How to find your purpose step-by-step so that you can be happier, reach your potential, live a more meaningful life, and jump out of bed in the morning.
Finding purpose in life can make the difference between dragging yourself out of bed each morning or jumping out of bed excited to start your day.
Once you find your purpose in life, you will know where to go. You will have a sense of clarity and direction. It will help you make decisions since you will have a roadmap. You won’t go through life on autopilot. Instead, you will know exactly where you want to go and how to get there. Your purpose will bring you happiness, satisfaction, and stability. Most importantly, you won’t ever look back and wish you would have done things differently.
”The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain
How to find purpose in life
Every person has their own unique purpose in life. This is because we all have different interests and talents.
Finding your purpose in life has to involve things that are meaningful to you. It should include your interests, talents, and the things that bring you joy and fulfillment. If your parents want you to become a lawyer but that won’t bring you fulfillment then it will not give you a purpose in life. Don’t let other people define your life purpose for you.
What are you passionate about?
Use this free online quiz to help you find what you are passionate about and what your life purpose is:
What is your purpose in life?
I lived in Japan for a year. A period that I loved and will never forget. I learned a lot of interesting concepts while living in Japan. One of them is Ikigai.
Ikigai is pronounced ee-key-guy.
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being.’ In Japanese “Iki” means life, and “gai” means value or worth. Your ikigai is your life purpose or your joy in life. It refers to the things that bring you joy in life and motivate you to start each day.
Traditional Japanese philosophy uses ikigai in order to find joy and happiness in life. In the west, the concept of ikigai has been adapted in order to find your purpose in the workforce or to choose the best career.
The Japanese concept of ikigai is a method of self-actualization. It encompasses your reason for living, your life goal and your source of longevity. The Japanese claim that one of the ways to live a long, full and happy life is by finding your ikigai.
Using Ikikai to find joy and happiness in life
ikigai is the intersection between four different elements:
- What you love
- What the world needs
- Where you can make a difference
- What you are good at
Many Japanese believe everyone has an ikigai, or destiny, that they were born to fulfill. Ikigai is your purpose, your “reason for being” and the reason you wake up every morning.
Using Ikikai to find your dream job
In the West, many people have started using ikigai in order to find their dream job or ideal career. When it comes to finding your dream job or best career, ikigai is the intersection between four different elements:
- What you’re passionate about
- Where your skills lie
- How you can earn a living and
- What the world needs
See the ikigai diagram below.
This Ikigai chart is a Western interpretation of the Japanese Ikigai concept. The idea is to use Ikigai to help people find their purpose in the workplace. If you can find a job that you love, you are good at and you can be paid for then it is essentially the ideal job for you. One that will give you a sense of purpose besides paying the bills.
You can download the ikigai chart as a PDF file or an image.
Why is it important to find your purpose?
- Provides direction: Knowing your purpose gives you a sense of direction and clarity about what you want to achieve and what is most important to you.
- Increases motivation: When you have a clear sense of purpose, you are more likely to feel motivated and passionate about pursuing your goals.
- Improves decision-making: When you have a clear sense of purpose, it becomes easier to make decisions that align with your values and goals.
- Boosts satisfaction and well-being: When you are living a purpose-driven life, you are more likely to experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, which can have a positive impact on your overall well-being.
- Creates meaning: Having a purpose gives your life a sense of meaning and significance, which can increase your sense of purpose and happiness.
- Improves focus and concentration: When you have a clear sense of purpose, you are more likely to stay focused and motivated towards your goals, rather than getting sidetracked by distractions.
Therefore, finding your purpose is a critical component of personal development, as it provides direction, increases motivation, and contributes to overall well-being and satisfaction. When you live a life of purpose, you can live longer, be happier and healthier, and sleep better.
In the book Ikigai: the Japanese secret to a long and happy life, by Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles, the authors describe the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. In the ikigai book, they claim that Ikigai is the key to longevity so you should never stop doing it.
- If your ikigai is your job, then you shouldn’t retire.
- If your ikigai is a hobby then don’t ever give it up.
The island of Okinawa, in southern Japan, is home to the highest concentration of centenarians in the world. Ikigai is an integral part of their culture. Okinawans abide by these rules and never retire. They remain active late into their lives. If they’re forced into retirement, they still find ways to remain active, such as by doing gardening, teaching, looking after their grandkids, or other work in their communities. Their ikigai simply changes but they always have one.
How to find your purpose in life
Ikigai is your reason for living or your inner motivation for a specific professional activity. When you do find your ikigai it will motivate you to get out of bed in the morning.
Some people are lucky enough to find their ikigai quickly, whereas others spend years looking for it.
You can find your purpose:
Through your job
Since you spend so many hours working each week, finding your ikigai through your work is ideal. Your purpose is where your interests and skills intersect. Therefore, your ideal job is one that you are both interested in and you are good at. If you are lucky enough to find such a job then you will not only be good at it but you will be happy doing it.
For example, therapists who love to help people could find meaning in their work and connect it to their personal sense of purpose.
Finding your purpose in life and then finding a job that enables you to fulfill this purpose is one way to find your ikigai. It will enable you to enjoy your job more since it will not only pay the bills but will also fulfill you.
By giving back
Even if you are not lucky enough to find your ikigai through work you can still pursue your purpose. For example, if you want to help people but cannot find a good job doing that then you can still help others by volunteering in your spare time. Volunteer at a local organization, or in your community, donate money to a purpose you believe in, join a group that interests you or perform random acts of kindness.
