Pursuing your passion

Feel as though you are stagnating or no longer enjoying the things in your life? We went to a workshop with Elle Luna recently and found the below activity enlightening and enjoyable. We hope that you enjoy it as much as we did! If you have any questions or would like to share your result with someone, tag us in a social media post.

You can download the infographic here to share with your friends:


Ikigai is essentially your reason for getting up in the morning.


In 2001, Akihiro Hasegawa (a psychologist) and an associate professor placed the word ikigai as part of everyday Japanese language.

iki means life and gai means value or worth

Many authors describe ikigai as being similar to the process of happiness, suggesting that even if you are feeling miserable now that there is hope for the future.


Practicing ikigai is linked to living longer! Dan Buettner (author of blue zones: Lessons from people who’ve lived the longest) points to long lived communities around the world as living blue zones. A pretty cool blue zone is Okinawa, which is a remote island with a high number of centenarians (people who have lived over the age of 100!) One of the main contributing factors to their long happy lives is said to be their focus on practicing ikigai.

You can find out more by watching this video (click here!)

Pop idol centenarian grannies from Okinawa performing in a herb garden following their ikigai (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

SO, WHAT IS IKIGAI? (pronounce ee-kee-guy)

We all know that when we put our health and wellbeing first we’re full of beans and energy. This reduces our stress levels, our anxieties, brain fog and tiredness, which in turn makes us more efficient, productive and proactive at work. So, how do we put our wellbeing first? Well, since we spend at least one third of our lives at work, perhaps we could start there.

Ikigai is what, day after day and year after year, each of us most essentially lives for.. finding your purpose

The diagram below (created by Andres Zuzunaga and developed by Marc Winn) shows a visual representation of how we can find our ikigai’s:

Ikigai is essentially soul searching through figuring out your values and your why (purpose of being). If you feel a bit stumped about how to find your why, check out Simon Sinek’s ted talk (click here!) or read this summary of the book The path made clear by Oprah (click here!)


  1. Your ikigai does not have to be anything grand or extraordinary, just things that make you feel full of energy.
  2. Ikigai is a process. Think of it as a map or path to coming up with your goals.
  3. You can have more than one ikigai
  4. You can have personal and professional ikigai’s


Step 1: Go and grab a piece of paper or pull up a word document. Now draw the circles to create a venn diagram (similar to the one below).

Step 2: Pick either the skills or love box and start to write in the circle. So for skills, think about what you’re good at in your personal and professional life. Then think about the kind of skills that your friends, family and those around you would say you have. Feel free to ask them! For what you love, think about what you enjoy doing. Then think about what you would do if nothing held you back. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a strict job. It could be hobbies that you enjoy doing.

Step 3: Next, consider what the world needs. Are there any ideas that you’ve had in the past? Are there any gaps that you have spotted where there could be a new charity or business?

Step 4: What are the different ways of making money that appeal to you? Are you fond of the 9-5? Or much like Dolly Parton, would you prefer to have more flexibility and work shorter hours for the same amount of money? Would you want to travel to meetings or would you want to work from home?

If you get a little bit stuck out, check out this video by The Futur, where he goes through ikigai step by step with examples (click here!)

Or put differently:

  • What do you Love? What aspects of your life bring you into your heart and make you come alive?
  • What are you Great at? What unique skills do you have that come most naturally to you? What talents have you cultivated and what do you excel at even when you aren’t trying?
  • What Cause 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 your life for?
  • What do people Value and pay you for? What service, value or offering do you bring, or could you bring, that brings real value to others? Something people need and are happy to pay for or share some value in exchange?


Act on it. Now that you have a visual representation of yourself, start to consider what kind of hobbies, lifestyle and career paths suit your ikigai. Then look at your life and ask yourself, am I living my best life? Is there anything I need to change to align with my ikigai?

Whatever you do in life, make sure that you do it because it makes you feel fulfilled.

Why can’t I find a job?

Can’t find a job? Fear not, we’re here to help! Go and grab a pen and paper or open a word document…

Draw three columns onto your page. If you’re on word maybe insert a table.

Example table

In the first column, list the things that are or have been holding you back from getting a job. This could include:

1. Mental health is taking over my life

2. Struggling to stay motivated

3. I can’t drive

4. I don’t know if my CV or application form is right

5. I think I’m great, I don’t know why no-ones hiring me!

6. I don’t know where to start

7. I don’t have any/many/the right qualifications

8. They always ask for experience and I don’t have any

9. I’m worried about how it would affect my universal credit

10. There are no jobs in the field I want

It’s important to be open and honest with yourself here! We’re not out to get you. We’re not trying to make you feel bad either. Just using this time to help you to take control over your life and see which areas could do with a little boost!


Moving to the second column, list things that you need to overcome the barriers that you listed in your first column. This could be:

1. Counselling, wellbeing support, someone to talk to about my worries

2. A routine or structure to my day

3. A driving license

4. Someone to look over my applications

5. An outside perspective

6. A mindmap of potential things of interest

7. Relevant qualifications8. Volunteering or work experience

9. Understanding of the rules of universal credit

10. Pros and cons list of moving to where the jobs in the field are

The above is just a flavour of ideas of things and you might find that you have a lot more than ten or a lot less. This is ok! Be reasonable and reflective with the things you need. Usually, these are the things that we say “if only..” before or tell our friends about.


