While the concept of “finding purpose in our lives” has gained a great deal of currency over the past few years, William Damon’s new book, THE PATH TO PURPOSE, tells us that this vital message isn’t being clearly or convincingly communicated to the young people in America who need to hear it most.
The book is based on the findings of the Youth Purpose Project, a landmark four-year nationwide study of how young people from the ages of 12 – 26 are struggling to find their purpose in life. Citing data from the study and from other recent research, Damon tells us why most of our efforts to goad our children on to success have fallen short. Instead of helping young people find enduring, life-fulfilling goals, he concludes our emphasis on superficial, short-term success is diminishing their natural optimism and creating a generation of young people who lack confidence and direction as they try to define their futures.
Damon is one of the world’s leading scholars in human development. He is Professor and Director of the Center on Adolescence at Stanford University and editor of the definitive Handbook of Child Psychology. In the PATH TO PURPOSE, Damon takes readers inside the minds of disengaged and drifting kids and exposes the depth of their confusion and anxiety about what they should do with their lives. Damon then tells the stories of some inspired young people who are thriving–and identifies nine key factors that have made the difference for them.
THE PATH TO PURPOSE is sure to resonate with the huge number of American parents (a clear majority in Damon’s study) who see their kids treading water and struggling to find a meaningful direction for their lives, despite the fact that they are working hard, doing well enough in school, and staying out of trouble.
Here are just a few key findings and insights from the book: