Education Research—The Importance of Purpose
the United States, a serious problem exists. Many people, but young people in
particular, lack clear career goals for a successful future. The
School-To-Success program was developed to help people discover their purpose in
life, set clear goals and create plans to take their personal and professional
life to a higher level in the areas service, leadership and entrepreneurship.
Research shows that early adolescence is a critical time for young people to
start thinking about their future. Research also shows that high school is too
late to start the discovery process. Moreover, what counseling does exist in
high schools is woefully inadequate. Meanwhile there are almost no systematic
ongoing career planning programs in middle schools, which is where career
planning, if it is to be truly effective, should begin. Current research
revealed the following facts concerning purpose:
In the Power of Purpose, Leider (1997) asked a cross-section of adults over 65 this question: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?” (p. 2). Three themes wove through the replies: They would (a) be more reflective, (b) be more courageous, and (c) be clear earlier about purpose. In a similar vein, Krannich and Krannich (2001) state that 50% of Americans say they would make a different career choice today than they made when they first entered the job market, if they had a choice. This does not mean they are unhappy with their current work. “Rather, it means they might be happier had they made different career choices when they were young and inexperienced” (p. 2).
Another study reveals that more than 46% of
men and 40% of women say they are still trying to figure out the meaning and
purpose of their life (Nemko,
Edwards, & Edwards, 1998). Daybre (1999) notes that for most people, the
number one problem is trying to figure out what they really want to do with
their lives. “From the time we are born, we are on a search to discover our
life purpose. Most people never do
find it. Yet there is a void, an emptiness until we discover our purpose in
life” (p. 10).
Murdock (1994) believes that a person’s
life calling is usually whatever creates the highest level of joy. Nevertheless, “Most people will waste their entire lifetime
working on the wrong job” (p.1). “They will live a lifetime without
discovering their own personal uniqueness, gifts and talents God places within
them” (p.9). According to Murdock (2003), many people are in their graves with
buried dreams, buried treasures, and buried potentials that never were fulfilled
because they lost their motivation.
Leider and Shapiro (2001) wrote that each of
us has within us God-given natural gifts—unique potential for creative
expression. From birth we have what we need to become all we can be. The
challenge, of course, is to figure out how to make a living with our uniqueness;
how to connect who we are with what we do. According to Hirsch (2004) choosing a
career often involves a journey of self-discovery.
But a 22-year-old graduate student in psychology tells her, “My problem is that I don’t have any idea what I want to be”
In a newspaper article McRae (2000) wrote that former heavyweight-boxing champion Muhammad Ali encouraged a group of nearly 100 inner city youths to “find their life purpose and pursue it” (p. 1). He said, “trees and animals have a purpose and so do you, but you have to find your purpose if you don’t know it” (p. 1). His message apparently hit home when he told the group “education is the way to find your purpose” (p. 1).