The Hardest Part of Keeping in Touch is Just Doing It

One New Year’s resolution that’s come up for me, year after year, is doing a better job keeping in touch with friends. I’ve moved cities pretty consistently every 2–3 years. Boston ⇒ Columbus ⇒ San Jose ⇒ San Francisco ⇒ New York just in the past decade.

I’ve often wondered how best to keep in touch with friends. Do I message them out of the blue over email? Text? Facebook? Snapchat? And when do I do it? Their birthday? How do I start the conversation? How long is an appropriate “catch-up” length of time? How often do we do this? Are they scheduled or spontaneous?

See what’s happening here? Paralyzed by all these self-imposed questions, I usually just don’t do it. And because of my own laziness, I’ve lost touch with a lot of friends.

So what is the formula for keeping in touch?

There is no formula. Taking a page out of Nike’s (or Shia LaBeouf’s) playbook: Just do it.

I learned this from a good friend I met in Barcelona. He sends WhatsApp messages to friends all over the world, a few times a week. Sometimes it’s an update on what he’s doing, like watching a football game. Other times, it’s a pic of him and some friends drinking, or as he calls it “distance cheers.” But it’s something, and it often leads into deeper conversation about what’s going on in their lives. Sometimes the hardest step is the first one.

I won’t ever be as extroverted and as sociable as this friend, but he did teach me something invaluable. Thinking is complex. Doing is simple. Next time I think about keeping in touch with a friend, I should just do it.