If there is a cause you feel passionately about (such as the environment, preventing cruelty to animals, social justice, etc.) then do something to get involved with this cause. This is a great way to find your purpose in life outside of your job or career. It will enable you to do something you are passionate about, feel you are making a difference, be part of a community and surround yourself with people with a similar purpose in life.
Giving back can provide a feeling of fulfillment and purpose in life. When you help others, you are also helping yourself.
If you are good at art, writing, or music you might want to use this talent to touch the lives of others.
Sign up for classes that interest you. Take up a hobby you enjoy.
By joining a community
Become an active member of a community with others who share your passions and interests. This will not only help you discover what you are passionate about but it will make you feel more connected which will contribute to a greater sense of purpose in life.
Spend time with people who you admire or who inspire you. The chances are these people know their life purpose and live according to it. You might learn something from them or they might be able to help you define your purpose. Even if they don’t, surrounding yourself with positive inspirational people will help you become more positive. This mindset will help you with everything in life including finding your life purpose.
How to find your purpose in life
- Make a list of the things you like to do or are passionate about.
- Make a list of the things you are good at.
- Make a list of the ways you can give back or be of service to others.
- Make a list of the things that there is a need for, will be beneficial or you can be paid for.
The things that appear on all four lists are your ikigai or purpose.
What are you passionate about?
What are you passionate about? What inspires you?
If you are not sure what you are passionate about or interested in then use this as an opportunity to do some self-exploration. Think about what makes you feel good, productive, and inspired. See Examples of Passions for ideas.
What are you good at?
If you are not sure what you are good at then talk to people who know you well and ask them what they think you are good at.
Sometimes our strengths come from difficulties we have faced and managed to overcome. Some people find their purpose by helping others overcome similar challenges. For example, a recovered addict might help people overcome their addiction. Someone who has succeeded despite their difficult circumstances might become a motivational speaker.
How you can help others or give back?
What can you do to be of service to others?
Make a list of the ways you can be of service to others.
How can you make a living from your purpose or find an outlet for your ikigai?
Once you have found your purpose, think about ways you can turn it into a job or a side hustle or find another outlet for it.
For example, if you like working with people you might consider becoming a life coach or social worker.
You don’t necessarily need to turn your purpose into a source of income. You can keep it as a hobby or a way to give back to society. The important thing is that you find an outlet for your ikigai or purpose.
For example, if you found that your ikigai is baking cakes for people then look for a job in a bakery or start your own business. If you don’t want to turn it into a source of income, then make cakes for your friends and family.
Keep focusing on growth and self-development
To feel a true sense of purpose and fulfillment, you need to constantly grow and develop. When you grow you keep becoming a better version of yourself and feel a stronger sense of purpose.
Our purpose or Ikigai can change throughout our lives. If we stop extracting the same purpose from life as we once did we should reevaluate our ikigai to find a new purpose. Growth and self-development can help us stay connected to our purpose even if it changes.
Even though our ikigai might change over time we should always still have one. If people find their purpose through their job and then retire they should find alternative ways to fulfill their purpose. If they don’t, they might find themselves feeling empty and lacking a purpose in life.
Create a personal mission statement
Once you have found your life purpose, your personal mission statement will help define it. It will inspire you to take action and reach your potential. It will help you identify your core values, define your long-term goals, and will serve as a roadmap to ensure you are going in the right direction in life.
The path to your purpose isn’t always easy
There are bound to be challenges on the path to your life purpose and it is important to embrace these challenges as opportunities for growth and development. Keep going in the direction of your life purpose even if you encounter difficulties and/or setbacks on the way.
Examples of Passions
Here are some examples of passions that people may have:
Creative pursuits: Painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, graphic design, etc.
Music: Playing an instrument, singing, songwriting, composing, and producing.
Sports: Football, basketball, soccer, running, swimming, etc.
Writing: Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, blogging, journalism, etc.
Food: Cooking, baking, food blogging, food photography, etc.
Fashion: Designing clothes, styling, modeling, etc.
Dance: Ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, etc.
Science and Technology: Programming, software development, web development, data analysis, etc.
Nature: Gardening, hiking, camping, bird watching, etc.
Travel: Exploring new cultures, photography, backpacking, etc.
Adventure and travel: Exploring new cultures, hiking, backpacking, camping, scuba diving, etc.
Personal development: Reading, studying, learning new skills, self-improvement, personal growth, etc.
Fitness and wellness: Yoga, running, cycling, weightlifting, martial arts, etc.
Community service and volunteering: working with non-profit organizations, helping the homeless, working with children, the elderly, or people with disabilities.
Teaching and mentoring: teaching in schools, tutoring, coaching, mentoring, or leading workshops and classes.
Healthcare: nursing, medicine, therapy, counseling, social work, etc.
Environmentalism: working to protect the environment, promoting sustainable living, or volunteering with conservation or animal welfare organizations.
Human rights and social justice: advocating for marginalized groups, working on campaigns to raise awareness of social issues, or volunteering with organizations that promote equality and human rights.
Animal welfare: volunteering at animal shelters, animal rescue, wildlife conservation, or promoting the welfare of animals in general.
Crisis and emergency response: volunteering with disaster relief organizations, working as a first responder, or helping out during emergencies.
Missionary work: spreading the word of a specific religion or belief, working with faith-based organizations, or helping people in poor and developing countries.
Political activism: working on campaigns, lobbying for policies, or raising awareness about political issues.
Entrepreneurship and business: starting a business, helping others start a business, helping others become more profitable, or get out of debt.
These are just a few examples, and there are countless other things to be passionate about. The most important thing is to find something that brings you joy and fulfillment, and that you’re willing to put time and effort into pursuing.