Friendships are work. Just because you’re adulting hard doesn’t mean you have to let them slip away.

When you’re going through high school and college, the idea of drifting apart from your closest friends seems impossible. When you share a bond so strong, how could living in different cities or working opposite schedules get in the way?

Flash forward to your mid-20s, and you haven’t talked to any of them in months. Maybe you don’t even have their numbers.

After I graduated college, I learned the hard way that friendship is like a garden – if you don’t water it consistently, the vines will wither and die. Busy with work and high on my new career, I gradually started losing contact with the people who once meant the most to me. I assumed it would be easy to make new friendships, just like it was in college – how wrong I was.

Thankfully, I was able to turn things around before I lost my friends completely, but others aren’t so lucky. There are twenty-somethings all over the country pining for their old buddies, wondering where it all went wrong. If you don’t want to become one of them, read ahead to find out how.

Create a schedule.

My friend Leslie told me about how she would go weeks without talking to her sister, and how sad it made her. Every time she’d call, her sister would be busy and vice versa. Sick of playing phone tag, they created a schedule where every Sunday at 2 p.m., they call each other and catch up on an episode of their favorite show, usually “Pretty Little Liars” or “Chopped.”

Leslie said that since they created a schedule, they haven’t missed a phone call unless one of them has been on vacation. I love the idea of creating a regular phone date at the same time every month.

For this system to work, each person has to promise to be available during the agreed time and not cancel when life gets busy. You can’t flake out just because you’re tired or your boyfriend really wants to watch a movie – once you miss an appointment for flimsy reasons, it’s going to be easier to skip out from that point on.

Keep it simple.

A couple weeks ago, my college friends and I took a four-day trip to Asheville, North Carolina. We stayed in a rustic cabin outside of town and planned to spend our time kayaking, paddleboarding and hiking – almost none of which we actually did.

Why? We spent most of the time talking to each other, drinking homemade cocktails and staying up late playing Taboo. I had as much fun with them singing along to the Spice Girls in the car as I did exploring downtown Asheville.

If you’re struggling to make time for your friends, you might be overthinking it. Don’t try to plan an amazing Friday night, ask them over to watch “30 Rock” or play a board game instead. You don’t have to plan a dinner party or make reservations at the newest bar to have a good time.

Run errands together.

When I still lived in the same city as one of my best friends, we would often do the most mundane tasks together, like go grocery shopping or return clothes we’d bought online.

It’s not that we didn’t want to do something more exciting, but I was very frugal at the time and didn’t have extra money to spend on movies, concerts or going out. Instead, we’d go to Costco, get a hot dog for $1 and then buy whatever was on our list. Even though we were spending our Saturdays at a warehouse club, we still had fun.

If you’re pressed for time, don’t choose between your friends and your responsibilities. Combine them instead. Who knows, your friend might also need to buy moisturizer at Sephora or a new blazer at the mall.

You can even do this if you’re on a call with someone. For example, I love talking on the phone while I’m out walking the dogs or cleaning up around the house. It doesn’t take any extra mental capacity, and I’m not shirking my responsibilities.

That’s why I would always call my mom when I was driving home from work. I didn’t have anything else I needed to do at the same time, and it always made me feel better.

Take advantage of technology.

My best friends and I are separated by multiple states and we only see each other a couple times a year. To bridge the gap, I try to send them articles I think they’ll like or comment on their Facebook photos. Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch, especially if you’re far away.

Since I’ve started texting my friends more, I’ve felt more connected to a part of my life that ended when I graduated from college. I feel happier when I get a text from a friend, even if it’s as simple as an inside joke or a recommendation for acne cleanser.

Send snail mail.

You can also send letters and cards for birthdays and random events. It’s cheap, but it’s so fun to get real mail from your friends.

What are some of the ways you make time for friends? Have you adjusted relationships due to distance or schedules? Tell us about it over at the #Adulting Facebook community.

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We’re used to our mundane schedules. Take a break and experience the world around you. Give your life some oomph.

I find that when my life starts feeling ho hum or repetitive, it’s because I’ve gravitated towards a routine of cheap and easy. I, personally, get easily sucked in a cycle of wake, work, sleep, repeat because I’m often focused on a goal.

