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The Ultimate Tug of War – A Life of Purpose or Profit?

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  – Harriet Tubman

Money, Money, Money, Money!!!  It supposedly leads to happiness and can equally be a major cause of stress.  When you are a dreamer and have taken steps towards fulfilling your dreams, you sometimes play a tug of war that may not be apparent on the surface.  You may eventually have to ask yourself “Am I choosing a life of purpose or profit?”

This concept of purpose or profit hit me like a ton of bricks recently because it can become a major obstacle in creating the life that you truly want.  So, what did I do?  I paused to reflect on the choice that we have between the double P’s.

If you own your business, you want it to be profitable.  As professionals, we all want to be financially secure and work to earn an income.

There isn’t anything wrong with pursuing financial freedom.  Financial freedom can be found through:

  • A minimalist approach such as living in a tiny home or the “FIRE” movement of creating “Financial Independence to Retire Early”
  • Living within your means by spending less than you earn
  • Reducing costs to save a larger portion of your income
  • Living off one income or paycheck (for dual-income households)
  • Creating multiple income streams to increase your income
  • Investing in stocks, bonds or real estate

But what happens when you feel that you’re called to a higher purpose or have a desire to fulfill a lifelong dream that may conflict with faster financial freedom or profits?

Happiness or Joy?

This is where the tug of war comes into play.  If you move forward without clarity or vision, you may intentionally or unintentionally pursue profits over purpose.

For example, you could choose a high growth path in your career or your business based on the earning potential or profitability of that path.  If the money does not appear quickly, you may be disappointed and discouraged.

You could also remain on a completely wrong path in your career or business because of the large profits that you’re already earning or worse…you may move too quickly off an existing path that you’re passionate about if it’s not profitable within your desired time.

If the money pours in and profits have been your focus, it may begin to dictate your happiness.  So, what is the problem with happiness?  Happiness is not permanent.  Happiness is based on external circumstances and as soon as those circumstances change, you may find that you’re no longer happy.

This is one of the reasons why you may not be satisfied solely with profits or money in the long run.  True happiness does not come from money.  Something may be missing because you’re hungry for something greater and more meaningful that goes beyond your bank account.

You want to be in pursuit of a life of purpose!  Purpose gives you joy, and joy is internal.

Joy is not based on external circumstances or conditions that must be satisfied or maintained to keep us “happy.”  Joy comes from an inner sense of gratitude and a sense of purpose that can be found even in the midst of chaos.

No matter our circumstances, joy can come from appreciation of the air that we breathe or our ability to move beyond our current realities by imagining the possibility of something new…something different starting within our own minds.


How do you know the difference?

You may be unhealthily chasing profits if:

  • Your relationships have been negatively impacted by your work or business
  • You’re chasing contracts and not enjoying the work anymore (the pure work is no longer meaningful)
  • You’re pursuing the latest trends or fads that may not be in alignment with your core values or long-term vision
  • You’re profitable, but unfulfilled
  • You’re desperately trying to make something work because of its “potential,” but it’s not working and you don’t LOVE it 

You may be pursuing your purpose if:

  • You’ve built meaningful connections and relationships with people around you
  • You have an overflow of opportunities based on your service and the impact you’ve had on others
  • You find more meaning in your work every day and the moments seem to pass quickly (time flies when you’re having fun)
  • Your work or business activities are in alignment with your core values, long-term vision, and who you’re meant to serve
  • You’re still engaged and committed to the work during stressful times
  • You’re profitable AND fulfilled or you have only experienced a little success, but believe wholeheartedly in your mission (you would do the work for free)


What will you choose?

You can have both purpose and profits, but you don’t want the latter to overtake your life and relationships.

You don’t have to feel ashamed about desiring financial freedom or profitability in your pursuits.

There is nothing wrong with making money or profits personally or professionally within your career or business.  It’s about shifting the mind to avoid being consumed by a focus on profits since money is a major cause of stress and can cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Purpose also eliminates the stress of constantly chasing after money or profits.  You can focus on your ultimate mission in service to others.

You can choose purpose with the belief that profits will follow.

Purpose gives you strength to continue moving forward even if the profits are not flowing and a sense of peace when profits are flowing as a result of your positive impact.

Purpose gives you patience in knowing that there is no such thing as overnight success.  It eliminates the stress that comes from the need for instant gratification when pursuing your dreams.

Purpose gives you the “passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”   Your passion drives you to continue believing and creating infinite possibilities for yourself and others even if no one else sees your vision.

Purpose and profits don’t have to be at odds, but you may have to examine which one has taken over your dreams.  

Purpose doesn’t like to be in second place.  It will continue to chase you even if you don’t stop to answer the call or the yearning in your spirit for something more.  You can have both profits and purpose, but you may have to choose a life of purpose first for ultimate fulfillment.


So, are you primarily in pursuit of profits or purpose?  Choosing a life of purpose above profits can have rewards beyond financial freedom.  You can end the tug of war and leave a legacy that lives beyond your years to positively impact your family, friends, community or the world.

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