what is my purpose in life?

How To Find Your Purpose In Life With The Concept Of Ikigai

Welcome back for day 9 of my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project! Yesterday, on day 8, I laid out the goals that I am pursuing for my project during the month of October (my favorite month by the way). 

Today, I am going explore my purpose in life and cross one of those goals off of my list in the process! The goal was to “Do the Ikigai activity” and fell under the “Find My Calling” category of my project.

I have even made you a free Find Your Ikigai Worksheet so that you can do this activity along with me if you’d like! Grab it now in my Free Resource Library!

Did you know:

“In the United States, only 50 percent of employees say that they are satisfied with their work.”

– Ken Robinson

To be honest, I would have guessed that the number of satisfied workers would have been lower than that. But either way, it’s not good news.

Are you part of the 50% that feels no passion or satisfaction in their work? Do you feel like you’ve found your life calling? Have you wondered how to find your purpose in life? 

If you are still searching for your calling or purpose as I am, then this post is for you!

Don’t have time to read this? Pin for later!

What Is Ikigai?

I first became aware of the term “ikigai” when I was doing some reading on the topic of life purpose and happiness and it just kept popping up! After the fourth or fifth time this word came up in my readings, I figured that I had better check it out.

So after some searching, I bought the book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. I read this book and found it very interesting, only to find out they were just releasing a sequel to it which was more of a workbook-style how-to guide called The Ikigai Journey: A Practical Guide to Finding Happiness and Purpose the Japanese Way. (They were both great books, but if you only have time for one, get the second one!)

According to the authors of  these books, Ikigai, is a Japanese word which roughly translates to, “the happiness of always being busy.”

Throughout the book, the word Ikigai is also used to describe a person’s: 

  • Reason for being.
  • Reason for getting up in the morning.
  • Calling.
  • Life Purpose.
  • Passion in life.

In the books, the authors present what has since become a very widely distributed ikigai diagram. The diagram illustrates the 4 things that contribute to the Japanese concept of ikigai. They are:

  1. What you love.
  2. What the world needs.
  3. What you can be paid for.
  4. What you are good at.

It is said that the intersection of these four topics is your ikigai – your passion, and that if you are able to identify your ikigai, it will lead to a fulfilling, happy, and meaningful life.

What is ikigai? A diagram explaining the Japanese concept that can help you to find your purpose in life.
The ikigai diagram from the ikigai books

How To Find Your Purpose In Life With The Concept Of Ikigai

The book, The Ikigai Journey offers a rather straightforward exercise to explore your Ikigai. (I will lay out the process here in case you think that you would like to follow along – I would highly recommend it!)

The book says to draw one large square on a piece of paper and divide it into four quadrants – one for each of the 4 components of Ikigai as mentioned above. 

Then, in each of the 4 quadrants, answer the following questions:

  • What do I love to do? Don’t overthink this. Just write down anything at all that makes you happy.
  • What does the world need right now? What problems does it have that needs solving?
  • What can I be paid for?
    • First, write down what has made you money in the past or present without worrying about whether or not it makes you happy.
    • Second, write down some possible streams of income that you might be interested in for the future.
  • What am I good at?
    • First answer, “what am I already good at?”
    • Next, answer “what things am I interested in that I could potentially become good at with practice?”

After answering these questions, the authors say to look for overlap or recurring themes throughout the 4 components of Ikigai. These recurring themes could give you an idea about your ikigai!

Learn how ikigai can help you find your purpose in life!
Pin for future reference!

So following up on one of my October goals for my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project, I am going to complete the Ikigai activity below.

What I Love

  • Nature and being outdoors.
  • Adventure.
  • Trying new things.
  • Travelling to new places and learning about different cultures.
  • Reading, especially non-fiction types of books.
  • Writing, again, mostly non-fiction type writing.
  • Learning new things and skills.
  • Using creativity.
  • Solving problems.
  • Being part of an athletic team/community.
  • Working towards something and seeing progress.

What The World Needs

Again, in this section just do a brain dump of all the things you think the world needs right now. Don’t worry about whether or not these are problems you can help solve.

2020 is an interesting time… I could probably go on all day with what the world needs, but here are a few things off of the top of my head:

  • Less hate, closed-mindedness, selfishness, and divisiveness.
  • More kindness, unity, tolerance, acceptance, and equality.
  • Better systems and institutions in the US including healthcare, police, politics, education.
  • An answer to climate change, pollution, and global warming.
  • To get healthier through nutrition and exercise.
  • Better coping mechanisms to decrease chronic stress.
  • To be able to sort through all the misinformation on the internet.
  • Cures for diseases.
  • To learn how to be happier.
  • More work-life balance.

What I Can Get Paid For

How I Have Made Money In The Past:

  • The standard 9-5 grind.
  • Coaching & teaching people how to exercise properly.
  • Working in a lab.
  • Leading adventure tours in the outdoors: rappelling, kayaking, hiking.
  • Teaching online classes on wellness, behavior change, nutrition, exercise science, anatomy and physiology etc.

In The Future I’d Like To Make Money:

  • With my blog through affiliate marketing and sponsored posts.
  • Selling online classes or health and wellness coaching online.
  • Freelance writing, editing, and/or SEO.
  • By being my own boss!
  • With passive income.

What I Am Good At:

If you are anything like me, this is a harder list to write than you would think! To make this easier and more effective, don’t worry about whether or not the things you are good at could possibly be something you could get paid for etc. Just write down anything that comes to mind that you have a talent or aptitude for.

