Purpose in the News: April 2017

by Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch. Follow us on Twitter: @PurposeMatch and @AndrewRip

Boom! Your monthly dose of purposeful, social impact news…

Is it Better to Live a Happy Life, or a Meaningful One?

“The Meanings of Life”

Happiness is not the same as a sense of meaning. How do we go about finding a meaningful life, not just a happy one?

Parents often say: ‘I just want my children to be happy.’ It is unusual to hear: ‘I just want my children’s lives to be meaningful,’ yet that’s what most of us seem to want for ourselves. We fear meaninglessness. We fret about the ‘nihilism’ of this or that aspect of our culture. When we lose a sense of meaning, we get depressed. What is this thing we call meaning, and why might we need it so badly?


Africa’s Startup Scene is Powered by Social Impact

Here’s an interesting look at innovation happening on the African continent…


If You Can’t Have the Job You Love, then Love the Job You Have

And of course, not all of us need to launch the next world-changing social venture. Sometimes, it’s about finding purpose in the job you already have. This is a good read.



This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to a Fulfilling Life

Finally, I’ve always found it interesting to think about the entirety of our lives. Meaning — life is short, and when we look back on it, what will we find to be most important? So, courtesy of Harvard, here’s a 75 year study on what creates a meaningful life.


Purpose in the News: March 2017

by Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch. Follow us on Twitter: @PurposeMatch and @AndrewRip

Here’s some interesting news from around the world on the topics of purpose and social impact…

Chasing Happiness? Find Your Purpose Instead

Dr. Jennifer Aaker is an author, behavioral psychologist, and theGeneral Atlantic Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. At the NewCo Shift Forum last month, Aaker presented on “The Purpose of Purpose.” She points out that we chase happiness as a goal, but that truly getting to “happy” involves understanding purpose, both at work and in life.

This is a brilliant talk, so click on the link to watch the full 14 minute video. Dr. Aaker discusses the topic from several perspectives. First, how your individual purpose changes at different stages in your life. But also, how purpose plays out within an organization, and why businesses that have a defined purpose are more successful.


The Next Genius Idea is Creating Global Empathy

Who says that all the genius ideas have to come out of Silicon Valley?

The 92nd Street Y’s annual 7 Days of Genius festival wants to dismantle the idea that “genius” comes from hubs like Silicon Valley, and show that it really happens when people work together.

This is pretty awesome. At “New Lab,” a co-working space in Brooklyn, a crowd gathers to take turns entering a portal, an immersive space equipped with a camera and a human-scale screen that enables anyone who walks in to have what feels like a face-to-face conversation with anyone, anywhere in the world.

Imagine impact entrepreneurs in Brooklyn collaborating with impact entrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda in this virtual environment.

Think of the potential. Through international and cross-cultural collaboration, we help people all over the world reach their fullest potential. The more people reach their potential, the better world we have. The better world we have, the more peaceful world we have. And the more communication we have across distant cultures, the more we break down barriers and help us understand that we’re more alike than we are different.

40 Facts & Figures About The Current Global Economy For Social Innovators

Speaking of Global Impact, a recent report released by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission may be the most comprehensive global economic sustainable development snapshot available in the world today.

Very interesting read, that will give you a snapshot of what’s happening globally, where we continue to make progress in tackling the world’s greatest problems, and where we continue to see the greatest needs.

It’s Not Just About Jobs. Colleges Must Help Students Find their Passions.

This is a great article in the Washington Post by Angel B. Perez, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success at Trinity College in Connecticut. This hits a lot of themes that are in the DNA of PurposeMatch, particularly the facts that people want to find meaningful work, but that also that today’s students will have multiple careers throughout their lifetime, therefore they must learn how to create their own paths.

For decades, colleges and universities have approached career preparation the same way. They provide job-search tools, networking advice, and résumé consulting. Higher education’s approach to helping students plan for the future must change because the landscape that graduates inherit already has.

