Find Your Passion & Live A Happier Life Through Ikigai

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Lately I have discovered Ikigai, a Japanese concept for one’s “purpose in life,” which argues that having the four elements of passion, mission, vocation, and profession in balance will lead to fulfillment and possibly even longer life. I will touch on each of these in a four-part series of posts in the coming months. First, let’s begin with passion.

Are you fueled by passion for what you do? Do you wake up excited for the day and full of energy, or groggy and hankering for your first full pot of espresso? I’ve been on both sides of that equation (sans espresso; I prefer to enjoy a cup of coffee now and again, rather than relying on it to live) and the groggy side kinda sucks, doesn’t it? Up until the last year or two, I regularly woke up in various states of exhaustion and dread. And for what? Supposedly, because I was building a business I felt passionately about. In February of 2017 I sold that five-year-old IT business…

...and after all was said and done, I felt happier than I had in a long time.

Let me touch on a bit of the history of that turning point. I started my previous business in 2012 after having spent a couple years working in a corporate IT role which was merely “okay.” It provided a regular paycheck, but also brought me stress at the cost of freedom. I didn’t realize that fact until I left the job to go full time in my business, at which point I felt the rush of possibilities and the true flexibility that I would never have had in an office. (Disclaimer: this is not a push to get you to start your own business, simply a recap of my own path. It is a big decision that I will leave up to you to make.) Fast forward five years, and I was even more stressed than I had felt while working my office job. Go figure! In my efforts to build a business, I had built myself into a corner. I barely had enough money coming in and I didn’t use my time wisely because I was so frantic. In short, I was a mess.

At that point, a colleague urged me to take a trip out of town to disconnect and breathe, even if only for a couple days. So, the next week, I threw together a suitcase and took a road trip up to Duluth for a few days. I didn’t check my email, didn’t answer my phone, didn’t correspond at all outside of some texts with a friend who lived up there to coordinate a meetup. I truly removed myself from my life for almost three days and discovered I was not as passionate about technology as I thought. Yeah, I can troubleshoot and configure technology better than most, but it had become a chore to keep up with the skills and smarts nee