Wrapping Up 2023 Knowing Your Ikigai

My last article for the Hawai’i Herald will be coming out on Friday, December 1st, at the same time as my monthly life letter. I wrote about these five Japanese practices: Ikigai, Kaizen, Hara hachi bu, Shoshin, and Wabi-sabi. I figured to close out 2023 and get ready for 2024, the best practice to share with my practice members is ikigai.

Ikigai is to find your life purpose and the search for why we are here on this planet. For the fortunate individuals who have discovered your life purpose, hats off to you, but for those who have not yet discovered their life path, hopefully after reading this you may be able to use some of my suggestions and find your purpose.

The first thing to note is that sometimes your life purpose doesn’t have to be grand or out of this world.  It could simply be raising children who are independent or taking care of a loved one. In no way am I saying it is simple or easy to raise children or to be a caretaker, and these acts of service, many times, get overlooked, assumed, and taken for granted.

The first step in discovering your ikigai is to pause and reflect on your life to see if what you are doing and the life that you are living is what you want. If you find yourself waking up each morning, looking forward to the new day, instead of dreading it, that’s a good sign. Also, you might have little life purposes, that when combined, become rather big, amazing, and fulfilling. Ultimately, it is through the eyes of the beholder and each person’s unique perspective determines what is valuable or not.

Know Your Value

This brings me to the next essential element you need to determine your life purpose. It is to define and know your true, highest value (priority). Your values will fall within seven different focuses of life: physical, spiritual, mental, vocational, financial, social, and familial. By knowing and truly valuing what is important to you, versus living your life according to someone else’s highest values, will further help you discover your life purpose.

Think about it, if you aren’t even aware of your true values and are constantly listening to, and following someone else’s, you will never discover your ikigai. The only exception would be if your life purpose is to support someone else’s ikigai. Only you will know if this is true or not for yourself, but if you find yourself energetic and committed to assisting someone else’s life purpose, that can be a fulfilling, lifelong endeavor as well.

If being a support for someone else’s vision is not your ikigai, then take the time to start observing what you spend your time and money on. What do you find yourself thinking about, talking about, inspired to research and learn about? Any actions that you take, without having to find motivation to do them, are also clear indicators that you are focusing on your life purpose. Simply put, your ikigai is divinely inspired, and in my opinion your soul will prompt you to do certain things in life, because it is what you were meant to do.

We all were born with a purpose, similar to dogs that were bred for a certain function. For instance, chihuahuas were bred to be ratters (hunt and kill rats) and dachshunds were designed to go into the burrows of moles in order to kill them and eliminate the holes that horses could unknowingly step in.

Finally, I cannot stress the importance of discovering your life purpose, after observing many people who get closer to retirement age, not having taken the time to prepare for the transition, only to experience unexpected health crises or challenges. The old saying,”use it or lose it” is so true. If you don’t choose to utilize your life force energy in a constructive way or to grow, the alternative is to shrink away and decay. Think of discovering your ikigai even after you retire in order to have an inspirational focus that becomes the bigger reason of why you open your eyes each morning.

I hope some aha moments came to you as you read this, or confirmations that you are either living your ikigai or getting closer to realizing and manifesting your life purpose. You can also use the strategy of kaizen, where you start by taking baby steps and little actions that eventually build up to having your life purpose becoming crystal clear! You have the power to create the life that you want to live, and knowing your truth and highest value will go a long way in being able to manifest your dreams.