Exploring the role of purpose in the lives of career changers: A qualitative inquiry

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Jessie Jie Zhu, Tim Lomas, Jolanta Burke, Itai Ivtzan


Although purpose in life is well-established as a key element of optimal human functioning, there is a lack of qualitative research exploring the role of purpose in individuals’ lives, particularly in the context of career change. The aim of the study is to gain a deep understanding of the role of purpose in the lives of career changers, including the process of developing purpose and its impact on individuals’ well-being.  A qualitative method was employed that involved semi-structured interviews with a sample of thirteen participants who went through a career change process. The qualitative grounded theory analysis reveals a purpose process model, which posits that individuals experience purpose as an ongoing and dynamic process consisting of questioning, exploring, unfolding, and evolving as critical developmental stages of individuals’ journeys to discover and develop purpose. The process of pursuing a purposeful way of living generally has a positive impact on individuals’ hedonic and eudaemonic well-being but can also have its “dark side” that may detract from life. Practical implications for career counseling, as well as future direction of research are discussed.

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