Career vs. Life Purpose


After the yoga class during our sharing a few days ago, one of my friends said, “I am 55 years old and I am still not clear what my life purpose is? I know some people have a clear life purpose, but I am just not sure”. My two teenagers will be going off to the college in next few years, so I wanted to explore this topic myself.

I attended my daughter’s band concert last week. Listening to the music, I felt every instrument and every person in the band had a very important role to play, in making this beautiful music. In the same manner, I feel everyone has a purpose to their lives. We are parts of a whole. All beings on planet Earth have an important role to play, to make life on this planet beautiful and harmonious for all of us.   From my life experiences, I can differentiate a career and a life purpose as follows:


  • Usually involves having a goal and the steps to reach this goal, such as getting good grades, getting a college education, a job and then climbing the corporate ladder.
  • Comes from your ego or personality and is rooted in “separation”. Usually, the person thinks only about their own advancement. There is competition with others. There is also a hierarchy with a few having power over others.
  • Is outwardly focused on materialistic success and can become a never ending thirst with no satisfaction.
  • One person gains at another’s expense such as getting a promotion.
  • The person’s actions are based on personal gain such as more money, fame or power.
  • Is sometimes not decided by you, but it may be in some instances decided by your family or the need to make money and provide for your family.
  • Most careers are stress producing. Working a job can feel very restrictive and not joyful at times. At times, it is not aligned with the person’s talents or strengths. Therefore, success in a career usually comes at a cost, such as physical or mental health challenges and/or tensions in relationships.
  • Is fear based and there is a fear of failure or losing the job or promotion.
  • Usually happens earlier in life and usually is person’s single focus.
  • Has an end. For example, when the person retires or gets fired.

In some cases, the career can become a life purpose if the person is passionate about their work and chooses to use their knowledge, position, or power for benefit of others.

Life Purpose

  • Can be defined as a Divine vision or one’s soul’s vision which only that person knows and is inwardly focused.
  • As this vision comes from their soul, it never leaves their heart and gives meaning to their life.
  • Some life purposes have no end. If the person dies their life purpose may be carried out by their family members or followers.
  • Involves following your heart or following your bliss. It is grace filled and requires trust in higher power.
  • Often, the person knows that they are a trail blazer and they are traveling an unknown path. People and circumstances are placed along the path, step by step which leads them to their vision.
  • Comes from pure intention; it inspires others and is expansive. For example, Mahatma Gandhi inspired Martin Luther King.
  • The person knows that they are the instrument for God’s work and therefore they present themselves in a very humble and relatable way.
  • Has a detachment from financial gain, fame and power.
  • No advertising is required as their actions speak for themselves (e.g. Mother Teresa).
  • Because it is God’s vision, a life purpose can feel as if it is too big or impossible to achieve when viewed through the lens of a person’s ego or personality.
  • It usually encompasses the person’s strengths or gifts that they were born with.
  • There is no competition, but rather collaboration.
  • No life purpose is big or small. Everyone’s purpose is very important.
  • Some people can have multiple life purposes, such as being a mother or a wife and running a charitable business.
  • Originates from a feeling of connection or oneness. It is global and it benefits all life on Earth.
  • For some people a life purpose may come later in life and may encompass all their previous life and work experiences as if life was preparing them for it.
  • Could involve making income or could be an act of selfless service.

As far as my children are concerned, I feel every child is born with a seed of greatness within them. As a parent, my role is like a gardener: to provide the loving and nurturing environment. A gardener has to occasionally prune, support, or gently tie plants to direct their growth in the right direction. When my children are engaged in unconscious and self-destructive behavior patterns, I intervene at times to put them back on track. I have trust and faith that when the time is right, they will bloom into their Divine life purposes.

“If you want happiness for an hour –take a nap. If you want happiness for a day--go fishing. If you want happiness for a month –get married. If you want happiness for a year--inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime--help others.” ---Chinese proverb.

In essence, following your life purpose will give you happiness for your entire lifetime. In addition, I would like to add that if you want happiness for eternity–Know Thyself.

According to transformational teacher Panache Desai, the purpose of your life is to know your authentic self and express it fully, uniquely and unapologetically in the world.

In Hinduism, the purpose of human birth, which is considered the most precious, is self-realization. My wish for everyone reading this and myself is the gift of self-realization and eternal happiness or bliss which is the ultimate purpose of our birth.

Finding the Light in the Cracks
Mindfulness and dealing with Crisis

Related Posts