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The nation of the rising sun – Japan has an island on which surprisingly large number of people lives over one hundred years.
This island is called Okinawa.
Many Western doctors and scientists went to study people of this island. They wanted to learn how Okinawans manage to live such long and very healthy lives.
They discovered that the secret to their health and longevity is I-K-I-G-A-I, which is a philosophical concept that means ‘a reason for being’ or ‘a reason to get up in the morning’.
According to this philosophy, each individual’s Ikigai is personal to him or her and specific to their life’s stages, values and beliefs. In other words, what makes one’s life worthwhile, maybe totally meaningless or entirely different to another.
What’s important to know is that finding one’s Ikigai is critical to individual’s success and wellbeing. When individual finds his IKIGAI he feels at ease. He finds a meaning to live, a reason to get up in the morning that is the reason to enjoy life.
Author and blogger Chip Richards (Uplift.com) writes,
“ Finding individual’s IKIGAI can be challenging especially in our modern times as our decisions around life’s focus unfold in a more reactionary way.
Propelling us into educational, professional and life-directional paths based less on deep inner calling or soul-inspired vision, and more on parental and societal expectations, so called ‘practical reality’ and what is required to survive in the systems we live in.”
So, do you do what you love because you love it or, because of parental or societal expectations? Or, maybe you think what you do is a good way to make money?
Do you have passion for what you do or a strong interest? To determine the difference between these two you need to ask yourself whether you are willing to suffer, to persevere when going through challenges and do it no matter what?
Anything worthwhile doesn’t always come easy. But if you truly love what you do, you will do what it takes to succeed. And you will do it anyway even if you don’t get anything out of it.
Most importantly, you will have inner peace in times of trials and tribulations. You will not give up. Never. And your health will remain good for as long as you follow your purpose and take daily action.
“…When asked what is the single most powerful contributing factor to one’s health and vitality, integrative medical doctor Oscar Serrallach answered without hesitation: having a sense of purpose.”
Doctor Serrallach went on to describe that while some of his patients have developed great regimes of nutrition, lifestyle activities and movement to support their wellbeing; those without a clear sense of purpose in their life experience continuing struggle with physical health issues.
The distinguishing quality of many of his healthiest patients – those who transcend common health challenges despite not having lived by the book, in terms of healthy lifestyle factors – is that they seem to be the most aligned or ‘called’ towards some primary focus of meaning in their life.”
When I read this extract from the blog I mentioned, I realized that this is the case for most of the greatest and admirable leaders I know. Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop campaigned for environmental causes. She was a human and animal rights activist too.
She never really focused on marketing. She created products she believed in. They were as natural as possible focusing on using herbs nations used for centuries in various parts of the Earth for healing and beauty.
She was against animal testing, against taking advantage of poorer nations and marginal communities. She designed a moral code also known as ‘code of ethics’ and she lived by it instead of following the common corporate route using cheap labour and taking advantage of marginalised communities.
She generated a lot of free publicity as a result of it. This is how she and many other famous heart-centered entrepreneurs have started marketing their businesses.
They Are Marketing a Cause NOT a Business.
Elon Musk, founder of Space X and Tesla Motors has big and bold dreams to help humanity with developing new alternative ways of generating power and creating new electric vehicles. He is planning to start a colony on Mars with a fully reusable Big Falcon Rocket system.
Richard Branson founder of Virgin Group (who is often referred as the father of modern age entrepreneurs) supports a large number of charities including Children with AIDS, Swan Lifeline and Greenpeace.
But this doesn’t apply to just big name entrepreneurs and famous leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, or Martin Luther King.
There are every day folks who are supporting charities and causes they care about. They organise meditation retreats to end depression, concerts to eradicate poverty, foundations to stop human trafficking, beach walks to end obesity, businesses to support orphanages etc.
Marketing a cause not a business, something you care about is becoming more and more commonplace. And it’s a great heart-centred way to live your life.
When you find a purpose that is bigger than you and which you are passionate about, when you support it with all your mighty, you become more convincing and magnetic.
People see you as a leader who has altruistic motives. They love you because you are not all about you or making money. You are concerned about something outside of your every day life… that, which affects your community.
Your life becomes more meaningful. You have a greater desire to get up in the morning. You feel more energised and inspired. You become more passionate, confident and captivating leader in everything you do. In fact, you turn into a marketing pro because you believe in a cause you promote. You are truly passionate about it.
And you don’t feel awful because you are not marketing your business but a cause you care about.
Your Passion Becomes a Vehicle For Change and Contribution.
But how does one find his or her IKIGAI or a sense of purpose?
According to Wikipedia’s article about it: “…To find it often requires deep intuitive enquiry and lengthy ‘search of self’.” Interestingly, while certainly incorporating the financial aspects of life is very important, the word ‘IKIGAI’ is more often used to refer to the mental and spiritual state as opposed to our current economic status.
Follow your bliss. Do what you truly love and what inspires and motivates you, what makes you come alive. Become a problem solver. Promote a cause you truly believe in. Think of the ways to incorporate social issue and build awareness around it into your marketing.
What does make your life truly worthwhile? What cause or societal issues are you concerned about? What problems do you or your customers experience or fear? What cause do you believe in? Is there a charity you support?
What change do you think humanity needs to survive? What can you do to create social awareness or generate public interest about this issue? How can you help solve this problem?
Maybe you can start meditation club, Facebook or LinkedIn support group, social media campaign or music festival? What about getting in touch with local media and getting your community involved in your cause?
