Ikigai: The Japanese Art of Finding Your Life’s Mission
If you feel lost about what the one thing you want to spend your whole life doing and perfecting, you are not alone. The questions: “What is my mission in life? My purpose?”—has been on everyone’s minds. Your mission can change and evolve; you are not limited to just one. However, it is important for the soul to find the one mission that speaks to you now, that you want to spend the next year, five years, ten years working on. Not only will it make you feel happier and more fulfilled, studies show that it also adds vitality, and years to your life. Finding your life’s purpose is easy with the Japanese concept of Ikigai. There are four questions you need to answer and compare the answers to find your Ikigai or “a reason for being.”
It can also be translated as: The thing that you live for, The reason for waking up in the morning.
Finding your Ikigai is challenging, but also a choice with a high level of commitment and belief. Here is how you find yours by using deep, authentic, honest, and vulnerable self-exploration.
Step 1: What Are You Good At?
This may be an obvious start but the first question is what are you good at. Each of us is born with gifts and talents. Using one of these talents is not only more practical but also makes our soul feel fulfilled. These abilities were given to you for a reason. While you may not use all of them in your “reason for living” or Ikigai, you will definitely use some of them.
Successful people say that you should focus all your time to improve on your strengths and talents and work with other people to bring other talents.
Step 2: What Can You Be Paid For?
There are a lot of negative beliefs around money in society, but in today’s world, that is how the exchange of goods and services happen. In the past, there was bartering, now it is money, and in the future it will be something else. In the end, all of these are just an exchange of energy. And right now, money being this ‘energy‘ means that you need to find something to do that you can be paid for. The universe wants you to be taken care of, so if something is your Ikigai, you will be able to receive money for it.
Defining a Profession
Combining your talents and something you can be paid for makes a profession. This is where most of the world stops. If you would like to become more and find your Ikigai, you have to keep digging deeper into yourself.
Step 3: What Do You Love Doing?
To find your Ikigai, you have to follow your passion. What is it that you like doing so much that no matter how long you worked, or how late it is, or what else is going on in your life, you still cannot stop thinking about it? Whatever it is, it should leave you feeling inspired and joyful more than anything else in life.
If you combined what you are good at and what you love doing—congratulations, you have found your passion or passions. It is not always your profession. There are sadly few people who live by their passion in life, but they exist. They are the people who inspire others to do the same, and speak about finding your joy and following your heart. Yet, this is not yet Ikigai. There is one last question to answer.
Step 4: What Does The World Need?
You came to Earth because the world needs you. There are talents and gifts that can help make it a better place in a unique way—as unique as you are.
You have to ask, what is it that will make this world better, happier, and more evolved? What will lessen the human suffering and bring more joy? Are you the person who is going to improve relationships and families, find a cure to a disease, or make sure no one goes hungry? There are so many things the world needs, and you have a solution to at least one of these challenges.
Before finally finding your Ikigai, you must understand the difference between the last options before Ikigai.
You can live with having a vocation. A vocation combines what the world needs and what pays. It is a career that is valued and often brings an abundance of money, but is not always something you love.
Defining Your Mission
You can live following your mission. Your mission combines something you love with what the world needs, but it often does not pay. Artists and healers often follow their mission but not further.
What Happens If You Have 3/4?
If you successfully combined three out of four of these categories, you are close, but you have not found your Ikigai—yet. Chances are, you are not feeling 100 percent fulfilled, and this is why.
Doing something you love, you are good at, and what the world needs, but you are missing the financial abundance you need to take care of yourself.
If you found what the world needs, what you love doing, and what you can be paid for, you may be stuck with feeling uncertain because you are not following what you are good at, thus another can outshine you any moment.
If you do what you are good at, what you can be paid for, and what you love doing, but you are missing what the world needs. This can lead to feelings of emptiness.
To find your Ikigai, your mission for living, all four aspects have to perfectly align.
Defining Ikigai: Your Life’s Purpose
To find your Ikigai , the final step is to start looking for patterns. Answer each question, write all the answers down in four lists and see where they all meet. It is sustainable, something you are great at, something the world needs, and something you can easily see yourself doing your whole life.
Not only will finding your Ikigai make you feel happier and more fulfilled, studies show that it also increases lifespan and overall health.
I Found My Ikigai – Now What?
Do you think you found your Ikigai?—put it to the test. Start living the Ikigai way even if it means changing your priorities and lifestyle. Be honest with yourself how it feels. Does it feel right? Do you feel like you are in the flow? Is it something you feel happy doing on your only time off?
If following the Ikigai lifestyle feels good, you are on the right track. The last step for you to succeed is to build a support system. You may need to build friendships with people who are on a similar path and will help you move forward. You may need to find a mentor who is living the life you are dreaming of.
As you start on this journey, keep your main goals in mind to navigate with ease through any up and downs as they are always guaranteed. If you found you Ikigai, all of the downs will seem like small obstacles on a path that is so much bigger than you, that you wake up every morning with passion for life and what you do. Once you get there, never stop. This is the Japanese guaranteed way to live a happy, healthy, successful, and fulfilled life.
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