Life can be a little overwhelming sometimes. Work, family, friends, health, money, career… Why are there so many things that demand our attention and dedication? If I could ask for a superpower I would either choose to be invisible, so I can disappear to a far away place without anyone ever noticing or I would ask to have the ability to perfectly balance every aspect of my life, so I don’t feel pressured or stressed with my day to day tasks. But realistically, both of those are not likely to happen. So, instead of wishing the days away I consulted the wisest source in my life: Google.
As I sat in front of my laptop, trying to understand why I let myself feel overwhelmed, questions started to pour out of my mind and into my keyboard. Am I letting society influence so much of my decisions? Am I only doing things to please my parents? Am I living a life I’m proud of? Am I following my dreams? Am I happy? For the first time in my life I’m able to admit I felt disappointed with my answers. This being honest with yourself thing can get really tough when you finally understand that you’ve been the one getting in the way of your happiness.
So why did I allow my life to shift into something that completely went against my dreams, goals, desires? Probably because I was scared of rejection, anger, criticism. Maybe I felt alone and misunderstood. I realized that I needed to take a bold step forward and pursue a different outcome for myself. No more throwing my dreams away and locking them in a box. I needed to find my purpose again, something that would make getting out of bed every morning worthwhile. But how do I do it? Well, Google it of course. I started with the basic questions: how to be happy? How to live your dream life? But I’m the type of person that likes a more practical approach to things. Instead of just reading and trying to find answers between my thoughts I wanted something that could help me see more clearly and understand the next step I needed to take in my life.
I found many ideas and methods to help find your purpose, all ranging from answering a bunch of questions, journaling, taking quizzes or asking friends and family. But the one that caught my attention and that seemed more comprehensive and practical was a Japanese method known as Ikigai.
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that indicates a person’s reason for being: the thing that motivates you to get up every day and live a life of purpose and passion. It’s the essence of what you want to achieve during your lifetime. Now, your Ikigai is never static. As you grow and change as a person, it is very likely that your purpose will shift to accommodate your new perspectives and desires. That’s why it’s important to take some time in your life to evaluate your priorities and get in touch with your inner self.
While there are many books and guides on how to find your Ikigai, the basic scheme is simple and easy to understand. There are four main elements that compose the main structure: mission, passion, profession and vocation. When the four elements converge, it’s believed you’ve found your life’s Ikigai. To understand and apply the method a little better, a Venn Diagram template has been developed. In it you fill out your mission-what you love; your vocation-what the world needs; your profession-what you can get paid for; and your passion- what you’re good at.
Remember, you’re trying to figure your life’s purpose, so it’s important to be honest and truthful with yourself. Don’t fill out what you think others want you to but instead what your heart and mind are longing for: your dream, desires, ideas, passions...anything that fills you with joy and determination and gets you excited just thinking about. A very important aspect of Ikigai is that it’s not an isolated technique. Even though it’s true you need to fill out the diagram by answering the four key areas, you also need to look into your everyday activities. Even the smallest changes in your lifestyle can translate into a more fulfilled and happy life.
Authors Hector García and Francesc Miralles suggest following ten guidelines to help you find your purpose.
1. Stay active and don’t retire.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that the mind needs to be stimulated. The moment we decide to stop dreaming, planning, moving is the moment we lose our sense of purpose. It’s never too late or too soon to find what makes our life meaningful and actually live doing that.
2. Leave urgency behind and adopt a slower pace of life.
Don’t let anyone or anything dictate your life’s pace. Do things that feel right to you. Stop looking over your shoulder to see how others are living their lives. Take your time and enjoy the ride.
3. Only eat until you are 80% full.
Food is the main source of energy. Eat a balanced, healthy diet. It’s important to enjoy your meal time and be meaningful of the food you put into your body.
4. Surround yourself with good friends.
Negative, toxic people will make you feel like life is a strain and that you’re supposed to do what everyone else is doing. Find people that lift you up, support your dreams and make you happy.
5. Get in shape through daily, gentle exercise.
A healthy body leads to a healthy mind and both are important when it comes to taking action to accomplish our life’s purpose.
6. Smile and acknowledge people around you.
A smile can attract positive energy into your life as well as into someone else’s. The world needs more positive frequencies. Happiness in our environment can rapidly transform the way we feel and think about the world around us.
7. Reconnect with nature.
Nature is the best source of inspiration, peace and beauty. Like John Muir so perfectly said: “Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.”
8. Give thanks to anything that brightens our day and makes us feel alive.
The secret to happiness is being grateful for all that is around us. We call blessings into our life if we have a grateful and positive attitude.
9. Live in the moment.
There’s no point in worrying so much about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Just be present in the moment right now and be mindful of the experiences in the present.
10. Follow your Ikigai.
You did the reflections and found your life’s purpose. Now comes the most important part: turning it into action. Go out to the world and live. Thrive, flourish, do. Be happy and joyful. Life is a beautiful and glorious event.
I encourage you to follow through the steps in this post to help find your Ikigai. If you feel like you’re lost or confused as to what is next in your life, taking the time to understand the four important areas and how you can unite them can help give your life a new meaning and allow you to accomplish great things.
I created a free workbook to assist you in finding your Ikigai. There are actionable, simple steps to help you fill out your mission-what you love; your vocation: what the world needs; your profession-what you can get paid for; and your passion- what you’re good at.
Just click here to download the PDF file.
Check out this books, available on Amazon, to gain more depth on how to find your Ikigai and discover how other people have applied this concept to their life.
The Little Book of Ikigai: The secret Japanese way to live a happy and long life
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
Awakening Your Ikigai: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day
Thank you for reading this post. As always, remember to like and share it if you found it in any way helpful. Feel free to leave a comment down below to let me how you applied the steps in finding your Ikigai.
Until next time.