We’re all looking for our place in this world and in our lives. Life doesn’t come looking for you, sometimes you have to go find it.
In the Western world, the biggest question people face is 'what is my purpose in life.’ The Eastern part of the world, specifically Japan, approaches this in a much deeper way.
They not only seek purpose in life but connect purpose directly with happiness by finding their Ikigai. Finding your Ikigai, or mission in life, as we often refer to it in the West, gives your life direction. It improves your well-being, your mental health, and promotes a more productive life.
WAIT… WHAT’S AN IKIGAI?
There is no direct translation for the word ‘Ikigai’ but it roughly means, “the reason to get up in the morning.”
The Japanese understand that happiness is not something you achieve overnight or a simple end-goal, but more of a form of mastery that you catch a glimpse of daily. It’s bigger than your everyday job or your worthy possessions.
Your Ikigai is the intersection between love, what the world needs, what you can be paid for, and what you’re good at. You cannot be truly happy and experience the meaning of life if you don’t have the balance of these four elements.
IS MY DREAM JOB ENOUGH?
Having the job of your dreams may fill your heart, but if it doesn’t pay well, it will still create stress and doubt about whether you’re making the right decision. Getting paid well for something that you’re good at but that brings no significant added-value to the world, may leave you feeling empty and useless.
Finding your Ikigai is not easy but if we channel our child-like naivety and belief that everything is possible, then finding “your mission” is achievable. It takes effort, open-mindedness to discover yourself, and sometimes the patience to let life show you your strengths and weakness.
ASK THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
Getting to your mission statement requires a deep understanding of the different sides of your own personality.
What makes you giggle, what makes your heart beat faster, or where do your flaws lie?
Download the Ikigai Venn Diagram and use each circle to answer these important questions that will bring you closer to yourself.
- What do I love to do, to be, or to say?
- What do I think the world needs more of?
- What can I get paid to do?
- What am I good at? What are my strengths?
The answer to these questions may come naturally, but it might also take time to answer.
Sometimes it’s hard to evaluate ourselves, so ask a loved one to help you out. Let your sister, partner, or best friend answer these questions for you. Everyone will give you their perspective and it’s up to you to find the red tape.
Use a personality test to compare their responses and to help see the bigger picture. The Myer Briggs personality test is a world-renowned test that has given clarity to many individuals trying to know themselves better.
Look for a recurring theme between the answers and highlight them. Aim to write a 1 or 2 sentence mission statement with the elements you highlighted.
INTRODUCE IT INTO YOUR LIFE
Once you have the mission the real work begins.
Test your mission statement by making small changes that push you into the path of your idealism.
Be mindful of your feelings at every step. Sometimes, it’s when we take action that we realize that what we want is not exactly what we need, or our view doesn’t fit reality.
Make changes where needed by always going back to the important questions.
Always make sure that every step feels right and carve your life according to your mission statement, your Ikigai. Remember that the journey is of importance here and that there is no goal to achieve, but a path to walk.