I genuinely believe that we are living in the most incredible time where we have more freedom to search for happiness and meaning than ever before BUT we have to ask ourselves these types of questions everyday.
Not everyone does it because this kind of search is gruelling but you will only ever get answers to the big questions that you constantly ask.
Whenever I meet someone new, I ask them if they’re happy and if they love what they do, and the typical reaction (and accompanied hesitation) always astounds me. So here’s my take on how to work toward answering these questions. I hope it helps inspire you to ask them each and everyday!
WHERE DOES IT START?
No one starts off wanting to live an average life but if you think about it, the entire schooling system is designed around the idea that you need to know what you want to do with your life at 15, 16 or 17 years old. However, as we know, you hardly have any life experience at this age so the chances of your “career guess” being right is slim.
There is also another layer of complexity that isn’t spoken about as much. When people today look back on their childhood years and the career paths they thought they might follow, it’s unlikely any of them envisioned becoming UX designers or app developers. In other words, when you were a kid, you couldn’t have known that the jobs of the future hadn’t been invented yet.
So if the rules of life are constantly changing then how do we work out what to do with our lives? And how do we guide our children to do the same? Being the eternal idealist, I believe that there has never been a better time to stop and become the architect of your future. I’m not saying it’s easy but you actually have a choice these days.
THE JAPANESE HAVE A GREAT CONCEPT CALLED IKIGAI
I recently finished reading a book called Ikigai and it helped me better understand happiness and the path to obtain meaning. Ikigai is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “that thing you live for” or “your reason to get up in the morning”.
To paraphrase the book, it says that to find your Ikigai, you want to explore four different avenues that all intersect each other:
- You need to do something you love
- You need to be good at what you do
- You need to do something that the world needs
- You need to do something that society is willing to pay for
In other words, your Ikigai lies at the centre of these interconnecting philosophies. If you are lacking in one area, you are missing out on your life’s potential and your chance to live a long and happy life.
That said, discovering your Ikigai isn’t a simple task because there is a lot that we need to UNLEARN before we can ask ourselves the deep questions that enable us to take action toward stepping into our Ikigai.
Without realising it, I spent the last five years indirectly asking myself these four questions and eventually the answer became clear. I gave up an advertising agency and a few other small businesses to pursue Suits & Sneakers. The journey since then hasn’t been easy at all but it has been the most rewarding phase of my life thus far.
It is my wish for each of you that find out what your Ikigai is. Generally, it doesn’t happen quickly and you need to focus on those four interconnecting philosophies every day. It will eventually come to you and then you need to build the courage to step away from the paint-by-number career system that most people follow.