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What's the difference between your life purpose and your dreams?

What's the difference between your life purpose and your dreams?
by Doe Zantamata

Although "life purpose" and "dreams" are often used interchangeably, they have very different meanings.

In the most basic sense, your life purpose is what you do for others, or for this world, and your dreams are what you do for yourself.

Life purpose is solely what your life has given to this world. It may be large scale or small scale, but it's the difference you've made to people, animals, the ecology, or some other Earthly gift that was only possible because of your gift of your time, efforts, and above all, your love within your lifetime.

Often people assume that if their purpose isn't enormous, it doesn't count. That couldn't be further from the truth. Your contribution is valuable and the energy you put into it is what counts. As Mother Teresa said, what we do ripples throughout the world. If "all" you do is raise one confident, loved, appreciated child, that's more than enough. If "all" you do is rescue a few cats or dogs, that's more than enough. Because of you, the world was made better. Because of you, suffering was decreased or love was increased. Don't ever undervalue that.

Your dream or your dreams are for you. While you are here, maybe your dream is to become a musician, or an astronaut, or a parent, or to become very wealthy. Your dreams are yours. There are more than enough people in every profession, but there are not enough people living their dreams. What the difference is doesn't exist in quantity, but in quality. If you dream of something, the results; whether they be products, services, performances, art, or anything with that passionate energy will be so much greater than doing it for any other reason. For example if your parents wanted you to be a lawyer so you became a lawyer but your heart was never in it, you may be an effective one but likely not a great one. If from a young age you had a passion for what is right and just, becoming a lawyer is your dream but the passion and integrity you infuse into that career will make you an incredible lawyer. You can't fake passion. You either feel it from within or you don't.

Now if you only pursue your purpose or your dream, you're leaving half of your life equation unfulfilled. 

Ideally, you'll want to do both at the same time, or if you've achieved one, put your attention on the other.

Focusing only on a dream:

Becoming successful in achieving a dream is fulfilling, but not for long because of a feeling then of, "now what?" Whether it's a concrete accomplishment like "becoming a doctor" or "winning an Olympic Gold Medal," if it's actually achieved, there is still a lot of life left to live.

A lot of people have had dreams of wealth and success. Once they achieved a high level of both, after awhile, it feels empty. At that point, they either seek more wealth, or they seek a purpose. Most of that purpose, ironically, involves giving away or investing much of that money into something that isn't going to return more money to them, but will improve or seek to improve the lives of other people or the world. They often then feel more happiness and gratitude for what they have given away and feel it was more of an achievement than they ever felt in the acquiring of it.

Focusing only on a purpose:

This would seem to be completely fulfilling if the end result of the wealth dreamers is to switch to a purpose. But the truth is, only machines are here to exist in purpose only. Purpose is the exhale. If a person is solely focused on purpose, they never inhale. They are never able to feel the gratitude that is being directed to them because they are still focused on doing as much as possible for others and most jobs are too big to complete in one lifetime.

If you are a very selfless person, even having a dream that's for yourself may seem like a foreign concept. But that dream may just be to have a nice home or financial freedom or a chance to relax and not feel like you should be constantly doing something or that whatever you do isn't enough. Or you may have to step out of your purpose and actually think up what would be a good dream to have. If your purpose was your children and they've grown and left home, also called empty nester syndrome, you may feel like you don't know what to do with your life or that it no longer has a purpose. Dreams are good. There are a lot of wonderful things in this world, places to see, people to meet, shows to're not selfish at all for actually allowing yourself to do these things. By doing these things, you'll likely be making other people's dreams come true. The bed and breakfast owners, or chefs, or actors or musicians who need appreciative audiences will appreciate you just being there receiving their efforts. Dream a little dream. Dream a big dream. Make it something for you.

Combining the Two: 

If you have a hard time dreaming a dream because you're so used to being totally selfless, think of a way you could combine the two. For example if you decide your purposed now is to save wild horses, instead of focusing solely on say, petitioning for their preservation or donating your time and efforts to raising awareness, think of something that includes you. Like starting a sanctuary where you live in a nice farmhouse and have a ton of property where they are free to live and be safe for life. To do that, you'll need money, not "just barely enough," but abundant so that they will be cared for as well as you, and so that you can leave something for them after your passing to continue your purpose after you've passed. The dream of loads of money isn't selfish or shallow or materialistic when it's got a purpose behind it. Money is power. Money buys necessities; food, shelter, healthcare, veterinary care, things that will all be necessary for long term success, safety, and security and long term fulfillment of your purpose. Easier said than done of course, but looking at serving your purpose as a successful business instead of as a scraping the bottom of the barrel desperate effort will be a lot more fruitful day to day and in the end. Your mind will be open to ways to make this happen instead of trying to figure out ways to just keep going out of a desperate or impoverished state of mind.

We've been a bit brainwashed to believe that selfless means never asking for anything or even having anything. We've been brainwashed to believe that desiring a lot of money is greedy or even evil. But that's why so many of these things remain true today. Our beliefs keep the money in the wrong places which keeps the power and the abundance in the wrong places, too. For some reason, people know this on a certain level because whenever you ask someone what they would do with lottery money, they will say what they would do for others or that they would start a charity or animal rescue or clean up the oceans. Do we really have to believe that the only way to have the power (money) to make a significant difference is left to an extreme event of luck? The lottery money is only the result of individuals putting their single dollars into a big pot with the hopes of winning it. That money exists daily, weekly in the world. It can be directed in other places if people learn of and believe that their dollars would make a difference in the world elsewhere and not by luck but on purpose.

How do goals fit in? 

Goals are milestones of achievement either in purpose or dreams.

Define your purpose and your dream

First thing's first, what is your purpose and what is your dream?

If you've never thought about it, this is a great place to start! You can't hit what you don't aim for.

Maybe you'll realize in doing this that you're already living and achieving one or the other or are on a path to goals in one or the other. Maybe your purpose isn't clearly defined but is simply to improve the lives of others because of you. That you're a helper and an encourager and smile at strangers. That's a great purpose! You may do it every day and never really realized how awesome it is that you do.

Do you also have a dream? Have you believed that having any dream would mean your'e not a good person and would feel guilty even thinking of something for yourself? OK stop that. You are not a machine. You do a lot of good. Allow the world and other people to give you something back. Breathe in. Receive some of the good that's in this world and give other people the gift of being able to give to you. Write that book. Take that trip. Paint that picture. Learn that language. Do whatever it is that you've always had in the back of your mind but never allowed yourself to entertain. I will bet, too, that once you do fulfill that dream, you will turn it into another purpose that could never have been possible had you not given yourself the time, effort, and ability to dream your dream, pursue, and fulfill it. Do it! It's not too late. It's probably been waiting your whole life for you to ignite it and for it to become a reality. Doors may appear and ideas may flow faster than you can imagine. Belief starts the process and belief drives reality. It's time for you.


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