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New Year's Resolution: Progress

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Feb. 05, 2015

We’re already into the second month of 2015, and I’m happy to say I’m making headway on my New Years’ Resolution. I’ve had more success on this resolution than any before. This year, my promise is “upping the level” of my conversations – turning small-talk with friends and strangers into more depth-filled discussions. My close friends know how I try to learn what moves people’s hearts, and I’ve started 2015 with some of the best conversations of my life.

In fairness, I had one advantage to start this goal: I attended a conference for Catholic college students in Nashville during Christmas break. Close to 10,000 students gathered for this awesome faith convention. Lots of these people were open to serious conversation. I put my resolution into action by asking attendees – strangers and longtime friends – about their experiences. We’d share about our favorite parts of the conference and usually transition into sharing our life stories. These conversations were deeply rewarding and perhaps the best part of the event!

When I came back to my college campus, I was fueled for good conversation. Friends think I’m extroverted, but honestly I’m only super open when I’m in a safe space and surrounded by comfortable friends. Pursuing conversations with strangers is hard for me. That’s why this is a great resolution for me, pushing me out of my comfort zone.

On my first day of class this semester, I introduced myself to classmates. Easy enough, right? Most people do it to find homework buddies, but I wanted to start relationships with these people despite my nervousness. This difference is huge for someone who is tends to be on the introverted side. So I pushed myself just to say hello (or my preferred “howdy”) – not obliging conversation, just being good-natured. It was a start, and a big one for me.

Then, a surprising thing happened.

From the first day, every single person I said “hello” to (in ALL my classes) comfortably jumped into conversation. They’d even initiate it. I quickly got excited at all these welcoming faces, and it felt natural as we talked before class to discuss life at home, books, etc. I asked my new friend in my social work class about his old life in Europe. Another classmate recognized my religious necklace and we discussed faith. Thankfully, our conversations used academics only as a bridge to other topics, which was liberating. (Freshmen: How often do people start discussions with “What’s your major?” It’s a legit question, but it gets old for me!)

The natural-born extroverts reading this post might find this silly – I was just socializing with classmates. What’s the big deal?

Well, actually initiating conversation proved to be a big step for me. The measurable and specific goal to “Just say hello, and take things slowly” turned into many fruitful conversations for me. These were people I otherwise probably wouldn’t have spoken to, and I hope to continue pushing myself into friendships with these people. (You know, actual friends and not just homework pals - although those are great too.)

Of course, not all of you have resolutions similar to mine. If you take anything from my progress story so far, remember that progress is the key word! Be sure to make regular and measurable goals toward your resolution. (“I don’t need to watch another Netflix show at this hour if I want to work out tomorrow morning.”)

We’ve got an entire year ahead (and I’ve got to get better at conversation), but there’s no need for drastic change or early quitting when we can work toward tangible goals, step by step. I’m hoping that this experience in intentionality spills over into other areas of my life, bringing with it more of the focus and happiness I’m already enjoying in my current resolution.

If you have been struggling with your goals, this is a great time to refocus and restart. Remember: progress not perfection. :)

Here’s to a fruitful and transformative 2015!