By Brayton Wooters, MA, PLPC, CRC. Co-Host of Mentor Moments
And just like that, our planet has begun another course around the Sun. I would typically dedicate this time of year to strategizing my fifteen-step plan to accomplishing my New Year's Resolutions. Knowing now that this strategy is rarely effective for me, I have opted for a more mindful approach. My month of January is now spent in reflection of the year prior, taking count of the experiences I’ve had, and the lessons I’ve learned. Of those experiences, I am fondly reminded of my time spent co-hosting Mentor Moments, and partnering with the Missouri Rehabilitation Association Eastern Chapter. These reflections have garnered a valuable piece of wisdom and that is to become a “joiner” in 2024!
Dr. Kiener has always played a role in expanding my vocabulary, and the term “joiner” is a perfect example of this. Throughout our countless meetings, Dr. Kiener had taken the time to describe what many of our podcast guests had shared as their “Mentor Moment”, their lesson or key takeaway from the episode. Each guest, in their own way, has encouraged our listeners to take a risk, step out of their comfort zone, and become what we now call a joiner. Whether it's a cooking class, an after work happy hour, or a professional organization, becoming a joiner can deliver incredible benefits. Of these countless benefits, I wanted to highlight the following ten.
Becoming a joiner, in its essence, is about taking risks. Think of all of the skills, successes, and accomplishments you have experienced from the previous year. I am willing to bet that most of these personal and professional milestones began with that first step outside of your comfort zone. Uncomfortability tends to cultivate personal growth. Overcoming challenges, learning more about yourself; becoming a joiner can become a fast-track to self-development!
Learning from Others
Aside from the personal discoveries we can make, a richer wealth can be found from those around us. It can be easy to impulsively stick to what we know, and teach ourselves when we need to. At the end of the day, this just isn’t a long-term strategy for success! Participation can increase opportunities to learn from others. Skills, advice, and knowledge are more easily obtainable when we decide to participate and engage with those around us!
Cultivating a Sense of Purpose
When we join organizations that align with our values, it is easier to take notice of movements and missions much bigger than ourselves! A new dimension enters our lives when we discover that what we do can serve a greater purpose. Our time and energy holds more significance and more value when we explore those intrinsic ambitions and pursuits. Whether that looks like a community project, a volunteer committee at work, or bringing donuts to your coworkers, becoming a joiner opens the possibility to find more meaning and value in how we spend our time!
Expanding Your Cultural Awareness
Becoming a member of diverse groups can expose us to brand new experiences and revelations. Expanding cultural awareness can be a daunting task for some, and this is especially true when we try to tackle it alone. I would say that it becomes nearly impossible! Participating as a guest in others’ cultures can be the first step in broadening our scope of what life can look like. Learning from those with different backgrounds allows us to build a sense of empathy and understanding that can be difficult to obtain when we stay within our own comfort zone.
Enhancing Your Well-being
Social connections have been linked to improved mental and emotional well-being. Participating in a community or group can provide emotional support, reduce feelings of isolation, and contribute to your overall happiness. Typically, New Year’s Resolutions can be attributed to physical-related goals such as eating healthier or exercising more. While these aspirations can hold plenty of value, becoming a joiner serves as that extra boost our bodies need to succeed and stay healthy.
Fostering a Sense of Community
Organizations, teams, social circles, and friend groups- they all have it! Community is the nuts and bolts of how we operate, not just professionally but as human beings! In a world that has become more isolated, community can become a much more elusive treasure. For those whose community has been difficult to find, consider creating it! Facebook groups, online forums, and community networking events; all are avenues to begin cultivating your own sense of community.
Whether you describe yourself as creative or not, we often find ourselves in the business of problem-solving. We often think of mind-blowing discoveries as the product of one person, (i.e. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, Marie Curie’s Theory of Radioactivity, Steve Job’s iPhone, etc.) Realistically, it took teams of people for these ideas to come to fruition. Regardless of the problem we are solving, most effective solutions aren’t created by a single person. Working in conjunction with others creates more potential for thinking outside the box!
Finding Support During Challenges
Despite the new year just beginning, some of us may already be experiencing setbacks, challenges, or barriers. When life decides to knock us back, having a team in our corner becomes even more valuable. Becoming a joiner increases the odds of growing our support system, and in turn, allows us to join the support systems of others. Like I mentioned above, having a community can help us solve problems, or just provide us that emotional safety net when life gets tough.
Access to Resources
Joining others often looks like building a bridge. Whether it's a wooden bridge over a creek (some random person you met in the elevator) or the Golden Gate Bridge (a resource sharing committee at work), bridges were meant to be used! What kind of resources, ideas, programs, and services can we start sending and receiving through the relationships we build?
Celebrating Achievements Together
We all typically hope for success when we make our goals for the new year. Whether it's yourself, the others around you, or an entire team, achievements feel better when they can be celebrated with others. Before we start strategizing our new milestones and aspirations, take a moment to review the previous year! What are some of the recent achievements that you, your friend group, family, workplace, or community have accomplished in 2023? Take the time to celebrate with them!
Of course, becoming a joiner is never easy when we all start out. Saying “yes” to something typically can be scary. Start small! Like a retirement account, the benefits of being a joiner typically compound as time passes. Smaller actions made at the beginning of our year can net countless benefits into the future. I hope that this post can serve as encouragement for you as we enter the new year, pick up new hobbies, and continue our path of self-development.
Speaking of joining…ever considered joining our family of listeners on Mentor Moments? Listen to those that have taken the plunge, and learn the benefits they have seen from becoming a joiner!
For more information on the Missouri Rehabilitation Association Eastern Chapter.
Listen to more episodes of Mentor Moments!