These feelings tell me that I need to add a dash of excitement to my life and experience a little culture outside my office.  It’s important to get outside of my own head and into someone else’s.

I live in a great city within a great state that has a lot to offer. Despite this, I need to take the initiative to make the most of it. These are some of the ways I get my culture-fix.

Virtual music.

My number one, all-time favorite way to gain culture is from music – virtual music that is. It’s not that I don’t like concerts. It’s just that with YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, you can listen to almost any song ever made from any time in history, anywhere in the world, for a nominal fee (if there’s a fee at all).

How amazing is that!

I frequently and consciously make myself look for and listen to music I don’t necessarily gravitate towards, nor love. Occasionally, I learn to love a sound or a song and often I’m surprised that I loved one my whole life and never knew it.

I often listen to Radio Roulette. Radio Roulette allows you to choose the station, album, or song your music platform recommends for you. Usually they fit in with your genre of choice, but now and then they throw something crazy in there, and it can be exciting.

Unvirtual music, big and small.

Now, if I didn’t have to live within space, time and a budget, I’d listen to live music on site every day of the week and twice on Tuesday (I don’t even know what that means, but I hear it a lot). Live music is far and away my favorite way to hear new music.

Nothing can beat the energy of artists entertaining their fans. This is why bigger bands and singers say they prefer smaller venues. Smaller venues are more intimate, and the performer connects better with their audience.

Of course, if you can sell out The O2 Arena, who wouldn’t?

Choose friends who like live music to do a musical round-robin. Each of you takes a turn finding live shows to watch, ideally the person who chooses the show already likes the music and the others don’t know about it.

Talk talk.

I’m the same as most of you and spend the bulk of my day online. My job requires it. Then, as the human species evolves, we seem to spend more of our personal time online. I like to face-this and snap-that like anyone else. However, I do fear losing the art of conversation.

Studies continue to show that people are spending more time online than with actual people. When many of us do go out to walk amongst other humans, we find it hard to engage and empathize with each other. Some of us even acquire agoraphobic traits.

Therefore, I force myself to get out and talk verbal-to-audible with other humans. I like to hear what’s going on in their lives. I like to revel in their triumphs and support them in their tribulations. I like to understand their points of view, especially if they don’t align with mine.

You’ll think I’m a fuddy duddy (especially after that), but I believe it’s nearly impossible to hold an honest, tempered, political debate online. Virtual discussions lose tone and inflection. They don’t have eye-contact or show emotions. They’re very one-sided, too. When we’re responding online, we’re trapped in our thoughts rather than engaged in conversation.

Consequently, we don’t learn anything from virtual debates. Our opinions aren’t necessarily challenged. Virtual discussions are the virtual opposite of the Socratic Method. If Socrates had to live in a world of virtual debate, it might’ve killed him.

Café o-lay.

Speaking of music, conversations, and debates, find them in a café. In many European countries, the cafes are where it all happens. They listen to live music, hear book or poem readings, engage in enjoyable conversations and interesting debates all while enjoying a well-crafted latte.

Modern, American-style coffee shops that have made their way around the globe have become more transactional and less experiential. But, the true cafes exist, and they’re not traded on the U.S. stock. Look for those small mom-and-pop shops.

A night (or a day, or a minute) at the museums.

This may seem like an obvious one, but I can’t tell you how many times I visit a city and someone who lives there tells me they’ve never been to this museum or that museum. Or, they’ve only gone to a certain museum because I was in town.

There are so many museums, big and small, everywhere in the world. They’re fascinating and historical. They tell us stories and share experiences.

Most museums offer free or discount days, if money is your concern. Many have delicious cafes and restaurants inside or outside that can enhance your experience.

Fully take advantage of these. I was recently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City for the first time and had the opportunity to see Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night in real life. I had seen it countless times in posters, books and TV before, but I never experienced it in person. I’m positive that most people have seen and will see Starry night countless times in their lives on posters, in

I’m positive that most people have seen and will see Starry night countless times in their lives on posters, in books, and on TV too. The amazing difference between those images of Starry Night and not the real painting is that the actual painting seems alive.

What makes it so magical and historically significant is how Van Gogh made a painting come to life. As you look at it, it moves. It has depth. It’s as close to living as a painting will ever get.

That’s why I was astounded by the crowd of people around the original painting all taking pictures of it with their phones. I looked directly at it the entire time I was in front of it because I figured I can look at a replica any time.

Document it.

Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are bringing documentaries into our living rooms. In the days of yore, wherever that is, you had to go to a movie theater, usually an art-house theatre, to see documentaries. Unfortunately, this gave limited audiences to some amazing pieces of work and cultural experiences.

Now, thousands of great documentaries are available at our fingertips. I know it’s easier to watch Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead (guilty!), but many documentaries offer excitement and education all in one. They introduce us to people who are so much like us, but other than via the documentary, we’d never know of them.

Roam.

This is just my fancy way of saying travel. In fact, I should say, “TRAVEL!” I have never gained more culture than when I’ve gone abroad and to new places within my own country, which in some parts can feel like a whole different world.

It’s easy to believe that what we see in the news is reality, but it’s barely as real as reality television. Are all places like your backyard? No, and that’s the point. But, is everyone else living everywhere else experiencing the beginning of the apocalypse? No, and you can’t really learn that without going there.

With as vast and diverse as our country is, you don’t even have to leave our borders to experience different cultures. So, this doesn’t have to be an overly expensive cultural experience.

As Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.”

Read.

Speaking of reading, one of the cheapest ways to travel through space and time is reading a book – a good, old-fashioned, paper book.

Yes, I loved my Kindle, and I downloaded a library of books because of it. But, nothing beats holding an organically made book in your hand. It seems like others agree, too. Print sales rose 3.3% in 2016 over 2015. Consequently, e-book sales have been dropping around the globe.

There’s just something about reading a traditional book in an authentic café drinking a crafted latte. That may sound snobbish, but you can have that whole experience for $20. So, I think of it as economical and grounded.

You can’t travel in time . . . yet . . . and, if you can’t go to a place now, the next best thing is reading a book in which you create your own visuals. Not only are books relaxing, they’re also inspiring. They make the mind think and exercise the brain.

Get lectured.

I learned that listening to lectures doesn’t have to stop in college. I also learned that, contrary to college, I now enjoy listening to lectures. For many, this has been inspired by TED Talks. However, college campuses, convention centers, churches and community centers around the world offer all different varieties of lectures, many of which are free.

Challenge yourself by going to a lecture you’re inherently opposed to hearing. Reinforce your beliefs by going to lectures by people you know. The most valuable part of a conversation is the listening part. Lectures without hecklers offer only the listening part, which can be good for the mind.

Of course, you don’t have to do these to gain culture, and this isn’t an exhaustive list. But, do something that takes you off your couch and out of your comfort zone. It can only lead to more fulfillment or knowledge.

What are some ways you experience culture? What effect do these experiences have on you? Tell us about it in #Adulting Facebook community.

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Feeling like a stranger in a strange land? It can be hard to start over in a new city. But part of the fun is making new connections and finding a new crew.

When my husband and I moved from Indianapolis to Denver a couple years ago, I left behind a solid core of friends that made up the bulk of my social life. I was sad to leave them, but confident I could do the same thing I’d done when changing schools as a child or moving out of state for college – maintain my old friendships and start some new ones.

While I had no problems staying in touch with my friends from Indiana, making new relationships was so much harder than I ever expected. Not only did I lack any kind of social base to start from, but I had just left an office job to start my career as a freelance writer. You don’t realize how important the workplace can be as a social tool until your only office mates are a husband and two dogs.

It took some time, but eventually, I was able to meet some great people and form lasting friendships. Here are some of the methods I tried, and how well they might work for you.

MeetUp.

MeetUp is one of the best tools to find new friends with similar interests, and almost every major city has an active MeetUp community.

MeetUp is a haven for groups based on every kind of interest imaginable. I’ve joined book clubs, art journal groups and card-game nights. Many of these have hundreds of members, so don’t expect to see the same faces every time. But if you attend the same event frequently enough, you’re bound to make some connections that stick.

