Life Purpose, Goals, and Dreams

Sections of this topic

    I’ve been thinking lately about the differences between life purpose, goals, and dreams. Share your thoughts on these in the comments below. I’d love to hear how you distinguish these and use them in your life.

    Life Purpose

    Many people think, “If I figured out my life purpose, I’ll know what job to pursue”. You are missing the bigger picture for your life if you think of life purpose only with respect to a job or career. You fulfill your life purpose through all the ways you engage with the world. If you need to learn about compassion, forgiveness, patience, acceptance, non-judgment etc. you can fulfill that life purpose any where and with anyone.

    Life Purpose is about the larger mission for your life. It’s larger than a job or career. It’s larger than your family or hobby or interests. Life purpose in my mind is a spiritual journey. It involves your soul contracts, and the spiritual lessons you need to learn in your life. Your job, family, and hobbies all are props to help you fulfill your life purpose.

    Don’t get stuck in the details and weeds of your life looking for your life purpose there. Take the Eagle view and see what threads keep weaving through your life to learn your life purpose. If you want an exercise for starting this journey, email me (


    Goals are for short term projects. You have a goal to get a new job, to finish a house project, to travel someplace. These are tangible, time limited projects that you want to complete. Use the SMART framework to create clear goals. Make them Specific, Measurable (how will you know you completed your goal), Acceptable, Realistic, Timely (specify a time frame when the goal will be completed, usually not longer than 3-6 months).

    When I work with my coaching clients, I have them establish 1-3 SMART goals they want to complete within 90 days. These serve as the focus of our work together. I coach my clients through their stumbling blocks, review progress of their weekly action steps, and provide inspiration and support as they complete their goals. It helps to have a neutral person to support and provide guidance on your goals.


    Dreams seem to be those high aspirations, the “wouldn’t it be wonderful if…” ideas you have. They may be part of your life purpose, but not necessarily. Some people think dreams are fanciful, but not necessarily achievable. If you want to take action to fulfill your dreams, you’ll need to establish goals to get you there.

    If you find yourself in a rut or not very enthusiastic about life or work, consider having a dream (or two or three). If you want to expand your life, dreams are a good way to start.

    • What is the next wonderful thing you could imagine for your life?
    • What is the glorious expression of peace and love you’d like to see in your world?

    These will get you thinking about your dreams. Let your answers percolate and simmer in the back of your brain. Then see what gets your attention over the next few weeks. If something resonates or seems like a coincidence to your dream, take note of what messages you are getting. You may be getting some nudge from the Universe to tune in more clearly to what is unfolding for you.

    Let me finish here with a wonderful quote from one of my folk heroes, Bill Breeden. I mention him in the chapter on Life Purpose in my first book, Path for Greatness: Work as Spiritual Service.

    Like Jonah, you may seek other adventures, only to be swallowed up by experiences larger than yourself, and finally to be spit out so that you can pursue your true purpose. It is like Abraham saying to God, “Here I am.” Rev. Bill Breeden

    As you pursue your life purpose, your dreams, and goals, be willing to be swallowed up by something bigger than yourself.

    Riding the Surf Surf’s Up!


    Dr. Linda J. Ferguson is a spiritual job and life coach, author and speaker. Her latest book, “Staying Grounded in Shifting Sand” is a spiritual guidebook for daily living. Available from Amazon or your local independent book store.

    Linda’s 10th Anniversary edition of “Path for Greatness: Work as Spiritual Service” is a wonderful gift for a colleague, friend or family member. Available on Amazon or your local independent book store.

    Inspirational Stories for Meaningful Work
    Inspirational Stories for Meaningful Work

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