Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Purpose-Centered Career Development: A Strengths-Based Approach to Finding Meaning and Purpose in Careers

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Purpose-Centered Career Development: A Strengths-Based Approach to Finding Meaning and Purpose in Careers

Article excerpt

Although having a sense of purpose and meaning in life has been found to play an important role in overall life and career satisfaction, this is not an area that is typically cultivated during career exploration activities. This article provides a model for aiding students in developing a sense of purpose in their career search through strengths-based practices. The authors present five key elements that reinforce the development of purpose, including identity, self-efficacy, metacognition, culture, and service. Each of these areas is used as a focal point to help identify ways for students to recognize and rely on their strengths in the development of meaningful careers. Each element is defined, relevant research is provided, and strategies for promoting each element are discussed. Additionally, the relationship between purpose-centered career development and the career standards of the ASCA National Model® is presented.

In some ways, "work" was an easier problem to solve in past centuries than in the present. For much of our history as a species, the tasks that once constituted the constant, daily activities of survival were our work. Assuring safety, food, water, and shelter for the members of our groups and societies took dedicated and tangible effort. As people specialized into niches, their work often became both further removed from survival and more closely linked to their identities. However, finding one's career identity amid this complexity is difficult. Nevertheless, an exciting perspective is emerging that holds substantial promise for helping students link their academic and personal strengths in identifying satisfying career options. This perspective focuses on the role of purpose.

Purpose refers to people's identification of highly valued, overarching goals, the attainment of which is anticipated to move people closer to achieving their true potential and bring them deep fulfillment (Steger, in press). Extensive research has demonstrated that people with a strong sense of meaning and purpose in life experience greater happiness and fewer psychological problems (Ryff & Singer, 1998; Steger, Frazier, Oishi, & Kaler, 2006). People who feel their lives are full of meaning report less workaholism and better work adjustment (Bonebright, Clay, & Ankenmann, 2000), and college students high in meaning in life express greater certainty regarding their future occupation (Tryon & Radzin, 1972).

More recently, scholars and practitioners have endeavored to find a place for purpose in work. Purpose is thought to be central to people's satisfaction in their work lives and career, particularly among those who view their careers as something more than simply a way to make money. People who approach their work as a source of meaning are expected to be more deeply engaged with their jobs, work more effectively in teams, commit more strongly to their employment, and derive greater satisfaction from their toil (Steger & Dik, in press). Aiding students in fostering a sense of purpose in their career development may lead to deeper levels of commitment and persistence. However, the role of purpose among adolescents has been neglected. This is particularly true with regard to their career development. We argue that purpose can be a central strength in sowing the seeds for the development of satisfying, sustaining careers, particularly among high school students.

Erikson's (1968) prominent model of development proposed that in adolescence, individuals are trying to establish their identities and self-concepts. Identity is thought to be a critical component of personal meaning systems, along with the development of significant goals and purposes (Dittman- Kohli & Westerhof, 2000). It is during this stage that people begin to dedicate themselves to abstract beliefs and purposes (Damon, Menon, & Bronk, 2003). Damon et al. concluded from their review of the literature that meaning and purpose are central to adolescents' lives. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.