Disclaimer: I just want to acknowledge that a lot of the content I produce is based off my personal experiences. This happens to be from a privileged background (which I’m extremely grateful for), and I understand that it may not be as easy for other people to follow. Just want to share what I’ve learnt and hopefully you can all gain something in one way or the other.
So in today’s topic, I’m going to discuss a few things which I’ve read about and that have helped gain a better understanding of passion. This is not to say that I’ve realized my life-long passion or anything, but writing about it just helps me better digest the concepts at hand. I’ll start with a wonderful concept called Ikigai, which originates from Japanese tradition. Then I’ll delve into comfort zone (once again), consistency, mindset, and how we can make practice perfect.
Let me first introduce a Japanese concept called Ikigai, which roughly translates to “reason for being”. I read the book last year by Ken Mogi and it definitely changed the way I viewed passion. It essentially boils down to 4 concepts:
- What you love doing
- What you’re good at
- What the world needs
- What you can get paid for
If you can find an intersection between all four points, you’ll ultimately find your ikigai. This makes sense, considering first and foremost, you need to identify what you love doing. This helps you get started, because you’ll obviously have an urge to do what you love. Then figure out what you’re good at, which you’ll probably already enjoy doing. The second 2 points are where things get a little trickier, and that’s because there’s a difference between hobbies and a passion. Hobbies are activities out of your general occupation, which are meant to be relaxing. Contrary to that, passions are meant to drive you and keep you going, no matter how exhaustive or overwhelming.
The diagram below illustrates just what I mean by that. What the world needs and what you can get paid for, are the final factors which would truly give you a reason to live. It isn’t going to be straightforward identifying an intersection, but having an idea of what you’re aiming for, definitely contributes to the journey.
Do more! Leave your comfort zone
There’s no way you’re going to figure out what you love doing, if you keep doing the same things over and over again. This relates to what I spoke about in The Journey V, whereby it’s a vital component to add some form of discomfort in your daily routine. For example, by taking cold showers regularly. This conditions you to leave your comfort zone, which is a holistic process. I say holistic because this helps you in every aspect of your life, it allows you to brave through your fears. Once you’re able to condition your mind in one aspect of your life, why not use that same theory in other aspects? Find more ways to regularly leave your comfort zone, and stay consistent with it, to strengthen those neural connections.
“How you do one thing, is how you do everything.”
Don’t be guided by fear! Explore that hobby you’ve been yearning to try, whether it be surfing, running, martial arts, drawing, writing or acting. Approach the person you’ve always wanted to speak to. Try out cooking using a new recipe for something you’ve always craved. Visit a new city or somewhere you’ve never been to before. If you can’t do that, just read about new places and things you’re unfamiliar with. The point is to keep trying new things out, because you’ll start to better identify what it is you enjoy and what you don’t. Here’s a great phrase a friend of mine recently told me: You Only Die Once. This obviously originates from the YOLO trend, but it’s a rather fantastic way to think about it. You truly don’t know how long you’re going to be here for. Don’t wait until tomorrow, you may not get the chance.
I know some of these topics are repetitive, but again, it serves as a reminder to myself and to everyone of you reading. Consistency requires you to remind yourself on a daily basis, of what matters to you. When you do little things over and over, it becomes a lot. The thing about consistency, is that you need to realize that you (probably) won’t become an overnight success. You need to work towards your goals everyday, regardless of your mood. Whether you’re tired, uninspired, bored or “just not in the mood”, you have to make sure you get a little done. This ensures that you’re always making progress, and after a few weeks, you would’ve achieved a lot more than you realized you could. The cool thing about this is, once the ball is rolling, you’ll feel inspired and have the urge to continue anyway.
Let me give you a classic example, for those who fail to finish books. If you dedicate a certain amount of time each and everyday to read, you’ll actually make a lot of easy progress. Instead of reading when you have ‘free’ time or you’re in the mood to get ‘woke’. This in turn builds discipline and allows you to make time for what’s important to you. The same works for any other activity you enjoy doing or want to get good at. The more you keep at it, the better you get. I’ll build onto that further below.
For those of us who are fasting this month , here’s another wonderful reminder which emphasizes consistency:
“عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ الْعَمَلِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ فَوَاللَّهِ لَا يَمَلُّ اللَّهُ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا وَكَانَ أَحَبَّ الدِّينِ إِلَيْهِ مَا دَاوَمَ عَلَيْهِ صَاحِبُهُ”
“You must only perform deeds you are capable of doing. By Allah, Allah will not withhold from you until you give up. The most beloved religious deeds to Allah are those performed regularly.”
and in another narration:
Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him)
“The most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant, even if it were little.”
Mindset / Intention
This links back to what I’ve spoken about again and again, your mindset. You need to believe in your ability to grow and find what you love doing. Work on your negative self-talk and on preventing saying things like ‘I’ll never be good at this’ ,’Some people are just born better / smarter’, ‘I’m not creative’ or ‘I’m just not talented enough’. This keeps you in a fixed mindset, which prevents you from further achieving your goals or exploring different activities. Always tell you self: ‘Not yet’! This keeps the space open for you to realize that you just need to put in more time and practice, in order to develop that specific skill-set. More importantly, you need to find your real intention behind what you’re doing, start with why.
We know in Islam, that actions are based on their intention. But that ultimately means, that what you do on the surface will never be as important as your reason for doing so. What was your intention for trying to do it? This brings me to another point of Ikigai; what the world needs more of. Having pure and authentic intentions, being honest and doing the uncomfortable work. Remember why you started, keep your intentions in mind, and always try and add value to the world around you! This can sometimes be overwhelming, because we know how large and diverse the world around us is, how could we try and make it better? By being the consistent change you want to see in the world. There’s one more point I want to add, to further make the most of that consistency; deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice makes perfect
This is where quality > quantity comes into play. You may have heard of the 10 000 hour rule, whereby the more you practice something, the better you get at it. As much as that is true, a vital element in those hours, needs to be “deliberate” practice. In essence, you need to focus on your weak points and find out where you can improve on a constant basis. This directly links to comfort zone yet again (which is why I mention it so often).
Regular practice involves doing something you enjoy, essentially staying within your comfort zone. Deliberate practice on the other hand, is constantly trying to leave your comfort zone; working on what you’re terrible at and accepting criticism from those who are better than you. Because if you only practice your strengths, how will your weaknesses ever improve? So as much as you enjoy practicing whatever it is you love, push yourself a little more each time, and work on what’s difficult. This allows for holistic growth, and can eventually make the practice perfect.
I know I’ve covered a bit of ground in this post, but I hope you can appreciate how it all links together. I’ve also repeated a few topics again, just to iterate how profound these concepts can be in your life. Once you start working on a certain aspect, it can ripple into every part of your life. It’s important not to try implementing several changes at once, and end up giving them all up. Start small and stay consistent with it. Then you can build on that once you feel comfortable with the habit. Keep in mind, that the more you’re able to condition yourself to leave your comfort zone, the faster you can grow and learn. Your intention also plays a big role, so don’t do things for the wrong reasons either. Be true and honest with yourself, as well as those around you. Ikigai may not be the easiest practice to achieve, but once you start identifying a few intersections, you’ll hopefully find something you can truly be passionate about!