Business Purpose – How to Find Your Ikigai?
Do you remember your childhood dreams of who you became when you grew up? It was so easy to imagine ourselves as superheroes, astronauts, doctors, singers, actors, police, or perhaps even entrepreneurs with a clear business purpose.
We were dreaming of changing the world, and nothing was able to stop us.
Years were passing by, we went to college, found the first well-paid job, then the next one, and after some time we realized that we miss fulfillment in our life.
At that point, we usually ask ourselves a question – “What happened with my dreams?” and quickly get an answer from our inner self – “Life happened…”
Shockingly, a study from 2014 has revealed that only 6% of adults ended up in the careers they dreamt about as kids.
What is even worse, according to Gallup’s World Poll, still 66% of U.S. workers either hate their job or do the minimum required work and quickly leave the company for a slightly better offer.
Moreover, 62% of Americans say that their dream is to build a business, but only 14% consider it as a realistic goal.
So, what can we do to live a more fulfilled life and find a business purpose around it? Before I get into why and how to achieve it, please keep in mind the sentence below…
It’s never too late to build a business of your dreams!
And now, continue reading as I am just about to answer fundamental questions.
You can also jump directly to sections that are the most interesting for you:
- Are you lost in life or don’t have a business purpose?
- Finding a business purpose is a process
- Why is it essential to have a business purpose?
- What is Ikigai?
- How can you find your Ikigai?
- Before you go
Are you lost in life or don’t have a business purpose?
If your answer is YES, then do not worry, as you are not the only one. Many successful people had an indirect path to achieve a fulfilling life or finding a business purpose.
Let me give you a couple of examples based on an infographic prepared by Anna Vital:
- Harrison Ford – actor and producer, until 30 was a carpenter
- J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter author, until 31 was a single mom on welfare
- Andrea Bocelli – singer, until 33 was piano player at bars
- Ray Kroc – McDonald’s founder, until 52 sold paper cups and milkshake mixers
Moreover, an infographic with a catchy title “Too Late To Start? Life Crisis and Late Bloomers” shows that 35+ is the most common age to start one of the top companies in the world.
When you look at the biographies of the top 100 founders on the Forbes List, you will find people like:
- Charles Flint – started IBM at the age of 61
- Ferdinand Porsche – founded Porsche car company at the age of 56
- Gordon Bowker – created Starbucks at the age of 51
- Adolf Dassler – started Adidas at the age of 48
- Sam Walton – founded Walmart at the age of 44
and on the list, you can look for more people founding companies after the age of 35.
Finding a business purpose is a process
Finding meaning in your life and business is a process, and it can take years of learning about yourself, experimenting, and searching for what matters. Let me give you a short story of my life.
I grew up in post-communist Poland, where my parents taught me that life is difficult and you have to work hard. I was always one of the best students and got to the best computer science university in my hometown.
Already in the 2nd year of studies, I was working for a software house as a programmer. My biggest dream at that time was to get hired by Google or Facebook in the United States.
After a couple of years, I realized that “talking to a computer” with a programing language is not what makes me happy. I started to experiment with my life and got out of my comfort zone.
I was involved with a global youth-run organization called AIESEC, founded four companies, worked with multiple startups, learned how to work remotely, and traveled the world.
Ten years later, this idea of working for a big corporation looks ridiculous to me. My meaning for life changed, and I am still in the process of continually learning about my business purpose.
Why is it essential to have a business purpose?
Without a business purpose, it is easy to do things that do not matter to us. We can be confused, distracted, and disorganized in everyday actions.
Moreover, our goals would not be clear, and it would be much harder to achieve them. We usually live in a not sustainable way, getting stressed, complaining, and wondering what we should do with our business.
On the other hand, clarity of business purpose has the power to shape our life, decisions, and ultimately daily actions. People who have found their meaning are happier, as they are doing things that make them smile.
One international study has also found that with a higher sense of purpose, we live longer and have a lower risk of death and heart disease. Researchers confirmed that by living a more fulfilled life, our lifestyle is healthier, we are less stressed and burnout.
Dan Buettner, the author of the book “The Blue Zones” explains in his TED talk – “How to Live to Be 100+” the lifestyle of places in the world where people are living the longest. Okinawa, one of the Japanese islands, has the highest life expectancy among them.
People who are living there believe that one of the essential components – in addition to a healthy diet, simple life in the outdoors, getting enough rest, and doing moderate exercise – is finding meaning in life.
There is even a name in Japanese for this concept of discovering what your purpose is, called Ikigai.
What is Ikigai?
In Japanese, iki means “to live,” and gai means “reason” – in different words, your reason to live. Each of us can have more than one Ikigai. It can be our work, business, hobby, family, or anything that brings joy and happiness to life. An individual’s Ikigai is personal and specific to the values and beliefs of each person.
Visualize your Ikigai
The best way to visualize Ikigai is the common spot between:
- What you LOVE
- What you are GREAT AT
- Something the WORLD NEEDS
- what you can be PAID FOR
Buettner explains that Ikigai can evolve with age. What is remarkably inspiring, Okinawans do not have the urge to retire. People living on the island do their desired job as long as their health is good.
He also cites the Ikigai of the oldest residents of Okinawa:
- 102-year-old karate master’s Ikigai was training martial arts;
- for a 101-year-old fisherman, it was catching fish for his family;
- and a 102-year-old woman was feeling Ikigai when holding her tiny great-great-great-granddaughter.
Follow the passion truism
It looks like Ikigai is similar to what we know as “follow the passion” truism we identify within the Western culture.
Not really. Ikigai is something more:
- It is your own choice to find it, and you have the freedom to pursue your Ikigai. No one should tell you what it is and influence you to do it.
