Changing it up for 2014: Get Agile with New Year’s “Revolutions”

Well, we’re halfway through January (seriously, where did the time go?!), so there’s no better time to do a quick check in with yourself to see how those New Year’s resolutions are panning out. Have you been able to make any new habits stick, or are you still feeling like you’re stuck in the same rut from 2013?

New-Years-Resolution-Cartoon

When we asked our staff the same question (for those of us who actually buy into the whole resolution thing), it became clear that being successful with these desired changes means less about going cold turkey, and more about committing to an ongoing process of overriding old habits and rewiring them with new patterns of behavior until something clicks.

Case in point:
-”My resolution is to be as organized and productive in my personal life as I am at work. I can’t say I’m knocking it out of the park, but I’m making progress. Although the fact the Patriots have been in the playoffs isn’t helping my cause at all since my husband’s participation is required to finish some of my home projects!”
-”This year I wanted to keep it simple, so my resolution was to walk the dogs each evening before dinner. Not only would it be good for all of us to get some fresh air, but it forces me step away from the computer for a few minutes. Our new routine lasted all of a few days, but at least we are getting out more often when we can.”
-”I resoluted to slow down and play with my kids more. It was going well until they got back to school, I went back to work, and they started all their activities. I need to have some sort of reminder to stay on track better.”

See a common theme here?

So did we, which got us thinking about our clients, particularly the Agile software development methods they use (for both product development and team management) and how much more fluid an iterative and incremental approach can be when it comes to making significant, sustained progress. As you know, Agile is a solution-oriented process that relies on adaptive planning and evolutionary processes, along with rapid and flexible response to change…so if it’s been proven successful in our business lives, it only makes sense that we could apply the same techniques in our personal lives, as well.

Enter what we like to call our New Year’s “Revolutions” for 2014.

Sure, we still need to keep an eye on the bigger picture (such as losing 10 pounds or seeing X increase in revenue), but you’ll get there more quickly if you create a list of actionable steps for the short-term, adjusting as you go along. Is something working – like a pitch that strikes a nerve with reporters, or a new way to remind yourself to stop and smell the roses with your kiddos? Then double down on those efforts to see bigger gains. Or is something not working – like an old press release format that’s lost traction, or dog leashes strewn about the house, so it takes you 15 minutes to find them before you lose all momentum to get outside? Then it’s time to switch things up, and try something new that removes the friction that’s preventing you from moving forward.

Respond to change – both positive and negative – and you’ll see results more quickly. See results, and you’ll no doubt be inspired to do more. The cycle slowly snowballs, and before you know it, you’ve got some major momentum to keep you going toward – and achieving – all of those goals.

Have you successfully added agility to your personal life? We’d love to hear more in the comments!

What’s behind our urge to share on social media?

Most of us take Facebook at, well, “face” value – a social network that “connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them,” as the site itself says. But peel back the façade of friends, likes, photos, apps and more, and you’re left with an extensive data set on human social behavior that intrigues scientists and psychologists alike.

From CNN’s first-of-its-kind list of “The 12 most annoying types of Facebookers” to AllFacebook’s more recent post on “7 Facebook Personalities to Avoid” and even Vanity Fair’s take on “The Six Most Common Personality Types on Facebook,”  it’s clear that we’re fascinated by the fact that human interaction has migrated online, and that it’s able to be observed so easily within the Facebook microcosm.

Consider this: Each month, more than 845 million people record and share intimate details of their daily lives, relationships and online activity through their friend connections, messages, photos, check-ins, and clicks. Couple that with predictions that the number of active Facebook users will reach 1 billion in 2012, and you can’t help but ponder the common thread that unites approximately one-seventh of the entire world population, inspiring them to share so freely and publicly.

Well, according to several Harvard University psychologists, there’s a definitive reason behind why we like to reveal our thoughts, views and opinions to friends, near and far. The research, which was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences by Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell of Harvard’s Department of Psychology, even went as far as to claim that humans devote a surprising 30–40 percent of speech output solely to informing others of their own subjective experiences.

Why, exactly, are we compelled to do so? The act of disclosing this information about ourselves actually triggers the same pleasure centers in the brain that are activated by fundamental rewards such as food and sex, according to the study. Throughout the course of their experiments, the pair even found that some of the participants were willing to forgo money in place of disclosing information about their personal experiences!

Tie this back to us and our use of social media – and Facebook, in particular – as PR professionals and marketers, and we can get a much better idea of how to use these tools to connect with (versus broadcast at) target audiences, encouraging them to raise their voice and join in the conversation. And the more we practice this golden rule of social networking – keeping it about “them” not “us” – the more mutual success and satisfaction we’ll find in these relationships, both online and off.

How do you feel about sharing online, and do you have any particular best practices to share regarding personal/professional content? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.