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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 156 > Find your pur pose

Find your pur pose

YOLO! We all want to live a life of purpose, yet many of us feel that we do not. We aren’t able to pursue our purpose, or even figure out what it is – this elusive prize that we cannot find. But what if we’ve been chasing the wrong thing? Ali Roff has a new treasure map

Dossier

Staring out of the office window onto a concrete wall, I’m trying to get my head around how I got here; wishing I could be anywhere but here, doing anything other than this. It’s 2012 and I’m 25, working as an investment research analyst, interviewing fund managers about stocks and shares and bonds, so that I can advise rich people how to get even richer. It has nothing to do with the psychology degree I dedicated three years to, and I’m the most junior person on a team of economics boffs, steadily feeling like I’m going nowhere, probably because I keep nodding off at my desk through utter boredom.

Fast-forward to 2018, and I can see now that, aside from my disinterest in the dull subject matter, I found no meaning in my job, no value, no passion and no pride. Even my free time was gobbled up by a feeling of emptiness. It was as if my nine-to-five was sucking the energy from my five-to-nine. On the outside, I appeared successful, but inside I felt like a failure; it wasn’t what I had dreamed of doing with my life. I knew then that something had to change, but I did not know how to make it happen. I wasn’t alone. Many of us crave purpose in our careers; reports have found millennials, in particular, move from job to job, sometimes career to career, to find it. And, with millennials set to make up the majority of the workforce by 2020, the pressure for employers to understand what makes us tick is growing. Interestingly, it’s not necessarily a big pay cheque that wins us over; research included in Fortune magazine’s ‘100 Best Workplaces for Millennials’ found that those who had discovered ‘special meaning’ in their work were six times more likely to stay in the job long term. Is this resonating, but you’re not a millennial? Another study found that the older we get, the more purpose and meaning at work outweigh salary.*

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