I have been talking about happiness and purpose for some time and to anyone who will listen. In previous videos and podcasts, I have talked about how, for years, I mislead myself to thinking that my purpose was climbing a ladder and taking on more and more responsibility. I equated happiness with success and perceived happiness as a destination.

It wasn’t until I realized that I was not happy in a particular situation that I finally understood that my purpose was something much deeper and that happiness isn’t about the destination but the journey.

Not too long ago I went through an exercise of articulating my life purpose statement.  Doing so involved identifying my most valued unique skills and traits and determining how I could use those create my vision of a perfect world.

The exercise of articulating my life purpose was deeply impactful for me. It reinforced what I love and why I do the things I do. And it also gave me a lens through which I could frame how I spend my time in my personal and work life.  However, as a reluctant type A, I also felt the need to turn my purpose into an actual plan. 

I started searching online for what in my head would be venn-like diagram that I could use to organize my priorities and activities. I thought that by creating a visual with specific activities and priorities listed, I would be more likely to live my life purpose. I also wanted a way to document or save ideas about things I will do in the future in order to continue living purposefully.

And then “boom!” My head almost exploded when a four circle venn diagram appeared on my screen. The quadrants intersected in different ways and using words that made it look like a three dimensional purpose statement. 

The diagram I was staring at was called “ikigai.” Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.”  It is actually a combination of two Japanese words: iki meaning “life; alive” and kai  meaning “effect” or “worth.” The word “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or purpose. 

Almost immediately after learning about ikigai, I began to transpose my life purpose into the ikigai framework. From what I learned, I knew I needed to respond to four questions, or statements:

  • What I love
  • What the world needs
  • What I am good at
  • What I can get paid for

Eagerly, I went through this exercise.  And as I suspected, it was just the thing I needed to bring my purpose statement to life. Not only does clarifying each of these items bring balance to my vision of a purposeful life, but it also lends itself to making lists of things that I can do in order to nurture my purpose in the future.

If you are interested in exploring your Ikigai, there are a ton of resources online. Also, I created a simple template that can be used to develop your Ikigai.  Feel free to use it and let me know if you have questions or suggestions.


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