A story about risk-taking and new horizons — with Moritz
Your Ikigai is the reason you jump out of bed in the morning. Everyone’s reason and discovery of their #ikigai is different, with no right and wrong way of achieving it; only your own way.
To kick off our publication and to discuss what Ikigai can mean to different people and how steps people took to get closer living their ikigai, we have curated a series of interviews consisting of people ho have been on the journey to search for, find and live their ikigai. These people are either on the path to discovering their passions, fears and happiness or have already found their reason for waking up every morning, using their tools to live their most fulfilling life.
This week we had a chat with Moritz; Ikigai believer, embracer and friend of Curators of Ikigai to find out how risk-taking can drive us forward. Read on to find out how one difficult conversation and walking out on his job, has changed his life forever.
First of all, could you tell us a little about yourself and introduce yourself to our readers who may not know you!?
‘Sure, well… I’m 29 years old and from Wiesbaden, Germany and I am an Executive Search consultant in a global consulting company in Vancouver. If you were to ask my friends about my character, I think they’d say that I’m reliable, a networker, a dreamer and a doer! I always aim to be there for the people in my life. Most of all, passion, discipline and endurance have led me to where I am now. It’s really important for me to have a big ‘why’ in my life. I believe, if you don’t have a concrete reason ‘why’ for the things you want to do then you probably won’t reach those goals! I love to wake up on a Monday morning and feel powerful, jumping into life, that’s my Ikigai!’
When was the first time you heard from Ikigai?
‘Long, founder of Curators of Ikigai, introduced me to this life-changing approach early on when he started his concept. When I first understood the meaning of it, I was blown away. Something so simple and yet so difficult to achieve for so many people out there! I still think the Ikigai mindset is one of the most powerful life approaches one could start using.’
Considering Ikigai means “your reason(s) worth living for” and “life is worth living,” how did you recognise that you were starting to live your ikigai?
‘When I started to live my ikigai, I felt a strong inner peace and calmness within me, I became more self-confident, was in the flow, and not distracted from my goals. Overall I was utterly more trusting on my current path than before. I firmly believe that people are capable of transforming goals and dreams into actions. We all have this one life, if you never act on your dreams then they will never be realised. We all have to make this life the best it can be and worth living, what else is there left to do anyway?!’
But, I can’t imagine the first step onto that ladder was particularly easy, would that be fair to say? What was the biggest decision you made to move up this ladder?
‘It was a challenge. My first step to moving towards living my ikigai was saying ‘no!’. I’ll explain…at the time I had a beautiful apartment and a great job. I was living in Frankfurt, had a company car and was working for an international billion-dollar business in the IT sector. One day the time came where in order to progress and live my ikigai, I went into my boss’ office and told him that I was moving to Vancouver, Canada to live my dream. He was stunned and pretty speechless for five whole minutes. After some silence, he eventually realised that I was serious and that this was a life-changing decision. In the end, he was happy for me, but that was a huge decision and the first major step to living my Ikigai.’
‘When I first came here in October 2018, after 12 years of being away from Canada, I went on my first run. Out of the 40 minutes, I literally cried for 30, I was overwhelmed and completely emotional. I trusted my path and I’d got here.’ Moritz continued by stressing the poinience of this moment, a moment of realisation that everything that he had been working for up to this point had made it possible for him to achieve one of his largest goals. His passion, drive and determination, lead him to live a life most true to himself and gave him the power to turn against the daily grind and run towards his dreams. He finishes, ‘this moment still feels amazing retelling it right now.’
So, up to that big, life-changing leap of faith, what would you say had been your biggest decision to moving up the ladder to your ikigai before then?
‘It sounds ridiculous, but it was probably my decision to quit my job so that I was able to follow my heart and move to Canada. Being highly loyal and deeply connected to a company and surrounding makes it hard to just leave and go somewhere else. Leaving all this behind was a tough decision.’
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much are you currently living your ikigai?
‘At the moment I’d say a strong 7/10, just one year ago this number would have been a 3 and in one year from now I’m aiming for a 9. I don’t actually feel the pressure to keep moving up that ladder, but the things I face and questions I ask myself each month continually drive my self-improvement and fulfilment.’
So, has this changed significantly since living your Ikigai?
‘Absolutely, self-care plays a much more instrumental role in my life now. It’s a completely different story, now I’m very into meditation, and also a new approach to my long passion for ultra-trail-running and cycling supports me on my way to be more present and self-aware. This new exploration has also really altered my approach to doing sports. I now usually run without my smart-watch and other tech, this helps me to exercise for fun, takes away the pressure and allows me to connect more with myself and my immediate environment. I feel more on track nowadays, and I am comfortable that my past decisions up to this moment have been the exact right ones. I’m much more present, I listen more and I’m receptive to my environment and the people I interact with.’
In terms of the past decisions you’ve just mentioned briefly which of those can you remember being particularly difficult or stressful to commit to or carry out?
‘For me there is no specific answer to this question. I believe that it’s always hard to commit to something in life. It means changing routines and beliefs — this is something we as human beings always try to get around. Personally, I know that it won’t be hard to carry out a decision if my WHY is big enough.’
Along this journey, before you started living out your Ikigai, was self-care and self progression as important to you?
