Careers advice should be far more focused on teaching kids how to learn to find what they love doing. More experimentation, less limitation— neilperkin (@neilperkin) January 22, 2016
I rather like what Karl Pillemer had to say about why we should all ask our elders about how best to live. So much wisdom that goes untapped. But I also liked his point about how (despite all the platitudes to the contrary) for many of us the idea of finding of a single purpose in life is actually quite misdirected.
Many of the elders that Pillemer interviewed spoke of how our focus should not be on a purpose, but on a number purposes that will shift as we progress through life. It was nicely captured through the words of one interviewee - Marjorie Wilcox, aged 87, who devoted her career to developing affordable housing in America's industrial cities:
'You will do several different things. Do not be on one train track because the train will change. Widen your mind. That’s what you should have as your priorities as a young person. Make sure you keep flexible. Lead with your strengths, and they will get you where you want to go.'
As her life situation, concerns, passions and priorities changed, so did her direction. There is, I think, a great fallacy in the expectation that we all have one great self-evident purpose in life and that it is simply a matter of following it. Whilst some of us are lucky enough to have that, many of the rest of us are not. The assumption that we should know what our great purpose is can be quite damaging. Instead we should be taught how we might find it. And that means we must not be afraid to try stuff out, or made to feel that it is a bad thing to experiment with our careers. The key message is - don't panic.