WHAT IS IT?
Dr. Bill Damon, Director of the Stanford Center for Adolescence, 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.”
We do not believe that people have a single life purpose, but rather they will have different purposes in different parts of their life which will likely change and evolve over time. We encourage students to think of purpose as a non-linear and reflective process they can draw upon for guidance throughout their life.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Having purpose is fundamental to cultivating a meaningful life because it connects you to your raisons d'être, things that matter deeply to you and give your life direction.
Purpose amongst teens has been shown to facilitate identity formation, increase positive attitudes towards diversity, attenuate antisocial behavior and bullying, decrease engagement in risky behaviors, and increase academic engagement. Furthermore, interventions to promote purposeful behavior have been found to lead to significant increases in grade point averages.
But purpose isn’t just important for young people. Adults with a purpose in life report higher levels of psychological well-being, flourishing, hope, resilience and life satisfaction. Furthermore, purposeful people have been found to live longer and have significantly lower incidences of heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke.
HOW DO YOU FIND IT?
If you know how to seek it, purpose can be found in all aspects of your life, including your work, social relationships and the activities you engage in your free time. People find purpose by engaging in projects with three key ingredients: (1) a response to a need in the world they care about, (2) use of their strengths and skills, and (3) something they find joy and value in. We call this paradigm the Wayfinder Purpose Compass.