Go to two or three events before you decide you don’t like a group. It can take time to get out of your comfort zone and feel at ease around total strangers, but since most MeetUp groups are based on a specific activity you’ll always have something in common.

Make sure to look at the age range of the groups you’re interested in. I once joined a movie MeetUp without realizing I was the youngest person there. I went a couple times, but ultimately decided I couldn’t make close friendships with people close to my parent’s age.

Bumble.

This tip is only for the ladies. The dating app, Bumble has a feature where women can look for other women to be friends with. When you download the app, choose the BFF setting when prompted. You’ll only see profiles of other women who want to find a new shopping buddy or movie companion.

Bumble starts by showing you a series of photos. Like many dating apps, you swipe right on the prospects you like and left on the ones you don’t. At first, I swiped right on almost everyone, but I quickly realized I wanted to be more selective.

Almost half of the girls I saw said they loved drinking wine and going to brunch – but doesn’t everyone? I decided to swipe left on anyone who had such a generic profile. I swiped right on girls who said they loved comic books, playing with their dog or reading detective novels. I wasn’t trying to be judgemental, but it’s easier to make a connection when you have something in common.

I met a couple cool girls through the app, but staying in touch on a long-term basis proved harder. That’s not an indictment of the service, but you’ll need to invest some time and energy into the app if you want it to pay off long term.

Volunteer.

When you’re in a new city, it can be hard to get the lay of the land. What events are cool? Which museums are worth going to? Where can you find the best ice cream?

Volunteering for local events is one way to have fun, explore, and make friends in a new city in the process. Most volunteer spots last several hours, so you’ll have time to chat and get to know people. Plus, you often get free swag or privileged access.

If you hear about a local event that sounds interesting, but you don’t want to go alone, contact the organizers to see if they need volunteers.

Sports leagues.

Joining a local bowling league is the best way I’ve made friends in Denver. We played one game a week for six weeks, meeting at the same time and place consistently. Having a regular time to hang out proved to be the key to making a new group of friends. When you sporadically attend functions, you don’t get the consistency that’s required to solidify new friendships. Seeing the same people once a week made it easier to develop actual relationships.

We started planning other activities together pretty quickly, like going to the movies, attending musicals and going on short hikes. Eventually we started watching “Game of Thrones” together every Sunday and later transitioned into a weekly trivia group when our bowling season ended.

Every city has local sports leagues you can join and participate in. Most people won’t care if you’re unathletic, as long as you have a positive attitude and a cursory knowledge of the sport. Often, groups go out afterward for drinks or dinner, giving you another opportunity to establish roots.

Moving to a new city is the perfect chance to find new friends and reinvent your life with people who you can enjoy time with.

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National elections carry the most drama. But how much does that matter where you live? Local politics can give you a chance to make an impact.

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The recent election was one of the most divisive and difficult political events in recent history. On the national level, the rhetoric took its toll on our national discourse and even on family relationships.

However, national politics aren’t all there is to civics. In fact, it can be a good idea to take things down a few notches. If you really want to make a difference, your best bet might actually be to get involved with local politics.

In this episode, we look at what it takes to get involved, and how you can do more to make a difference.

Concepts

  • Why are we so obsessed with national politics?
  • How voter apathy impacts the quality of leadership we have in our country.
  • What are some of the barriers to voting locally?
  • How to find different offices to run for in your community.
  • If you don’t want to run for office, how can you get involved in local politics?
  • How to find out what matters to you.
  • Tips for looking around to see what impacts you at the local level.
  • How to handle political disagreements without being disagreeable.

This week’s “do-nows” provide you with ideas for figuring out how to take the first step in getting involved with local politics. It can be as simple as attending a city council meeting to see what issues are being talked about in your community.

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Resources

Pew Research CenterLow voter turnout U.S.
Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com
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Don’t get hung up on changing the world immediately. Start local and watch your efforts bear fruit sooner.

Do you want to live with passion and purpose? Do you want to change the world? Do you feel like I’ve shared froofy sentiments that don’t actually matter?

The reality is that you don’t need to try to change the world all by yourself if you don’t feel like you have the time, energy, or ability to make it happen.