Research shows today’s students may have between 10 and 14 jobs by the time they are 38 years old. Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, write in “Designing Your Life,” that in the United States, only 27 percent of college graduates are working in the field of their major.

Even employers are taking note of this generation’s interest in finding meaningful work and making changes to their own organizational cultures.

In “Conscious Capitalism,” authors John Mackey and Raj Sisodia highlight companies including Whole Foods Market, Google, Starbucks, Twitter, Deloitte, Pepsi, and the Tata group that have fundamentally transformed their cultures to focus on doing work for the greater good.

They note that “business has a much broader positive impact on the world when it is based on a higher purpose. Purpose is the reason the company exists. A compelling sense of higher purpose creates an extraordinary degree of engagement among all stakeholders and catalyzes creativity, innovation, and organizational commitment.” They believe that employees today look for inspiration to find meaning in their work.

In fact, professor Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School found that “of all the events that can deeply engage people in their jobs, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”

As for how colleges are approaching this…

Some colleges are already implementing course work, advising, and seminars to create a platform for students to use their college years to figure out not only what they are good at doing but also what they are passionate about. However, more should join the movement.

Stanford University’s Life Design Lab, which includes the popular course “Designing Your Life,” is an innovative approach. Harvard University’s “Reflecting on Your Life” sessions and Bates College’s Purposeful Workprogram are other examples. My own institution, Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., recently developed a new strategic plan for student career and personal preparation, a key pillar of which is to create intentional infrastructure in a student’s academic and co-curricular journey that encourages the exploration of purpose and meaning.

Trinity also was one of seven liberal arts colleges that took part in a five-year study that examined how decision-making in college can affect the trajectory of an individual’s post-college life. The study’s results supported the idea that learning takes place as much outside the classroom as inside. The study also showed that the college experience is not a single path toward graduation but one that has varied choices and opportunities along the way.

Your Job Can’t Be the Only Meaningful Thing in Your Life

And finally, here’s an article from “The Science of Us” at New York Magazine, discussing the human psychology behind finding meaning and happiness in your life. While more than 50% of Americans get a “sense of identity” from their job, this piece tries to keep things in perspective, by addressing the fact that your life is much more than just your work.

Consider, for example, Holocaust survivor and preeminent psychologist Victor Frankl in his classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning:

I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche … I have coined this term ‘the self-transcendence of human existence.’ It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone other than oneself.

It continues with recent research that shows…

As meaningful as devoting oneself to mastery may be, devoting oneself to helping others is perhaps even more powerful. (Of course, the two aren’t exclusive.) One of the world’s foremost happiness researchers, Sonya Lyubomirsky, recently told me that her research continues to show that one of the best ways to boost both happiness and meaning is to perform acts of kindness, such as volunteering, mentoring, coaching, or even just writing someone a letter of gratitude. When individuals participate in these activities, she says, they report more positive emotions, both immediately and over time.

Basically, here’s where we find the most meaning —

The key to a meaningful life, it seems, is to think and do less about ourselves. This message feels particularly relevant. Instead of increasingly devoting our time — and if projections about job-replacing technology are right, we may soon have more of it — to ego-boosting pursuits, we’d be wiser to pursue mastery and focus on helping others.

Finally, if the topics of purpose and social impact resonate with you…

I’d like to invite you to sign up for an account at PurposeMatch. We’d love to help you explore a deeper sense of purpose, and design a life and career that makes an impact. We truly believe that together we can use our lives to create a better world!

3 Ways That Living with Purpose can help you Live an Epic Life

By Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder, PurposeMatch

We all want to live a life that matters.  It’s why we’re inspired by historical figures like Martin Luther King, who made huge sacrifices for causes larger than themselves.  It’s why we love big epic movies like Braveheart.  While we don’t have to go down in the history books to live a life of significance, one thing that people who impact the world have in common is that they live their lives with purpose.

