Maintain Don’t Gain: Developing a Sense of Purpose in the New Year
Week 7: Home Stretch
You’re in the home stretch! You just need to find a path through leftover holiday sweets and new year’s revelries. Then you can use your momentum to set a positive trajectory for the new year.
Finish Strong: Make Your Last Commitment For This Week on Your Holiday Action Plan
1. Weigh In
Follow the weigh-in instructions for the week Dec. 29-Jan 4.
2. Write a Commitment
If you haven’t already filled in a specific commitment for Dec. 29-Jan 4, go ahead and do that now. Use what you learned from the earlier weeks to make specific commitments that you can stick to in your action track for this final week of the program. If you need a refresher on what types of actions you can do on your action track, re-read the guide to creating a Holiday Action Plan.
3. Finish Strong
You’ve come this far. Finish strong.
Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions — Developing a Sense of Purpose is Longer Lasting
The new year is a time of rebirth—in the cycle of the year, the old year passes and the new year is born. It makes sense that many of us feel inspired to turn over a new leaf, set out on a new path; the brand new year gives us enthusiasm and energy.
Many of us have also experienced the defeat of new year’s resolutions that fizzle and fade. A common reason for this is that resolutions are often based on a narrow view of our lives; we focus on the “what” rather than the “why”, and because we don’t have a strong sense of the “why”, the “what” can fade in luster or seeming importance after a short time. For example, “I resolve to save more money”; why am I resolving to do this? Is it because of a nebulous feeling that “I should”, or something deeper—perhaps having more savings will aid me in spending my time in more purposeful pursuits. If I don’t have a strong sense of the latter, saving more money is easy to neglect whenever something shiny comes along to purchase.
Developing a sense of purpose doesn’t only help you find direction and make decisions—according to Blue Zones, author, Dan Buettner, it’s one of the nine things that people who live to 100 have in common, and it can add up to 7 years to your life expectancy. And according to this Washington Post article, “dozens of studies have shown that seniors with a sense of purpose in life are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, disabilities, heart attacks or strokes, and more likely to live longer than people without this kind of underlying motivation.” The article also says that, “older adults with a solid sense of purpose tend to retain strong hand grips and walking speeds.”
So rather than simply setting a weight maintenance or weight loss goal for the new year or the coming months, developing a sense of purpose can help you figure out why it might be important to you, which will most likely help you achieve a higher level of success with this and anything else you feel drawn to.
There are a number of ways of developing a sense of purpose, and the ways we’re going to highlight here involve setting aside a time, maybe 20-30 minutes, to sit down with a piece of paper and ask yourself some questions.
A Few Approaches to Developing a Sense of Purpose
Try out one or more of the approaches below. (Note that some of the authors sell additional information such as books and courses, but each of the articles stands on its own without you needing to buy anything.)
- Nick Seneca Jankel asks you to think about freeing yourself from “shoulds” and then asks 10 easy-to-answer, yet deep questions.
- Sean Kelly asks you to write down what gives you energy and what drains your energy.
- Steve Pavlina simply has you write what you think your true purpose is multiple times until you feel a shift in your answers.
- Bestselling author Mark Manson gives you 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose. Please note that Mark’s writing approach is to use a few targeted expletives as a device to illustrate and emphasize his ideas, so don’t click on this one if profanity doesn’t agree with you.
- Finally, the website Life Coach Spotter provides a comprehensive approach with 6 exercises in their guide to finding your life purpose. This guide will probably take you way more than 30 minutes. Also, please note that this website is primarily a service for matching people with paid life coaches, so be aware of that, and definitely don’t feel the need to sign up—the guide stands on its own.