What do the figures say?
Some researchers conducted a study on over 6,000 people in the United States, whose ages were between 20 and 70. The participants were required to indicate how close they were to their sense of purpose. The researchers then monitored the death rates among the participants for the next 14 years. The study’s findings revealed that people who have a strong sense of purpose live longer than those who don’t. Could it be that the sense of purpose is vital than we ever thought?
Some people think that having a “great” career or being excellent at work is synonymous with having a strong sense of purpose. Purpose, in this case, becomes the proverbial carrot on a stick.
Using this yardstick, how many people live on purpose?
In a study conducted on workers worldwide revealed that about 85% are dissatisfied with their jobs. Thus, it is evident that career should be a part of life rather than life’s purpose.
What then is the sense of purpose?
The sense of purpose is captured in the Japanese philosophy of IKIGAI. Literarily translated, Ikigai means, “reason for being.” One common thing among all humans is the search for meaning – a reason for living. We are so desperate to find meaning because it is the bedrock for fulfillment – a feeling we all crave. It is only when we find fulfillment that life can be worth living.
The Ikigai philosophy holds that we can only find meaning by looking deep inside us, because we all possess unique talents that drive us to share the best of ourselves until the very end. By design, your Ikigai leads you to meaning, while doing things that are meaningful to you brings fulfillment, which is the ultimate in life. However, finding your Ikigai requires a patient search.
What is career Ikigai?
Career Ikigai is the intersection between what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs. Several people begin their careers with what they can get paid for. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, other than the fact that if you remain in that circle for a long time, you will begin to feel empty, even though you are financially comfortable. If you focus on providing what the world needs, you will be excited for a while, but you will end up with a feeling of uncertainty, because what the world needs changes always. On the other hand, if you do what you love alone, you will be delighted, but you will not be financially comfortable – I’m sure you will not pay anyone to do what they love, except if doing what they love provides value for you. Also, if you stay in the “what you are good at” circle, you will be satisfied, but you will feel useless.
My experience with Ikigai.
Born into a war-ridden country, I moved to Australia following my Ikigai to become an international person. Several years after, I “secured myself” a job at Toyota. I was elated, but soon enough, I became dissatisfied and started feeling a strong internal conflict, because I neglected my Ikigai of being an international person. After much considerations and driven by emotional pain, I decided to take the risk and conquer my fears. As such, I took a job with Louis Vuitton in Dubai, which enabled me to become an international person.
Your Ikigai will change throughout life, and so did mine. After I honored my value for globalization, I nurtured the need to become an influencer, helping people find and live their Ikigai. Thus, I stepped out of a glamorous job as a CFO for Louis Vuitton, South America, and became a coach, mentor, and speaker. That was not an easy, overnight decision, anyway. Once more, I had to endure an internal conflict that escalated into intense mental struggles. My decision, therefore, was driven by pain. Much later, I found out that it does not have to be this way for everyone; you can follow the change in your Ikigai gradually without having to take a massive leap.
It is critical to highlight that I lived most of my life jumping from one milestone to the other, without really living my Ikigai in between those moments; as such, I could not maintain a happy life. You must embed Ikigai as a philosophy in your daily practices; you must live your Ikigai daily.
What is the cost of inaction?
People who do not follow their Ikigai live with a lot of regrets when they get older. A Nurse in Queensland, Australia, who worked with dying elders for over 20 years, summarized the top 5 regrets of dying in a book. One of them is, “I wish I lived my life on my terms,” and another is, “I wish I took more risks.” If I may ask you, if you were to be on your death bed at the moment, what would you regret not doing? What decision would you regret not making?
This has nothing to do with being financially comfortable. Many people think that having enough money to spend and spare is all there is to life, but I’m sure you must have heard of wealthy people who committed suicide. I can certainly name a few! Why will someone who is financially comfortable take their life? One of the most common reasons is the deep-seated feeling of emptiness that results from not knowing and living your Ikigai. People who do not live their Ikigai always get frustrated in life, and wish for death to end their misery, remember the study at the beginning of this piece?
What then is the solution?
The Ikigai philosophy holds that everyone has a unique talent that brings meaning. Consequently, your duty is not to create meaning but to uncover it. To find your Ikigai, you need to undergo a process of self-awareness that will help you recognize your unique talent and core values. As you already know, discovering your Ikigai, and living by it are two different things. To live by your Ikigai, you must learn to overcome fear, and develop discipline – these are the important components of the fulfillment formula.
In addition to working with people to help them discover their Ikigai – that turns into a map or compass for their careers, I take people through the process of closing the gap between the life they live and the life they truly desire to live. In other words, I can partner with you to help you find a career that is in line with your Ikigai, and organize your life to achieve balance between being financially comfortable and living meaningfully.
According to Jim Rohn, “if you leave your growth to randomness, you will always live in the land of mediocrity.” If you are dissatisfied with your life today, you need to do something about it, while you still can. I can help you on the journey of discovering and living your ikigai.
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