So what makes purposeful people different?

They’re humble.  And therefore, happier.

C.S. Lewis once said that, “true humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”  Think of the happiest people in your life – they’re almost always the ones who think about other people more than themselves.  Purpose isn’t selfish.  Purpose requires that you live your life in a way that serves others.  And whenever we stop focusing on ourselves, we free ourselves up to get beyond ourselves, and therefore make an impact that’s bigger than ourselves.

They set themselves apart from the crowd.

Think about it this way – when you apply for college, you’re competing against lots of other students who have good grades.  There’s no shortage of 4.0 GPAs applying for Stanford.  When you start you apply for your first job, there will be hundreds of resumes from really smart people who can do the job.  But what makes someone exceptional?  Purposeful people are self-aware, and they know what sets themselves apart from everyone else.  You’ll only reach your fullest potential when you’re doing something you’re good at, truly passionate about, and making an impact on something you deeply care about.  And when you discover what that is, you’ll have the one thing that sets yourself apart from the crowd – you’ll be unique.

They might even live longer.

Seriously.  Research has shown that people who have a sense of purpose in life live longer.  There’s a sense that if you have something meaningful to do with your life, you’ll stick around long enough to accomplish it.  And the most finite resource we have – the one thing we never get back, is time.  So no matter how long you’re on this Earth, to live with purpose is to make the most of the time we do have.  In fact, to live with purpose allows us to live our lives in a way that outlasts the time that we’re given here.  To make an impact that lasts.  To give our lives to causes bigger than ourselves.  That’s what it means to live with purpose.

If this is the kind of life you want to live, come discover your own unique sense of purpose on PurposeMatch.com.

Purpose News: February 2017

by Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch. Follow us on Twitter: @PurposeMatch and @AndrewRip

Here’s some interesting news from around the world on the topics of purpose and social impact…

Zuckerberg and His Wife Gather the Best Scientists and Engineers to Find the Cure for All Diseases

Talk about an ambitious goal! Cure all diseases? Well, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, believe that we can “cure, prevent or manage all disease during our children’s lifetime.”

To do so, they’ve launched a $3 billion initiative, and hired 47 of the brightest minds to compose a medical research organization called Biohub.

Biohub is a diverse group of scientists, technologists, engineers whose work vary from imaging cells, developing biochip technology, and studying the transmission of malaria. They come from three key premier research universities Berkley, UCF, and Stanford. According to the organization, the three university partners provide the very backbone of Biohub’s work. “Our investigators come from these outstanding research institutions, and their faculty will be an integral part of our day-to-day operations here at Biohub,” it said. More scientists from other research institutions will be added on to Biohub as the organization grows.

Staying on the topic of Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard Business Review wrote a leadership article titled “What Mark Zuckerberg Understands About Corporate Purpose”

The article takes a look at Mark Zuckerberg the nearly 6,000-word letter that he published as a defense of both globalization and Facebook’s business model. In it, he argued that Facebook thrives under a globalized socioeconomic system, where barriers to information, labor, capital, and products are minimal.

The rest of the article, by George Serafeim, Professor at the Harvard Business School, takes the lessons from Zuckerberg, and illustrates how to craft a good statement of corporate purpose.

Research by myself and others has shown that purposeful organizations outperform their competitors; in his letter Zuckerberg is clearly attempting to outline a sense of purpose for Facebook. But research also suggeststhat people have a large degree of cynicism toward business leaders who speak about purpose. Senior management tends to have a greater sense of purpose than middle management, who in turn have a greater sense of purpose than lower-level employees. Senior management may try to cultivate a sense of purpose, but employees are generally not buying what they are selling.

Zuckerberg’s letter offers a lesson in how the purpose of an organization can be communicated in an authentic way. His treatise does several things well, including making purpose specific to the organization, articulating the how, identifying market voids, accounting for competitive positioning, measuring what matters, committing to mastery and progress, and acknowledging challenges.

