The purpose of life is an intentional life of purpose, passion and professional contribution. You are either living intentionally or accidentally plodding along, hoping to arrive at some great station in life.
Do not gamble with your life, living in the clouds and pretending that you own the Casino.
The player is the gambler, while the owner of the slot machine is in business. Live intentionally, focus your efforts on what matters most, refine your skills and direct your energies. In this way you will live fully and die with a few regrets.
A spectacular failure is someone who has all the trimmings of success, popular Instagram photos, an adventurous Facebook timeline but yet feels like a hollow failure. It is not a fun way of living to be popular and broke, or to be financially loaded and purposeless. Living an empty existence and waking up to big posture is no way of living.
There are many definitions of success and you can also add yours to them. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882), success can be defined as, “To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
What success and greatness means to you is a matter of your own purpose and values. Live intentionally, abounding with energy and express your purpose.
The people of Japan believe that everyone has a reason to get out of bed each morning. They call this your “Ikigai.” In English it can be loosely translated as “the happiness of always being busy.” By pursuing your Ikigai, you feel validated, useful, profitable and you will want to live long and do a lot for more. There is no reason to aspire for a long life when you have nothing of value to give to other people and when your life is a burden, even to yourself. Your Ikigai is more than just an expression of intent or your purpose. It is the art of staying young and vibrant while you are getting old. When you find your Ikigai, there is no reason for retiring or giving up life.
Your Ikigai is a confluence of four important elements – passion, mission, vocation and profession. You are truly expressing life and are inspired when you are doing what you love. What you are good at will be the added bonus that you are paid for. The world will need what you do. This is the essence if Ikigai. Get any of the elements out of shape and you get frustrated. Align passion, mission, vocation and profession and life will become rich and exciting. You will not have any moment of idleness, that is why Ikigai is the happiness of being busy. You do not have the luxury of complaining that you have too much work when you are doing the work that you love and you are good at it.
It is not enough to live, you want to live your life vibrating with wonder and passion. Your passion embodies what you are good at and enjoy doing. You can tell what you are passionate about because when engaged in your passion, time stops and you can be engaged the whole night and wake up with more energy. You cannot sulk and complain doing what you love. When you are doing what you are passionate about, you are never bored or boring. Find your passion and the things that you do well; and do them well. Do the things that make you sing and dance. Create space in your work to do what you are passionate about. Create space in your home for your passion. Create space in your time for your passion. Direct your time, priorities and energy towards your passion. Do the things that make you come alive and aglow. Life is more than just a fool’s burden. It is more than a purposeless terrible pilgrim’s progress. Your passion is what you love, live at the centre of your passion.
Your mission is what the world needs; and what you were born for. It is your purpose in life. Your are born to be a blessing to other people and to make a difference. You are an answer to someone’s problem. What is that difference and touch that you bring? Why does your phone ring? Why do they look for you? Reflect deeply on your mission and live beyond just entertaining yourself.
Be passionate about your mission and you will never miss a step.
You are at your best when you can combine your mission with your passion into a strong force for good. People who do their mission passionately do great things and are a blessing. Find your calling and express it with passion. There is no big work or small work – all there is is work done well or badly. Do not execute your mission as though you are wearing someone else’s clothes.
Martin Luther King Jr said it well when he said: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted; or Beethoven composed music; or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Your profession is the work that you are good at or were trained to perform. It is not enough to have passion, you also need skill and competence. Passion without skill makes you an unemployable clown.
It is not enough to know your mission and to pursue an otherworldly existence; you need competence and professional grounding. Turn whatever you are passionate about into a profession by diligently studying and applying yourself. Go beyond pursuing certification and seek to be competent and excellent. In the Bible, 2 Timothy 2:15 says: “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Work to develop mastery and do excellent work. You cannot do excellent work and remain at the same level for long. You cannot starve if you are truly excellent at what you do. Being passionate is not enough, you have to horn your skills through training, application and practice. Having a sense of mission is not enough, you have to study, train and apply yourself. Training means that some of the work you will have to do will not be fun. At times you will have to do what you do not like now in order to do what you like for longer.
The key to journeying towards Ikigai is knowing your mission, link that to your passion and then have the discipline to train and develop skills that express both. Stop talking about following your purpose when you are not willing to have the discipline to train and learn. Follow your passion to the place of disciplined learning. Learning starts but has no terminal point.
Your vocation is what you are paid for. What is it that you do that is worth paying for and has value? This is your vocation. What is interesting about the concept of “Ikigai” is that it is a combination or confluence of all these four elements.
Package your passion so that it is aligned to your mission and you are paid for it. In this way, Ikigai is a grounded approach to life that allows you to live intentionally and never complain that you are not being paid.
You are truly in your “Ikigai” when what you are passionate about is what makes a difference in other people’s lives; you give value that other people are willing to pay for; it is your mission; and you are engaged and have developed your skills to be able to serve and give more value.
With this approach to living, you keep growing, expanding and making a difference and you do not have the luxury of purposelessly killing time. How do you retire from your passion, when you are paid to do it, you do it well and touch other people in meaningful ways?
If any of the mission, vocation, passion and profession elements are not aligned, you tend to feel and live a frustrated life. Retrace your steps to your Ikigai and you will find the juice of life and motivation flowing. Do yourself a favour and do not outsource your future or your own authenticity. Be true to yourself and make the decisions that move you closer to the centre of your Ikigai. Work to align your mission, passion, profession and vocation.
You may need to invest time, energy, resources and money. In the end, it will all work to your advantage when you live at the centre of your Ikigai and you are passionately pursuing true greatness. Live intentionally and you will want to live long and make a difference in many ways.
Committed to your greatness.
Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author and coach. His life purpose is to inspire greatness. He can be reached at: [email protected] and Twitter: @MiltonKamwendo or WhatsApp at: 0772422634
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