What you can do is find a cause you believe in and start making a tiny corner of the world a little bit better.

Do you really need to change the world?

To often we get bogged down in the idea that we need to change the world in an earth-shattering way. We like the idea of making a big impact. But most of us aren’t going to change the world in that big way.

That doesn’t mean that you are inconsequential. Since moving back to Idaho, I’ve realized that I can help effect meaningful change right here, on a local basis. So far, I haven’t made a huge impact, but I’ve seen that some of my efforts do matter.

It’s easy to step back and say, “I can’t make a big change, so I won’t try.” But you can make small change, and you can help men, women, children, animals, and the environment right where you live.

When you find a cause you believe in, you not only make an impact, but you also live with greater purpose. You are more likely to feel good about your life, and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits that come with volunteering your time and energy.

Don’t get hung up on the idea of changing the world; think about what you can do locally to make a difference. Later, if it snowballs, or if you get an opportunity to change the world, go for it. But don’t sit around feeling impotent when you might be capable of effecting a change that matters to the people around you.

What matters to you?

The first step, when you want to find a cause you believe in, is to decide what matters to you. Figure out what makes your life worthwhile. Decide what you wish was different in your area. Look around. There’s always something that could be better.

What are you passionate about? Do you care about education? Do you want to fight for LGTBQIA+ homeless youth? Do you wish people were kinder to animals? Is there an environmental risk in your area? What kind of local policies are causing harm to under-represented populations? Do you believe arts education is vital to the preservation of our culture?

You can go crazy trying to fix every problem out there. And it’s impossible to do everything all at once — especially since you probably also want to put a roof over your head. Narrow down to the issue that matters most to you and focus on that first. You’ll probably find that there are interconnected issues that you can branch out with, but start small and simple. That one issue can provide you with a manageable way to start making a change.

Join with like-minded people.

How to Find a Cause You Believe In

Once you know what matters to you, look for like-minded people. Whether you work for change at the neighborhood, city, state, country, or world level, you can’t do it alone. World-sweeping ideas come around very rarely. TBH, most change is incremental and arrives only after years of work and effort in conjunction with others.

Look for people who share your passion and values. Chances are that there are others interested in changing the world the same way you are. When I first moved to Idaho Falls, I joined the Chamber of Commerce for networking opportunities and to figure out which business leaders and professionals shared my values. I sought out a local political organization that better fit my leanings as well.

These larger organizations allow me to meet like-minded people who are part of a smaller subset. Together we can lobby for change, and our volunteer efforts can make a difference locally. It’s been heartening to see some of what I’ve done matter — even if it’s to a small portion of the population. That sort of change has the potential to spread.

Contribute your resources.

What if you feel like you don’t have the time to volunteer? You can still find a cause you believe in and contribute your resources. I’m involved in certain activities that, when considered with my other responsibilities, mean that I don’t have time to volunteer with the food pantry or soup kitchen, even though hunger is a major issue for me.

I have to say no to some things, and I realize that I can have an impact by donating money to local relief efforts. I make regular contributions to local food banks. I love local donations because I can meet the people responsible for the way the funds are used, and I can see the impact my donations have.

I choose which causes get my time, and which get my money. You can do something similar. Look for an organization that could use your financial support, even if you don’t feel like you have the time to volunteer. My son saves 10% of his allowance and income for charity. Until now, he’s mostly just put it in for an offering when we occasionally attend a church, or he gives something to panhandlers. Lately, after much thought, he announced that he wants to find a way to help homeless LGBTQIA+ teens — a problem in our area.

My son saves 10% of his allowance and income for charity. Until now, he’s mostly just put it in for an offering when we occasionally attend a church, or he gives something to panhandlers. Lately, after much thought, he announced that he wants to find a way to help homeless LGBTQIA+ teens — a problem in our area. He’s researching local organizations to see where his money might do some good. He’s 13, and he’s thinking about what he can do to make positive change where we live.

It won’t be a lot, but it will be something — and it just might make a difference in at least one person’s life.

What issues are you passionate about? Have you found a cause to believe in? How do you support it?

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