One of the most important questions we must ask ourselves in life is: “What’s my purpose in life?” Since this question has kept us all busy many people have different answers to one of these ultimate questions of life. As I’m almost reaching the magical age of 42, I often think about this question, as 42 is said to be the ultimate answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything, according to Douglas Adams, the famous writer of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Whatever your purpose may be, please don’t panic! 😉
Finding out where you stand
The thing about life is that we often wonder why we are on this beautiful planet and what our purpose truly is. Some people find their purpose with a certain kind of faith, or philosophy of life, and we often identify ourselves with this belief. We are a Stoic, a Pagan, Christian, Muslim or Yogi. Whatever it may be, these beliefs give us at least a handle on life and a certain perspective from which we view life. Still, they rarely answer the question properly what our purpose should be.
The Japanese have a term for the purpose of life called Ikigai and this is the reason you get up out of bed every single day. It is the sweet spot where four elements join, as you can see in this graph.
This graph shows perfectly how to find your Ikigai. Ideally it is something you love, something the world needs, something you’re good at and not unimportant what you can be paid for, so you can support yourself (and your friends/family). It’s fairly easy to find out where you are by simply looking at the four elements. For instance, if you’re doing what you’re good at and you’re getting paid for, we’re talking about a profession. It’s a shame that the graph above doesn’t show the associated feeling if you’re only hitting two marks, because I believe that some of those are definitely true for some of us. A lot of people have jobs that they’re qualified to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re feeling useful, or they might feel empty, because their job doesn’t serve a higher purpose and simply “pays the bills”.
Finding your purpose
So, armed with this knowledge, how do we find our purpose in this life? What is it that we could do that we love and are good at, the world needs, that we can be paid for? It might take a long time before you can finally answer this question. Especially when we’re younger and have no clear idea of where we’re going, or because of our environment steers us in certain directions. I know that for me, I studied IT in my early twenties, because everyone around me kept saying: “Jeffrey, you’re so good with computers, you should do something with that.” And so I did. Do I regret this choice? No, I don’t, because there is good money to be made when you work in IT, so it was a great start. However, I did quit working in IT to study again around the age of 24. Hoping to avoid working in IT, I did a more creative study; digital communication. This taught me a lot about the way we communicate among ourselves, but most of all how we use our screens for communication. I did a lot of animation work and video editing during that time, but ultimately couldn’t find a job in that direction and ended up at a database management job. I’ve been doing this kind of work for over 10 years now, but I’ve always viewed this as the job I do to make a living.
In the meantime, I’ve been broadening my horizon spiritually and philosophically. I’ve also used my spare time to write books and blogs. I think it’s important to share my insights with anyone willing to read them and it’s always my fond hope that at least one person feels helped by what I write, or at least finds my writings entertaining. This is where my true passion lies nowadays, I love to share my knowledge and my unique perspective and philosophy of life. I also love to tell stories, which is why I love writing fiction books as well. And of course, you can put a lot of yourself into those stories!
As you can see, finding your purpose can be a tricky thing. For me it has certainly taken years, but I’m certain that if you go back to your childhood and remember what you were into back then, you’ll find a passion that might just be your Ikigai. It’s also a good thing to identify the things you really enjoy, or what your key values are. These are a great way of identifying your true purpose in life. Whatever it is, just remember that it’s something you get up for every single day.
Whatever your purpose in this life is, make sure it’s your own. Live your life to the fullest and make the world a better place for everyone and everything!
Jeffrey, Once again you discuss a major aspect of life’s experience with what is your purpose in life. The Japanese “Ikigai” chart sheds light on finding a reason for being. I enjoyed reading about your progression in life from your early years to the present. My purpose has always been serving others in life. Now you have me trying to relate & connect what you said here about “purpose” to your previous blog about “success” & “happiness.” It seems to me these three must be considered together. –Good job, Jeffrey! As usual you have me thinking deep thoughts! Phil
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