Column three is for the help that you need. Can you overcome this barrier yourself now that you have identified it? Great, give that a whirl! Do you need support to overcome it or to work on the practical things? Also great, now figure out who can help. Below is a list of support services and people who could help:

You have control over your life and have the ability to overcome some barriers with a shift in mindsets and a lifestyle change. We’re not saying that this is easy, but sometimes it is doable.

Friends and family
These people know you the most and can often help you to mindmap different ideas of things you might be interested in doing. Sometimes they can help you to practice interview questions or lend you an outfit to where for the interview. Perhaps they could go with you on the bus a couple of times to get you used to travelling. Try not to rely on others completely, but asking for help can be really positive.

Mental health hubs
If you feel ready for counselling and perhaps don’t want to wait on NHS waiting lists then you could consider a private route. You could look into supporting minds or NWCH. With them being private, they require a fee. This means that if you are earning under £24,000 per year, are unemployed or you are living with someone else and your combined household income is under £36,000 a year, then you can apply for funding. Have a look at Bromhead, a service that will pay for a set number of counselling sessions for you. Alternatively, if you feel as though your mental health could be improved by trying out new hobbies and activities get in touch with the social prescribers!

People plus offer a set number of driving lessons if you are on their careers training course. Alternatively, if you can drive and just need the vehicle, perhaps consider a moped, with wheels to work. To top up your driving awareness and to feel more confident on the road, perhaps consider the courses offered by iamroadsmart.

Sometimes it can be intimidating to know which pronouns to use with an employer and in an application. Especially if your birth certificate is not up-to-date. If you have any worries or need a hand changing your birth name to your real name, get in touch with Think2Speak. If you want to find out more about your rights in the workplace, check out ACAS.

There are so many routes to getting qualifications, so please do get in touch with us to discuss the options that are right for you.

There are so many free apps out there that can help with different aspects of your life. Apps like headspace and calm for your mind, down dog for yoga to keep you get rid of stress and waking up for routines. There are lots of learning apps, like duolingo for learning a new language and audible for reading new books.

*This list does not show every single support service available to you, just a couple for you to start exploring! If you would like to find out more information about any of them or would like to find out about other support services, chat to us and we’ll point out the different directions.

How to find your path

Now there’s no definitive way to discover what you should do with your life. No formula or code that will get you there faster. Though that can be a daunting prospect, it can sometimes take the heat off. There is no right job, no right career path or right thing for you to be doing. You will get to where you need to be, and it will be in your own time! Having said this, there are a few things that you can do to help yourself along the way. Things that we have learnt along the way on our journeys.

Start with the basics

Here, the term basics is used loosely. The basics vary in degree of difficulty from person to person and from time to time. Sometimes you might find routines and day to day activities easy and almost mindless, whilst other days it might be overwhelming to brush your teeth.. we have all been there! There is no shame in struggling. The key is to find something that works for you. We use schedules and visual lists to plan our day to day activities. This takes the stress and brainpower out of the basics. Your basics could include; enough sleep, good hygiene, a little bit of exercise, safe and comforting friendships and food. The level of each of these that we need varies from time to time, so be patient with yourself. Select routines that fit into your lifestyle!

What are you resisting?

What are the things that peak your interest? The things that although you don’t understand why they intrigue or interest you, they do. Now cross off the ones that you don’t want to do. Never do something just because its what other people expect from you! Only do the things that you feel drawn to. Obviously make sure that they aren’t illegal or unsafe. Then explore them. Get curious! Go and try out that pottery class you’ve been looking at. Start writing that gaming code that you’ve been planning in your head. Bake. Read. Create. Do all of the things that you’ve told yourself are silly because you never know where it will take you!

Take a chance

Sometimes you have to take a risk. Sometimes you have to work so hard just to get by. You have to work a job, volunteer and explore your interests and this can be exhausting. Sometimes you have to turn down a night out or spend a little less on your weekly food shop, but it’s worth it in the long run. In a society where instant gratification is the norm, push yourself out of your box and graft!

Don’t give up!

The likelihood is, you’re not going to be outstanding straight away! So keep going. Keep crafting your skill until it becomes natural. Think about all of the greats from history, they didn’t just pick up a paintbrush and become world-renowned artists or suddenly jump to the top of the charts. If something came that easy, we wouldn’t actually feel fulfilled. So if you are working on your craft right now and you’re hitting roadblocks or feel that what you’re producing is rubbish that’s good. Through the years, as you get better, the sense of achievement and pride will be unparalleled.

Talk to people

and surround yourself with people that inspire you. Build your friends up and spark conversations. Speak to people who are interested in the things you are and ask for their advice. Put yourself out there even when you are afraid. The whole fake it til you make it advise springs to mind here!

And remember, it’s okay to not know where you’re going. Keep exploring, keep learning and keep trying things out!