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5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Happy New Year! As the song “Auld Lang Syne” plays in the background the ball drops alongside confetti every year and many embrace loved ones and friends, ringing in a new year full of hope, wishes and resolutions. It’s time. Time to start anew. Maybe a gym membership is well overdue. Your spouse wants to try a new diet regime. Another decides to finally write that book they’ve been contemplating for a while. Someone else joins a local organization because they resolve to give more back to their community. These and many others are great ideas. There’s only one thing wrong with resolutions – they’re hard to keep.
In the Journal of Clinical Psychology John Norcross and others found that approximately 50% of us make resolutions every year.¹ Self-doubt, unrealistic goals and unattainable expectations mar the process because many resolutions try work through behaviors vice changing our mindsets. We think and behave through heuristics, or mental methods, that help form our habits. Resolutions aren’t habit forming; in many instances that are simply a statement of change. Since real change requires creating new neural pathways through new thinking for altered patterns behavior, what’s the best way to stick to new actions to rewire your mind to actually achieve your new year’s goal(s)?
One of the best ways is to get support from others, says psychosocial rehabilitation specialist and author of “The Everything Psychology Book” Kendra Cherry.² We should be specific in who we enlist, however. In Todd Henry’s “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day” he discusses the importance of finding ‘mirrors’. They are individuals that will help you see beyond your blind spots and assumptions; a person you trust and respect that is concerned more for you than themselves in order to help you stay aligned with what’s important to you.³ That means you may need to make connections.
Maybe some of the people in your circle right now aren’t the ones that will get you to the next level – it is ok to acknowledge it. We want the best environment to help us change our behavior. Social psychologist Kurt Lewin believed that behavior was a function of the person and their environment.⁴ Change your environment and those other people can help hold you accountable to the behavior change you desire! In the realm of self-development, sparking a connection with a mentor or a new confidant that can become a mirror could really help you maintain your goals for this year. We want to help you do so, so rather than continue with a laundry list for maintaining resolutions, let’s now turn our focus toward how to create and maintain positive relationships and in turn possibly find a mirror or two.
First, we need to start connections. Simply put, we are not wired for loneliness in the first place. We are social creatures regardless of your personality leanings toward introversion or extroversion. There is no doubt in the words of Steven Covey that “interdependence is a higher value than independence.”⁵ You know how to meet and greet new people, so I’m not here to belabor that point – I rather fine tune. In “Say Anything”, authors Doug Crandall and Matt Kincaid request that one always assume positive intent in the actions/reactions of others. It creates a culture of candor and respect. Be interested in who they really are while always maintaining a belief in the positive intentions of their interactions with you. Imagine what could happen if you went into every dealing assuming they were completely positive in their aims for you as you did the same? The Pygmalion Effect – or the well-researched theory that our beliefs have a causal effect (+ or -) on other’s attitudes and performance – would manifest in a constructive manner for the both of you. The bottom line here is that you need to be connectable through positivity and pure intent. All of these thoughts also help with re-starting any connections that may have diffused, by the way. Be interesting to others by first being wholesomely interested in them, which also helps us maintain our connections.
Next, we need to maintain the connections we spark. When you interact with others at some point you will benefit from it. That cannot be your only intent. Hopefully, your initial intent hovers around making the connection for the sole sake of the connection in the most altruistic sense, but we aren’t all perfect. To maintain rapport with others and to stay pure in intent make sure you consider other people’s interests as more important than your own. This is the third of Chris Widener’s ‘Four Golden Rules of Influence’.⁶ It will help you become more of a giver than a receiver. Interestingly it also happens to coincide directly with one of John Mann and Bob Burg’s ‘Five Laws of Stratospheric Success’ in their book “The Go-Giver”, The Law of Influence: “your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.”⁷ Sure, they may be a mirror who help you maintain your goals for the new year, but don’t abuse the relationship by not becoming a mirror for them back. Be dedicated to the work and maintenance required to keep the relationship going. Engage in a see-saw method helping push the other up as they do the same for you, not a tug of war back and forth or some tally system of quid pro quo. Change the paradigm by thinking more ‘what can I offer’ than ‘what can I receive’ and the relationships may seem to begin to maintain itself as you continue to look to engage and give back. This will also help us capitalize on our connections, so let’s now look at how to do that as well.
Finally, we must capitalize on our connections. Your network becomes your net worth, right? It can. But effectiveness together in a relationship doesn’t always equate directly to progress. It is completely possible to gain ground and move in the absolute wrong direction. We must have connections (and processes) in our lives that help advance us in the right direction for our goals as opposed to just feeding our internal need for forward motion.⁸ Capitalize by staying connected to those with whom you can engage in mutual forward progress. Set up regularly scheduled calls, emails, calendar invites, etc. and send them updates, cards, pictures, etc. As referenced earlier, Todd Henry tells us in order to ‘die empty’ we must ‘live E.M.P.T.Y’, where the ‘P’ is a focus on people.⁹ Keep up on your commitments to others. Close down relationships that are taxing of your energy to focus on the ones that are committed to mutual success. Try to gain better understanding of them, considering their value as you mull over your value to them. Revisit how you can better serve them. Don’t let your connections slip into cruise control; take control with generosity, encouragement, engagement, and positivity and the same will return to you.
What is the meaning of “Auld Lang Syne”, better known as the New Year’s Eve Song? It is literally about old friends who have parted and meet again and in celebration of their longtime kinship they share a drink and reminisce of memories from long ago.¹⁰ The basic message is that we should not forget our old friends and should celebrate reuniting with them, but the song has grown to also encapsulate the feeling of starting anew and having hope for our futures. Like the lyrics of the song, I want you to cherish the past year and your old acquaintances. But we wish that you also embrace the larger meaning the song has grown into and take joy in the new year and the new opportunities that lie ahead. Let MilitaryMentors connect you with others that desire to help you meet your new challenges head on.
Start a conversation with us and let us help spark a transformation in you.
1) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201412/why-people-cant-keep-their-new-years-resolutions 2) http://psychology.about.com/od/psychologytopics/tp/keep-your-new-years-resolutions.htm 3) Todd Henry, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2013), 170. 4) Warner Burke, Organizational Development: A Process of Learning and Changing, 2nd ed. (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1994). 5) Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, (New York, NY: Fireside, 1989). 6) Chris Widener, The Art of Influence: Persuading Others Begins with You, (New York, NY: Crown Business, 2008). 7) Bob Burg and John Mann, The Go-Giver, (New York, NY: Penguin, 2007), 129. 8) Henry, 190. 9) Ibid., 193. 10) http://newyearfavors.com/new-years-eve-song.html