Three Misconceptions about Your Life Purpose

Misconception #1 You only have one true purpose in life.

Have you ever read a quote like this?: “Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.” – Buddha

Quotes like this used to fill me with anxiety.

I would read them and think “What the f@<% is my purpose? What the hell should I be doing???”

It’s a misconception that you only have one true purpose in life.

Most people have a deep desire to contribute to the world in some way, to leave a mark, to change a life, to help others. When we feel like we are not doing this, we can carry a sense of emptiness. There are countless books out there that promise to help you find your purpose. But the truth is, we will have many different purposes throughout our lives.

Here’s a simple example: There’s a really successful doctor who loves her job. She can see her patients getting healthier. She knows she’s having an impact. She feels she is living her purpose.

Down the road, the same woman decides to have a child and take time off to raise her family. Is she no longer living her purpose? Of course not! She now has a new purpose. If she decided to work AND raise her family, that would be her purpose.

If you’re thinking, “Yeah, but I don’t have a career where I feel like I’m helping people. If I had that, I wouldn’t be trying to find my purpose!”

A good place to begin is with a values assessment. Take a look at what’s most important to you right now. What you value now may be different from what you valued when you first entered a situation.

Let’s continue with the example of a job. There was a reason you wanted the job you now have, even if that reason was a paycheck. At that time, you valued money. Now, you may value something more than, or in addition to, money.

Knowing exactly what that is can help you determine your next step. This may involve a change in position or career or it may just mean a change in perspective about what you’re currently doing.

Either way, know that time spent in your current situation is NEVER wasted.

Which brings us to misconception #2:

 If you’re not living your purpose yet, you’re wasting your time.

The moments in life where you feel like you are “off-track” from your purpose are just as important and meaningful as the moments where we feel like we are on track to living our purpose.

The “off track” moments use contrast to remind you of what you don’t want. And knowing what you don’t want points you in the direction of what you do want.

Think of a situation or experience where you felt out of alignment with your purpose and desire. Reflect on that situation: What didn’t you like about that? What felt “off”? Be specific. Use those answers. Flip them around. Now you have a list of what you’d like things to look like. A situation or experience that is more aligned with your purpose.

When I graduated from college I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do. I hopped around to a few different companies and positions, one of which was a sales assistant at a cable networking company. I spent my day in a cubicle and attended meetings about making a monthly budget. It wasn’t long before my intuition spoke loudly saying, “NOOOO!”

Here’s what I didn’t enjoy: working in a cubicle, networking with potential clients, and having making money for the company as the big goal.

I used this experience of contrast to decide what I DID want: a workplace where I had space to move around (and with windows!), a job where networking was not an expectation, a job where I felt like I was helping the world in some way.

This list led me to a 10 year career as a teacher until something in me said, “NOOO!” yet again. From there, I went through the exercise again and moved to coaching.

Not only do situations where you’re “off track” give you a lot of helpful information about your purpose, you are gaining important skills and experience that will serve you later in some way.

My years as a teacher were incredibly important to my current work as a coach. Years of teaching reading comprehension grew my fascination with the way people think. I gained TONS of practice with the extremely valuable skill of self-regulation, gained self-confidence, practiced public speaking, and took on leadership roles. I also made lifelong friendships with people who have supported me through my latest career change (and they let me practice my coaching skills on them!)

Your time is NEVER wasted. Your experiences are always teaching and growing you. You can choose what you’ll take with you and what you’ll leave behind when it’s time to start another chapter.

Misconception #3

Your purpose is always fulfilled through your career.

Often we associate living our purpose with our careers, especially because for many of us, that’s where we spend a majority of our adult lives. But the idea that work and purpose are always synonymous is false. There are countless ways we can live our external purpose – through our relationships, how we love, the energy we carry with us.

Our external purpose, or what we do in this world, is ALWAYS secondary to our internal purpose, which is to realize the truth of who we are, to see past our egos, to realize our power, to be present to our lives, and experience them fully and consciously.

In that sense, it doesn’t even matter what we are doing in this world: walking down the street, teaching a class, performing surgery, picking up our kids from school, waiting in line at the grocery store, we can bring joy, love, and consciousness into this world by being in the present moment.

So what does this mean in plain English?

It’s not what you do that matters, it’s the quality and intention with which you do it.

It’s disidentifying with the chatter of the mind and becoming the observer of your thoughts.

It’s knowing that you already have everything you need inside of you, and you can bring whatever you desire into the physical world.

You are universal energy in physical form.

Eckhart Tolle says it best: “You are the Universe expressing itself as human for a little while.”

How beautiful is that???


  1. Deb Starr on October 19, 2021 at 2:48 am

    Love love love this! Especially misconception #3. I always identified with my job/jobs and I mean always drew my purpose from my positions. So #3 really helped me a retiree I no longer have that job that brings me purpose. Thank you for sharing…that it is the quality and intent brought to our lives. HIGE

  2. Keiko on October 19, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    SO beautiful! Thank you.

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