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Category: Blog

Finding your Ikigai

Illustration credits - https://bit.ly/3QntFQQ
Illustration credits – https://bit.ly/3QntFQQ

Human beings yearn for happiness amidst growth, success health, wealth and beautiful relationships as well as challenges of life. Increasingly survival and livelihood issues have a tendency to engulf our lives as the hustle and bustle to eke a living take over our lives. At the end of each day, we are all worn out and upon resting for the night, we wake up at the wee hours of dawn with our in-trays full of a million things to do. It is as if we are no longer human beings but human doings overwhelmed by tasks upon tasks that we must complete even when they don’t spark joy in our hearts.

But is this how our creator intended us to live? I don’t think so. Whereas we are out of Eden and hence must work to earn a livelihood, I am deeply persuaded that the whole human experience should also nature our mental well-being and ignite joy in our hearts. I must say that this remains an everyday quest and comes with finding one’s purpose and living deliberately.

Today, I am confident that you harbor many dreams and aspirations for the future mixed with doubts and fears.  It is Mark Twain who said that the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. But how does one find his or her purpose or reason for being? For a long time, I took purpose to mean my career and the social roles that I have. Then I encountered the teachings of the late great teacher Myles Munroe that one must consult his/her maker to find out his or her purpose. According to him, only God, who is our creator or manufacturer, knows why He created us and what He put in us as potential to enable us unleash our potential and live that purpose. This calls for a deeper connection and alignment with God. It is a lifetime quest and a personal odyssey.

Most recently I can across some Japanese wisdom worth-sharing. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being.’ ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life,’ and ‘gai’ describes value or worth. The concept is said to have evolved from health and wellness principles of traditional Japanese medicine. This medical tradition portends that physical well-being is highly affected by one’s mental–emotional health and sense of purpose in life. Your ikigai is your life purpose or your bliss that comes from a perfect balance of your skills, knowledge, mission, passion and what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs and what you can be paid for.

Whereas what you shall do or be in life is a factor of so many things, I challenge you to find your Ikigai.  Take time to explore these four questions and write down the answers. Under what you love – write down your passions, things that spark joy in your life or those that make you happy. Under what you are good at, include your talents and your capabilities. On what the world needs, ask yourself what connects most explicitly with other people and doing good for them, beyond your own personal needs. Other people here may mean the small community in your environment or humanity in totality and the needs that are most expressed by people around you. It could be anything from effects of climate changes, water, sanitation, healthcare, security, food e.t.c. What you can be paid for is all about what you have or can do that the world is willing to buy. The intricate relationship between these domains is your passion, your mission, your vocation and your profession and right at the centre of it all is your Ikigai.

Before continue going with the flow of life or have the currents push you from one paradigm to another, taking a journey of personal discovery of who you really are and your purpose might be worth your while.  

Mukami Chege

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Inner Peace

How not to lose it and how to have more of it

Photo of Man Paddling Kayak in Raging River · Free Stock Photo

When all is said and done, we all want to live in a state of inner harmony and calm. Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle of life, daily schedules, challenges, and basically the running around can eat into our peace as they escalate anxiety, worry, and stress.

The good thing is that every human being has an instrument that measures their state of harmony. Maybe it is in the joy, high spirits, gratitude, and energy that we feel when we are in a place of inner peace.  However, like a jar cracking open, peace eludes us when we get angry, hurt others or become fussy over things that we can resolve. Think about what happens to you as a parent when you quarrel with a child over something as minor as a disorganized room or an argument with a spouse overcoming home late. The aftermath like a sword pierces your heart long after the incident.  Your mind continues to ruminate over the situation for a long time and you keep feeling the same hurt all over again until you seek to resolve the issue through say apologizing.

I am not insinuating that it is possible to go through life without experiencing moments of distress or pain. On the contrary. As the world around you keep unfolding and life continues to happen, you will constantly encounter moments of anger, stress, pain, and immense tension.  How you respond to these moments is really the issue. Like a canoe in raging waters, one must make it a habit to keep peddling the oars as opposed to getting distressed at the raging water. Allowing yourself to be at peace in spite of your situation is really the human quest to finding peace.

Inner distress like a whirlwind starts small. Once you become upset, you start going through a set of motions and emotions. You may start pacing, your heart starts racing, your breath shortens and things could literally run out of control. If you don’t catch yourself and nib these feelings at the bud, there is a likelihood that will lose yourself to your reactions and end up saying or doing things that you may end up regretting. 

A more amicable approach to maintaining a state of inner peace includes taking a breath and finding a moment to observe the situation almost like a third party and then focusing on the positive side of the story or what you are grateful for. Regardless of what is not going right, maintaining a state of inner calm entails being optimistic in your ability to resolve the situation and becoming more dynamic to accept changes as they come even when they seem to be accompanied by discomfort.

I wish it were possible to don our minds and hearts with a protective helmet against adversity and life pains. The challenge here is to appreciate that adversity will come sometimes when we least expect and the honors is not to be angry or wish the pain away but to accept that which we must accept, resolve what can be resolved, and with a positive spirit allow life to happen as it should.

