Hello! Seiiti Arata. Ikigai is a Japanese word that can be translated as the reason why you feel motivated to get out of bed every morning.
If you are a person who has already found your purpose, who works with motivation and who is happy with what you already have, then you have probably found your ikigai.
But if this is not your case yet, in today’s conversation you will understand why it is important to know your ikigai. And you’ll also know the five steps you need to take to find your ikigai.
Ikigai helps you understand why you want what you want
We all have dreams. We dream of having certain material possessions, improving our health, or living some experiences that we find interesting.
But we often forget to ask ourselves why we are chasing these dreams.
Why do you want to have this specific product? Why do you want to be healthier, lose weight, gain muscle? Why do you want to travel the world, parachute or meet your idol in person?
Understanding the reasons why you get out of bed every morning is important because it brings an internal and lasting motivation.
This type of motivation can keep you on track to achieving your goals. It’s a far more effective motivation than the passing motivation that comes from a motivational video, a catchphrase, or an inspiring example.
Anyone who can find this reason for action finds ikigai.
Ikigai is your reason for living
In Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life neuroscientist Ken Mogi explains that finding your ikigai is finding your reason for living.
The term was coined on Japanese islands that are famous for having a much above average life expectancy.
One of the reasons for explaining this longevity is that people on those islands know what they like to do and engage in it for a lifetime.
The theory is that if we can make a living doing what we like, we tend to do our activities with greater satisfaction, care and productivity.
Therefore, to know your ikigai is to know your own reason for living. How to do this?
You can find your ikigai in just 5 steps
There are several techniques for you to find your purpose. These techniques vary by definition of purpose.
However, all techniques agree on one aspect. To find your purpose, you need to turn inward. You need to have an honest conversation with yourself and have a good deal of self-awareness.
Otherwise, what you think is your purpose may simply be what other people think is good for you. This includes your family members, your coworkers, the celebrities you follow and even the advertisements you see out there.
To find your true reason for living, here are five simple steps that have a really profound impact.
Step 1. Start Small
The first step in finding your ikigai is to get rid of a craze of grandeur that seems to hit a lot of people today.
We want to have a lot of money, have a fit body, have a successful career, have a happy family, have a beautiful house, have a car of the year, have, have, have…
We want to have so much that we end up having almost nothing.
Instead, try starting small. Choose one area of your life that needs more attention and see what you can improve a little.
Put aside the craze for greatness and start building your reason for living slowly, little by little, but in a constant way that makes sense of longer life planning.
Step 2. Free yourself
The second step is to break free from old ideas that may not be aligned with what you really want from life.
For example, who says you need to have a slim body, a big house, or the car of the year to feel happier?
Is this a real need of yours, or is it something that has come from outside – from colleagues, family, advertising – that you’ve internalized so much that today you really think it’s your idea?
To find your ikigai, try to break free of these preconceived ideas and carefully reflect on yourself to really find what you want out of life.
Step 3. Seek Harmony and Sustainability
It is no use finding your ikigai if it does not bring harmony into your life and if it is not sustainable in the long run.
Use the following questions as tools to find your ikigai: Is this sustainable? Can this activity be sustained in the long run? Can you make a living from it? Will you keep your health?
Think of ikigai as the intersection of four circles:
What you love
What the world needs
What you are good at
That which makes you earn enough money for your living
If you can find an activity that meets these four qualities, you will have found your reason for living.
Step 4. Have joy in the little things
The fourth step is not to condition your happiness to the fulfillment of great goals.
One mistake that many people make when designing life plans is to set up grandiose projects and condition their own happiness to the fulfillment of these projects.
For example, let’s say one of your big goals is to complete a postgraduate degree. This can be an arduous task that will take years of dedication and study.
If you only allow yourself joy when you graduate, you will have had years of suffering for a few moments of joy.
Yes, because soon after conquering your graduation, you will soon start looking at other goals. Your joy will pass and you will set new and greater goals to which you will condition your happiness again. And this is an endless cycle.
There is a smarter way to live your life. Learn to have joy in the little things. Have joy every time you have to sit down to study for the tasks in this postgraduate program. Be happy with every mistake you make when writing your final paper. Be joyful even when you find yourself conditioning your own happiness to the fulfillment of a goal.
Our life has many more ordinary moments than great moments. If you only allow yourself joy in accomplishing great deeds, you are condemning yourself to a life full of dissatisfaction with a few fleeting moments of happiness.
Step 5. Being in the here and now
Finally, learn to live in the present moment. Learn to enjoy the whole journey and not just the ultimate goal.
Right now, just as you are seeing me, are you enjoying the journey? Or are you thinking that you are not one of those lucky people who can find a great purpose, a great reason to live?
Many Eastern philosophies warn us of the risk of abandoning the now, failing to live in the present moment. And when we focus on desire, when our focus is on what we want or don’t want, we are no longer living in the now. And so we open the door to suffering.
The reason we suffer is the untimely desire, the habit of always wanting to anticipate the future, wanting more and more, or remembering the past without ever enjoying the present moment.
If we are never satisfied with the moment right now, we are always wanting something else. This is the main cause of suffering. If we are present, living the present moment completely, there would be no “wanting” and “not wanting”. We would be in fullness.
Finding your ikigai is knowing yourself
Imagine for a moment that you had a great motivation to get out of bed every day.
You have found a true purpose. An activity that you enjoy, where you are good, that the world needs and that can still give you enough money to support you.
How will this affect your quality of life? How will change the way you live your days? How will it impact the people around you?
In Japan this is called ikigai. And you can look inside yourself today and follow the five steps you’ve learned here to find your reason for living.
Start small, throw away old ideas and look for something that brings harmony and sustainability. Remember to have joy in the little things and especially to pay attention to the here and now.
Finding that purpose is an essential step in putting together a life plan that truly aligns with what you value most in life.
This is why defining purpose is one of the first steps taught in the Planning Your Life course.
Another key pillar of the course that teaches you how to make a plan to achieve your highest life goals is the discovery of your most important personal values. If you would like guidance on this, take a special lesson in the Personal Values course of Planning Your Life right now by visiting https://arata.se/planningyourlife