How do we discover our passion, find our purpose, cultivate a life mission, create an ikigai, develop a techne, craft our why... or any other variation on the above?
Glad you asked!
First of all, I want to take that standard question that so many people ask, and throw it out.
I don't care what you would do if you knew you couldn't fail.
I hate that question. It's dumb. What would I do? Uh, buy lotto tickets? Become a professional poker player? Invest randomly in the stock market? Join the UFC with zero experience? Cure diseases at random?
It's silly. When we remove the possibility of failure it implies that neither effort nor time is involved in a life purpose. Of course you can fail. In fact, you're likely to.
So what's a better question?
How about: What would you do if you knew you WOULD fail?
Not in the sense of failing at the purpose, or activity itself, but in the ephemeral "end goal" sense. Don't think of it in terms of being an ice skater who never learns to skate, but more like an ice skater who never makes it to the Olympics.
What would you do anyway, even if you knew whatever you chose would lead to failure? What would you enjoy pursuing?
See, the struggle is guaranteed. Success is not. No matter what you choose, it'll be hard at times and you'll have to grow as a person to achieve it.
So, what would you do if you knew you would fail?
Let's figure out the answer to that question together by answering the below.
(really do it! Ideally, write down your answers, as there is a power to clarity that comes from writing and deciding)
Let's say I gave you a billion dollars, and five million dollars a month after that for life. What would you do?
(actually think and answer that)
If you're like most people, your answer was scarcity/fear-based. You'd pay off all your bills, buy your parents a house, travel the world, buy something expensive, spend a lot of time on a beach etc.
Okay, cool. Got that out of your system?
What would you do after that?
This question is a bit trickier. Again, if you're like most people, you'll jump to guilt/contribution, and talk about charities that you'd donate the money to, who you'd help with the money and so on.
Awesome. Nearly there.
After that... what would you do?
This is generally where the question gets a bit trickier for people. This is when money is no longer considered. You have all the things you want, and you've done all the adventures you've craved. You've helped people out financially, and you...
What do you do?
Do you start a film company? Become a photographer? Do you sculpt? Practice magic?
At some point, in your huge mansion surrounded by supermodels and diamond-encrusted goblets, you're going to have to DO something with your time.
What do you do?
Write those things down.
If this question doesn't quite resonate with you, here's a different angle:
Poof! Holy cow, everyone on the planet is gone except you! You have all the food, water and supplies you could ever need, and nobody's coming to get you... What do you do all day?
Isolate the core elements of those things - for example, let's say you wanted to play D&D all day, every day. Great. Why? What about that activity lights your fire? Is it creating the characters? The dice? Is it the connection with the other players, or the plotlines? What about that activity is it that lights you on fire?
Take those core elements of your chosen passion and write them down. They could be anything from "creativity" to "involves ping pong balls".
What other things have those core elements you've discovered in question 4? Eg if the core element was "plotlines" what other activities/problems in need of solving involve "plotlines"? Could you be a scriptwriter? An author? What about a sketch writer for a youtube channel?
Take the core elements of what you've found and think about what other activities involve them & make your lists!
Exercise 0: (new!)
With AI being an option, you can literally ask Grok or any other AI what activities involve (list of core elements). Eg "What activities involve the following: improvisational problem solving, comedy, performing, making lives better, facilitating & rewarding the overcoming of challenges?"
Now that you have all the elements required, there is an exercise to partake in. I like to use the analogy of breathing, or "the big bang" - the compression and expansion of an idea around a singular point.
Here's how it goes:
Sit still in the dark somewhere, and focus on one of your core elements
Breathe in, and see what all those core elements could turn into - for example, let's say you got "physical activity" - that could expand into millions of different ideas. Anything from lifeguard to firefighter.
Latch on to one that's interesting (again, for example, let's say you chose firefighter)
Breathe out, and see what core element of that new idea appeals to you (eg maybe instead of physical activity, this time it was "adventure"
Breathe in again on that new idea. What things involve adventure?
