2020: Develop Yourself By Developing Community

2020 is officially here. The ball has dropped, the parties have been had, the scribbling over accidentally written “2019’s” has ensued, and—most importantly—the great-intentioned-yet poorly-executed New Year’s resolutions have begun.

The start of a New Year always intrigues me. It’s a season when everyone looks at their life and chooses what they’d like to change. These “resolutions” range from getting out of bad habits, starting good habits, or chasing ambitious goals they’ve always dreamed of. And they truly start out great and mean well—but normally end up failing by the end of January simply because people don’t know what all goes into effective habit change. Claiming you want to get out of debt or lose weight won’t make you magically get out of debt or lose weight. Resolutions for new habits require intentionality and critical planning for how you are going to live differently every week, every day, and every hour. It’s hard work.

But what I find particularly fascinating is most New Year’s resolutions are about self-development. They are almost always actions that improve individual selves and individual habits by the individual picking themselves up by their bootstraps and making a change. 

In this article surveying 2,000 people, the top 9 New Year’s resolutions for 2019 were:

1. Diet or eat healthier (71 percent)
2. Exercise more (65 percent)
3. Lose weight (54 percent)
4. Save more and spend less (32 percent)
5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26 percent)
6. Quit smoking (21 percent)
7. Read more (17 percent)
8. Find another job (16 percent)
9. Drink less alcohol (15 percent)

You see what I mean? All of these are actions about the individual improving one aspect of his or her external actions or habits. It’s all about self-development.

But why do we rarely see resolutions about community-development? Coming in at the very bottom of this top-10 Resolutions list is:

10. Spend more time with family and friends (13 percent)

Out of 2,000 people, only 260 wanted to spend more time in their significant relationships this past year. And if the stat that only 8% of people are actually successful in achieving their resolutions, then that means only 21 people of those surveyed made improvements with their personal communities.

But here’s the irony. Those 21 people who made improvements in their significant friendships are statistically more likely to have achieved those other resolutions as well.

Studies show those who have greater ties with friendships and community are more likely to achieve their goals, especially if those friendships hold them accountable to those goals or pursue them together. As I’ve talked about before in previous blogs, we become who we’re with, and if who we’re with pursue healthy goals, then we all naturally benefit from pursuing these things together. Therefore, if we bump up “spend more time with family and friends” to the number one spot, then we might actually achieve some of our resolutions for once.

Crazy, right?

However, we should not set resolutions for community-development as means to an end, but rather an end in itself. We should not boost our time with friends and family just to achieve our goals, utilizing our friends so that we may gain. Rather, we should pursue community-development because it unlocks a vault to self-development that we otherwise could not achieve by ourselves.

You can’t be truly known by others by yourself.

You can’t practice vulnerability by yourself.

You can’t be encouraged when you’re struggling by yourself.

You can’t corporately worship by yourself.

You can’t snapchat by yourself.

You can’t serve someone else by yourself.

You can’t receive love by yourself. You can’t love in general by yourself.

You can’t even bench press by yourself. (Or at least you shouldn’t. Sprained wrists are the worst.)

There is so much to unlocking our best selves that results from deeper community involvement. So why not make spending time with friends and family a New Year’s resolution? Why not develop ourselves by developing our community? 

How can we do this? Stay tuned next week for some action steps for how we can improve our community-development for this new decade.


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