Discovering Your Aspirations: Understanding the Difference Between Goals and Purpose

Discovering Your Aspirations

Do you feel like you're just going through the motions in life? Do you lack a sense of purpose or direction? Then, you may benefit from identifying your aspirations. Aspirations are the big-picture life goals that give us a sense of meaning and direction as we navigate our daily lives.

It's important to understand that aspirations are different from goals. While goals are specific action steps to reach a destination, aspirations are more general and long-term future-focused. For example, obtaining a new job within six months is a goal, but looking back on your career and knowing you met all your goals is an aspiration.

Aspirations can be broken down into two main categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic aspirations are centred on enhancing your well-being and personal growth. Examples include building relationships, volunteering for a good cause, or developing new skills. On the other hand, extrinsic aspirations are focused on achieving an instrumental outcome, such as being physically attractive, wealthy, or popular. Here is a further breakdown between the two kinds to help you determine what types of aspirations you tend to focus on:

 Intrinsic Aspirations:

These aspirations satisfy your need to enhance your well-being. Typically, they are centred on relationships, contributions to the community, health, and personal growth. For example, you may aspire to make friends, build relationships, and volunteer for a good cause. This would be considered a social aspiration. Other examples include building a family (family aspirations) or developing new skills, such as in music or art (skill aspirations).

Extrinsic Aspirations:

This variety includes achieving an instrumental outcome. If you want to be seen as physically attractive, wealthy, or famous, you aim for extrinsic aspirations. When you were growing up, did you want a million dollars? That is a financial aspiration. In high school, did you want to be popular? You may have had popularity goals.

Career & Business Aspirations

Career aspirations often combine elements of both intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations. For example, you may aspire to have a specific salary or job title but also desire personal growth and community contributions through your work.

As a small business owner, you may have aspirations beyond financial success. While making a profit is important, having a sense of purpose and direction for your business is also essential. Your aspirations may include positively impacting your community, promoting sustainable practices, or providing exceptional customer service. By identifying your business's aspirations, you can create goals that align with your values and work towards achieving a more fulfilling business.

Identifying your aspirations can give your life more purpose and meaning. It can help you set goals that align with your values and bring you closer to your long-term aspirations. Take time to reflect on your aspirations and consider how they can guide you in achieving a more fulfilling life.


In conclusion, aspirations are an essential aspect of our lives that give us direction and purpose. By understanding the difference between goals and aspirations and identifying our intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations, we can set goals that align with our values and bring us closer to achieving a more fulfilling life.


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