Blogmaster’s note: David Shriner-Cahn is a deep thinker and serious observer of consultants, coaches, entrepreneurs and small business owners, so much so that he routinely interviews them on his widely-respected community and like-named podcast “Smashing the Plateau” to further show his mastery of the subject. We met years ago in a NYC networking group and have maintained a high-level relationship ever since. I gave him free reign on any topic; he does not disappoint here, or ever! I am pleased to provide the forum to David on this vital topic: loneliness.

I started my own consulting business in 2006, following 28 years as a high-achieving employee, mostly in leadership and management roles. In my jobs, I had an overflowing inbox, a full calendar, and a built-in social structure with my work colleagues. My time was always in high demand, and there were always people who needed my help.

On the first day of my consulting business, I had no clients, an empty calendar, an empty inbox, and I was spending most of my time by myself. While I relished the concept of freedom that one may associate with entrepreneurship, and I liked controlling the decisions about how I used my time, I discovered that time alone exacerbated feelings like fear and overwhelm.

As I achieved more and more success in my solo consulting business, there was still plenty of time that I was working alone. When I needed to take unfamiliar steps that I knew would build my business, I would often spend too much time concerned about getting things right. As a result, it would take me too long to get started.

Since loneliness can hinder growth, how can you combat it?

Find your community and build in structured time to interact with them.

Every week, in my schedule, I plan to spend time with colleagues I like, trust and who feed me positive energy that supports a positive mindset for me and my business. With every interaction, I come away with at least one good idea that can help me make progress.

Your needs for community will change over time. You may find different communities align with different needs you may have.

You need to be intentional about finding the right communities to suit your current needs. And you need to be structured about your interactions. Building accountability relationships helps. When you have scheduled time to discuss your accomplishments, challenges and how you can help one another, you will have a structure to grow together.

If you want to grow, find your tribe(s) of supportive colleagues. Approach these relationships with a giving mindset. With collaboration, communication, and live interaction, everyone can come out ahead.

After 28 years as a highly skilled employee, David Shriner-Cahn was told that his job was over. Despite the immediate trauma and fear, he knew that as his next step, he’d rather work for himself and have more control over his destiny. That was in 2006.

Today, David is a thriving community builder, podcaster, and speaker. David is the Founder of the Smashing the Plateau Community and the Host of the podcast, Smashing the Plateau.

David’s mission is helping high-achieving professionals build their consulting or coaching business, following a late-career job exit, so they can do what they love and get paid what they’re worth.