Have you ever seen people who are happy, who have found purpose in their lives, and who seem to have their lives very well-organized? Would you like to walk through life with a sense of purpose in mind?
I present to you the best tool to explore and to declare your purpose in life. It’s called ikigai, and it is known as the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. Millions of people in Japan have used it at least once in their lives. The meaning is translated to “one’s reason for being,” that is to say, a reason to jump out of bed each morning.
So… What’s your reason for getting up in the morning?
Some of you may know what your purpose in life is. But if you don’t have one yet, don’t worry. With this tool, you can break your purpose into small questions, and the process of discovering your purpose will become easier.
The 4 steps to get your purpose
There is a particular method to figure out what your ikigai is. It is built around four questions that you need to answer in a specific order.
You can draw your own diagram of the intersecting circles of the ikigai, and place your answers to the questions below in the large, outer circles. This allows you to quickly notice which words appear in adjacent or opposite parts of the diagram.
As you answer the questions, take your time to write every keyword, phrase, and idea that comes to mind in each circle.
To do this process, you need to follow and answer the next questions:
1. What are you good at?
For the first step, you need to write your strengths. This question relates to your skills and competencies. You can answer with your professional skills, but they can also be personal skills (maybe you are good at telling stories, drawing, running, or any number of things).
This is something that you can develop over time, with formal education, on your job, or through certifications and assignments.
2. What do you love?
Write about interests and hobbies that make you feel like your authentic self. For this question, think of your hobbies, what gives you energy, or think of what relaxes you. Maybe it’s exercising, cooking, reading, animals, or any number of things. It could be related to your work, your family, your volunteer activities, or your personal interests.
3. What does the world need?
If the world needs software engineering, and you love to code, you’ve found your life’s mission. But if there are too many engineers, or if the world doesn’t need them, you need to explore other world needs that you love doing. Be patient and explore the many options that there are.
4. What can you be paid for?
The last question is related to what the world is willing to pay you for doing. It will be your market. If people need an engineer, and they accept to pay you to program for them, you’ve found a vocation. And also, if you are really good at coding (see Question 2), then you’ve found your profession.
Finally, look for areas of natural overlap. Once you have some answers to the questions, you can start looking at the places where the answers intersect.
Think about all these answers and the connections they have. The main idea is to have all the intersecting parts in balance: right at the center of your chart is the answer to your personal ikigai. That will be your key to a prosperous, joyful, and long life.
The Japanese secret is to live with purpose every day. And when you start looking for your purpose, ikigai is a wonderful tool to do this. Maybe it takes you years to discover your reason for being, but be patient. As you try to find it, the answer will be closer.
If you want more information, you can get the book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles.