Dr. Bill Damon, Director of the Stanford Center for Adolescence and a world leader in purpose research, defines purpose as “a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond the self”.
Having a sense of purpose is fundamental to cultivating a meaningful life because it connects you to your raison d'être, something that matters deeply to you and gives your life direction. Without this internal compass, it is easy to slip into a life defined by the expectations of the people around you and your wider culture, even when they might not be in line with what you are seeking in life.
In her book, The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters, Emily Esfahani Smith outlines four pillars of a meaningful life:
At Project Wayfinder we think there is also a fifth pillar:
Our toolkit encourages students to explore the roles these five pillars play in their lives and offers ways to deepen their experience of each. Consequently, the first two thirds of our toolkit cultivate self-awareness and world-awareness, while the third phase more explicitly focuses on purpose. We encourage students to think of purpose as a non-linear and reflective process they can draw upon for guidance throughout their life.
Learn more about purposeful education from Project Wayfinder's founder, Patrick Cook-Deegan: