Everything seems to be crying out for purpose and sustainability these days. The main purpose of work no longer seems to be to secure existence. The state has long since taken over this function. But is the purpose debate really about the question of meaning and higher values? Is it not an expression of a perfect world and boredom? – Here are seven simple objections…
1. the ego trap
Most people in Switzerland have already reached the top of Maslow’s pyramide. We are in competition for self-fulfillment. Public prestige is enjoyed by those who best realize their own desires and goals. This includes choosing one’s work and one’s purpose. However, self-actualization is an egocentric concept, which is not compatible with purpose thinking. If you are truly committed to a purpose, you must carefully control your personal sensitivities and motivations.
2 The Money Trap
Salary still seems to take pole position, followed by personal well-being and purpose. A representative survey by Job Cloud in 2022 found that the most important and frequent reason for changing jobs – by far – is the desire to improve one’s salary. People like to have a job they can identify with, for sure, but only as long as the salary is right. And minimum expectations are rising rapidly in a labor market driven by shortage of skilled workers. Even the idealists are no longer willing to accept greater wage losses and poorer living conditions for the sake of finding purpose.
3. state trap
Even without work, people today can remain at the highest Maslow level. Securing one’s livelihood has long been taken over by the state. So even if purpose is terminated without a new job, one does not face a real existential threat. Purpose idealists therefore move in a loss- and risk-free space. That is simple. Heroism looks different.
4. shortage of skilled workers in high purpose jobs
If Purpose were really so important today, why are we experiencing the greatest shortage of skilled workers in job profiles with particularly high Purpose? Why aren’t there more nurses, preachers, clergymen and engineers?
Purpose is not compatible with utilitarianism. When it come to one’s own benefit, purpose takes a back seat. In reality, people are less and less willing to compromise on their own utility. Utility optimization rules everywhere. “What’s in for me?” has become the motto of life. Associations are having more and more trouble recruiting members. Public commitments, offices and volunteer work are celebrated on social media, but only where it serves one’s own self-realization.
6. tolerance trap
Every job, every value creation, and every function has a purpose. Everything has a purpose. The question of whether it is a good and honorable purpose depends on the individual value system and is therefore a personal decision. Today, however, purpose is exposed to public evaluation and judgement on social media. It is easy to become associated with the „wrong purpose“ by the public, that applies outrage as a new popular sport.
7. the glitter of snowflakes
Generation Z is often referred to as the purpose generation. Gen Z’s are smiled at behind closed doors as the „snowflake generation“. These airy, glittering and beautiful snow crystals, perfectly and uniquely constructed follow the wind – however, they are still subject to the laws of nature. Confronted with reality and existential constraints, these beautiful snowflakes melt away.