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How to find your purpose or passion

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. 

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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.

Find Your Purpose or Passion

”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.


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 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.

Ikigai pronunciation

Ikigai is pronounced ee-key-guy.

Ikigai meaning

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.

Ikigai quiz

The following ikigai quiz will help you find your ikigai and then it will take you one step further and help you find ways to incorporate it into your life.

Find Your Purpose or Passion

Using Ikikai to find joy and happiness in life

ikigai is the intersection between four different elements:

  1. What you love
  2. What the world needs
  3. Where you can make a difference
  4. 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:

  1. What you’re passionate about
  2. Where your skills lie
  3. How you can earn a living and
  4. 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.
  • Prevents procrastination: Have you ever found yourself procrastinating and struggling to complete your daily tasks? This is often caused when a person did not pursue their true passions and instead chose a career path or job based on external factors. This lack of alignment between their personal passions and their career leads to a lack of motivation and engagement, which manifests as procrastination and difficulty completing tasks that do not inspire them. Is this the reason you procrastinate? We offer a free root cause analysis tool to help you get to the bottom of your procrastination and see if the reason is a lack of alignment between career and personal passions. If this is the case, then addressing the root cause by exploring your personal passions and finding ways to incorporate them into your work could help you break the habit of procrastination and achieve greater fulfillment and engagement in your work. See using the 5 whys to uncover the root cause.

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 and fulfill your purpose in life

Step 1: Find Your Purpose in Life

What is your purpose in life?

Find Your Purpose or Passion

  1. Make a list of the things you like to do or are passionate about.
  2. Make a list of the things you are good at.
  3. Make a list of the ways you can give back or be of service to others.
  4. 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?

Use this free online quiz to help you find what you are passionate about and what your life purpose is:

Find Your Purpose or Passion

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.

Examples of Passions

Here are some examples of passions that people may have:

Creative pursuits: Painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, graphic design, etc.
Visual arts: Printmaking, street art, graffiti, etc.
Music: Playing an instrument, singing, songwriting, composing, recording, mixing, mastering, and producing.
Sports: Football, basketball, soccer, running, swimming, etc.
Writing: Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, blogging, journalism, etc.
Literature: Critiquing, reviewing, publishing, 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, building computers, tinkering with electronics, etc.
Nature: Gardening, hiking, camping, bird watching, etc.
Adventure and travel: Exploring new cultures, hiking, backpacking, camping, scuba diving, photography, etc.
Personal development: Reading, studying, learning new skills, self-improvement, personal growth, etc.
Fitness and wellness: Yoga, running, cycling, weightlifting, martial arts, etc.
Fitness coaching: Helping others reach their fitness goals through coaching and motivation
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 getting out of debt.
Performing arts: Acting, theater, stand-up comedy, improv, etc.
Gaming: Video gaming, tabletop gaming, game development, streaming live gameplay on platforms such as Twitch or YouTube.
Film: Directing, producing, screenwriting, editing, etc.
Architecture: Designing buildings, interior design, landscape architecture, etc.
History: Researching, writing, teaching, etc.
Language learning: Studying and learning new languages, teaching others, etc.
Collecting: Antiques, stamps, coins, art, etc.
Fashion and beauty: Hair and makeup styling, fashion blogging, etc.
Personal shopping and styling: Assisting clients with shopping and styling, including wardrobe curation and personal shopping services.
Meditation and mindfulness: Practicing meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness techniques, teaching others, etc.
Culinary arts: Sommelier, cheese making, beer brewing, etc.
Parenting and family: Raising children, taking care of elderly parents, etc.
Community service, charity work and volunteering: Fundraising, donating, working for a charity, working with non-profit organizations, helping the homeless, working with children, the elderly, or people with disabilities.
Aviation: Flying, building or restoring airplanes, etc.
Science fiction and fantasy: Reading, writing, participating in fandom, etc.
Public speaking: Delivering speeches, coaching, etc.
Makeup artistry: Providing makeup services for events, productions, and photo shoots
Animal training: Training dogs, horses, or other animals for competitions or as service animals
Event planning: Organizing and coordinating events, such as weddings, corporate events, or parties
Interior decorating: Designing and decorating interior spaces, such as homes, offices, or hotels
Martial arts: Practicing and teaching martial arts, such as karate, judo, or jiu-jitsu
Astronomy: Studying and observing celestial bodies, such as stars, planets, and galaxies
Cosplay: Creating and wearing costumes inspired by fictional characters or other cultural icons
Podcasting: Creating and producing podcasts on various topics, such as news, culture, or entertainment
Video editing: Editing and producing video content for various platforms, such as YouTube or social media
Social media management: Managing social media accounts for businesses or individuals, creating content and engaging with followers
Spiritual practices: Practicing and teaching meditation, yoga, or other spiritual practices
Graphic novels and comics: Writing, illustrating, and publishing graphic novels or comics
Parapsychology: Studying paranormal phenomena, such as telekinesis or ESP, and conducting research in the field.

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.

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.

Find Your Purpose or Passion

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.

Step 2: How can you make a living from your purpose or find an outlet for your ikigai?

I’ve Found My Passion – Now What?

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. 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.

For example, if you like working with people you might consider becoming a life coach or social worker.

You can fulfill your purpose:

Through a passion project

We offer a free quiz that will help you find your passion and then find the perfect passion project to help you bring your passion into your life.

Find Your Purpose or Passion

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.

Through hobbies

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.

Step 3: Taking Action to Fulfill Your Passion

So you’ve found your passion and you know where you want to get to but how do you get there? The path to our passion isn’t always clear, and the destination can feel a daunting distance away. Yet, what if I told you that the journey could be transformative, manageable, and even enjoyable, by integrating just a small, consistent practice into your daily routine? Imagine dedicating 30 minutes to one hour each day towards activities that bring you closer to your passion. Whether it’s early in the morning, during your lunch break, or in the quiet of the evening, this time is a gift to yourself—a commitment to your dreams and aspirations.

This practice is not about overwhelming yourself with monumental tasks, but rather about making steady, realistic progress. It could be as simple as reading an article related to your passion, reaching out to a mentor for insights, sketching out ideas and plans, or even just sitting quietly to visualize your goals. The key is to engage actively and consistently with your passion, allowing it to evolve and deepen over time.

Imagine the compound effect of this practice over a year. With 365 days in a year, dedicating 30 minutes daily amounts to over 180 hours, and an hour daily equates to more than 360 hours focused on your passion. This is not trivial. It’s the equivalent of dedicating several weeks of work exclusively to your dreams. Over this period, you’re not just making progress; you’re transforming your relationship with your passion. It becomes a living, breathing part of your daily life, not just a distant dream.

This approach breaks down the journey into small, manageable steps, making it less overwhelming and more actionable. Even if you don’t have a plan or a way to reach your purpose just take any step in that direction. Listen to a podcast, read a book, or search the web. Take a tiny step in the right direction every single day.

So, I encourage you to carve out this sacred time for yourself. Begin tomorrow or better yet – begin today. Find a quiet moment to plan your first step. It doesn’t have to be grand or perfect; it just needs to be a step. And then, take another step the next day, and the day after that. Over time, these steps will accumulate into a journey of discovery, growth, and fulfillment. Remember, the pursuit of passion is not a sprint but a marathon. And it’s the daily, consistent steps that will carry you across the finish line to a place where your passion is not just a dream, but a living, thriving aspect of your life.

Step 4: Create a Plan: The Blueprint to Realizing Your Dreams

Embarking on the journey to fulfill your passion is akin to setting sail towards a distant, cherished destination. However, as with any meaningful voyage, the key to reaching this destination lies not just in knowing where you want to go, but in mapping out the route to get there. This is where the indispensable role of creating a plan comes into play—a strategic blueprint that guides your daily actions and keeps you aligned with your ultimate purpose.

The Importance of a Plan

A well-crafted plan serves several critical functions on your journey to fulfilling your passion:

  1. Direction: It provides clarity and direction, breaking down the overwhelming expanse of your dream into navigable, manageable steps.
  2. Motivation: On days when your passion feels distant or your motivation wanes, your plan acts as a lighthouse, guiding you back on course and reminding you of your destination.
  3. Measurement: A plan allows you to measure progress, offering tangible milestones and achievements along the way. This not only fuels your motivation but also allows for adjustments as you learn and grow.

Crafting Your Plan

Creating a plan that resonates with your passion and purpose involves several key steps:

  1. Define Your Vision: Start with the end in mind. What does fulfilling your passion look like? Be as specific as possible—this vision will be the foundation of your plan. Creating 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 serve as a roadmap to ensure you are going in the right direction in life.
  2. Set Clear Goals: Break down your vision into actionable goals. These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Each goal should represent a milestone on the path to your vision.
  3. Outline Action Steps: For each goal, list the action steps needed to achieve it. These steps should be clear and concrete. Think about what you can do daily, weekly, and monthly to move closer to each goal.
  4. Identify Resources: Consider what resources (time, money, information, skills) you’ll need for each step and how you can access them. This may involve setting aside time each day, budgeting, taking courses, or seeking mentors.
  5. Review and Adjust: Your plan is a living document. Regularly review your progress, celebrate your achievements, and be willing to adjust your plan as you gain insight and experience.

Step 5: Navigating the Roadblocks to Your Passion

The path to your purpose isn’t always easy

Embarking on the journey toward fulfilling your passion is both exhilarating and daunting. While the path is paved with the promise of personal achievement and growth, it’s also littered with obstacles that can derail even the most determined efforts. Understanding these barriers is the first step toward overcoming them. The most common obstacles are issues of time, money, and fear. Let’s delve into each of these and explore strategies to navigate through them.

Time: The Illusion of Scarcity

One of the most pervasive myths in our modern culture is the belief that we don’t have enough time. This perception of time scarcity often prevents us from pursuing our passions. However, the reality is not that we lack time, but that we fail to prioritize our passions within the time we have. It’s crucial to differentiate between ‘having time’ and ‘making time.’ If we examine our daily activities, we might find that we’re allocating time to tasks and engagements that don’t align with our core values or contribute to our long-term goals.

Strategy: Conduct a time audit for a week. Track how you spend each hour, and then evaluate which activities are truly meaningful to you. This can reveal surprising opportunities to repurpose time towards your passions. Remember, making time for something implies a choice—choosing your passion over less fulfilling activities. You don’t have to quit your day job to start developing your passion. Simply spend 30 to 60 minutes a day and devote them to this cause.

Money: The Financial Hurdle

Financial constraints are another significant barrier. Whether it’s the initial investment to start a project or the ongoing funds required to sustain it, money concerns can stop passion projects before they even begin. While financial stability is important, it’s also worth exploring creative ways to pursue your passion without letting money be the sole determining factor.

Strategy: Start small. Use your designated hour to brainstorm ways to generate funding, such as crowdfunding, grants, or starting a side hustle aligned with your passion. Alternatively, consider how you can adapt your passion project to require minimal financial investment at the start. Remember, not all passions need to turn a profit. Sometimes, the joy and fulfillment they bring are invaluable.

Fear: The Emotional Barrier

Fear is perhaps the most formidable obstacle on the path to pursuing our passions. Fear of failure, judgment, or even success can paralyze us, preventing us from taking the first step. Recognizing fear as a natural and essential emotion is crucial, but so is learning to manage it effectively.

Strategy: Practice fear rehearsal. This technique involves visualizing potential challenges or fears and mentally rehearsing how to handle them. By preparing for fear, you can reduce its paralyzing effect, remain composed, and navigate through moments of doubt or anxiety with more confidence. Additionally, sharing your fears with a trusted friend or mentor can provide perspective and support. See how to prevent limiting beliefs.

Step 4: 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.

A Practical Guide to Discovering Your Personal Legend

In “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, the concept of a Personal Legend is central to the story. It refers to one’s destiny or life’s purpose – the ultimate goal or dream that a person strives to achieve. This concept encourages the idea that everyone has a unique path to fulfill, which is deeply connected to their true happiness and self-realization. Inspired by this powerful theme, here’s a step-by-step guide to discovering your own Personal Legend, following the principles laid out in Coelho’s transformative book.

Practical Guide To Finding Your Personal Legend

The Alchemist - find your personal legendPin

Practical Guide To Finding Your Personal Legend

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About the Author
Photo of NicoleMy name is Nicole and I created this website to share the tools that keep me organized and productive and help me reach my goals. I hope that you will find them helpful too.

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