← Return to Posts

How to Find Your 'Reason For Waking Up In the Morning'

March 5, 2021 Eric Stewart

Woman looking outside her window in the morning

It’s not an easy question to answer. In fact, it’s intended to really stretch your mind. To really cause deep, deep introspection into the circumstances of how you live your life. This is the foundation of a very old Japanese principle – ikigai.

Ikigai roughly translates into the “reason for which you wake up in the morning,” or more simplistically, “a reason for being.”

Most people go through life without ever taking the time to discover their reason for being. The art historian and critic Sarah Lewis once said, “We are constantly wanting to close that gap between where we are and where we want to be,” which poses a unique perspective in relation to our very own reason for being. All of us know where we want to be, and as Lewis said, we’re all trying to close the gap, but is where we want to be where we belong?

A cup of coffee and ikigai diagram on a napkin

As the diagram above shows, your reason for being, your ikigai, is the intersection of your passion, your mission, your profession, and your vocation. This delicate equilibrium is where you are meant to live. Contrary to what you may be thinking, your reason for being is in no way linked to your economic status, but in reality it’s a set of mental and spiritual circumstances you build for yourself.

Herein lies the reason most people never discover theirs; because it’s an intentional effort. One we don’t make because we’re too involved in the growth of our career or profession. We work our whole lives with the intention of finding our passions and doing the things we love once we’ve retired from work. But that’s not how it should be. Dan Buettner of National Geographic said:

Typically in America we’ve divided our adult life up into two sections. There is our work life, where we’re productive. And then one day, boom, we retire. And typically that has meant retiring to the easy chair, or going down to Arizona to play golf. In the Okinawan language there is not even a word for retirement. Instead there is one word that imbues your entire life, and that word is ‘ikigai.’

Two male colleagues looking at a clipboard and laughing

This is not the way for anyone to go through life. Find the source of value in your life. Find what makes your life worthwhile. Find your life’s fulfillment … But take it one step further. There’s nothing stopping you from finding the life’s purpose of your business. It is a system of living that is easily translatable into a broader sense outside of the individual.

A lot has been said on the importance of organizations impacting the community. Impact is becoming huge, there’s no denying that, and SHIFT has been one of the voices stressing the need for organizations to impact the community on a greater level. One of the reasons we value impact so much is because it aligns with our vision. It aligns with our passion as a company. It’s part of SHIFT’s ikigai. Remembering it is the intersection of your passion, your mission, your profession, and your vocation – SHIFT has found it’s ikigai.

Several hands piecing together a puzzle

Helping other organizations and people grow personally and professionally is where we have found our “reason for being.”

Our profession is helping companies grow; our vocation is teaching others to grow; our mission is to help people Grow Regardless; and our passion is creating a global level of impact so everyone has the opportunity to grow.

We have found our delicate equilibrium in where we are meant to live. We have found our ikigai. But have you thought about yours? Have you thought about the “reason for which you wake up in the morning?” Find your personal reason for being … and then find your company’s reason for being. Great things happen when you find this beautiful balance in life.

Ready to find your mission?

Join Chris Steer, Partner & Managing Director at SHIFT, as he leads you through the 25 Reasons Why exercise. This hack will help identify where you draw fulfillment and zero-in on the personal mission that speaks loudest to you (your results might come as a surprise).

New call-to-action

TOPICS: High Performance, Business Growth, Employee Engagement