New Year, new you, nice try. We all fall into the same trap of “new year’s resolutions.” This time, year after year, gym prices become “discounted,” self-help books flood our Instagram feeds, and green shakes capitalize the end caps of our local supermarket. We are overwhelmed with the idea that we can change ourselves if we try just hard enough, so let’s push ourselves to reach that yearly goal. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into this cyclical way of thinking every year. Are you focusing your energy on changing the right things?
Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Research has shown that our personality does not change. About 50% of our personality is determined by our genetic make-up. The other 50% is based on the “nurture” effect, or how you find you fit in society. People tend to seek out settings that match their personality. It’s not often you find an introvert relaxing at a networking event. We create environments for ourselves that reflect our personalities, i.e. extroverts pursue parties to unwind on the weekend.
Our research at PREPARE/ENRICH is aligned with the notion that personality doesn’t change. The personality portion of our assessment, SCOPE (which stands for social, change, organized, pleasing, and emotionally steady) is based off of the Five Factor model. For the most part, we understand that this scale stays static through couples who have taken our assessment multiple times.
However, there is a scale that you, as an individual, can change – the Relationship Dynamics scale. This scale assesses different traits you possess in a relationship and how strong or weak you are in those areas – it is not reflective of your agreement as a couple, but rather where you, as an individual, lie on these different attribute spectrums. Our Relationship Dynamic scale measures assertiveness, self-confidence, avoidance, and partner dominance, as these traits are found to change as a person intentionally grows. The more we communicate and work on those areas of ourselves, the better the outcome.
People don’t change, they grow. We grow as individuals, we grow as couples, and we grow as a society. Growth takes time and constant evaluation of yourself and your situations. The more people learn about themselves, the more they can become the best version of themselves. But this doesn’t mean that people will change the essence of who they are. Don’t expect your partner to change their personality, because that’s an unrealistic expectation to have. Our partners aren’t our projects.
However, if you have had the conversation and you both want to grow, you’re in luck – that’s healthy and realistic.
Make it your New Year’s resolution to grow as a couple. Hold each other and yourself accountable for your goals. Take the non-facilitated version of our assessment, called Couple Checkup, at the start of the year, then retake it at the end of the year to track your growth and progress. .
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea that New Year’s resolution should result in a “new you.” But it’s our unique personality quirks that attracted us to our partners in the first place and those traits are unlikely to change. By focusing your time and energy on creating positive growth in yourself and your relationship, you set yourself up for future success.