- It leads you to mastery and your personal growth. Ikigai gives you the possibility to be always one step out of your comfort zone.
- Increases your health and well-being. It provides you with positive energy so that you can achieve more in every aspect of your life.
- It requires a commitment to be a part of “Moai” – a small group of people that give you support and share similar values and beliefs.
How can you find your Ikigai?
When you get to know the concept of Ikigai, you desire to learn how to find it. There is no single way to discover your Ikigai, and it is essential to remember that it will not happen overnight.
Rather than expecting that it will appear magically, you should take the time to investigate and understand your purpose.
Finding Ikigai requires an enthusiasm for self-discovery and experimentation. It is also reasonable that the purpose will evolve with you over time.
The best way is to start small and follow the process. I prepared for you three simple steps to start developing your Ikigai.
This method helped me in discovering my business purpose, and I firmly believe it will also support your process.
1. Ask yourself following questions
As you saw in the picture above, your Ikigai is in the middle of four spheres, so the most reasonable way to start looking for your meaning in life is to answer those questions:
- What do I love doing and forget about time passing by?
- What am I good or better than other people around?
- How can I help others and be paid for or what may generate an income in the future?
- What does the world need, and how can I make it a better place?
Take a notebook
Grab a notebook and a pen and start journaling. You can do it now, or at the other best time that suits you.
Do a brainstorming and write down all thoughts that are coming to your mind. Remember, there is no good or wrong idea!
Take your time and do not get frustrated when the answers are not coming right away, or you are not able to connect the dots.
Other questions to ask yourself
If the above questions do not resonate with you, try these:
- What do I talk about with my close friends? (Tell you what do you love or care about)
- What have I learned and done in the last ten years? (Tell you what are you good at)
- What do people say that I am good at? When do they ask me for help? (Tell you about things that people will be willing to pay for if you ask them to do so)
- What positive values did I gain growing up? (Tell you what is essential for you to make a positive change in the world)
More solutions to get to know yourself
If you still have problems answering those questions, try to get feedback from your friends and family. They know you well and can give you some crucial insights.
You can also get to know yourself through various personality and strength assessments. Some of them are free to use like the tests on Open-Source Psychometrics Project. My favorite one is 16 Personality Types by Myers-Briggs and Keirsey, and you are welcome to take the test here.
On the other side, we have paid tests. Gallup created one of the most famous assessments called CliftonStrengths that more than 22 million people globally filled out. It costs 19.99 USD for five the most crucial strengths or 49.99 USD to get to know all of them (34 in total).
For me, this test gave compelling insights and proved myself on my Ikigai. I will write in the future more about this test, so for now, please check the information provided on the website.
2. Visualize your Ikigai Business Purpose
The best way to move forward with your Ikigai is to map it out. This solution is excellent for those of you who are visuals, and it can also help if you are stuck with figuring it out.
There are many different ways to draw it, so you can choose the best method that resonates with you.
It is the most common way of presenting Ikigai, as interlocking circles for each category. It looks the same as the picture shown above in this article, with a difference that this time you write inside your descriptions.
Canva’s Venn diagram maker is the easiest and free way to make a Venn diagram online. You can create an Ikigai like the one below.
It is s a popular way of presenting different brainstorming sessions. Major ideas are attached directly to the central one, and other thoughts branch out from those ideas.
You can draw it as an image, to which associated representations of concepts such as images, words, visualizations connect.
An infographic is a visual description of a message that uses image patterns to help see how parts of information are associated with each other.
We recognize visual patterns faster than we read the text. In short, infographics are an easy way to visualize and explain stories, statistics, and information.
One more time, Canva gives you 120+ different infographics to use for free. I also recommend checking Adioma and their blog with many great examples of infographics.
Personally, my favorite way of visualizing your Ikigai. It is a manifestation tool that highlights a collage of your desires, dreams, and goals. You can use pictures, quotes, affirmations, and other words of wisdom that represent your business purpose.
A vision board is a medium that provides you clarity over your Ikigai and keeps you focused daily on your goals.
It is my second year in a row when I am creating my vision board, and I strongly recommend to design one for yourself. You can also use Canva to create your Vision Board.
3. Make a plan and start small with implementing your business purpose
You have defined your Ikigai, created a visual format, and now it is time to take action. Very often, people get overwhelmed by how many things they need to do to achieve their business purpose.
The most important rule is to create a simple plan and start small. Then commit to your business purpose and take everyday actions.
Test your Ikigai Business Purpose
Testing your Ikigai will give you an understanding if following this business purpose is something you will find meaningful and fulfilling.
Moreover, it may involve creating different priorities in life, changing your career, or learning new things. It will take you out of your comfort zone, and this is where you want to be, as you will develop yourself and grow.
Your Ikigai, in some ways, is your compass. It will guide you and give you directions to explore new opportunities.
Therefore, be open to what is ahead of you, but also learn how to say “no” to things that are not connected with your business purpose.
Remember to evaluate your sense of meaning and purpose along the way. Keep in mind that you should grow in every aspect of your life and be happy here and now.
In conclusion, LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for you to test your Business Purpose and evaluate on the real market, so take it into the consideration.
I wish you all the best on your journey, and I will keep my fingers crossed for you! You can always write to me on LinkedIn and update how are you doing.
Before you go
Most importantly, if you enjoyed my article on the Business Paradise blog, you would also appreciate my weekly newsletter with topics related to Personal Branding and B2B Lead Generation on LinkedIn.
Please subscribe below, and I will keep you updated about new articles, ebooks, free webinars, challenges and more!