Most often, our studies and job choices are driven by peer pressure and social pressure. Once we get into the usual rut of a work schedule and family commitments, we don’t get a chance to realize our true potential.
Like an investment banker who became a writer, a businessman who started song-writing and music-composing and a research-scientist who turned farmer, we come across stories of people realizing their passion. Finding a purpose, pursuing your passion and realizing your potential will lead to fulfillment not just in terms of carving a career for yourself, but also a happier life. Like the Japanese ‘Ikigai’ or ‘a reason for being,’ you too can find your purpose – ‘the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning.’
Meaning of Ikigai
Ikigai comes from two words, ‘iki,’ meaning life and ‘kai,’ meaning ‘the realization of what one hopes for.’ Simply put, the term refers to finding one’s purpose in life. That sounds quite a big ordeal, doesn’t it? But knowing your ‘ikigai’ will help you live a healthier, happier and longer life, according to the Japanese concept.
‘Ikigai’ happens when the four elements of one’s life intersect – what you love (passion), what you are good at (vocation), what you can be paid for (profession), and what the world needs (mission) – (Refer Diagram – <to be inserted>). If you find a calling that satisfies all the four elements, you will have a reason to get up in the morning with happiness and look forward to your life each day.
Finding Your Purpose
If you do not want to be stuck in a rat race all your life, following others’ dreams and being unhappy, you have to look inward. Not everyone wants to do the same mundane jobs in life. If farming is what interests you, you should discuss with your parents and family and find ways to pursue it. It will also benefit society. If you can connect your passion with your profession and make a positive change in society, you will be more productive and happier.
As today’s youth, you live in times where you can dare to fight your way to achieve your own dreams in case you face resistance. Not that it wasn’t done by the earlier generation, but very few thought outside the box. They followed the herd and fell into the trap of the rat race pursuing materialistic goals most of the time. Going against the grain takes courage, conviction and self-belief. You need to convince yourself, believe in yourself, be determined and commit to certain goals.
Finding a purpose early on in life makes a lot of difference. So, how can you strive to find your purpose? While it is not easy and might take time for you to realize what you truly want to pursue, here are some tips:
- Question Yourself: What makes you happy? What is your goal in life? Do you want to make a social cause that’s close to your heart a mission in your life? Do you want to make a change in your world for the better? By asking these questions and answering them honestly, you can consider if you want to just build a successful career for yourself, or also want to better the world using your abilities.
- Align Your Interests to a Larger Goal: Your purpose can also meet your profession. Your interests and what you are good at can allow you to not only earn a living, but also meet the needs of others and the world. For instance, you are exceptional at arts and crafts. By upcycling, you reuse and sell products and reduce waste thereby supporting a cause towards a better environment. Similarly, there are many other interests that you can turn into professions which show a purpose and satisfies your calling.
- Take Action: Instead of thinking and talking about various things, start trying out things. If you keep waiting for the right time in life to pursue your passion, it may never happen. If you have many passionate things you wish to pursue, make a priority list and start one by one. You have to be patient until you discover your true calling.
- Network with People: Find people with similar interests and start interacting and discussing. Share and exchange ideas and views, thoughts, opinions. You will get to learn from others and possibly teach others also new things. Team up and work together if you find that your interest are in common. You can also learn from each other’s mistakes.
Purpose is what makes us look forward to life with hope. It lets us stay positive and stress-free, and enables us to work harder to better ourselves and the world around us. You can make a difference to your life and work towards making your world a better place by finding your ‘ikigai’ and realizing your true potential. As Ayn rand wrote – “The most depraved type of human being … (is) the man without a purpose.” (Atlas Shrugged, Source)