The Purpose Myth Book Summary - The Purpose Myth Book explained in key points
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The Purpose Myth summary

Charlotte Cramer

Change the World, Not Your Job

4.3 (234 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

The Purpose Myth by Charlotte Cramer is a thought-provoking book that debunks the notion of a "life purpose." It encourages readers to embrace the journey of self-discovery and find fulfillment in the present moment.

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    The Purpose Myth
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    The idea that your job must fulfill you is a myth.

    “Hi, so what do you do?”

    You’ve likely had a dinner party moment like this. And unless you’re lucky enough to have your dream job, your answer may feel somewhat embarrassing. Somehow it can feel like you’re being judged. That’s because it’s a widespread— yet false— belief that what we do is who we are. 

    In previous generations, jobs actually did reflect who you were. Whether you were a baker or a builder, what you did was understood by your community – especially if they liked your bread. But as much as these jobs might have been part of someone’s identity, purpose was found in other places, like at church or at home.

    Nowadays, we’re more disconnected from religion and family; on top of that, our jobs are a little more vague. And yet, most job postings promise meaningful and fulfilling opportunities. Well, that's because HR departments have figured out that the language of purpose is a great way to reel in promising applicants.

    The key message here is: The idea that your job must fulfill you is a myth.

    And the idea that your job is an expression of your identity, that it can truly give your life meaning, is driven by market capitalism. That’s because when people see hard work and spending money as a part of who they are, they’re more likely to do those things. But, ultimately, these activities aren’t fulfilling. 

    So what do we need in order to feel fulfilled? 

    The author, Charlotte Cramer, interviewed over a hundred people and identified three core needs. First, we need to survive – to have our material needs met. Next, to feel emotionally and spiritually fulfilled, we need to strive and feel like we’re making a difference in the world. And last, we need to thrive by learning new things and satisfying our curiosity.

    Unfortunately, most jobs only satisfy the first need – allowing us to survive by giving us a paycheck. Rarely do our jobs allow us to strive or thrive. It was only when Cramer started her Purpose Project that she was finally able to experience the feeling of doing meaningful work. Not only was she able to strive toward making the world better, but the work also helped her to thrive by taking her outside of her comfort zone. 

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    What is The Purpose Myth about?

    The Purpose Myth (2020) dispels the idea that what you do to earn a living should also be your life’s driving purpose. Although many job offers are posted as fulfilling opportunities, the reality of office life remains banal. This book offers clear guidance on how to find the joy and satisfaction that’s too often lacking at work. 

    The Purpose Myth Review

    The Purpose Myth (2022) by Charlotte Cramer challenges the notion that everyone must find a singular purpose in life, proposing alternative paths to fulfillment. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with thought-provoking insights, it encourages readers to question societal pressure and explore different routes to personal satisfaction.
    • By including interviews, case studies, and research, the book offers a well-rounded perspective on the complexities of purpose, making it both informative and relatable.
    • Through its engaging storytelling and relatable examples, the book manages to shed light on a complex subject in an accessible and genuinely interesting way.

    Who should read The Purpose Myth?

    • People looking to put some purpose back into their lives
    • Aspiring entrepreneurs on the hunt for inspiration
    • Anyone who finds their day job unfulfilling

    About the Author

    Charlotte Cramer is a neuroscience researcher, speaker, and cofounder of CRACK + CIDER, a nonprofit that helps people struggling with houselessness. As a strategy consultant, Cramer has worked with Google, Facebook, and VICE. Her work has been featured in the Guardian, Fast Company, and on BBC News. 

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    The Purpose Myth FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Purpose Myth?

    The main message of The Purpose Myth is that finding one's purpose is a societal construct that can lead to pressure and unhappiness.

    How long does it take to read The Purpose Myth?

    The reading time for The Purpose Myth varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Purpose Myth a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Purpose Myth is a thought-provoking read that challenges societal norms. It offers valuable insights into finding fulfillment beyond the pursuit of a singular purpose.

    Who is the author of The Purpose Myth?

    Charlotte Cramer is the author of The Purpose Myth.