The rest of Serafeim’s article outlines practical steps on how to build purpose into your organization. Great read!

The Rise of AI Makes Emotional Intelligence More Important

And finally, sticking with our futuristic theme, we once again look at an article in the Harvard Business Review, which I believe is particularly relevant to those who are designing their lives and careers for the next 20, 30, or 40 years.

We all know that Artificial Intelligence, automation, and robots are going to
massively disrupt the future of the global economy. Lots of jobs will disappear forever, while new jobs will be created that we can’t even imagine yet. So how do we stay relevant in this new economic frontier that we’re entering? Focus on developing the skills that technology will never be able to replace. The qualities that make us human. We’re talking about emotional intelligence.

The booming growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), like most transformational technologies, is both exciting and scary. It’s exciting to consider all the ways our lives may improve, from managing our calendars to making  medical diagnoses, but it’s scary to consider the social and personal implications — and particularly the implications for our careers. As machine learning continues to grow, we all need to develop new skills in order to differentiate ourselves. But which ones?

It continues…

It’s these human capabilities that will become more and more prized over the next decade.  Skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become differentiators as artificial intelligence and machine learning take over our other tasks.  Unfortunately, these human-oriented skills have generally been viewed as second priority in terms of training and education.  We’ve all experienced the doctor, financial planner, or consultant who is more focused on his or her reports and data than on our unique situations and desires.

For better or worse, these skills will become essential to anyone who wants to stay relevant in their field as automated systems proliferate.  We have three recommendations:

  • Don’t fight the progress of technology. Machine learning and AI have the ability to improve outcomes and lower cost — so don’t fight the robots. Welcome the change in your industry and work to make it fruitful and complementary.
  • Examine your own capabilities interacting with, motivating, and assessing people. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to emotional intelligence.
  • Invest in developing your emotional intelligence. The simplest way is to change your mental model about what is important in your role, and begin focusing on how you can better manage, influence, and relate to others.  Or, take it a step further by seeking out training and stretch opportunities.

What you have to offer — what you can do better than any smart machine — is relate to the people around you.  Begin to nurture and invest in these abilities the same way that you have the more technical parts of your career.  If you can be an outstanding motivator, manager, or listener, then you will still have a part to play as technology changes your industry.

This article, in it’s entirety, is a must read for anyone who’s interested in the future and how to prepare for it:


And finally, we’ll close with a particularly relevant quote, from President John F. Kennedy…


Purpose News: January 2017

by Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch. Follow us on Twitter: @PurposeMatch and @AndrewRip

Happy New Year! Here’s some interesting news from around the world on the topics of purpose and social impact…

The “James Bond of Philanthropy” Gives Away the Last of His Fortune

I love this story about an amazing man – Charles F. Feeney, who just finished contributing his entire $8 billion net worth to charities.

None of the major American philanthropists have given away a greater proportion of their wealth, and starting in 1982, Mr. Feeney did most of this in complete secrecy, leading Forbes magazine to call him the “James Bond of philanthropy.”

His name does not appear in gilded letters, chiseled marble or other forms of writing anywhere on the 1,000 buildings across five continents that $2.7 billion of his money paid for. For years, Atlantic’s support came with a requirement that the beneficiaries not publicize its involvement…

During the early 1990s, Mr. Feeney met secretly with paramilitary forces in Belfast, Northern Ireland, urging them to drop armed guerrilla conflict and promising financial support if they embraced electoral politics. Atlantic grants paid to create a public health system in Vietnam, and to provide access to antiretroviral treatment for AIDS in southern Africa. The last rounds of grants, about $600 million, included support for Atlantic Fellows, described as young emerging leaders working in their countries for healthier, more equitable societies.

Speaking of wealth… it just so happens that Having a Sense of Purpose not only makes you happier, but it could also make you wealthier…

We already know from past research that having a greater “sense of purpose” is good for us psychologically: it’s linked with experiencing more positive emotions and generally feeling better about life.