What I am already good at:

  • Teaching & coaching people.
  • Organization, planning, and logistics.
  • Writing and communicating in a business setting.
  • Finding a happy balance between being healthy and still living life to the fullest.
  • Sticking to things even when they get tough.
  • Solving problems and coming up with systems, workflows, and protocols.
  • Sports, exercise, recreation and physical activity.
  • Noticing details.

Things I am interested in and could potentially become good at through effort and practice:

  • Running my own business and being an entrepreneur.
  • Blogging.
  • Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing.
  • Digital Photography.
  • Basic graphic design.
  • Basic website maintenance.
  • Editing and proofreading.

Conclusion

Now that I’ve completed what would be the 4 quadrants of the Ikigai activity, it is time to look for the areas of overlap to get insight into my Ikigai.

When I look at my completed Ikigai activity, I find that there are a few repeating themes. Check out what I have learned about myself from this activity.

I both enjoy, and am good at: writing non-fiction, teaching and coaching others about wellness and mindset, using creativity to solve problems, and organizing and planning.

I have already made money coaching and teaching people about exercise, mindset, healthy habits, and nutrition.

I am interested in having my own business, helping people get healthier and achieve their goals, and having more freedom of schedule to travel and spend time outdoors.

I want to make money through my blog by either coaching online or designing classes about healthy habits, mindset, and happiness.

And the final check is… does the world need classes or coaching on the topics of healthy habits, mindset, and happiness? 

I believe they do… but what do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Until tomorrow,

~Clarissa

P.S. Don’t forget to download your free Find Your Ikigai Worksheet from my Resource Library!

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Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a teacher, a coach, and an avid adventurer! Armed with a master's degree in Exercise and Wellness, she is on a mission to teach people how to build healthier habits that support the adventurous lifestyle of their dreams. There is nothing Clarissa is more passionate about than helping people get active and live their lives to the fullest!

18 Replies to “How To Find Your Purpose In Life With The Concept Of Ikigai

  1. I was going through a guided journal earlier this year, and one of the first few questions was – what are you good at? As a fully grown adult, I was amazed at how much time it took me to articulate that answer… like I was stumped for minutes on end.

    As for teaching online classes, or creating an e-course on healthy living/mindset… while yes, there are other courses that are already out there, but none of those voices in yours. It’s taken me a long time to appreciate that we all have something unique to contribute.

    A thought for you – instead of creating a very broad framework for a course on say, healthy living/mindset, you could niche it down to something like “Mindset Changes to Help You Run Your Own Business” or some such angle… so it addresses a specific problem that business owners might have. And in 2020, running a blog is pretty much akin to running a business! 🤦‍♀️

    1. Great advice Shirsha! I definitely agree that blogging is like having a business!

      And I agree that niche-ing it down as you said is the best plan. That’s the part I’ve still got to figure out. I don’t think I want to market to bloggers. I’ve got a few ideas of some more specific niche products that I think might go over well, but we’ll see how things evolve over the course of my project here. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your ideas, and for following along with my journey!

  2. This blog post is so inspiring! As a student, who has no clue what I want to do in the future, I need to try this exercise.
    I wish all the best of luck running this blog and moving a step closer to your dreams.

    All the best, Ali

    1. Thank you Ali! I would absolutely encourage you to do this exercise – I really got a ton out of it. And I think it’s probably pretty common for students to still not know what exactly their calling is. Heck, I still don’t and it’s been years since I graduated college! 😂🤷‍♀️

  3. I have never heard of Ikigai before but I like the concept and could definitely do with finding a purpose myself. I’m reallg enjoying these posts and watching you on your journey of growth.

    1. Awww thank you Kelly Diane! I hope that these posts will be inspiring for others who might be on their own journeys. And it is a really fun and informative exercise – definitely worth a try if you are interested!

  4. Wow! I’ve never heard of the word before but I really like the concept. This is a great way to figure out what you really want from life and how to do things that truly make you happy. I think I will be getting that second book! Thanks for sharing!

  5. This was a really interesting read. I have never heard of Ikigai before, but I am a firm believer in finding the things that make you happy and chasing your passions. No one want to spend their whole working life doing something that leaves them feeling miserable or unfulfilled. I was doing it for quite a while in a previous career and then turned everything upside down, returning to school at the age of 30. Looking back, it was the best decision that I could have made!

    1. That’s fantastic Britt! I made a similar change about 4 years ago, and even initially took a big pay cut to do it, but I was much happier as well! I read a very interesting quote the other day that I think is all too true.

      “Many people in enlightened democracies spend much of their time feeling enslaved— not by the regime but by extrinsic factors that are self- imposed, such as prestige, a desire to please, obligation, or fear.” – Tal Ben-Shahar

  6. Great post again Clarissa! I have never heard of Ikigai but i really love this concept to help figure out what it is you really want to do. I
    I would have thought it would be way less than 50% who are really happy with their current proffessions (im not in America but im definitely in this category!).
    I’m good at teaching also, and it’s actually what I wanted to be when I was younger. I’m always looking for ideas as to how I can teach people online, so ill start writing out what im good at and what I love to do and see where I land! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. You’re so welcome Ellie, it makes my day to be able to have given you some inspiration to pursue your passion of teaching! I’ve still got to figure out the best way to do this for me as well, but I feel like my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project is giving me some good hints!

    1. I’m very happy to hear that I’ve inspired you to learn more about Ikigai Molly! It’s such a fascinating concept to me, and I think there are many people that don’t know about it that would benefit greatly from it. Thanks for reading!

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