How putting purpose into your New Year’s resolutions can bring meaning and results

How putting purpose into your New Year’s resolutions can bring meaning and results

Remembering why you want to eat better and take better care of yourself can help you stick to your resolutions. Being present to family is one important reason.
Prostock studio/Shutterstock.com

People worldwide make New Year’s resolutions every year in an attempt to improve their lives. Common resolutions are to exercise more, eat healthier, save money, lose weight and reduce stress.

Yet, 80% of people agree that most people won’t stick to their resolutions. This pessimism is somewhat justified. Only 4% of people report following through on all of the resolutions they personally set.

We have spent years studying motivation, emotion regulation and behavior in family relationships, athletic performance and health information processing in the marketplace. Now at USC’s Performance Science Institute, we help people attain and sustain high performance in all aspects of their lives.

Based on our research, we propose a potential solution to the problem of New Year’s resolutions that people can’t keep: encouraging people to reframe their resolutions to emphasize purpose-based performance.

Why the failures?

What leads to so many abandoned New Year’s resolutions?

A large body of research on goal-setting and habits provides insight into the various reasons for failed resolutions.

Many people are not framing their resolutions in ways that will motivate them over time. For example, “exercise more” is a fairly clear directive, but it lacks depth and personal meaning that could help promote follow through. Overly simplified resolutions, such as “exercise more” and “eat healthier” contribute to the ongoing problem that emerges as early as mid-January each year: unintentional neglect of important self-improvement goals.

Thinking of purpose as you ponder your resolutions can imbue them with joy and meaning.
Kiefer Pix/Shutterstock.com

Make it purposeful

Purpose has been defined simply as someone’s reason for doing something. However, scientists have recently developed a more comprehensive framework for purpose.

Purpose is associated with positive outcomes for people of all ages. People with a sense of purpose make more money, cope with life hardships more effectively and are healthier across the lifespan. Organizations that foster or reinforce employees’ sense of purpose are now referred to as “high performance workplaces”.

In the context of goal-setting for the new year, the concept of purpose-based performance becomes especially relevant. In our research, we have found that purpose-based performance is much healthier and more sustainable than outcome-driven performance.

Purpose-based performance has three critical, interrelated components: goal orientation, personal meaning and focus on something or someone beyond the self. We provide three questions that you can ask yourself when developing New Year’s resolutions to inspire purpose-based performance.

What are my longer-term goals?

The first thing to consider is your long-term goals, and how each resolution fits with those goals. Purpose-based performance includes goal orientation, or an internal compass that directs people toward some long-term aim. This orientation helps people organize and prioritize more immediate actions to make progress toward that aim. People who are goal-oriented and remind themselves of their “end game” live consistently with their beliefs and values and perform better on the immediate goals they set.

When setting New Year’s resolutions, many people end up with a long list of simple resolutions without thinking deeply about their rationale for each resolution, or where each resolution will take them. Linking an immediate goal with a longer-term aim can sustain progress. Thinking about who you want to become can help you decide which resolution(s) to take on.

Why is this personally important?

The next step to consider is why each resolution is personally meaningful for you. When people pursue personally meaningful goals, they are not only more intrinsically motivated but also find more joy in the process of goal pursuit. They are able to reframe challenges as opportunities for personal growth. In one study with elite athletes, we found that personal meaning helped them regulate their emotions when things didn’t go their way and display more patience as they pursued their goals.

Someone who pursues a goal for external rewards that are contingent on a particular end result – for example, validation that comes from winning – is likely to experience shame when they fall short of their goal. Even when they win, they may feel disappointed because the end result does not bring meaning to their life. This is exemplified by the “post-Olympic blues,” when Olympians experience depression after such a significant accomplishment.

Spend time thinking about your motivation for each resolution. Ask yourself, are you focused on a particular outcome because it will give you self-esteem, status or something else? It can be helpful to think about the potential meaning found in the process of pursuing a goal, regardless of whether you attain the desired outcome.

Who will be positively affected by this?

The final step is to consider who or what, beyond yourself, will be positively affected by your resolution(s). Desire to be a part of something greater than the self, or transcendent motivation, is beneficial for performance for several reasons.

Being healthy for one’s kids can be a motivating goal.
Pixel head photo digital skillet/Shutterstock.com

Linking a resolution to transcendent motivation can be a powerful source of inspiration. Someone may link exercise goals to a charitable cause they care about, or they may think about how improving their health will make them a better partner, friend or parent. Research shows transcendent motivation improves self-regulation when things get dull or repetitive during goal pursuit, and it strengthens character virtues like patience and generosity. When someone’s transcendent motivation is prosocial in nature, they are willing to accept feedback about performance and receive increased social support in the workplace.

Think about the bigger picture. Consider whom you are helping with each goal. Potential impact beyond yourself is added fuel for your goal pursuit.

Reframing your resolutions

What might New Year’s resolutions that incorporate purpose-based performance look like? Using the three questions above, we have reworked three common resolutions to reflect purpose-based performance:

  • “Exercise more” becomes “I commit to working out two times per week so I can be more present and energized with my children, so they feel more loved and inspired by me.”
  • “Save money” becomes “I commit to saving US$100 per paycheck so I feel more secure in my role as a husband and father, which will ultimately benefit my family.”
  • “Lose weight” becomes “I commit to losing ten pounds so I feel more confident at work, and my coworkers will experience a more positive version of me.”

Cheers to a new, purpose-filled year!

[ Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter. ]The Conversation

Benjamin Houltberg, Research Director, Performance Science Institute, University of Southern California and Arianna Uhalde, Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing, University of Southern California

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

UrbanFaith x Faitth Brooks: Remember Me Now

UrbanFaith x Faitth Brooks: Remember Me Now

Faitth Brooks believes that Black women’s lives, voices, and journeys need to matter now. Trevor Noah said in his final monologue as a host of The Daily Show that his final thought as host of one of the most recognizable shows in the country is to listen to black women. We need to remember black women now more than ever.

In 2020 at the height of the pandemic there was a national push to support the movement for black lives in the United States of America. After years of challenges, rejection, confrontation and dismissal people from high powered CEOs to rural school teachers wanted to support Black Lives Matter. Combining with the #metoo movement there was a push to talk about the senseless killings of Black women. The country suddenly wanted to remember black women’s lives mattered after Breonna Taylor’s life was taken.

Faitth Brooks was doing antiracist and women’s flourishing work in the aftermath. And after years of reflecting she came to a truth, we need to remember black women now, not only when they have been killed. She tells her story and creates space for other black women to be uplifted in her new book Remember Me Now: A Journey Back to Myself and a Love Letter to Black Women. UrbanFaith sat down with Faitth to talk about her journey, her new book, and her thoughts on how we can join in remembering black women now. More about the book is below, the full interview is above.

 

 

Sunday school looks different since pandemic’s start: From monthly to missing

Sunday school looks different since pandemic’s start: From monthly to missing

Youth participate in a combination vacation Bible school and summer camp at Crossroads Community Cathedral in East Hartford, Connecticut, in July 2021. Photo courtesy of Crossroads Community Cathedral

Republished from Religion News Service

(RNS) — At St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in the Chicago suburb of Woodstock, Illinois, the once weekly Christian education program is now monthly, and known as “Second Sunday Sunday School.”

At Crossroads Community Cathedral, an Assemblies of God church in East Hartford, Connecticut, “children’s church” continues to thrive each weekend, and “The Little Drummer Dude” production was presented in early December, but Christian education for young people is described as “one of our greatest weaknesses.”

At Mattie Richland Baptist Church in Pineview, Georgia, the adults have been back in Sunday school and the kids led a Black history presentation, but the bus that picks up children for their education program will remain idle until January.

Sunday school, adult forums and other Christian formation classes, already threatened by declines in worship attendance, have been further challenged since COVID-19 shuttered churches and sent their services online. A study by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research said more than half were disrupted in some way. Other research shows religious education for adults has bounced back more than for younger church members.

Scott Thumma address the conference in Nov. 2022. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Scott Thumma speaks during the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion on Nov. 12, 2022, in Baltimore. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

“For some, it continued without any real major disruptions, and for others, it basically collapsed,” said Scott Thumma, the institute’s director, summing up its 2022 pandemic-related research during an October event at Yale Divinity School. “And the easiest way to make it collapse was to keep religious education for children and youth online. If you kept it online, you probably don’t have a religious education program now.”

The Rev. Scott Zaucha, pastor of St. Ann’s in Woodstock, a mostly white congregation with about 50 attending on Sundays, said its Sunday school had ceased to exist before the pandemic because of its aging congregation. He wondered how to begin it again and learned that online Christian education was not the answer because it seemed like “another thing to try to keep up with” when regular schooling was online.


RELATED: Half of churches say Sunday school, other education programs disrupted by pandemic


Zaucha found that meeting one Sunday a month in person was the best route, realizing that even if families choose St. Ann’s as their congregational home, they may not be weekly attenders.

“When you have only a few families with kids at your church, and you have two kids on this Sunday and six kids on that Sunday,” he said, “they’re all sort of spread out. But if you say, ‘Hey, families, we’re going to have Sunday school once a month.’ Then it lets them know when is the best Sunday for them to come if they’re only going to choose one.”

Crafts made by children in Sunday school classes decorate St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, Illinois. Photo courtesy of St. Ann's

Crafts made by children in Sunday school classes decorate St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, Illinois. Photo courtesy of St. Ann’s

In Orthodox churches, research shows that the parishes that never ceased holding in-person religious education classes for their children and teenagers fared better than those that halted the Sunday school lessons, with some even increasing the number of attendees. The combination of attending worship as well as Sunday school and seeing other youth on a regular basis became crucial for their participation.

“For them, it has become even more valuable through the pandemic for those parishes, which kept young people together,” said Alexei Krindatch, national coordinator of the National Census of Orthodox Christian Churches, in an interview conducted at the Religious Research Association conference in November. “It was an excuse to get together.”

At Crossroads, a multicultural congregation with about 1,500 gathering each weekend, online campus pastor Luke Monahan has tried numerous options to keep adults and kids engaged since the start of the pandemic. In 2020 there were daily adult devotional videos and two a week for kids. Online options appealed more to the adults than to the kids — his own youngster, at age 6, “shut the little laptop and ran away,” he said. An online kids’ church video he had developed gained little traction.

“One month, I didn’t put it out and didn’t notify anyone on purpose,” said Monahan, who also directs IT and education at the Connecticut church. “Nobody said, ‘Where did that video go?’”

Thumma said in his presentation at Yale that adults have had a much more positive reaction to religious education that is not in person. “Adults seem to love religious education online,” he said. “And we’re hearing stories about all kinds of Bible studies, all kinds of prayer meetings, all kinds of education events that are happening online for adults, but not for children and youth.”

Publishing companies are seeking to respond.

Urban Ministries Inc. has found that adults, even those who aren’t tech-savvy, are interested in its digital platform, Precepts Digital, which launched this year. The video-enhanced Bible study is meant for individuals or small groups.

An individual uses the Precepts Digital digital Bible study program. Photo courtesy of Urban Ministries Inc.

An individual uses the Precepts Digital Bible study program. Photo courtesy of Urban Ministries Inc.

“We have been encouraged by the oldest members of our audience embracing digital,” said UMI CEO Jeffrey Wright, whose Christian education publishing company primarily serves African American congregations. “You expect pushback from nondigital natives. And in one focus group, a person commented, ‘Well, you know, it’s harder but it’s worth it.’”

After the pandemic caused a significant drop — Wright estimates a 60% to 80% decrease — in requests for materials for children and youth in the African American community, the company is working on a children’s version of its digital Bible lessons.

“We have a crisis of catechism going on in America right now,” Wright said, expressing concern for the religious upbringing of the youngest generation.

“If you think about it, a 4- or 5-year-old kid, say, born in 2017 or 2018, has never been in an Easter program or a Christmas program and given that little speech you gave when you were a little kid up in the front of the church. Hasn’t happened. Children aren’t being served.”

Children color an Illustrated Ministry poster during Advent. Photo courtesy of Illustrated Ministry

Children color an Illustrated Ministry poster during Advent. Photo courtesy of Illustrated Ministry

Illustrated Ministry, a 7-year-old publishing company that aimed at progressive Christian congregations, also has sought to provide materials to churches as they shifted from in-person to online and, sometimes, back and forth again, depending on the stage of the pandemic.

Adam Walker Cleaveland, who founded the company in Racine, Wisconsin, said he is seeing a greater demand for resources that provide stand-alone lessons for those who may not be attending Sunday school week after week.

Adam Walker Cleaveland. Photo by Karen Walker

Adam Walker Cleaveland. Photo by Karen Walker

“Since COVID, we have seen increasing need for curriculum and resources that are extremely flexible, extremely adaptable,” he said.

Though many of Illustrated Ministry’s products, including children’s bulletins, children’s ministry curricula and pages to color, are designed for children, they can also be used in intergenerational activities around a table at home.

Walker Cleaveland said his organization is also keeping in mind the volunteer teachers — also in shorter supply since the start of the pandemic — who are preparing for Bible lessons, making sure the work is not too time-consuming.

“In terms of our materials, we try to make it so that there isn’t that in-depth prep required, there’s not a huge supply list,” he said. “So you don’t have to make a trip to Michael’s every week before Sunday school.”

Pastor Florine Newberry, who leads Mattie Richland Baptist, said its membership rolls have grown from 50 to 96 as the congregation shifted from predominantly Black to a more diverse group after welcoming people who stopped to listen to her outdoor sermons during the pandemic.

After preaching at her church’s front door to people who remained seated socially distant near their cars, the congregation is back inside and adult Sunday school started earlier this year. But formal Christian education for teens and children has been limited due to the pandemic and concerns about respiratory syncytial virus, commonly called RSV.

Youth give presentations on Black history at Mattie Richland Baptist Church in Pineview, Georgia. Photo by Ja'Qwan Davenport

Youth give presentations on Black history at Mattie Richland Baptist Church in Pineview, Georgia. Photo by Ja’Qwan Davenport

Instead, Newberry has picked up the phone and suggested particular Scriptures to encourage them when they told her of bullying that’s occurred at school.

But Newberry is looking forward to Jan. 1, when she expects to use her church’s bus to pick up children for Sunday school after deciding it is safe to transport them again.

“If you can get ’em while they’re at that age, you can really make a difference,” she said of the children who’ve been inquiring about when she’s going to pick them up.

“Once I get them back in Sunday school, I’ll be happy.”

Kick Up Some Dust: An Interview with Bernie Marcus

Bernie Marcus is known today as the successful co-founder of one of the most recognizable companies in the country: Home Depot. He is an author with his book Kick Up Some Dust: Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself.  But his journey has been filled with obstacles and opportunities that brought him to this place. He overcame poverty, failures, setbacks, and antisemitism to become the successful business leader and philanthropist he is today. He worked with award winning biographer Catherine Lewis to tell his story and sat down with UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura to share his wisdom. The full interview is above, more about the book is below.

 

The start of Home Depot sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: Two Jews and an Italian decide to build a new kind of hardware store… In 1978, Bernie Marcus’s livelihood depended on just such a scenario. Having been fired at the age of forty-nine, he teamed up with Arthur Blank and Ken Langone on a bold new endeavor. Their first day in business was so disastrous that the next morning, Marcus’s wife wouldn’t let him shave because she didn’t want a razor in his hands. But the last laugh would be theirs, as the business partners grew Home Depot into the world’s largest home improvement retailer, empowering millions of Americans to “do it yourself.”

The same energy that made Home Depot successful has helped Bernie give away more than $2 billion and pioneer a new model for philanthropy, transforming millions of lives. There is no single, winning formula for trying to make the world a better place, but Bernie shares what he’s learned—that the skills needed to build a Fortune 500 company are the same ones that can help cure cancer, treat veterans with PTSD, and transform autism treatment. And it doesn’t take a fortune to make a big difference in your community.

Kick Up Some Dust will inspire you to dream, build, and give—and, maybe, change the world.

7 Tips for Success from Mark Cuban (EXCLUSIVE)

7 Tips for Success from Mark Cuban (EXCLUSIVE)

Q & A

1. When you look back at your life, what are two leadership traits that have served you well?

Mark Cuban: I think caring about people and curiousity, always trying to learn more to be better

2. What should young adults look for, when deciding on a career?

MC: I don’t think they need to find careers.  I think they need to find a job and start learning and see where it takes you. I think that everyone should be a free agent, always looking for a way to put themselves in a better situation. If you end up with the same company for 30 years that’s great. But it’s not a necessity

3. When deciding who to work or partner with, what are some nonnegotiable’s for you?

MC: Being nice. Being inclusive.  Being knowledgeable. Loving your product so much you are the best salesperson for it

4. You are a man of conviction and character, why is maintaining that important to you?

MC: It’s so much easier when you do the right thing

5. What advice, do you give young investors who want to start investing? What should they look for?

MC: Pay off your credit cards.  They suck your savings dry. Save enough to be able to live off of for at least 6 months first.  Things go wrong. You want to have that rainy day money available. Then find a low cost SPX mutual fund and take a percent of your salary and invest it every month and then forget it’s there.  The longer you can go without touching it, the richer you will be

6. What advice, would you give younger Mark Cuban?

MC: Don’t screw it up. It turns out pretty good 🙂

7. How important is your faith?

MC: I try to never take this life for granted.  It’s a gift and I try to enjoy it with my family every single day

Uphill: An Interview with Jamele Hill

Uphill: An Interview with Jamele Hill

Jemele Hill became known as a popular journalist in sports, but she is now one of the clearest voices in the country for social justice. She is a woman of faith and at the same time a fierce critic who asks questions and fights for the marginalized.

UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura sat down with Jamele Hill to talk about her new memoir Uphill where she tells her own story with the depth and clarity she has used to tell other people’s stories for decades. The full interview is above, more about the book is below.

 

Jemele Hill’s world came crashing down when she called President Trump a “white supremacist”; the White House wanted her fired from ESPN, and she was deluged with death threats. But Hill had faced tougher adversaries growing up in Detroit than a tweeting president. Beneath the exterior of one of the most recognizable journalists in America was a need—a calling—to break her family’s cycle of intergenerational trauma.

Born in the middle of a lively routine Friday night Monopoly game to a teen mother and a heroin-addicted father, Hill constantly adjusted to the harsh realities of not only her own childhood but the inherited generational pain of her mother and grandmother. Her escape was writing.

Hill’s mother was less than impressed with the brassy and bold free expression of her diary, but Hill never stopped discovering and amplifying her voice. Through hard work and a constant willingness to learn, Hill rose from newspaper reporter to columnist to new heights as the coanchor for ESPN’s revered SportsCenter. Soon, she earned respect and support for her fearless opinions and unshakable confidence, as well as a reputation as a trusted journalist who speaks her mind with truth and conviction.

In Jemele Hill’s journey Uphill, she shares the whole story of her work, the women of her family, and her complicated relationship with God in an unapologetic, character-rich, and eloquent memoir