It’s that time of year again, when a month of epic celebration and partying begins to simmer down, and we quickly realize we need to buckle down in those chilly early weeks of the new year if we’re going to have lots to celebrate at the end.
Most of us set New Year’s resolutions and break them by the middle of February. So if you want a goal that will truly enhance your life experience — and is easy to commit to — I have the answer: Get to know people you normally wouldn’t.
We’re all creatures of habit, and it’s far easier to have lunch every day with the same work mates, hang out on the weekends with the same friends or keep attending the same industry events with colleagues. But when we follow our routines, we maintain our same views of the world and miss out on the opportunity for growth — and fulfillment — that comes with meeting different people.
There are so many benefits to getting outside of our comfort zones to connect with those least like ourselves. First up, studies have shown that greater innovation is born out of combining diverse perspectives. Having lunch with someone from a different department might just provide the spark you need to solve a problem that has you stumped. I have found time and again in my own career and from seeing others around me that we do our best work when we understand our shining strengths as well as the areas where we’re weak — and find partners who can complement us. Are you naturally creative? Pair up with an analytical buddy and swap ideas. Are you an extrovert? Seek out an introvert and listen intently to what she has to say. You might be inspired.
After the tumultuous year we’ve all just been through, we desperately need to thoughtfully engage with one another in 2018. We read all the time about the negative impact that social media “echo chambers” are having on our national and global discourse. The only way this is going to change is if we take the first steps ourselves.
So make your resolution. Commit in 2018 to have at least one conversation a month with someone you wouldn’t normally spend time with. Maybe you say yes to someone who reaches out for mentoring. Maybe you make a list of people you see in the elevator every day whom you don’t really know, and make sure to chat with each of them by the end of the year. Maybe you plan a vacation to a part of the country you’ve never visited before, and commit to sparking up a conversation with locals about their favorite parts of town. Expanding your social horizons is simple, and it will change your year. Resolve.
Sarah Robb O’Hagan is the CEO of Flywheel Sports and the author of Extreme You: Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat.