviting some friends to join you now and then for these activities.

If you are doing the island exercise or simply writing out a plan of action make a note of your activation circles by writing something like, @ movies, @ restaurants.

Visit the Islands Your Friends Have Created, Too.

Don’t be too caught up in this world you have created. I remember back in the first Project Fellowship that a good friend of mine wasn’t responding well to my invites. I wish I had of visited his ‘island’ more often. At the time though I was so single minded about Project Fellowship that I seldom did.

Sweet Spot Activities

The other thing is allow yourself time to check out new groups and go to different kinds of events. In so doing, you may discover a sweet spot. It might be an activity you love doing with others and that you may have never discovered had it not been for adventuring out. It could be finding a group of people that you really enjoy being around. Sweet spots are a great social experience.
 
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