In 2002, pastor Rick Warren authored the popular book, The Purpose Driven Life. A book about pursuing purpose in life, grounded in faith and values, has sold over 50 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 137 languages. The quest for purpose has long been elusive, and many people are still searching and need help finding meaning and fulfillment in their lives, work, and relationships. Lately, I have been wondering why.
Recently, I came across a WSJ poll that surveyed 1,000 adults on the importance of what most would classify as traditional American values: Faith, Family, Patriotism, and Service/Involvement in the Community. Not surprisingly, the poll results show money as the only “value” increasing in importance among the respondents. Our country is addicted to the “up and to the right” chart. Americans are taught early on to have an insatiable appetite for more. More of what? More of everything, especially money.
As we celebrate independence and freedom on this Fourth of July, I find the drastic drop since 1998 in the importance of these historical values stunning and concerning. While the pandemic accelerated the replacement of “Love thy neighbor” with “Get off my lawn,” these trends were well in place long before 2020.
Yet, it’s interesting as many studies show that millennials and Gen Zers want to find purpose in their work and life even more than money. We live in the wealthiest age in our history, where young and old have the most flexibility, freedoms, and access to virtually everything at their fingertips through incredible technology, and we are still restless.
So where is the disconnect, and how do we reverse the trends outlined in the WSJ poll?
We must live for something bigger than ourselves. The first sentence in The Purpose Driven Life book states: “It’s not about you.” The sooner we realize that our life is short and just a “mist and a vapor,” the quicker we can live with zeal and for something that will live on beyond us. It reminds me of the JR Miller quote, “What a man is, survives him. It can never be buried.”
I believe it is the responsibility of the older generation to transfer wisdom, heritage, and values from one generation to the next. As I recently turned 50 and passed my own “halftime” in life, I realized the importance of passing on my personal values to my children. Today’s youth must see us modeling the values that we espouse. As the saying goes, our values are caught and not taught.
While money is necessary and can serve as the catalyst to accelerate and enhance our most valuable assets, I contend it will never fully and finally satiate one’s desire for purpose and fulfillment. How we use our resources to restore and enhance our relationships, create lasting legacies, make magical experiences, care for others, and invest in and improve our communities will likely produce a higher Return on Life (ROL) for all of us, and that would be an “up and to the right” chart worth chasing.
by SCOTT HIGHMARK, CFP®
As the President of Mosaic Family Wealth, Scott leads the strategic direction of the firm to ensure that the firm is adequately positioned to anticipate and serve the needs of our clients. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, Scott also works closely with our clients to define a long-term vision of success in their financial lives and beyond. He brings more than two decades of experience to the firm, with additional tenures as Executive Director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Vice President–Wealth Management at A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. He is proud to have created a team of like-minded, like-hearted, talented people to help execute his dream of building Mosaic Family Wealth.
Scott decided to enter this field because he values the ability to positively impact a family’s life through the platform of wealth management. He loves connecting with clients, inspiring them to see a brighter future, and leading them down the path of true Significance.