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Podcast #296: How to Find Your Life’s Purpose | The Art of Manliness

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There’s been a lot of ink spilt in the past decade about young adults’ “failure to launch,” wherein 20-somethings who should be progressing into independent adulthood, end up spending that decade of their life in an extended adolescence. Several reasons have been given for this phenomenon, from the economy to helicopter parenting. After conducting a landmark 25-year study, my guest argues that a major factor in young adults’ failure to launch is actually rooted in their difficulty in finding a purpose for their life. His name is William Damon, he’s a professor of education at Stanford University, and today on the show we discuss the results of his study and the importance of having an overarching aim in life — which are the themes of his book, The Path to Purpose.

We begin our conversation discussing the criteria of a good life’s purpose and why fewer young people have one today. We then discuss why more young people are prioritizing fame and fortune over public service compared to their peers a half century ago, the new places many young people are finding purpose today (and why that’s led to a decrease in civic engagement), and the benefits that come from having a clear purpose in life. We end by talking about how a young person — and even those longer in the tooth, who still feel adrift — can find a life’s purpose and what parents can do to help their children find theirs.

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