New Perspectives on Youth Purpose: 'Seeking Purpose' vs.'Having Purpose'

Matthew J. Bundick

The current study employs a new definition of purpose that is distinct from its traditional conceptualization as “meaning in life,” namely in adolescence. Central to the study is the exploration of the differences between “seeking purpose” and “having purpose.” Consistent with previous findings in meaning research, seeking purpose was found to be largely unrelated to well-being, while having purpose was found to be positively associated with well-being. “Sensing purpose/meaning in life,” as conceptualized in the traditional vein, was found to operate similarly to having purpose in the well-being domain, but showed differences in demographic variables and life goals. Cross-sectional age differences suggest decreases in both having and seeking purpose, but an increase in sensing purpose/meaning in life as adolescents age.