The 4-Week Consistency Challenge

I tend to do most of my reflection and goal-setting around my birthday every September more than I do around New Years; but without fail, something about January & February calls me to more routine, organization and simplicity. Organizing for our Energy Ironically, our energy seems to increase in what seems initially like counter-intuitive ways. While your temptation might be to step back from a schedule in order to find more energy, research says that the more routine we have in place, the less energy it takes to do what's important to us! So it's not about staying busy, but about creating a routine that regularly invites us to do the things we say are important to us. The more consistent the routine, the higher the pay-off and the less energy it takes from us.

Research shows you're more likely to work out if you do it at the same time every day rather than wait to feel the inspiration. It takes less energy to attend church regularly (because you end up planning your life around it) than it does to attend occasionally (because then you have to fit it into an already full weekend). It takes no more energy to bake an entire pan of brownies than it does to bake one, but obviously you have more to show at the end of one over the other. Sometimes stepping into more costs you little and gives you much.

I have benefited from this principle when it comes to establishing meaningful friendships in huge ways and can vouch that having it scheduled ensures maximum energy input, with minimal output.

Scheduling for our Friendships Every Tuesday night in my world is Girls Night. What that means is that there are five of us (who didn't all know each other when we started) who have committed to carving this into our lives each week. We switch homes weekly and the hostess makes the entree and everyone else bringing wine, dessert, cheese/bread & salad.

If I simply tried to get us all together without that schedule-- it would probably take a minimum of a dozen emails to find out everyone's schedule and it probably would have to be scheduled three weeks out to find a time that works for us all. Someone would also have to feel the pressure to come up with the plan, organizing an activity or restaurant. Each girl then would have to plan around this new and intruding event-- the moms finding baby-sitters, the office workers stressed about trying to get out on time, everyone feeling this big event and pouring emotional energy into anticipating it.

But simply placing it on the calendar every week actually takes less energy. All those planning details repeat themselves automatically-- so the effort actually decreases AND the benefits actually increase since our conversations become more consistent and intimate due to the regularity.

The things you do regularly benefit you the most. With a decreasing cost to you.

Schedule 4 Weeks of Friendship in February! Friendships do not happen easily when you see each other once a month haphazardly. They happen when you see each other over-and-over. It's why making friends in school felt easier. It's why we bond with people at work. It's why all friendship experts are constantly encouraging you to join something-- a book club, a network association, a cause.

This February, experiment with regularity. There are four weeks in the month so come up with a creative way to build up your friendships with a weekly get-together.

Three Planning Tips:

  1. Keep it the same all 4 Weeks: Don't use up your limited energy being too creative-- people like familiarity. Make it Taco Tuesday every week. Sunday Soup Night. Monday Happy Hour. Plan it once and reap the benefits of those plans all four weeks.
  2. Invite women you'd like to get to know better. If you know a lot of people-- invite over a group of girlfriends and simply say come as many weeks as you can this month. You'll bond. If you don't know many people, find 3-4 potential friends on the ClassifiedCircles postings on GirlFriendCircles and invite them to join you, giving them all permission to bring 1-2 others with them so you can all meet new friends!
  3. Keep it simple.This isn't about throwing a party that wows people. It's about connecting. So don't wear yourself out cleaning, cooking, menu-planning and dish-washing. Take-out on paper plates accomplishes the purpose just as well.

It might sound daunting up front, but the benefit--feeling a stronger sense of belonging and being known by friends-- is so worth it. And each week requires less work on your part to get the same benefit.

This February, invest your limited energy in ways that promise to bring you happiness, greater health and less stress by returning your energy tenfold. Build a bond with regularity.

p.s. I'd sooooo love to hear other ideas. Let us all know how you've done this before or how you intend to give it a try now!