Ikigai is a Japanese word and is roughly translated as “purpose in life,” “what life is for,” or “something to make you jump out of bed in the morning.” Ikigai has been discussed together with secrets to longevity and finding one’s purpose and passion.

Check out these videos on ikigai:
How to Live to be 100+ at TEDxTC by Dan Buettner, speaker and author of The Blue Zones of Happiness 
How to Ikigai at TEDxYYC by Tim Tamashiro, singer, speaker and author of How to Ikigai 

Now that 2019 has kicked in, have you found your ikigai?

Whenever New Year Eve’s approaches, it’s often a time for rituals and resolutions. As a child, I jumped up and down at midnight to grow taller (it’s okay that this didn’t manifest) and placed money in my pockets to attract prosperity (abundance is everywhere!). As a teenager, I declared new year’s resolutions of losing weight and getting high grades. And as an adult (lost weight!) I learned to not wait for the new year to reflect on my life and create new goals. I do that anytime that my soul needs to refresh and rebuild.

More than setting new year’s resolutions, it became more important for me to find my bigger purpose in life. When I once worked as an environmental scientist, I persistently looked for the meaning in my job. That job allowed me to contribute to environmental conservation. It wasn’t enough for me to just have a job. I continued to choose to do bigger and purposeful things.

Fast forward to today, after many downturns in the economy and crossroads in life, I am now celebrating 16 years of practicing and teaching Pilates. I am strongest when I teach, create and write (as in right now). And now everything makes sense.

But what does Pilates have to do with it? Pilates allows me to reignite self-care for myself and others. There’s my Ikigai. Let me share how.

First, Pilates has taught me to focus and set priorities. As much as possible, I monotask and do not multitask. Multitasking may be a myth–you can be a “jack of all trades, master of none.” I set priorities where self-care is at the top of my list, i.e. eating healthy, working out, and sleeping early. If I don’t take care of myself first, I will not be good for my family, friends, colleagues and clients.

Second, Pilates has reminded me to live with a higher purpose, which brings transcendence. Pilates has kept me in good health beyond the physical. Even when life throws me in surprising twists and turns, I hold on to my faith that there is an abundance of miracles. I have learned to manage setbacks better, count my blessings, and do the greater good.

Third and last, Pilates has led me to meditation. The mindfulness I discovered in Pilates generated a desire to meditate to enhance my introspection. I am forever grateful to my friends who helped me bounce back from a difficult time when I doubted my reason for living. These friends encouraged me to meditate and I eventually joined the community. Our practice reminds us to be in the now and that everyday is a new day.

Many clients have also shared their stories of how Pilates helped to reignite their own self-care. One lady, who just turned 50, takes time for 3 Pilates sessions every week which she schedules a quarter ahead. She also meets her executive coach twice a month.  This has been her routine for the past 5 years. She has said that she no longer feels guilty about carving time to prioritize her self-care, which includes her Pilates and coaching sessions, because she has to prioritize herself to be at her best. And by doing so, she increases her capacity for her family (husband, son and dog), and for her organization where she performs the demanding role of country director for a multinational firm.

And each time that I hear these Pilates stories from clients and friends, I feel grateful and blessed that my ikigai has reignited their passion, purpose and self-care.

May you be blessed this new year and beyond!

Attribution: en:User:Nimbosa derived from works by Dennis Bodor (SVG) and Emmy van Deurzen (JPG) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons