More Americans are making New Year’s resolutions this year, with health-related resolutions topping the list, a new survey finds. About two-thirds of us who are making resolutions are focusing on health, including mental health and self-care goals.
This is not surprising given that 31% of Americans reported in an August poll that their mental health had worsened in the pandemic. More than three-quarters (76%) of Americans who intend to make resolutions are thinking about them more seriously this year than in the past. Yet resolutions are easier to make than they are to keep.
According to some statistics, fewer than 10% of people who make New Year’s resolutions keep them for a more than a few months. That doesn’t have to be you, but sticking to your goals requires getting in touch with your “why.” By that, I mean discovering the purpose of your life.
When your life has meaning, it can help you persevere during difficult times and align goals and resolutions to achieve your purpose. One of the best ways to discover your purpose is to develop your own personal mission statement.
A mission describes the reason an entity exists — whether it’s a business, an organization, or an individual. It defines what you stand for and where you’re headed. It serves as a source of direction, a kind of compass to help you focus your efforts. A mission statement can help unify the diverse elements that make up your life, direct your activities toward your goals, and guide your decisions about priorities, actions, and responsibilities.
Every human being has a mission, although not everyone takes the time to discover what it is. Thankfully, there are tools you and directions on how to do so. One of them is the acronym POPP.
POPP stands for Personality, Opportunity, People, and Places. These four aspects of your life contain valuable information that can help you discover and implement your mission. Look closely at your life experiences in each of these areas and you will see patterns emerge that will direct you toward your calling.
You have an inimitable personality. Your characteristics, both innate and cultivated, define your unique nature. The way you think, the way you feel, the way you dress, the way you communicate, the way you look — all are attributes exclusive to you. All the details of your temperament and disposition — the positive and the negative, both your qualities and your weaknesses — are signposts leading you to your mission.
You can bet that your mission includes utilizing your positive attributes while cultivating your negative attributes to refine yourself and the world. Self-awareness is the first step in mission-awareness; self-discovery is the first step in mission-discovery. Know your own unique personality, and you are a step closer to understanding your mission. For example, an artist could use his skill to open up people to new ways of looking at life. A sensitive soul must utilize her empathy to give people hope.
You were blessed with particular opportunities. Family and friends provide various connections, which can open up all sorts of opportunities. Education is another source of opportunity, as are the resources you have earned or inherited. Different offers will come your way throughout your life. Your family’s business, a friend’s introduction, even a seemingly “random” encounter may bring you new opportunities.
You have many opportunities, be they professional or personal, earned or inherited. When recognized for what they are, these opportunities become fundamental markers to discovering and fulfilling your mission. For instance, if you have a trust fund, trust that it is there for you to change the world. If you work in a cubicle and spend a lot of time at the water cooler, you can share meaningful tidbits at one of your many rehydration breaks. Your mission might just bubble to the surface.
The people you have met and will meet in your life — family, friends, co-workers, even so called “random” encounters with strangers — all carry sparks of ignition that can further direct you in discovering your mission.
The people in your life all have their strengths and weaknesses. The fact that they are part of your life means that your mission includes dealing with them, even in relationships that are challenging. The people in your life can teach you about your mission and help you you discover yourself and your calling. For example, your mother-in-law may be there to keep you humble. Or the trials that your best friend goes through might teach you about your own capacity to help others.
The places you have been — where you live, where you travel — can add another dimension as you map out your mission. Each place has its own character and offers unique possibilities. Even a seemingly inconsequential detour, or one that frustrates you, may be integral on the path to your mission. Wherever you are is where your mission is. For example, traveling to a country with a culture that is totally different from your own can show you what you truly value and don’t value.
It may take some work to review your POPP. It’s always a good idea to consult with an objective friend who can help you look at these four areas, and see how they define your mission. The more you invest in this discovery, the clearer your results will be.
Discovering and embracing your personal mission statement can help you live with more joy and overcome feelings of anxiety, frustration, sadness and aimlessness. It can give you greater clarity and guide your decisions, priorities, actions, and responsibilities, and help you focus in the midst of distractions that would pull you off course.
One final thought: A mission statement must be directed not to your personal gain, but to a higher goal. The common thread in every mission statement is its overarching goals are for the common good.
Once you recognize your calling, you can use all your tools and resources to take in a new and focused direction. May you be blessed to discover and embrace your mission and implement it in everything you do.