Somewhere Between Passion and Logic Lies Purpose
Updated: Jun 10
Somewhere Between Passion and Logic lies your Purpose
Having a sense of purpose means a lot more than having a job — more so it means having a drive that gets you up in the morning and provides you with continuous joy, hope, and inspiration. And when that passion takes flight, it brings you days of hard work met with pure joy. But having a passion is more than simply loving something. Pursuing passion needs to be coupled with logic— the logic to follow through, and the logic to put the necessary steps behind what you are doing in order to make your passion more than a hobby. Or, what if you don’t have one singular passion? What if the thing that you thought was a passion suddenly shifts into something that doesn’t give you the same response? What then?
Enter the Japanese Concept of Ikigai The key to finding passion, or keeping passion alive, can be found in the practice of ikigai. Taken from two Japanese words, iki meaning "life; alive" and kai meaning " effect; result; use; to arrive at "a reason for living [being alive]” the term translates into a purpose for living. Ikigai (pronounced ee-kee-guy) has evidence of practice in Okinawa, Japan. Recent researchers credit a meaningful and long life to having a purpose or ikigai. The concept has spread in popularity over the last decade as several authors have written books on the areas in our world where people live the longest, most fulfilling lives, which have been called the Blue Zone health, longevity, and simply how to be happier. But having a passion-driven purpose can be allusive, especially in a culture that prides itself on being good at many things, instead of focusing on one thing. Recently, this notion of purpose and passion started fluttering around in my brain, as a person who has many hobbies and interests that keep me motivated, but not just one thing that is a sole purpose/passion. This lack of one main purpose can be extremely stressful, as often my interests flit from one hobby or job to another. This lack of ikigai causes personal stress when met without a solid foundation with which to channel my passions or interests. But, if a person does not have one singular passion, they can breathe a sigh of relief. There is a process that can ease the stress of attempting to find one passion, and that process is demonstrated by the graph below.
Using Logic to Find Your Reason for Being It is my belief that if everyone found a passion and worked in their passion, then we would collectively live happy lives. Everyone would have a purpose, and that purpose would drive each other’s purpose, eventually fulfilling everyone’s collective needs. Channeling that purpose into work can be tricky —often what one person loves does not directly translate into work. Luckily, a process for determining ikigai has been developed in the form of an interactive Venn diagram. Let’s walk through the process: you’re going to need paper and a pencil. First, start by drawing out the above diagram, without words. It should look something like this:
Then, let’s start to fill in the regions, coordinating with the diagram from the Toronto Star.
Start with what you love. What is it that you love to do, that inspires you and gives your life purpose? In the first circle, you see a yellow region where the words “what you LOVE” is written. This is where you can fill in the things that you love. Write down anything that comes to mind. And yes, collecting Batman figurines works, if it is something you love.
What are you good at? What do people reach out to you for advice on? What comes naturally to you? What hobby or passion do you pursue by reading, studying, or taking classes? This is the next circle to fill in, to the outer right.
What can I be paid for? Taking into account your passions and what you are good at naturally, how can this translate into a paycheck? What is it that you do within these first two realms that you can benefit you financially? If this is something you’re unsure about, then take time to pursue what you love by working it into a part-time job. You won’t lose anything this way, and you could work a few hours a week immersing yourself in something that may turn into a future career. Write these ideas down in the bottom outermost circle.
What does the world need? Within the concept of ikigai, we do not operate in a vacuum. The process involves others and the greater good. This concept promotes longevity, by maintaining a greater social circle, helping others, and giving back. So what is it that you see the world needing? Lastly, jot these ideas down in the left-hand outermost circle.
Once you have filled out the outer circles, start to see where things overlap. Using the first circle, identify where you have similarities that become your passion, mission, profession, or vocation. And if you’re curious about what the difference is between a profession and a vocation, Merriam Webster defines a profession as: 1 : a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation. 2 : the whole body of persons engaged in a calling. A vocation, on the other hand, is defined as: the work in which a person is employed.
Curiosity, A Side Note for the Passion-less If you’ve completed these steps, filled out the circle, and found yourself wanting to run away screaming, we understand. Sometimes finding your passion is a series of fortunate events, sometimes it falls into your lap, and sometimes you end up realizing your life is purposeful without one particular passion. Years ago, I heard a story from the famed author, Elizabeth Gilbert. The story was mentioned on the On Being podcast, and how it meshed together ideas that Gilbert had been sharing on stage such as following your passion. Gilbert suggested in previous works that your passion is what you focus on day and night, can’t live without, and something you MUST do. If you do this, all will fall into place, she, and other authors had said. In the audience, someone was upset by this talk, and frankly, tired of hearing it. This woman in the audience wrote to Gilbert after hearing her talk and said she was broken by years of attempting to pursue only one thing and asking “Is this my passion?” — eventually finding that she easily got distracted by another thing and moved on. She was panicky, as she could not pin-point her one, singular passion. After hearing this, Gilbert changed her focus. Instead of her previous emphasis on one major passion in a person's life, Gilbert began comparing two types of creatives and workers in this world, the “Jackhammers” and the “Hummingbirds.” Jackhammers go through life, dedicated to one passion, nose to the grindstone, focusing only on that one, singular passion and turning it into a lifelong, successful career. Elizabeth Gilbert calls herself a jackhammer, as someone who singled out her passion, put her head down, and pounded relentlessly forward. She goes as far as to mention that people that identify as Jackhammers might be a little over the top. In contrast, hummingbirds are pollinators, necessary to the survival of the world. They follow their curiosity and spread joy and creativity wherever they find themselves. As the hummingbirds are going about their lives, they wake up one day to the joyful realization that they have been doing the work they love, and are where they want to be, having helped others bloom in the process.
This long paragraph is to encourage you. If you don’t have one singular passion, you might just be better off and create more joy in your hummingbird flight.
Turn a Passion or Curiosity into Your Small Business
If nothing else, the goal here is to inspire you. You already have the tools you need to expand your horizons and step beyond the realms of the hum-drum workday to create a life you love. As a current or future small business owner, the work ahead of you may be looming, but your tenacity and hard work are even bigger. Take the time to explore your passions and curiosities. The space and time that the COVID-19 pandemic has given us grants us the opportunity to step back, pause, and assess where we are in life and where we are heading. You have time now. The world is on pause. What a perfect opportunity to follow your curiosity with your business! What can you focus on now with your business that you have not found the time to do before? What aspect of your daily routine can become a part of your business methodology?
Taking your work from the diagram above, you have either formulated or can formulate a plan, taking the steps needed to branch out on your own, and to find your passion and how it can relate to your future as an entrepreneur. Your unique blueprint brought you to the place where you are today, reading this article, wondering about the magic that is found in pursuing a passion and curiosity. These ideas are what mold entrepreneurs into who they are today - visible souls with tangible products and services, who are able to share them with the world.
Curious, Passionate, and Logical Assistance with Branding
Within our WFH (work from home) doors we have two examples of women who have followed their passion and curiosities to pursue work in a variety of fields — creating Smoke Signal Media was the result of this passion project. Here at Smoke Signal, our desire is to help you, the business owner, develop a comfortable voice, brand, and GROW, baby, grow, beyond your wildest imagination. We work to develop cohesive, consistent storytelling that takes your brand to the next level. Like what you hear? We’d love to see how we can help you reach your full potential in passion and in business. Reach out today online or at email@example.com.