Are you motivated to strengthen your community, clean up our environment or otherwise make a positive social impact? If so, such a sense of purpose might help your finances. Research by Anthony Burrow and three other academics uncovered a positive causal relationship between purpose and wealth. (I’m naming only Burrow as he’s from my alma mater. Go Big Red! To overcome my blatant collegiate bias, see all the authors in the full research report.)
Burrow and team studied over 4,500 individuals between the ages of 25 and 74. Those with a sense of purpose had roughly $2,600 higher income and $15,000 higher net worth attributable to purpose (and not to educational levels, personality or other variables). What’s more, purpose appears to have a cumulative effect on wealth. Approximately ten years after collecting the above data, the purpose-driven income boost had broadened to roughly $4,500 and the net-worth boost to roughly $21,000. These figures suggest that purpose generates a six percent income gain and seven percent net-worth gain.
You might be skeptical that something as abstract as purpose yields concrete monetary benefits. This finding, however, is a logical extension of what we know. Other studies have established that purpose makes us happier, healthier, less likely to miss work, and more engaged and productive at work (see posts on the purpose link to happiness and performance). Given this plethora of positive impacts, how could purpose not make us wealthier?
How might we apply this finding? Is there a way to ignite purpose in jobs? Fortunately, there is. A practice called job purposing can help you make a positive social impact through everyday work. Job purposing might entail hiring individuals who are disabled, sourcing from small local businesses or helping customers adopt healthy behaviors. The point is, whatever your job, you can flex it towards social good. For six simple ways to do this, see a prior post.
That leaves you with just one problem. How will you spend your $21,000?
This post was originally published on LinkedIn on the post date and reposted here in January 2018 when this site launched.