Dr. Kevin Gazzara
4 min readMay 31


The Difference between Meaning and Purpose: An Exploration of Importance

Photo by Paolo Barretta


Meaning and purpose are two fundamental concepts that have been widely explored in various fields of study, including philosophy, psychology, and existential theory. While often used interchangeably, it is essential for us to recognize that meaning and purpose are distinct yet interconnected constructs that shape our experiences and provide a sense of direction and significance in life. This article aims to clarify the differences between meaning and purpose and highlight their unique characteristics and roles in our life.


Meaning refers to the significance, value, or interpretation attributed to our life experiences, actions, or circumstances. It encompasses three dimensions; 1) Subjective, 2) Cultural, and 3) Existential.

1) Subjective meaning pertains to personal interpretations and subjective evaluations of one’s life, emphasizing individual perspectives and the emotional resonance attached to specific experiences.

2) Cultural meaning refers to the significance ascribed by a society or community, often influenced by shared values, beliefs, and cultural practices.

3) Existential meaning delves into questions regarding the purpose and significance of human existence in a broader philosophical context.

The 4 Sources that Create Meaning

1) Relationships: Creating meaningful connections and relationships with others, fostering a sense of belonging, love, and social support.

2) Accomplishments and Goals: Pursuit of personal goals, achievements, and the sense of competence or mastery that accompanies them.

3) Contribution and Altruism: Acts of giving, helping, and contributing to the well-being of others or society at large.

4) Self-Transcendence: Activities that go beyond oneself, such as engaging in creative endeavors, spirituality, or experiencing awe in the face of nature.


Purpose refers to the overarching direction or aim that guides our actions and decisions, giving life a sense of direction and intentionality. It involves having a clear understanding of our values, passions, and long-term aspirations. Purpose…



Dr. Kevin Gazzara

CEO of Magna Leadership Solutions, Certified Positive Intelligence Coach, Management Expert, Professor, Speaker, and Author. Contact: Kevin@Magnaleadership.com