Although finding a purpose is almost universally accepted as a developmental achievement relatively little research has sought to understand the potential means by which individuals do so. Using a newly developed measure the current studies examined the personality and well-being profiles of individuals who reported following any of three different pathways to purpose: (1) proactive engagement (2) reaction to significant life events or (3) social learning. Across both emerging adult (n = 179) and adult (n = 307) samples we demonstrated that individuals along these three pathways differ in theoretically meaningful ways. For instance proactively engaged individuals report greater agency and openness to experience while individuals who found a purpose primarily through reactive means are less likely to be exploring their life aims. Engagement with any pathway though coincided with greater well-being due to the fact that following these paths may lead to a sense of purpose in life.
The IOC is a global community of coaches.