Now a study in the Journal of Research in Personality suggests there are material benefits too. Researchers followed the same sample of people over a period of about nine years, and they found that during that time, those individuals who reported a greater sense of purpose at the study start had accumulated greater wealth. 

And finally, as we noted last month, Purpose was a major theme at the World Economic Forum Conference. 

In fact, here’s another article, this time from the CEO of Royal Phillips, Frans van Houten, about “Why Every Company Should be Innovating with Purpose.”

Mr. Van Houten details how Royal Phillips has implemented this strategy….

Meantime, global leaders gathered to tackle grand challenges and, from their collective discussions, were borne the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Among these, three – ensuring healthy lives; responsible consumption and production and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development – were areas where we knew Philips could make a great and lasting contribution.

We knew we could put the company on the right side of history by decisive transformative action and by redefining our purpose to improving people’s lives through innovation. We determined to become a focused health technology company that would serve customers right across the health continuum – from healthy living and prevention, through effective diagnosis and treatment, to home care – where the cycle to healthy living could be restored again.

We undertook a huge internal transformation to sharpen our customer focus, step up innovation, improve productivity to ensure competitiveness, change our culture and simplify our ways of working so that our size and scale became a competitive advantage rather than a bureaucratic hangover after years of diversification.

Definitely worth a read, and you can check out the entire article here:

Why Every Company Should be Innovating with Purpose


Oh, and by the way, looks like even the Pope is talking about Purpose!

Pope urges the faithful to help youth find purpose

So here’s to a purposeful 2017!

Purpose News: November 2016

by Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch. Follow us on Twitter: @PurposeMatch and @AndrewRip

Here’s some interesting news from around the world on the topics of purpose and social impact…

Three Ways to Find Purpose at Work

Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO of EY, wrote a great article for the World Economic Forum on how to find purpose in your work.

The idea that a company should stand for something bigger than profit has a long history in business. But in the last few years, it’s become central to the public dialogue. In fact, a recent study we conducted with Oxford University Saïd Business School found that public conversation about purpose has increased five times over since 1995.

But talking about purpose is the easy part. Really, it’s just the first step.

Harvard Business Review: The Type of Purpose that Makes Companies More Profitable

We hear more and more that organizations must have a “purpose.” Purpose is on the agenda of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and discussed by celebrity CEOs like Richard Branson of Virgin Group, who has said, “It’s always been my objective to create businesses with a defined Purpose beyond just making money.” Oxford University and Ernst and Young found that public dialog on purpose has increased five-fold between 1995 and 2016.

But is all this talk about purpose actually delivering business results?

At 12th Annual Forbes CMO Summit, Focus On Culture, Purpose And People

Indeed, purpose was a term used repeatedly during the Summit, as all brands acknowledge that we are well past the stage of realizing that authenticity and transparency have become table stakes for successful marketers. Younger generations of consumers and employees, those who have grown up on social media and accessibility, are particularly driving the demand for cultures that foster access, visibility, achievement, ownership, collaboration and communication.

The Motivating Power of a Massive Transformative Purpose

Eradicating diseases, mastering flight, near-instant global communication, going to the moon—humans have developed a taste for making the impossible possible.

Though we still face a daunting list of global challenges, we’ve learned that science and technology can uncover big solutions. But mind-blowing breakthroughs don’t just happen. They take teams of bright and dedicated people chipping away at the problem day and night. They take a huge amount of motivation, toil, and at least a few failures.

To solve our biggest problems, we need people to undertake big tasks. But what drives someone to take on such a difficult, uncertain process and stick with it?

There’s a secret to motivating individuals and teams to do great things: It’s purpose.

Social movements, rapidly growing organizations, and remarkable breakthroughs in science and technology have something in common—they’re often byproducts of a deeply unifying purpose. There’s a name for this breed of motivation.

It’s called massive transformative purpose or MTP.

And finally, coming soon is the movie, A Dog’s Purpose. Even dogs have a purpose!

The Future of Career Development: Creating your own Path

By Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch

“For too long, we as educators have told students what to do, what to study, and what to know. We have had all the say in what they learn; but there is another way. We can design learning environments that give young people the freedom, the tools, and the leadership that empowers them to create their own path.”

-Tyler Thigpen, Doctoral candidate in Education Leadership (EdLD) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

When I graduated from college, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  (Sound familiar to anyone else out there?)  I had a lot of interests, but bounced wildly between different ideas. In fact, I literally had everyone who visited my dorm room pull a major out of a hat, and I kept a tally on the wall. Seriously – I wish I was joking.

caveSo as many do, I took the usual, well-known career assessments.  In fact, I still remember the top career match from one of my reports was “Zoo Director.”  (Which does, in fact, sound kind of awesome.)  However, just because I love animals, does that really mean that I should study Zoology, buy some khaki shorts and spend the rest of my life running a zoo?  Next, I got a litany of the usual choices – sales, politics, journalism, law, and many others.  The variety of the options felt like I was throwing a dart against the wall.

The problem with these assessments were that all of them tried to put me in a box. That wasn’t very helpful in 2000, and it’s even less relevant in 2016.

Because here’s the deal —

In today’s economy, most students will change careers several times throughout their lifetime.  And because of technology and innovation, many students will have jobs in the next 10 or 20 years that haven’t even been invented yet.

As we were building PurposeMatch, I reconnected with a college friend of mine named Jenn Calvert.  Jenn is now Dr. Jennifer Calvert, Associate Dean at Stanford University.  Jenn taught us something that really shaped our vision for PurposeMatch.  Stanford had been creating campus-wide initiatives around helping students build a meaningful life.  This work has been greatly influenced by a Professor at Stanford named Dr. William Damon, who in his book, Path to Purpose, defines purpose as “finding work that is meaningful to yourself, and that makes a difference beyond yourself.”  So philosophically, that’s pretty much what we’re all about.  But what we hadn’t yet realized, was that in order for students to design careers of purpose, it’s important that they be self-directed, lifelong learners. They needed to learn to create their own paths and be adaptable to whatever the future holds.

Next, I began speaking with another friend of mine named Tyler Thigpen, who’s a Doctoral candidate in Education Leadership (EdLD) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Tyler is an amazing guy – he’s been a pastor, Co-Founded a Charter School, has a Masters from the Kennedy School of Government from Harvard, and for his PhD, he’s focused on building mentorship organizations.

I still remember one of our first conversations about PurposeMatch, when Tyler said that he was particularly motivated to help students discover their purpose. He told me the following —

“For too long, we as educators have told students what to do, what to study, and what to know. We have had all the say in what they learn; but there is another way. We can design learning environments that give young people the freedom, the tools, and the leadership that empowers them to create their own path.”

That nailed it.

In countless discussions with Tyler, Jenn, others from Harvard and Stanford, as well as my contacts in Silicon Valley, we kept hearing the same themes:

  • More than ever, this generation wants to find purpose in their careers.
  • The future of work is rapidly changing.
  • As a result, it’s important to empower people to create their own paths.

Recently, I met up with a friend of mine named Lisa Calfas, who graduated from Stanford and now works for Google in New York. We talked about what she’s learned over the years, including how she’s applied what she learned while taking the “Designing Your Life” class with Bill Burnett and Dave Evans when she was a student at Stanford.  One thing that she mentioned was that her role at Google didn’t fit “cleanly” in any one category.  On one hand, she deals with a lot of data and analytics.  On the other hand, she works very closely with the sales and marketing team.  All to say, nobody could have told her that this job would be a perfect fit for her.  Instead, the job she has, and more importantly, the career that she’s building, is only found in understanding herself, designing her own path, testing out these different visions for her career, and learning along the way.