Of course you still need to market your business, pay your bills, do daily consultations etc. etc. This goes without saying.
Just remember… when you are immersed in any endeavour that brings you into your heart that makes you come alive, when you bring yourself fully into it, you instantly become more generative, more magnetic and more dynamic in your ability to navigate challenges in your daily life.
You live more inspired life from that point forward. Your business becomes the force for positive change transforming you into a powerful leader.
The truth is, today is the time when our planet needs transformative inspired leaders more than ever before. You know this. Our planet and humanity as a whole go through a change, a shift in consciousness, we must assist not just ourselves but our communities our environment to survive.
We must start living an inspired reality contributing to all. As the world moves through massive change on many levels, more and more people are feeling called to align their skills and gifts with a higher cause or sense of contribution.
Beautiful examples are emerging in many arenas of social change and activism where people are not abandoning their passion for the cause but rather channelling the thing they most love doing in the direction of positive change – and discovering inspired ways to support themselves along the way.
You read this article for a reason. It is your time to become one of them. If you are not yet acting or promoting a social good, if you haven’t found your purpose, now is the time to do this.
Now is the time to peel the layers and discover why you are here and what you are really supposed to be doing! Or, to remind yourself once again what you are here for and think of ways of strengthening your purpose.
The Ancient Okinawan method called IKIGAI gives you a framework to do this. Below you will find questions, answer them with your heart not your mind, self-reflect, meditate on them, allow spontaneous impulse thoughts and feelings to arise. Give this process some time, if required.
But do anything it takes to find your purpose and cause you believe in NOW.
Take a few minutes to write whatever keywords, phrases and ideas come up for you in each circle, then look for areas of natural overlap. Reflect on the sum total of these elements and how they may relate to each other.
Bring yourself quietly to the centre of the circles and leave space in your mind for whatever impulse or calling may emerge naturally in the coming days…
Please write your answers starting with the most important and finishing with the least. Here are some questions and some examples based on my answers.
What are your values? Or what do you value the most? Create a list of 1 to 5 items minimum.
My list includes> freedom, doing what I love, helping others, feeling happy, respecting everyone and acting with integrity, doing something meaningful, doing something that makes me grow.
Please note, you cannot deviate from your values. They must be somehow incorporated into your work and life. And remember, life always comes before work.
If you work at a job that compromises your values, you might need to consider options to change this as soon as possible.
What do you love to do? Or, what will you do if you had all the money in the world? Create a list with minimum of ten items. These could be your hobbies, your current profession etc.
My list includes items like> traveling, teaching, researching, writing, exercising, fine dining, yoga, spa treatments, shopping, spending time with friends.
Please note, these things must be your priorities above all. You must incorporate them into your life as much as possible.
Which skills and talents do you have talents in and which ones would you like to develop? To become good at? Can you make a living out of it? Write a list of 3 items.
My list includes items like> marketing, teaching, writing, speaking.
Who do you think need your help the most? Who do you love helping the most? Create a list of around ten professions starting with the one that needs your help the most because their challenges are overwhelming, unbearable and very urgent (aka they cannot sleep at night) and you enjoy working with the most.
Then, choose one…
My list is: naturopaths, kinesiologists, healers, yoga teachers, spa therapists, marketers, coaches, nutritionists, fitness trainers, real estate consultants, accountants, and various service entrepreneurs.
Choose one> I think the one I love working with the most and who needs my help the most is a coach.
What area of your expertise is the most valuable to your clients or prospects, most enjoyable and most interesting to you? List around 10 items and choose one that you feel is your strength.
My list is > business strategy, branding, finding niche, determining ideal clients, crafting irresistible offers.
Choose one> business strategy.
Now, connect your favorite activity to your expertise with the market you love working with.
My Ikigai is > Helping coaches CREATE business strategy
What social causes do you believe in? What breaks your heart or pulls at your gut? What change would you most love to create in the world? What would you give life for?
My answers are > violence, domestic violence as a whole, gender and social inequality, gay rights, corporate crimes against humanity, bullying.
The one single cause I believe in is> humanity as a whole goes through a shift, coaches, new thought authors and leaders, healers and other light workers are here to assist humanity in this change and I want to help all these people in their work.
Please note, the above answers may change over time. Your Ikigai may change These are just guiding points.
And please also allow some time to find your Ikigai. Spend some time in retrospection and solitude. And always go with your feelings, your intuition, not your head.
Check your answers. Every question below must have an affirmative answer. What do you love to do? Are you good at it? Can you be paid for it well? Does the world needs it?
Then, add the word SPECIFIC to your answers. What do you love to do in what you do specifically?
The answer question will determine that which you should be focusing on first and foremost. It is your gift, your love and your passion that will point you toward that which you do better than your competitors. It will show you a way to stand out and select a niche, which you meant to serve.
What specific audience needs your help the most and can pay you well for your specific skill or talent? What one specific cause do you believe in and concerned with the most? What one or two specific functions do you want to do in your business because you enjoy them the most?
My Answers are > Research & Write
Please note, it is perfectly okay if you are not good at what you do for as long as you are willing to become great at it because you love it and are committed to become better and are already one step ahead of your market.
So, here is the SECRET to long, healthy, happy and meaningful life. This is how to stop feeling awful about marketing your business.
You Need to Find Your Purpose, Connect It To a Cause YOU Believe and Use Your Business As a Tool to Make a Difference.
So, what’s your IKIGAI? What is one simple thing you could do or be today that would be an expression of your ‘Ikigai’?
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