Miriam M. Chege

Founder and Lead, Coach, Big Leap International

Photo courtesy of


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The Art of Allowing: Embracing Life

Are you a control freak?  Do you always feel the need to have total control over yourself, people, and situations? Do you always push to have things go your way and get upset if they don’t? While I appreciate the need to plan and live your life in a deliberate manner and with a firm grip of your world, it is good to appreciate that you can never really be in control of things, people and circumstances.

Letting go or the art of allowing is the realization that your world will not collapse if you stopped pushing or simply took a break to rest or to simply observe things. Simply being optimistic and grateful that life will always collaborate with you to create a great experience full of enjoyment, learning, fulfilment and growth is paramount to our well-being. Rather than trying to order things in a certain way, I am now appreciating that a more fulfilling life might call for a more calm and accepting approach. Am I saying that we should not hustle to create a better life?  Certainly not. What I am saying is that sometimes we wrestle with life so much that it leaves us deflated, often times blaming ourselves and other people, faulting events and circumstances and basically grudging with life. 

Letting go means allowing yourself to be more appreciative, letting go of judgement and rising above the inner pressure and struggles by simply living life.  It means make peace with all things as they are as opposed to spending thought, time and energy trying to resist them and change them. It is about experiencing the true beauty of life rather than focusing on the pain and discomfort.

This might be difficult if you are the kind of a person who likes poking his or her nose into other people’s business, judging their character, correcting their mistakes, manipulating their opinions or even influencing their behavior. It might equally be uncomfortable for you is you are the kind of a person who takes sole credit for all the blessings in your life.

The art of allowing is described as the ability to flow with the current as opposed to steering the oars upstream. I know what you could be thinking. Am I not the master of my own fate and the captain of my own ship? Well, you are. In our quest to be deliberate about our lives, setting goals and working towards a future that we carefully want to shape for ourselves, we tend to forget that we cannot argue with reality. We assume that it is our responsibility to fix situations and people including ourselves. The revelation here is that having the faith, trust and patience to realize that whatever our hearts desires will manifest in our lives at the right time.  Trying to run our lives as though everything is upto us will often leave us exhausted and unfulfilled. Often times, we will blame ourselves or others or events when we deem that our goals are not supported. True success and fulfillment will always elude us.

 I guess that this is a challenge to many my self-included but may be a wakeup call here is to align our thoughts and energy with our creator, sending our desires and trusting that the universe is unfolding as it should be and that everything is and will be well.

Mukami Chege

CEO and Founder of Big Leap International Limited

Picture courtesy of https://debrakasowski.com/2017/11/14/episode-139-the-art-of-allowing-not-resisting/

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Show Up!

“People say they want to achieve things, but then don’t show up for the things that would help them get there. They want to be writers, but don’t show up at the word processor. They want to own a business, but they don’t show up for the educational seminar. They want to be actors, but then don’t show up for the audition”. – Lyman Reed

You never know how much time you have lost until you look at your list of goals five or ten years ago and see the dreams that you have left to waste. Think of heights you could have scaled, or achievements that you could have bagged had you done the things that you had set out today.

The other day my eleven year old son came across the list of personal goals that I had set for myself five years ago. He laughed loudly highlighting how I had failed dismally on two of the goals. I agreed. The truth of the matter was that though I have done well in the other six areas, I had hardly moved on these two key areas. I felt naked and vulnerable at this harsh reality.

But why was there no progress on these two goals? Truth be told I had just thrown them into my list as good ideas, maybe wishes or desires that I had but I did not create an action path to achieving them. I therefore did not do anything on them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis towards achieving them. The other problem was that the goals were quite ambitious and they probably scared me into putting them forward for the future. I procrastinated ladies and gentlemen. I slept on the job and I can imagine how much time I have lost since then. This year, I have redesigned these goals and I promise myself that I will not let up.

Its a good time to think of the goals that you have been setting every year and take time to interrogate what worked and what did not work. Not working may mean like me that you did not show up to do the work or you were not clear on what work you were to inject in. If the reason is the latter, then take time to break the goal down into monthly targets that you can work at achieving. Out of those monthly targets you can derive weekly and daily measurable things that you can do to get there. If your reason is the former, meaning that you have just been sleeping on the job, then use the small daily actions to motivate yourself on what is possible. If that is not good enough, then let the thought of five to ten years of not acting on that goal scare you. The regret that would come with the thought that ‘I squandered all that time and I have nothing to show myself and the world’ can weigh heavily on your heart. I am talking from experience. I am sure that you have your experiences too.

We also have an opportunity to learn from what has worked. How and why did it work? What did you do? Let those assist you grow and become better. Personal goals are just that. They are personal as we all invest at getting better in various spheres of our lives. Must we set them? No! No one obliges us to neither set nor work on them. But since human beings desire to grow and progress, it is a good idea to set personal goals and act on them. Ultimately we remain the true beneficiaries of our achievements and those
achievements in turn then inspire us and others to dream and yearn for more.

And yes, like Eliud Kipchoge, setting personal goals and achieving them teach us that, ” No human being is limited”.

Have a bountiful Year!

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