Dr. Bill Damon - the Director of the Stanford Center for Adolescence - defines purpose as “a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something meaningful to the self + consequential to the world," - or visually:
Having 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 others, even when it might not be what you are seeking.
Here are our five frameworks we consider part of a meaningful life. You will see that purpose is one of five pillars:
Our toolkit encourages students to explore the roles that all these pillars play in their lives and offers ways to deepen their experience of each. Consequently, the first two thirds of our toolkit cultivates 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.
Note: The above categories are adapted from Emily Esfahani Smith's book, The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters,