What is the Difference between Vision and Purpose?

The two words “vision” and “purpose” are closely related and may be confused to be the same if not properly looked into. For us to get an understanding of the differences, we need to x-ray the two words separately and then pick out the differences. Let’s get to work!

what is my purpose

What is Vision?

Vision can be defined in different ways depending on whom and what they hope to communicate. There are two major ways of describing vision which is in close proximity to the context of this piece. Firstly, it is used to communicate the ability to see things. That is synonymous with “sight”, that is seeing the way things are before you. 

The second is more pertinent to this piece, especially with the comparison we have before us. Vision in this case is the ability to see and form a future ahead of you. It encompasses having a mental picture of the future you desire for yourself, your community, organization, or people and setting the goals to accomplish it. Vision is not just about seeing the future and setting goals, it also includes bringing the goals to pass to deliver the vision. 

Another way to describe the vision that may bring much clarity is by describing it as what you want the world to become first for you and then for every other person. For instance, some people may have a vision of a world without hunger. That is what they hope the world would become. They will then set actionable goals to achieve the world without hunger first for themselves and then extended to a place or the entire world.

What is Purpose?

For the word “purpose”, there are two pertinent definitions that are similar in meanings. The first is the literary meaning which is best explained as the reason behind the existence of something, a person, or an event. It means what something was made for. For instance, a cup is made to be used to drink the liquid. This means that the purpose of the cup is to hold the liquid for drinking.

Furthermore, the word “purpose” means what someone exists to do or the life he exists to live. In this context, it means everyone is expected to live for something or be a doer of something that they are supposed to be synonymous with. For instance, Jeremiah was ordained to be a prophet unto nations, John the Baptist was a forerunner for Jesus Christ, etc. These examples were not just known for what they were, it was actually their purpose.

Also Read: Prayer Points for Contentment

Similarities between Vision and Purpose

If you take a look at the definitions of vision and purpose, you will discover that there are similarities. This may have been the reason why the two are confused with each other. Here are the two major similarities;

  • The first similarity is that whether vision or purpose, they both talk about people. I mean it must have looked in the context of relating it to humans before it can look similar. An object does not have a vision. Even when an organization is used, vision is in the context of human beings and not building or processes.


  • Both vision and purpose are to be lived out and evident in decisions, plans, commitments, actions, and inactions. This is by far the greatest of the similarities possessed by both vision and purpose.


  • Both vision and purpose are targeted at just one thing which is to live a life that is worth living and be relevant. You come to the realization of both because you are seeking greatness.


  • Both vision and purpose cannot be used passively. If the two must give you result in your life, you must be intentional about them and the applications where it is necessary. 

Because of the similarities and the close meaning that they share, the two words are used interchangeably in some cases. But you can always tell the differences when you finish this piece. 

Differences between Vision and Purpose

Having seen the similarities between vision and purpose, it is expedient to understand where vision differs from purpose and what those differences mean. Understanding these differences would give us a holistic understanding of both vision and purpose. Please see the differences below;

  • The purpose is a divine installation that you will later discover as you live here on earth as you search for relevance while vision is something that you come up with to achieve your relevance in life. That means purpose is the making of God while vision is our own making as human beings.


  • In practice, a purpose is a tool that keeps you magnetized to why you are existing while vision is used to keep you aligned to that purpose through set goals. This means that in practice, each of them comes into use at different points. 


  • Vision is always within a timeline. That is maybe 5 years, 10 years, etc. while purpose is a lifelong thing. You can only outgrow your purpose when you are dead. As a matter of fact, death means that you have either finished your purpose on earth or you abandoned to which you are called home.


  • Another way to see the difference is that purpose is the umbrella thing that spans over your entire existence on earth while vision is used to express purpose in different areas per time. Although it is possible for people to have a vision that does not synchronize with their purpose. That always comes with significant life stress and unfulfillment. 


  • It is possible for people to fail in a particular vision of their life but that does not mean they have failed in their purpose. What this may mean is that they fail in a part of their purpose and almost everyone does. Sometimes we don’t get some seasons right in our life and as a result, we are unable to do what is needed or required for that season. Each season of our life has a different vision but the purpose remains the same.


Conclusively, both vision and purpose have both similarities and differences but only a well-synchronized vision and purpose in the right direction can guarantee a life that is worth living. It is by this that fulfillment can come in life. 

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