Self-Improvement

Purpose Versus Meaning

Finding your purpose is a hot topic out in the self-development world. It’s this catch phrase that brings images of yourself blissfully waking up and being excited to get to work because the stars have finally aligned and you are living our your purpose and getting paid for it.

But is that realistic? Have we been sold the lie that unless our job is something we have been passionate about since childhood, it somehow should be unfulfilling? Check out Jordan Harbinger’s Podcast on this topic. It really got me thinking about how we can be passionate about great things in our lives, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be our purpose. There’s a difference between “purpose” and “meaning”.

Sometimes, we may get lucky and the thing that gives us meaning might lead into a job that becomes our purpose. But for those who are supporting their families with a job they didn’t dream up doesn’t mean their life doesn’t have meaning. In the Podcast they use the example of a nurse that was really great at her job and when asked if she knew that this was her “purpose” she didn’t really agree that nursing was her true purpose. She liked nursing, but what she really loved about the job was helping calm people down in their moment of greatest fear and pain. Those moments were what gave her meaning, not the job itself, and that’s okay!

Here’s the thing, we change so much in our lifetime. How can we be sure the first passion is our calling? I went from wanting to be a vet, to an FBI Agent, to a retail manager and that was just in 4 years in college. And now I’m in corporate banking. I didn’t have dreams of being a corporate project manager as a kid, but I do find meaning in my job. I love solving problems and learning new things. I like planning out projects and running meetings. I love helping others, that’s my purpose and it takes so many forms inside and outside my job. If you can’t find something you grow to love within your job, maybe you find meaning outside of your day job. You might work in retail but find meaning in your passion for singing. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive and your not failing if they don’t coincide.

So let’s all give a big high-five to those who are living out their purpose, loving it and making money doing it. But for the rest of us, let’s worry less about finding that mysterious “purpose” and work on the things that give us meaning!


How do you differentiate purpose and meaning in your life? Comment below!

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