Earlier this year, a friend from Denmark shared with me how she felt contented and happy in all areas of her life except for her career. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do and struggled to discover her passion.
The question, “how do I know what my passion is?” is one I have asked myself many times and is something I often get asked. I once thought that it was only the younger generation (i.e. Millenials or Gen Y’s) who were concerned about this. But research from IBM Institute of Business Value (2014) says otherwise. Millennials (20%), Gen X’s (21%) and Baby Boomers (23%) see doing work they are passionate about as an important long-term goal.
Finding your passion can seem like a very western concept but it actually isn’t. In Japan there is a term called “ikigai,” which means, “reason for being.” This is similar to passion but holds a strong "purposeful" connotation. Ikigai is also believed to be the union of 4 elements: What you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. The Japanese see the discovery of your ikigai as requiring a deep, long search within yourself that can bring about satisfaction and meaning to life.
So how can you go about discovering your passion or ikigai? Here are some tips that will help you:
Tip 1: Find a purpose you strongly believe in
People discover their passions or “ikigai” through a number of ways, such as going through life-changing experiences (both positive and negative), deep inner-reflection, by chance or by an inner-determination to make a change. Finding a strong purpose or something you deeply care about will keep you on the path to staying true to yourself and focused on persisting through difficult times. A great starting question to reflect on is, “what would I like to see different in the world?”
Tip 2: Stop thinking and start doing
If you are someone with many passions or you’re waiting for the right moment, there is no perfect time or age to pursue your passion. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook aged 19 and Charles Flint on the other hand founded IBM at the age of 61. The only way you can find your true passion is through trying. Every small step counts and will lead you closer to discovering your passion. And if you’re passionate about many things, narrow it down to the top 2 and try those long enough so you can decide if that is what you want to do.
Tip 3: Speak to people with similar passions
Speak to people with similar passions, interests and even those who have been there and done that. You may be surprised by the complementary ideas they’ll share with you, the opportunities to collaborate and even the mistakes they'll share with you from their journey (which you can learn from).
But if you are blazing an unknown trail, don’t underestimate the impact you can make. Malala Yousafzai, an inspiring female activist for girl’s education in Pakistan, was one of the few who would speak and write about this from the young age of 11. When she was 15, a Taliban gunman attempted to murder her. But she didn’t stop campaigning for girls' education and is now the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.
Tip 4: Accept that setbacks are normal
Whilst pursuing your passion or reason for being, you may experience many set backs such as the lack of support from peers, your ideas being dumped, not receiving financial help, etc. Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, shared that he was rejected from Harvard Business School 10 times but that didn’t stop him from starting his company, which is now valued at $264.9 billion. Recognize setbacks as normal and learn from them, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.
Discovering your ikigai, or passion, can be one of the greatest journeys you will embark on. It will be challenging and there will be many ups and downs. Just remember it won’t happen overnight. As Diana Ross once said, “you can’t sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself."
*This article was first published in Forbes >> click here
Bhali Gill is a Psychologist (org), Coach, Trainer and Founder of Corporate Wellbeing. She coaches individuals and leaders to overcome the challenges they face at work and in life, to reach their personal and professional potential. Her work involves inner-transformation, and becoming more of who you are. She also works with organisations to improve their productivity through employee’s mental and emotional well-being, and self-empowerment programs. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org