Purpose is powerful

Article by Alan P. Weiss, CFP®

Published in the June 19, 2016, New Haven Register

In “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” bestselling author Daniel Pink presents (in a very engaging and understandable way) the latest research in human motivation.  One section, “The Good Life,” is particularly enlightening in regard to how we as individuals establish and pursue our life goals.  Pink makes the point, and science confirms, that “satisfaction depends not merely on having goals, but having the right goals.”

One of the studies that Pink cites asked a sample of soon-to-graduate college students about their life goals and then followed them early in their careers to assess their progress and well-being.  The students’ goals were categorized as either “extrinsic aspirations” or “intrinsic aspirations”.  Becoming wealthy or achieving fame are examples of extrinsic motivators and labeled “profit goals”.  In contrast, learning, growing, and helping others are examples of intrinsic motivators and labeled “purpose goals”.

The researchers found that within two years after graduating, the individuals with purpose goals felt they were achieving them, and also experienced a higher level of satisfaction and well-being than they had felt in college. They also reported having low levels of anxiety and depression.

In contrast, those who had profit goals, (wealth and acclaim), and were achieving them, reported the same levels of satisfaction, self-esteem, and positive effect. In other words, they were achieving their goals, but that didn’t make them happier.  And, even more striking, those achieving their profit goals reported higher levels of anxiety and depression.

Pink summarized it this way: “Even when we do get what we want, it’s not always what we need.”  What the study and many others have revealed is that what we really need is a sense of purpose.

And this is not isolated to the idealism of young adults.  Pink writes, “Baby boomers around the world — because of the stage of their lives and the size of their numbers — are nudging purpose close to the cultural center.”

For example, the non-profit organization Civic Venture claims “the tarnished dream of the Golden Years as endless leisure is giving way to a new form of practical idealism; real jobs tackling real problems and making a real impact.” The research, conducted in collaboration with the MetLife Foundation, revealed that millions of people in the second half of life are choosing purpose driven, “encore careers” that provide both income and meaning while addressing some of society’s biggest challenges.

Purpose is powerful.

Alan P. Weiss is the president of Regent Wealth Management Group in Woodbridge. He is also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. Readers are reminded that certain investments and investment strategies may not be appropriate for them and that all investments involve risks and uncertainties. Consult an expert of your choosing if you have questions about investments. More information is available at www.regentwealth.com.)