Have you ever found yourself sat in front of the TV, scrolling through your phone as another day ticks over into night and you realise that it all just feels a bit pointless?
Does our life really get boiled down to work, eat, sleep repeat with the odd holiday thrown in to liven things up once a year?
That's pretty much where I found myself a few years ago. Going through the motions, not feeling fulfilled and with nothing to look forward to other than the next trip somewhere sunny. Sure, it was a comfortable life and I was happy - but I also knew there was more out there for me. More meaning, more joy and more fulfilment. So I went looking for it - all of it.
Lots of things happened on that journey, one of which was discovering the Japanese principle of Ikigai. It's based around the idea that if you can identify and then hold certain elements in balance, then you will discover your Ikigai - your purpose. The word Ikigai translates into English roughly as "reason for living" or "value through living" and is partially responsible for the happy and healthy lives of people living on the Japanese island of Okinawa. This is one of the planet's Blue Zones where people live the longest and tend to be both happier and healthier than the rest of us.
So, what's their secret? As well as other specific lifestyle choices, the Okinawa residents also tend to know their Ikigai. They have a distinct purpose that brings them happiness and fulfilment which was proof enough to get me interested. As I researched more I realised that this was a way of looking at life that filled in so many gaps, and pinpointed the key elements I needed to focus on to find my own purpose. It boils down to these four simple questions:
What do you love doing?
What does the world need?
What has value?
What are you good at?
Exploring these four simple themes is what led me to diving into coaching as my own life purpose. I love helping other people and cheering them on whilst they achieve great things. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing a client go out and do something they feared or thought they weren't capable of. Its so satisfying!
I also think the world needs more cheerleaders. There can often be a gossipy culture of putting people down when they do well - but surely we collectively to better when we lift each other up? I also think the world needs more strong, empowered women who are ready to embrace their superpowers and make a difference in the world. If that's what I see the world needs, then it's on me to do my part to make it happen.
There is of course value in coaching - it gives me the opportunity to build a life around a business I love doing, and enable me to use my skills to work towards my own goals and dreams away from the corporate grind of 9-5. Not everyone's Ikigai is tied to being self employed - it could also be about landing your dream job at an organisation that aligns perfectly with your values and other Ikigai elements, or a part time role volunteering at a local charity. The key thing is that you feel rewarded - financially or otherwise in return for your time and energy.
That last element of it being something you are good at - that was where all the effort was needed for me. Coaching certainly was going to meet the other three elements, but to be good at it - well, there was a gap. And for a long time, it was a gap that held me back. Friends and colleagues told me I would suit being a coach, but I always thought I wasn't skilled enough.
But coaching kept calling to me because it aligned with the other elements so well. So I kept looking into it and finally got the training and experience I would need to go forward. I wish I had done it sooner, because what the formal training and qualification did was to highlight to me the natural skill set I had all along - my empathetic nature; my strong intuition and my tireless curiosity - all of which are essential to being able to serve clients well.
The self development that happens as a natural part of becoming a coach helped me to recognise and change the self limiting mindset and behaviours I was exhibiting without even realising it.
That's the beauty of Ikigai. When the elements are all in balance, it's like the world snaps into focus. You see the connections between breadcrumb clues scattered over your life and realise the golden thread that ties them all together. You unite the meaningful parts of your life in one whole that you know on a deep level will not only help you, but others too. It's elegant and simple, yet rich and powerful in it's rewards.
It's also something you can discover for yourself with the help of my free download - Value Through Living workbook - it's packed full of information and five days of lovingly crafted journal prompts that will bring together your unique blend of Ikigai elements.
You can download it here and I would be delighted to hear what you discover.
Could today be the day you get curious and take action towards your dreams?