Let me ask you:
What is your purpose in life?
Do you have one?
I would not be surprised if your answer was: I don’t know!
It can be a real challenge to decide what you really want to do in life, especially if you have many options at your disposal.
The more options you have, the more confused you become!
What’s more, society and our role models (parents, relatives, teachers, etc.) condition what our choices are going to be.
So, most people end up doing something that someone else has chosen for them without ever finding out what their purpose in life is.
At least this was my story!
According to a study, having an unmeaningful life, a life without a purpose is also one of the reasons why most people get depressed.
By looking back they realized that they have not really lived, they have survived through the days, living someone else’s life.
That’s why it is so pivotal to find our reason for living ASAP.
But, how can we find it?
The Japanese made it easier for us by inventing a philosophy called Ikigai, which means “reason for being alive”.
According to this Eastern Culture, everyone has an Ikigai.
Finding it is not an easy process, it is a long quest, it requires a deep and often lengthy search of the self.
Ikigai can help us to find out:
- what we wake up for in the morning,
- why we do what we do every day,
- if and how we are making the most of our existence.
Many people work in jobs they hate feeling a sense of uselessness, hopelessness and nurturing the idea they are a failure in life.
One of the biggest challenges for them is to get out of bed in the morning, they cannot cope with spending most of the day in a job that sucks.
They are just looking forward to the weekend for a bit of relief, and the next Monday they cannot wait for the following weekend.
What kind of life is this?
Is this an enjoyable way to spend your next 20,30,40 years?
I don’t think so!
More and more people nowadays wonder if their purpose in life is to be stuck in a 9 to 5 job from Monday to Friday while they are doing something they are not passionate about.
This is what I felt myself and the reason why I started looking for my Ikigai, my reason for being.
Only by questioning ourselves can we become aware of whether what we are doing is beneficial to us.
If it isn’t, we must be brave and change our path in life.
THE FOUR DIMENSIONS OF IKIGAI
Ikigai is reached when the following four life dimensions intersect:
- What you love doing,
- What you are good at,
- What the world needs,
- What you can earn a living from.
At the core of the intersection dwells Ikigai - our reason for being alive - our reason for getting up in the morning.
At the core of the intersection, we are able to experience peace and lasting happiness, which can sustain us throughout our entire lives.
What someone loves doing is subjective.
And even if activities that we love present some aspects that we don’t like, for instance, I love writing, but not editing, it’s completely different from doing things that as a whole make us feel awful.
At the end of the day, it’s much easier to cope with just a few things that we don’t like doing rather than being in a career that we loathe.
Every person is naturally predisposed to specific things.
You might be good at teaching while I am not, and I might be good at speaking in public while you are shy and you could never utter a word in front of an audience.
What I want to stress is that most people spend their life doing something they are not really good at, while they reject something they are naturally predisposed to.
So instead of working our ass off doing something that does not align with our natural predisposition, we had better focus our energy on things we are hardwired for so that mastering them is easier.
Once we have determined what we love doing and what we are good at, it’s time to find out what we can offer to meet the world's needs.
To discover the world’s needs we can research the market trends to find out the current requirements.
Once we have found them, we should ask ourselves: “how can I, with my knowledge and skills, meet other people’s needs and contribute to a better world”?
Last, but not least is the fourth dimension.
We should not be driven by the desire to earn money, but this is what happens in real life.
We live in a society where if we don’t have money we are screwed.
So the passion we have, the vocation we choose, and our mission will not be sustainable unless they generate an income.
If they don't, our activities are only hobbies, not professions.
What Ikigai depends on is the combination of PASSION, PROFESSION, VOCATION, and MISSION.
Thanks to this combination everyone can find a purpose in life.
IKIGAI, THE SECRET OF A LONG AND FULFILLING EXISTENCE
According to the inhabitants of the Japanese island of Okinawa - the world’s longest-living people - finding the Ikigai is the secret to a longer and more fulfilled life.
It’s interesting to note that in the Okinawan vocabulary the word retirement doesn’t exist.
For them, the concept of retirement is depressing as it refers to a period of life when you just put your feet up and stop working.
In Western society, we tend to consider retirement the ultimate well-earned rest from the battlefield of a career.
We think of retirement as a stage of life devoted to recreation.
That’s also why, before retiring, we try to earn as much money as possible to relax and just indulge in doing nothing.
Doing so, we miss out on the real purpose of life, i.e. “the purpose of life is a life of purpose”. - Robert Byrne
We had better stop worrying about making a lot of money to get ready to retire comfortably.
We should switch focus to having a great life every single day by giving a purpose to it.
That’s what we must keep doing, instead of longing for retirement.
We must keep learning, carrying out daily tasks, and moving forward.
“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious … and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
We should make sure to learn the Okinawan's philosophy of living.
For the Okinawans every day must be devoted to something, to give a purpose to life.
They have something to live for that keeps them busy until the end of their life, which - for most of them - is over one hundred years old.
The idea is you must keep your body and mind active in order to pursue a goal and therefore experience Ikigai on a daily basis.
Research links purpose to heightened levels of emotional and mental well-being and overall life satisfaction.
Studies show also that having a sense of purpose in life leads to better physical and mental health, and as a result, to a longer life expectancy.
10 RULES TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR IKIGAI
The authors Héctor García and Francesc Miralles in their book “Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” list ten rules that help you to find your Ikigai.
- Stay active, don’t retire,
- Don’t be in a rush, take it easy,
- Don’t fill your stomach, only eat till you are 80 percent full, and enjoy the food by eating it slowly,
- Surround yourself with like-minded people,
- Keep moving, get fit by exercising daily,
- Reconnect with nature, we are part of it,
- Give thanks, you can always be grateful for something,
- Live the present moment,
- Follow your Ikigai, your reason to get up in the morning.
YOU CAN STOP CURSING ON MONDAY!
This is what Ikigai is also powerful for.
It has the capacity to transform what is one of the most hated days of the week into another wonderful day.
You have a purpose in life and so who cares if it’s the weekend or the start of a new week?
You know that every day is an opportunity to embrace life, to live to your fullest.
How great would it be to wake up on Mondays feeling eager to conquer another day by living it and not sleepwalking through it?
Find your Ikigai and you will be able to experience this awesome feeling!
FIGURE OUT YOUR IKIGAI AND YOU WILL FIND THE MEANING OF YOUR LIFE!
It’s high time YOU found your PURPOSE in LIFE, your IKIGAI, your reason for BEING ALIVE!
It’s high time YOU got out of bed in the morning feeling thrilled thanks to your purpose and mission in life!
Get a move on, and find where WHAT YOU LOVE, WHAT YOU ARE GOOD AT, WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS, and WHAT YOU CAN GET PAID FOR intersect and you will find everlasting happiness.
There’s nothing so powerful as knowing that your life has a meaning!
Everyone has a different Ikigai and everyone can find it in different ways.
For instance, I found mine when I was put on furlough due to Covid-19 in May 2020.
It was my wake-up call!
I realized that I was just sleepwalking through the day, that I didn't have a real purpose.
I also realized that what I had always thought to be true, that is having a full-time job equals security, was false.
Not to mention the realization that I had always traded my time for money, working my ass off just to pay for my bills, while I was ruining the relationship with my family.
Becoming aware of this made me move in search of my Ikigai.
And I am so happy I found it!
Since then I have been doing what I love, inspiring people to start working on themselves, on their personal growth, and starting a new journey in life where FREEDOM and PASSION are the key ingredients.
Before you go...
If you don’t know where to start from, maybe you can follow my steps and watch the workshop video series that led me to my Ikigai working online for myself while doing something I truly love.