Eventually, you may get an "identity" you enjoy, like "explorer" or "tinkerer" or "entertainer" or something. And it might keep popping up as you repeat the exercise. If so, definitely write that one down.
Repeat this process, again and again, taking note of overlaps. If "adventure" shows up a few times, that's probably one you'll want to keep. If ping pong balls are in every choice, make a note of that. Look for the overlap.
Take this list of identities, feelings, and activities, and ask yourself this question: Which one of these do I want to be the best in the world at? Which one of these things could I dedicate myself to, and enjoy the process, win or lose, every day? Which of these things could I absolutely love, regardless of the outcome?
Could you sing every day, and even if you never got the record deal, still be happy?
In the realm of.
Now, take all of these pieces, and think about "in the realm of" - eg let's say you LOVE basketball, and are 4' tall. Cool. Could you be the head of the marketing department for the NBA? Could you design technology for the NBA? There are thousands of "in the realm of" that could light you on fire.
Take an honest look at your skills. Where are you now? Do you have any of the skills you need to begin your journey down this path? Do you have any "early wins" in any areas that might help you out?
There is no shame in saying no, as long as the thought of dedicating yourself to learning those skills lights you on fire.
Still not quite sure what your ikigai is?
Let's say you've broken everything down into multiple categories, ideologies, ideas and motivations, but still haven't turned that into a burning passion to solve a specific problem, or found a specific modality to drive your passionate bod around. No biggie, here's another thing you can do:
Combine things together in weird ways and see what happens.
Take "Likes to create things" and "likes to organize things".
Those could be either combined into
someone who creates ways to organize
someone who wants to organize creativity
The creator of YouTube
mind map software
Combine things in weird ways, and see what happens.
IF THAT DOESN'T WORK
Seriously, just pick one and move at 1000mph towards that goal, and learn along the way. You can always pivot and change course. Look at Steve Jobs' commencement speech. He didn't know that diving into fonts would somehow relate to creating the mac, and he certainly didn't that path would somehow lead him to reshaping the music industry.
So just pick one, and be on the lookout for a problem worthy of you.
A'ight, how 'bout this? C3GUS is a thing, right? Pick one of the six needs and ask yourself which one you want to target and magnify for the entire population of the planet. Imagine you could wave a magic wand and the world would instantly and dramatically improve in one of the below categories. Which one speaks to you the most?
Certainty - do you want everyone to be safe? How? Physically? Mentally? Spiritually? Financially? Why?
Connection - do you want everyone to get along? Love each other? Talk more? Communicate better? Why?
Contribution - do you want everyone banning together and helping those who need helping? Do you want charity to be on everyone's mind? Why?
Growth - do you think that if everyone knew growth was possible, that they would grow? Do you think people only reach for the branches they can see and not enough people see the branches? (psst read "why I do this") Why?
Uncertainty - do you think that variety is the spice of life and not enough people enjoy the meal? Do you think entertainment is the solution to a problem? Do you think that if life were more exciting in some way it would make the world better? Why?
Significance - do you think that if people believed in themselves they would achieve more? Do you have a way to pick people up out of their self-imposed trenches? Why?
Cool. You've picked one, right? This isn't just spiritual entertainment for you, right? You're actually answering the questions... right?
Alright. If you somehow haven't, roll a dice. 1-6. 6 needs, in order. Do the one the dice lands on.
So, you've got a thing now. You have to.
It doesn't have to be your forever purpose, but you have A purpose now.
Do it as hard and as well as you can.
Read everything about it. Watch everything about it. Train youtube to teach you all you need to know about it.
Take your first steps.
If you're unsure how to make a goal based on what you've learned, ask Doctor Doom :)
Again, hope that helps and good luck <3
PS If this has added value to your life, and you'd like to understand my passion, or want to help me in any way, give My Mission a read and let me know what you think!
TLTR - Watch: "How to find my passion in 60 seconds or less"