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How to Play Together and Stay Together (PTST): 5 Strategies for Reunions
Have a good contact on Wednesday! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been in touch with you and I have to say I miss talking to you. However, the good thing about being in touch is that we always have another chance to reconnect with each other. Yesterday I contacted a friend I hadn’t spoken to in months. However, since we were friends, our conversation fell into place as if we had just spoken to each other yesterday!
How many of you have friends, family members, and maybe even former classmates or co-workers that you’ve lost touch with? I’m sure you have at least one person you want to reconnect with. Over the next 5 weeks, I’m going to share 5 simple strategies for building, maintaining, and strengthening relationships with any group! Basically, I’m going to teach you “How to Play Together and Stay Together” (PTST)!
Strategy #1: Get together!
“80% of life satisfaction comes from meaningful relationships” B. Tracy
The first step to learning PTST with any group is to first GET TOGETHER! Now this might seem pretty obvious, but it’s also the hardest of the five strategies to implement. Why? Because, unfortunately, free time is no longer valued. Society as a whole does not see the need or importance of free time in their lives.
Get-togethers are simply leisure events designed to allow everyone to “reunite” or “get together” after being apart for a while. Gathering together or connecting must be a priority and not an afterthought!
So you need to SCHEDULE a recurring event (monthly, yearly and bi-annually) to “check in” WITH THEM. If it’s been a year, two years, or even 10 years since we last met, it’s time to catch up! So many things have happened to you, your family and your friends. This is the perfect time to update everyone about this party! Meetings can help people balance their lives and help us achieve a better quality of life. So step into the role of TEAM CONNECTOR and get everyone together regularly to interact socially with them, improve communication with them and have fun with them!
Strategy #2: PLAY!
“It’s better to play than to do nothing.” ~Confucius
Another PTST strategy is to PLAY! Now I’m sure most of you are thinking this is a youth strategy. However, PLAY is not silly, but a very serious concept. PLAY is the basis of human existence! Think of your best childhood memories – I’m assuming you played!
A very positive feature of the game is that it has the ability to create order. PLAY has its own rules. This seriousness and order are inherent and the rules are established. As a result, the most important characteristic of PLAY is that it has the power to separate itself from ordinary life. So during PLAY, you can forget about the inconveniences of everyday life: bills, deadlines and schedules. You can enjoy your group 100% without the distractions of life.
Because PLAY has its own rules, it is able to break barriers. It doesn’t matter if you are 5 or 80 years old – playfulness can bring you closer to each other and create understanding. Recreation or PLAY improves the general well-being of all participants, regardless of the activity. Through organized activities, personal goals for health, building relationships, and individual growth and learning are created and maintained.
How many meetings or other meetings have you attended that were just, well, boring? Can’t help but eat and maybe talk? Would you go outside your familiar group and talk to new people? Did you feel like you could have saved money and travel time because you could have done the same by staying home? Bottom line: PLAY makes meetings more interesting!
Strategy #3: GET INVOLVED!
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of playing than in a year of conversation.” ~Plato
We have learned that in order to play together and stay together (PTST), we need to #1-ACT TOGETHER and then add #2-PLAY. These two strategies provide a great opportunity to implement the next strategy. Strategy #3 is GET INVOLVED! Participation is an active activity. It requires some work from you as an individual member of your group. You must consciously enter the game! So why is it that some people can easily jump right in and others have a hard time getting off a park bench? It’s not that one person is more social than the other or that one person is less willing than the other. The reason why some members participate and others don’t comes down to one thing – motivation!
Participating in leisure activities has a psychological basis, which is also called motivation. The reason we get up and participate (or don’t) is because we are either intrinsically or extrinsically motivated about leisure and recreation. If you are intrinsically motivated, there is something inside you that compels you to do it. For example, achievements driven by mastery, competence or self-determination are intrinsically driven. However, extrinsic motivation is when external factors such as rewards or random events are the main reason for leisure participation. So what makes you participate?
Strategy #4: POWER!
“The ego falls. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought inevitably follows the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you use your skills to the best of your ability.” ~Csikszentmihalyi
Strategy #4 is FLOW! There must be a marriage between the strategies. Just like in a marriage, there must be a committed relationship between #2-PLAY and #3-ENGAGE! Hungarian psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-high-ee-mouthful, right?), writes about the idea of FLOW in his “Flow Theory”. FLOW is defined as “fully engaged in an activity for its own sake.” It is a state of consciousness where you are completely immersed in what you are doing. All other thoughts or feelings are excluded. During FLOW, time can either stand still or time can move incredibly fast. Your group should have so much fun they won’t want the meeting to end!
To promote FLOW, every activity must have a balance between skills and challenges. If the challenges are too high, people may feel some kind of anxiety and if the challenges are too low, some may experience boredom. Every activity should include a level of creativity, challenge and happiness for all members. So avoid scheduling a chess tournament if only one family member knows the rules. Make sure your game or actions during PLAY are balanced so that everyone wants to PARTICIPATE!
So why is strategy #4 important in a meeting? Well, FLOW has the power to release fear or failure and replace it with a sense of empowerment, and now that we’ve brought PLAY into our meeting, participants can gain feelings of personal satisfaction from participating in it. WE PLAY to have fun…but we also PLAY to win!
So we’ve talked about the importance of strategies #1-Getting Together, #2-Play, #3-Getting Involved, and #4-Flow. Keep them in mind as you plan for each generation (if more than one) that will be represented at your meeting. Provide the right activities to match the skill level of the participants and challenge them enough to make them try their best to win! Everyone should leave feeling like a winner! Those who experience FLOW seek it again. You want to make sure they know they can experience it again and again and again at your convention!
#5 – Stay together!
“Win together, lose together, play together, stay together.” ~Debra Mancuso
The strategies given have been developed to help you and THEM build, strengthen and maintain your relationships through reunions. Strategies 1-4 allow everyone to come together, connect, have fun, and live in the moment as we build memories with those who matter most.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but out of sight doesn’t have to be out of mind, and you don’t have to wait until the next meeting to connect with your loved ones. There are many ways to stay TOGETHER or connected without doing anything physically. Thanks to the continuous development of technology. It’s easier than ever to stay connected with our demanding lives. Here are 6 tips to help you and THEM stay connected until your next meeting:
1. Group Website: Maintaining a family website is a great way to share information. Members can send pictures and announcements all year round. How great would it be to be able to share the precious moments of each other’s lives? Share small wins, graduations, new arrivals and weddings with THEM all year long.
2. Group Newsletter: Whether printed or electronic, a newsletter is another convenient way to stay connected. Teams can even outsource this task. Ask THEM to send the information they consider newsworthy and ask a professional to compile the information and send it as a newsletter.
4. Social Media: Create a group page on Facebook-make it exclusive to THEM. Twitter is also a good option. Start following the people you know, love and admire.
5. Mini get-togethers: plan a little trip or meet up with people who live nearby that you might not see often. You may not be able to get hundreds of people together, but you can connect a smaller group of them for fun and leisure.
And for those who are not tech savvy:
6. Pick up the phone: In the age of online media, email and text messaging we sometimes forget those who are not tech savvy. Call one of them.
Recreation and leisure are essential in building strong communities. Leisure is intended to empower the community and its members. So after all the hard work of COMING TOGETHER, PLAYING, PARTICIPATING and being in FLOW, you mustn’t forget that you did all of this for the best result – to STAY TOGETHER. So, promise yourself that you will stay connected WITH THEM throughout the year. Most importantly, don’t forget to save the date for next year’s reunion: There’s nothing better than looking forward to seeing THEM again.
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