12 Jan Zeitgeist
As I write this article, the holidays have just passed. I find the holidays a bit stressful; I’m somewhat introverted, and having obligatory social interaction everyday wears on me a bit. I couldn’t wait to get back into my routine; work is less tiring for me than the vacation I took around New Years! Of course, the holidays are also magical for me; spending quality time with friends and family wears me out, but it also fills my heart with gratitude and love. Many folks have the same experience around the holidays; buying gifts, planning meals and going out can be exhausting, but it’s also exhilarating. Talk with almost anyone around the holidays about the holidays, and they’re almost certain to express the same mix of apprehension and joy.
This is zeitgeist, “the spirit of the times”. Zeitgeist can span eras; the zeitgeist of the industrial age might have been one of hard-work and innovation, while the current zeitgeist might be rapid social change. Zeitgeist can also last a season, like the holidays, or a short period, like during an election cycle. New Year’s and the following weeks has its own zeitgeist; a collective push towards renewal and improvement. For collective movement to occur, a lot of force is needed to push society out of its inertia. New Year’s helps us clear the inertia that keeps us from getting motivated to do what we need to, but for how long?
Less than 10% of New Year’s Resolutions are kept. That’s a shame, because we start out on the right foot; we start out motivated. Groups can be a powerful motivator; having a buddy to go to the gym with can help you find the will to get out of bed and pump iron. Having some friends who are trying to lose 10 pounds with you can help you stay on that goal. In order to stay motivated, use the force of New Year’s zeitgeist to keep pushing you forward. Collective resolution making can lead to collective accountability, so long as you create realistic, measurable goals, and share those goals with those around you. Ask them to share their goals with you, and continue to talk about your resolutions as the year goes on, instead of abandoning resolution talk in January.
The power of group motivation is obvious if it’s used consciously, but motivational zeitgeist doesn’t have to be limited to New Year’s. Special events, like having motivational speakers give a speech for your organization, can also create the force needed to push people out of their inertia. When a motivational speech is given, people in your organization will start talking about motivation; it’s only natural. Keep them talking. Discuss how the speech affected them, what plans they have for the future, what measurable goals they can create and achieve. Keep yourselves accountable by keeping each other accountable; when the whole group is inspired and motivated, it’s easier to keep the ball rolling.