This is at the heart of PurposeMatch.  On a deeply personal level, what drives me to build PurposeMatch is what I wanted back in 2000.  Basically, I’ve always lived with a strong awareness that life is very, very short.  And as a result, I don’t want to waste it.  When I’m at the end of my life, what will matter the most is — did my life and career make a difference?  Did I make a positive impact on people?  Did my life matter?


And the most exciting thing for me, is to know that I’m not alone.  Millennials will be 75% of the global workforce by 2025, and studies show that more than anything else, they want careers that have meaning and that make an impact.  So what we’ve built at PurposeMatch is a tool that helps people discover their purpose, design a vision for their life and career, and take the next steps.  To build careers that solve the biggest problems in the world.  To live in ways that serve others.  And if we do that, there’s an opportunity that together we can make a positive impact like the world has never seen.

We invite you to sign up for an account on PurposeMatch.com, and we’d love to hear what you end up doing with your life!

Top 6 Things That Can Squash Your Sense of Purpose

By Justin Jeter, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch

There’s a lot of talk these days about finding purpose and building a life of meaning and impact.  People want to find a future that really clicks for them – that helps them come alive and reach their full potential in life, while also making a difference for others.

But for so many people, it just doesn’t happen.  Why not?  Here are the top 6 things that get in the way of living with purpose:

1. ANTs

No, not real ants, though fire ants can be pretty awful.  We’re talking here about a concept from the world of psychology: Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) that march into your mind and attempt to discourage you.  It’s hard to live with purpose if you don’t think you’re worthy of purpose to begin with!

The key is to re-frame those negative thoughts:

“I am awkward” –> “What makes me different makes me uniquely qualified to do certain things.”

“I am stupid.” –> “I am more knowledgeable in some areas than others.”

“I am a failure.” –> “Some things I’ve tried haven’t worked, but I’ve learned from those attempts, and that learning can help me in what I do next.”

You ARE worthy of a meaningful purpose in life, and you CAN be successful and make a positive impact!

2. Misunderstanding “Purpose” 

People tend to think of purpose as that “one perfect thing I’m supposed to do with my life.”  And we certainly hope you find that; it does sometimes happen!  But at the end of the day, purpose isn’t necessarily about doing a specific thing.  It’s about living a certain way.  It’s about using what you’re good at, and what you love to do, to meet an important need in the world, alongside people that bring out the best in you.  And that can happen in many different ways, throughout your life!

3. Not Knowing Yourself or the World Around You

Perhaps it goes without saying that if you don’t have any idea what you’re good at…or what you love to do…or what the world needs, it’s hard to live with purpose.  Desperately trying to find that sense of purpose?  Check out www.purposematch.com!

4. The Expectations of Others

We spend so much time in life trying to be what everybody else wants us to be…or really, what we think everybody else wants us to be.  Now, it’s true that our friends and family can sometimes see us more clearly than we see ourselves, and there’s value in allowing our loved ones to give us feedback and hold us accountable.

But at the end of the day, parents, siblings, and even spouses can’t decide your purpose for you.  They can’t tell you what to care about, and they can’t determine the deepest desires of your heart.  Sometimes we need to let go of our ideas about who we’re supposed to be in order to be the people we’re supposed to be.

5. Money

I’m not going to say that money doesn’t matter at all.  We certainly need to provide a reasonable standard of living for our families and ourselves.  But what’s reasonable?  A recent study suggests that there IS a correlation between money and happiness, but only up to about $70k a year (or $120k/year for a couple).  On average, people that have greater income than that aren’t any happier than people that don’t.  They just aren’t.

Now obviously, there are all kinds of caveats – location, family size, etc., and only you can determine where to draw lines for yourself.  But it’s worth thinking about what you really need from an income perspective, and weighing that need against other benefits.