‘Honestly, I struggled every now and then. I asked myself a lot of questions and definitely incorporated less self-care and self-love into my lifestyle. My self-awareness was lacking, I had studied and worked for the last 8 years and realised that I had never really thought too much about the path I was on, I was just on it.’
Moritz explained, like many people, he had reached a point where he was happy and settled but not loving his job, his routine and his surroundings. Carrying on like many of us, Moritz was content but also like many of us, he was just too passionate, too driven and too important to just be ‘content’. He continued, ‘the universe sent me the same questions every couple of months — this is what happens to everyone out there who isn’t answering their key questions in life- for a long time I never successfully answered them…this changed when I started exploring my Ikigai.’
Could you give us an example of exactly what kind of questions would come up each month? Were they all related to one specific topic such as “work” or relationships or were they varied and scattered?
‘These questions were always slightly different, but looking at their core it mostly concerned questions like;
Is this the right path I am on? What is my purpose in life? What are my core values in life? Where and how do I want to live? Are these the people I want to be surrounded with? Am I growing?’
So moving forward, do you know what your ikigai look like in 5, 10, or even 20 years… Is it possible to even guess and do you even want to guess?
‘This is something I really believe is wrong in our society. This kind of huge goal-oriented planning distracts us from where we are and our journey up to this moment as well as the journey progressing forward. We need to let go a little and just live rather than constantly striving for better, faster and more successful, this is something I particularly learnt in the sports I do.
One year ago I never would’ve thought I’d have the opportunity to be where I am, I mean look at this!’ [Moritz turns the camera around on our call showing me his office, it’s prime location in the heart of Vancouver and the huge spanning windows which allow the incredible landscape of skyscrapers, mountains and the pacific ocean to seep into his corporate environment. Pretty incredible! His passion spills through our conversation and the joy on his face when showing me the landscape and country behind him as well as his own work environment feels comfortable, at ease and utterly at peace. He continues, ‘my next steps are simply to continue my current path, develop my knowledge in areas such as financial freedom and independence and trusting the journey ahead.’
What is the smallest step anyone can take in order to get closer to their ikigai if they don’t have the feeling that they are in tune with it yet?
‘Open your eyes to the beauty and opportunities around you. So many people say ‘I don’t have time!’, when in reality they don’t have their priorities laid out and are overwhelmed by outside noise. Try to be present. In the end, it’s all about your perception and attitude towards life; that’s most important.’
We firmly believe that everyone has something unique and valuable that they bring to our planet and the people that they touch, what is your personal gift and superpower to the world?
‘Well, I’d say my superpower is connecting people. Empathy and creativity are two of my biggest ‘whys’ for what I do every day. My vision is to stand up for my dreams, one of my biggest beliefs is that we should all try to give before we receive. A lot of people do things in life because they expect something in return either before or after them taking the action.
I’d urge people to let go of this and to try and do something for another person selflessly, even if it’s only a small act. This will change the game — I promise.’
Although all of the columns of Ikigai are clearly cornerstones for your lifestyle and values, which of them in particular which have helped you to find and live your ikigai?
‘This is simple, passion, connectedness to yourself and others and health. My most important values are gratefulness, authenticity and development.’
You’re clearly very driven, and keep these values at the center of your daily life, you seem to be able to live your ikigai and make money at the same time. Some people may find this challenging. Could you explain how you make this possible and unproblematic as living your Ikigai should be?
‘Yes, actually I believe the two can be extremely overlapping. To be in your zone and making money is powerful. If you follow your heart you’ll be exceptionally good at what you do, that’s part of the reason why my dreams and Ikigai play such vital roles in my life.’
Considering that you describe how your values and the money in your life can overlap, how is money positively powerful in your life?
‘Money plays a big role in my life, even though by now it seems obvious that this is not my main driver in life. Before I moved to Vancouver, I had a different perception on money and I still have some limiting beliefs about my personal money mindset. What money means to me is the freedom and flexibility to live and give. I’ve not motivated by money in the slightest but it does give my life added flexibility.’
And I’d also like to touch on the reverse of that question, all of us can sometimes experience the negative power of money at times, how do you keep money a positive influence in your life and how do you manage to halt its obsessive qualities from keeping you tied to it? How do you escape the rat race?
‘Great question, I am still on my path to exploring these routes, but I can certainly say that once you realise how effectively you could use your own money to create real value in your personal life, as well as in the lives of others, you become a better person as well as understand that more money can always help more people than just yourself. This greater picture of money reminds me of the importance of money. We never really stay out of the rat race all the time, but giving money a greater meaning and dimension really helps.’
What is one important message you like to share with any ikigai seekers?
‘You’ve got to have a clear and concrete ‘why’ for everything, or at least for all the things that are important to you…
You should be 100% in…if not, then you’re out.
…Give yourself this commitment. No one else can do it for you. If you don’t know very specifically why you’re doing that one thing then you can (and/ or) need to stop doing it. That’s my advice. ‘
And finally, as a parting word, why do you think that people should invest time or energy into getting one step closer to living out their ikigai?
‘Because that’s simply what we’re here for; living and enjoying! In life most important is to find your reason worth for waking up every morning and that reason will take us to the next step on the ladder.’