Why do we leave our social life to chance?

Illustration credit: Matt Carlson

Have you heard these common statements before?

“I believe you should get to know people organically”

or

“If you really cared, you would just stay in touch with everyone without a reminder”

However, anyone who has fallen out of contact with an old classmate, colleague or family member knows how this goes.

It’s often not because you don’t care. It’s nice to think we would spring into action to handle important areas of our life, but is that really how people work?

We already know people evolved to live in small tribes. We even have the Dunbar number, used to measure how early humans were comfortable knowing only a limited number of people as part of their tribal community.

So maybe back then, it was common advice to “meet people serendipitously” Seeing as you didn’t meet that many new people in total.

We now live in big cities and our brains are confused.

Leaving things to chance is not a successful strategy when it comes to our careers, finances and health. So why do we do it in our social life?

Some people seem to think that awesome people will simply be sent their way by fate. While it might happen by luck, overall it’s a pretty passive approach.

Our personal network governs almost everything in our life, whether we like it or not. It determines who we have fun with, who we work with and who we date.

For me, leaving it to fate has led to feeling like I’m constantly stuck in second gear, neither fully embracing social opportunities nor fully stepping away from them either.

Natural extroverts and sales people have no problem being the initiators. The rest of us who are more ambiverted however may struggle and maybe even give up in frustration.

So we continue to do things how we’ve always done them, then wonder why it seems like select people are always the ones getting great job offers, creating great experiences and hanging out with fun, engaged people.

I realized early on that I simply couldn’t afford to be passive with my connections. I wasn’t naturally outgoing and struggled to connect with people but I couldn’t keep using that as an excuse.

There are always people who sneer at those who make an effort to stay connected with their network. But if you ask the average young professional about how they develop their relationships with people, you’ll often find they have no particular system of their own.

At most, you may observe a half-hearted attempt to attend an event here or there. Or maybe a text shot out to an acquaintance — if they even remember to do that between Netflix marathons.

Inaction isn’t an effective strategy and neither is complaining. We are at a point where we’ve quantified almost everything in our daily life. So what’s the biggest thing holding us back in this super connected world?

Do you just leave your house and let the chips fall where they may? Or do you make a point to reach out to people you’d like to get to know more?

I’d love to know your current approach in the comments.