Here’s the ironic thing: it’s often when people lead with purpose that they find the greatest financial success.  If you go after a high-paying job you hate, you’ll probably never be as good as if you’re doing something that lines up with your sense of purpose.  If you do something that aligns with your purpose, you’re far more likely to do it well, and to reach the top of your field.  And if you reach the top of your field, you’re going to do pretty well financially, too, regardless of the field.

6. Self-Centeredness

This is one of the toughest things about purpose.  As Rick Warren says in A Purpose-Driven Life, “It’s not about you.”  If finding purpose is just about building our legacy and feeling good about ourselves, we’re kinda missing the point.  We have to start with a desire to make the world a better place and make life better for others – not for our own sake, but for theirs!

Ask the Admission Expert!

College 14 SM

Q: Are there any inside tips you can give me for gaining an edge in the admission process?

A: Have you heard of “demonstrated interest?” This is an important factor in the college admission decision, but little known by parents and students. When the admission committee is evaluating applications, they come across thousands of applications from students who say, “I love your school! It’s my #1 choice!” But those words are often lip service if they aren’t backed up by a concept call “demonstrated interest”.

The admission committee wants to see action behind the words, “You’re my #1 choice!” Has your son or daughter visited the campus? Have they reached out to their admission counselor? (Usually determined by region). Did they request an interview? Have they periodically followed up with their admission counselor after they initially reached out? Did they attend the local Info Session that their dream school hosted? Did they attend the school session when their dream school visited their high school? (Hint, the person visiting the high school is often the person evaluating the application…so encourage your son or daughter to make them stand out!)

It is very important for a school to see that an applicant has “demonstrated interest” particularly if the student is saying it’s their #1 choice!

Let’s say an admission decision came down to 2 students who have the same grades and test scores, similar resumes and both say “You’re my #1 choice!” One student visited the campus, emailed their admission counselor, went to the high school visit and sent a written thank you note after the campus visit. The other student didn’t visit the campus, didn’t attend the high school visit and didn’t reach out to their admission counselor. Who has demonstrated more interest?

Steve Jobs and the Art of Purpose

By Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch

Follow me on Twitter @AndrewRip.  And follow us @PurposeMatch

In his famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford, Steve Jobs told the graduating class:

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” 

As millennials enter the workforce, Steve Job’s advice is more timely than ever, and at the heart of what will shape the future of our economy.

There are 86 million millennials in the US, and by 2025, they will represent 75% of the workforce.  84% of them say that making a positive impact on the world is more important to them than professional recognition.  Millennials are the purpose generation, and as a result, we see the emergence of companies with a “triple bottom line,” of profit, people, and planet.

So how did Steve Jobs live out his purpose at Apple?  Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs includes a chapter of Jobs speaking of his legacy in his own words:

“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products.  Everything else was secondary.  Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that’s what allowed you to make great products.  But the products, not the profit, was the motivation.”

His belief was that companies stop innovating when they flip these priorities and their goal is to make money.

“It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything – the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.”

Steve Jobs believed that there’s something magical about the place where the humanities and science intersect, and that the reason Apple resonates with people is that there’s a “deep current of humanity in our innovation”.

“Great artists and great engineers are similar, in that they both have a deep desire to express themselves.  Some of the best people working on the original Mac were poets and musicians on the side…  In the 1970’s computers became a way for people to express their creativity.”

What could be more of an art than finding purpose in your career?  PurposeMatch.com is a technology company, but we recognize that if there’s ever a place for the humanities and technology to intersect, it’s in what we do.  When we help people take their strengths and passions to impact a need in the world that they care about, we find that purpose is definitely more of an art than a science.  And intersecting this human element with technology can truly be magical.  Technology can help you find opportunity, but it’s your own heart, mind, and soul that has to guide you.

Near the end of his speech at Stanford, Jobs reflected on his life by saying:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

So what would Steve Jobs say to this generation of purpose-driven millennials?  How do you find purpose in your career?

“As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”