Kids Finance Initiative

Why We Help Teens Develop a Sense of Purpose

Most teens while doing reasonably well in school and staying out of trouble for the most part, seem to have a stunted sense of purpose.

This then translates into disengagement, cynicism and apathy.

They are consumed with a sense of emptiness at a time in their lives when they should be defining their aspirations and taking concrete steps to reach them.

Developing a sense of purpose is one of the most important but overlooked aspects of adolescent development.

What do we mean by purpose? According to William Damon in his excellent book ‘The Path to Purpose”, a purpose is an ultimate concern. It is the final answer to the question ‘Why’? Why are you doing this? Why does it matter to you? Why is it important?

Being purposeful as a teen means they have identified something that really matters to them and are doing something about it.

Teens with a sense of purpose do better in school, are more resilient to adversity and trauma and even healthier. Numerous studies have found a person’s sense of purpose to be closely connected to almost all dimensions of well-being.

Helping teens develop this crucial concept isn’t even on the radar screen of most schools.

In a normal school day questions about meaning and purpose are completely omitted from daily discussions when they should be underlying every academic exercise.

And we know that if teens aren’t learning about it school, they aren’t learning about it at all.

We have incorporated an entire session on helping teens find their purpose, in the Entrepreneurship with A Twist program that we run.

Here we introduce the concept to the kids, help them understand what it means and then guide them in finding their own sense of purpose.

Some kids have a vague sense of it and we help to crystalize it and for some this might be the first time they’ve been asked to think about purpose and meaning.

It doesn’t matter whether they come to an answer by the end of the class…. what matters is that they are trying to figure out the right questions.

Get in touch with us to find out how we can help.

By Marilyn L Pinto