Prime Time members have a lot in common with each other. They believe in taking care of their health, remaining active, and living passionately. Most have raised families, experienced successful careers, or both. Many members are semi-retired or are actively making plans to be there soon. The Prime Time movement is changing what retirement looks like. Whether our members are building a business, using their expertise to help others, volunteering, or traveling, they are choosing to stay active and connected with others.

For some people, connecting with new people comes as easily as sharing their passion for living healthy lifestyles. For others, though, meeting new people takes them a little outside their comfort zone. You may have the desire to reach out and connect with others, but resist because something is stopping you.

It doesn’t have to, though! Remember that once you have established a connection, it’s much easier and more natural to share what you’re passionate about.

Here are a few suggestions for strengthening your connecting skills!

The Health Benefits of Making Connections

Forget about everyone else for a moment and focus on you. According to the Center for Advancing Health, as you age, your relationships with others can play an important role in maintaining your overall health. Simply put, the more socially active you are, the healthier you tend to be.

In a study that followed more than 1,600 participants ages 60 and above over a 16-year period, researchers found that those who maintained a steady or increasing level of social activity were more likely to slow age-related physical and cognitive impairment. Essentially, interaction with others can help keep us active physically and mentally at a level that we can’t maintain alone.

Keep in mind a recent Prime Time article about the impact of muscle mass on your voice. Part of feeling younger is sounding younger. And the best way to keep your voice sounding youthful is by using it. Unless you plan on talking to yourself all day, every day, the best way to keep your vocal cords strong is by – you guessed it – connecting with others.

Expanding Your Sphere of Influence

Obviously, the more new people you come into contact with the more connections you can make. So the best way to meet new people is to get involved in your community.

Start by making a list of your interests. Maybe you want to take a class that aligns with your fitness goals. That could mean picking up a Zumba class at the local dance studio, taking a community college course on nutrition, or enjoying a cooking class through your local parks department. Whatever you choose, it should be something you’re genuinely interested in doing. That will guarantee you have something in common with everyone else in the room.

You don’t have to focus solely on health and fitness goals to make meaningful connections, either. Whatever you’re passionate about, when you’re with others who share that passion, you have common ground that can serve as the foundation for meaningful conversations and new friendships.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a painting class, or get involved with your city council. Pick something you put off doing while you raised your family or focused on your career. It’s your time to do something that will bring you enjoyment.

If you’ve never been the type to strike up conversations with random people, a great way to build your confidence is to start talking to people while you’re standing in line or sitting in a waiting room. Ask the person next to you about themselves – where they got those great running shoes, who does their hair, if the book they’re reading is any good. Ask them about a product they’re about to buy that you’ve been curious to try. Just get them talking, then listen carefully. You may not meet your new best friend that way, but these little interactions can help you get over the fear of being the first one to talk when you’re in an unfamiliar setting.