Ask Celes – How Do You Know If Your Life Purpose Is For Life (and Not Short/Medium Term)?

Hi Celes, during my personal journey of discovering my life purpose I detoured through 3 Life purposes before realising my true passion, which is being a motivational speaker and a life coach. I came to this realisation because I have a vision which stretches over 30 years (hence its a life purpose/passion).

My question to you is how far is your vision for your purpose and what lead you to believe it is a life purpose and not something that is for the short or medium term? – Gordon

Hey Gordon! Believe it or not, your question actually contains the answer to your own question!

You mentioned you realized your life purpose after realizing a vision that stretches over 30 years – key words being “over 30 years”. One of the key factors that determine if something is truly a life purpose or just a passing fad is the duration in which we see ourselves pursuing it (see #2 in 6 Things To Consider Before Discovering Your Purpose). If we see it as just a temporary pursuit or we can’t  be sure if it’s something we want to do for life, then it’s unlikely to be a life purpose (at least, not yet anyway).

On the other hand, if we know deep down in our heart that this message is what we want to do for as long as we live, then it’s probably in line with being a life purpose.

For example for me, I know what my passion to grow and help others live their best lives is my life purpose because it’s the only thing I see myself as doing for the rest of my life, to the day I die. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, 50 years, etc – I know this is what I want to do forever, as long as I live. I wrote about this and how I discovered my purpose in Two Important Things that Led Me to Discover My Real Purpose.

It may well be possible that our purpose change too, by the way, and that’s perfectly fine – because we change as humans over time. It’s just like what I wrote in When Goals Stop Working – there are times when goals we are pursuing stop “working” because they “expire” – they no longer resonate with who we are. In which case, it’s then time to reflect and refresh on our goals. Same thing for our purpose.

The key is whether you feel that this is your purpose at this point in time. If you do, that’s all that matters. We can’t predict the future or foresee how we will change, but what we can do is (a) to assess the situation as holistically as we can, and (b)  make the best judgment based on all the knowledge we have on hand about ourselves and the world. There’s only so much you can reflect and hypothesize before you have to do something. From there, the only step forward is to take action, then see how things unfold.

In the event where you realize what you’ve been pursuing isn’t your intended life purpose, it’s then about refreshing your purpose statement accordingly, then pursuing that. After all, how were you supposed to know that the original purpose you were pursuing isn’t your real purpose if you don’t pursue it? You have to take action on it in order to know whether it’s really the thing or not.

For what it’s worth, if you’ve dug really, really deep in the purpose exercise to the point of deep emotional resonance, then it’s unlikely that it’ll change too much over your life time, to be honest. I discovered my purpose back in 2006, and have since only done minor tweaks in my mission statement. The overall direction of what I’ve set out to pursue remains the same today, and I continue to see my purpose as what I want to pursue for the rest of my life.

It can well change in the future, and if it does then that’s just the way it is. The important thing is not to attach yourself with your purpose (or goals, for that matter). If it’s truly your purpose, it’ll keep coming back to you in various ways even when you let it go. There’s no escaping from it. :D

Besides duration/time, there are other factors which determine whether something is a true life purpose or a passing fad. I’ve identified them in: 6 Things to Consider Before Discovering Your Purpose.

For those who want to read more about purpose, check out my in-depth purpose series which I wrote back in 2008: How To Discover Your Real Life Purpose (7-part series). Everything I wrote then continues to hold true today, given I had written it as a timeless, universal series.

This is part of the Ask Celes section. If you have a question to ask me, proceed to the Ask Celes page. Check out past Ask Celes questions here.

  • Chris

    ‘At this point in time’ is a great point. Since all we have is now, go ahead and engage that which feels purposeful to you right now. And like you said, chances are once you really get down to it, it isn’t likely to change much.


  • Gordon

    Thanks Celes, you articulated my thoughts perfectly
    Your speedy responses and enthusiasm shows you are still very much in line with your passions and purpose since the beginning cheers Gordon

    • Celes

      Thanks Gordon – it’s my pleasure. :)

  • Jimmy

    Hi Gordon,

    I am so excited that you have found your purpose. After reading celes’ post on purpose, we could not be more clear about the signs that we are on track. Personally for me, how I know if my purpose is correct is based on the following criteria:

    We find great joy doing what we had been called to do.
    We will improve life and humanity.
    We will also not violate the rights of other life around us.
    We can do our purposefully activities for free.
    We will galvanize ourselves to seek constant improvements.
    We can do it forever without tiring.

    Having said that, I would also like to add that our goals and mission and all will always evolve over time. i see this as a continuous upgrade because we are becoming better and bigger persons. We need more challenges to sustain our passion. But purpose and passion by and large with remain core.

    Just my five cents worth of thought.


    • Gordon

      Hi Jimmy,

      Great insights. I think it’s natural that people’s ‘goals and missions will always evolve over time’ as we are part of nature and evolution/growth is everywhere around us as change is the only constant.

      good to see many others here on the same wavelength.


  • Joe Lee

    I’m fortunate to learned from this gentleman, Buckminster Fuller who passed on during the 80s. His theory was we may never know our true purpose because it’s always obscure to us. It’s always perpendicular to our views or our direction. He named this “Precession”. I put it in simple term is we are creating a ripple from the things that we do. The end result may be something that we never expect.

    For example, coaching your clients and help people are your life purpose. And those clients whom you helped may went on to create bigger values to the world which is out of your expectation. That he said, is the true purpose of our life.

    Though we may not know our true purpose, he said that, “we should use our gift for the highest advantages of others.” From there, it could be our purpose that we are living.

  • Ruth

    Thanks for this article, it’s encouraging. I’m working on finding my purpose for this moment. I say ‘for this moment’ because one thing I’ve come to learn over the years is that the ‘PURPOSE’ can and does evolve over time. I learned too, that if something that we thought was the purpose didn’t work out, we should not berate ourselves. Instead appreciate all the experiences it has given us and learn to let it go.

    One of my favourite quotes from The Alchemist is “To realise one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” I hope that we will all realise our destiny!