What Are Aspirations?

What Are Aspirations? 

Do you have hopes and dreams? Do you have an ambition to achieve a life goal in the future? If so, you have aspirations. Big picture life goals give us a sense of purpose and direction as we live out each day, don’t be mistaken. Having goals and aspirations are not the same thing.

Goals are action steps to get you to a final destination, while aspirations tend to be more general and long-term future focused. Think of it this way, when you want to look back on your career and know you met all your goals, that is an aspiration. Obtaining a new position within six months is a goal. They work together, but they have separate functions.

A Breakdown of Aspirations

Having aspirations gives your life more meaning and focus. There are various types that we lean on when we start dreaming of our future. People have different outlooks on what their aspirations are. Some are simple, such as being a steady provider for their family. Others aim higher to become famous or rich.

Researchers have discerned there are two main types of aspirations we aim for – intrinsic and extrinsic. They are centered on common themes that can indicate our sense of purpose. Here is the breakdown between the two kinds to help you in determining what types of aspirations you tend to focus on:

  1. Intrinsic: These are the aspirations that satisfy your need to enhance your well-being. Typically, they are centered on relationships, contributions to 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).
  2. Extrinsic: This variety includes achieving an instrumental outcome. If you want to be seen as physically attractive, wealthy, or popular, then you are aiming 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.

What about career aspirations? Many of us hope to accomplish certain things within our careers that are both intrinsic and extrinsic. They are often tied to our desire to have a certain image or salary, but they can also have bits of personal growth and community contributions mixed in.

Over the next month, I’ll be sharing some insights about ways you can consider and act upon your own aspirations.

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