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What Is Purpose Anxiety, Its Signs & How To Ease It?

What is Purpose Anxiety?

Purpose and resilience are related and they have also shown to increase the chance of healthy aging(1)

Finding a purpose can be beneficial but can bring in anxiety. This is what is called purpose anxiety(2)

Having a purpose in life can bring in a sense of being and overall life satisfaction. A study found, having a purpose can lead to better physical health and longer life expectancy(3)

Purpose anxiety can be experienced in two different stages:

  1. If struggling to uncover the actual purpose of a persons life
  2. An attempt to live the purpose

It can range from mild to moderate to severe and can lead to a range of negative emotions that include stress, worry, frustration, fear, and also anxiety.

Signs of Purpose Anxiety

Purpose anxiety may show up in following ways:

Constantly Switching Jobs

People with purpose anxiety are often seen joining and quitting jobs frequently and joining another. The job-hopping is done to find a perfect role.

Feeling Low Or Not Feeling Good After A Failure

Those with purpose anxiety find it hard to deal with failures. When they see their mates doing well and achieving success, the anxiety level is increased.

Negative Comparisons

Negative comparisons can also lead to purpose anxiety.

Sometimes people instead of thinking, what purpose means to them start comparing themselves with others. Such people always think of themselves as less, when compared with others.

Worrying About Finding True Purpose

Finding a true purpose seems to be a big thing to accomplish. Some people always wonder whether the purpose they are working for is really true or not.

Inability To Acknowledge Accomplishments

There are various negative emotions that can lead to purpose anxiety. Getting stuck in a negative loop makes it difficult to recall any positive experiences and accomplishments.

Purpose Can Lead To Anxiety And Depression

  • Narrowing focus can be limiting and oppressive in those who are multi-talented. This can bring in a feeling of depression in them.
  • The inability to point towards a clear purpose can lead to a feeling of failure and low self-esteem. It can also alter a person’s thinking.
  • Not being able to decide on life’s purpose can frustrate a person and not speaking about it increases anxiety.

All the above can lead to depression.

How To Ease Purpose Anxiety?

If striving for purpose is bothering and causing stress, something should be done to correct it.

If you acknowledge that purpose anxiety is bothering, you can begin to be proactive to switch the mindset and pursue the purpose in more positive ways:


Knowing how to achieve the purpose is better, rather than looking out to others to guide you on how to do so.

Purpose Can Be Created, Not Found

The purpose should not be seen as something that is already present or something that is found in a person.

Purpose needs to be created. It is a kind of forward-pointing arrow that motivates the behavior and serves as an organizing principle of life.

Purpose Comes From The Life Experiences And Challenges

The purpose doesn’t come suddenly. It is created with the experiences in life and the challenges faced.

A purpose found today might be different from those one is living with for years and even months.

How To Live Purposefully?

If not being able to find a purpose is causing anxiety, stress, and depression, practice the below-mentioned steps.

Go Grateful

Practicing gratitude can help develop radar that is important for us.

Being thankful can help remember, that life has a point. It can give an expansive and a good feeling.

Nail The Value

Identify your values and put them first. Living someone else’s life is the biggest block to living purposefully.

It would be just like taking up a job only because a friend of yours is working there.

Keep aside what anyone else thinks or feels about. Work towards fulfilling your purpose in life.

Make It Mindful

Mindfulness is an easy to learn technique and it lowers stress and anxiety. It also increases focus and well being.

It helps push you to notice what is working right for you and pulls you away from analysing a past you cannot change.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 21, 2020

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