Discover Your ‘Ikigai’ for Professional and Personal Development

 

 

If you’ve ever met a Japanese worker, you know what commitment and discipline mean. These people have something in them. That something makes them immune to distractions. No matter how hard they work, they seem joyful and fulfilled. We’ve seen this attitude in Japanese kids when cleaning their own schools, we’ve seen it conveyed through the soccer team at the 2018 World Cup, and we’ll see it in almost every Japanese person we meet.

 

What do these examples have in common? It’s the concept of ikigai.

 

Iki means life, and kai means achieving expectations and hopes. Ikigai is often translated as “the reason for being.” It’s the focus on that particular reason that reflects itself in everything you do.

 

But this is all philosophy. What does it have to do with entrepreneurs?

 

A lot! Your professional development is only an aspect of your personal development, and both these aspirations are encompassed by your ikigai. In terms of professional growth, ikigai means achieving the highest levels of engagement and productivity while reaching job satisfaction at the same time.

 

Ikigai is a combination of vocation, profession, mission, and passion. When you discover it, you’ll not only be aimed towards personal achievements, but you’ll also inspire your team to be more productive. Oh; now we’re getting somewhere, aren’t we? Making teams productive – that’s something all entrepreneurs can benefit from. So why don’t we dig a bit deeper in the concept of ikigai?

 

Discover Your ikigai and translate it into your business

 

Since we’re trying to relate ikigai to your business practices, let’s focus on these questions:

  • What do you love doing?
  • What are you good at?
  • What does your audience and the world need?
  • How can you combine all answers to the questions above? This final question will lead you to a purpose that brings value to society and fulfills your personal aspirations.

 

In other words, think of the mission statement of your business. It reflects what you love doing, what you’re good at, and what the world needs.

 

That’s the ikigai, the reason of being for your organization. When you’re trying to motivate your employees, that’s your starting point.

 

Encourage each employee to discover their own ikigai

 

The social media expert in your team should certainly know how to get around social media. That’s what the company needs. However, they should also love these platforms and the idea behind them. That’s what an  employee needs to achieve job satisfaction. They have to love what they are being paid for. Finally, the results of their actions should be useful for the audience they are directed to. Everyone should gain some kind of value. That’s ikigai – seeing the bigger picture that encompasses the results of your actions.

 

  • First, share your own ikigai, and the way you conveyed that concept throughout your business.
  • Invite each employee to share their own ikigai. Why did they opt for this career? How does it make them happy? How can they use their ikigai to make the company better? You can you turn this into a training session, which will prompt people to discover their purpose.
  • Meaningful conversation about life’s purpose will help the members of the team make better connections. They will feel they are working towards a greater cause, and they will understand each other better.

 

Ikigai: The ultimate way towards job satisfaction

 

When your employees discover their ikigai and relate it to their work, they won’t shorten their working hours. This won’t lead to an instant increase in their salaries.

The transformation, however, will make them happy to come to work every day. The motivation will result with greater productivity, and the improved productivity levels will lead to organizational growth. Ultimately, each individual within the business will benefit from that growth. Isn’t that what we’re all aiming for?  

 

 

Silvia Woolard is a professional writer at Best EssaysAu and novice entrepreneur from Phoenix, AZ. She mostly writes and works in a field of popular psychology and marketing. You can follow Silvia in her Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Meditation for the Modern Woman

 

 

We live in a time when distractions and anxieties abound. We’re encouraged to keep our schedules as busy as possible and are sometimes judged for having free time. Women are not immune.

 

In fact, we can sometimes get hit the hardest with these unrealistic expectations of constant productivity and business. The problems that result from this mindset are detrimental to our health; anxiety, negative self-talk, shorter attention spans, and life-threatening health conditions run rampant when we live in a constantly “on” world and never take the time to turn it all off and be alone with ourselves.

 

Meditation can enable us with the tools to turn off when we need a break; it can also help us get to know ourselves better, practice mindfulness, and live in the present moment. Meditation needs to be a priority for the modern woman. We’ll explain how to do that in further detail below.

 

 

The Benefits of Meditation

 

Meditation can lead you to a plethora of physical and mental benefits as well as improved connections within your relationships and with yourself. Some people use it to help them feel more spiritual and some use it to help them deal with anxieties at work. Whatever your goals are, take a look through the benefits of meditation and consider how a regular practice could improve your life.

Your meditation practice is like mindfulness training. Many practitioners say the main benefit of diligently maintaining their meditation practice is the result of mindfulness, or full awareness of the present moment without any judgement.

Marissa Powers and Lindsay Benjamin, both experts in meditation and mindfulness, explained to Concordia University that when we become aware of mindfulness through meditation we can:

  • Become more deeply and fully connected to the present moment
  • Deepen our relationship with other people
  • Improve communication
  • Connect with our work
  • Become a better listener
  • Even change our brain activity, improve heart rate, and reduce overall stress

 

Few people question anymore whether or not meditation is beneficial to your mind and body. We might discuss to what degree or who benefits most, but research proves the benefits of meditation. Dr. Robert Schneider noted research on transcendental meditation that found benefits such as:

  • Reduced blood pressure and insulin resistance
  • Slowing of biological aging
  • 48 percent reduction in rates of heart attacks, stroke, and death in coronary heart disease patients

 

Even though most doctors aren’t prescribing meditation to help treat health issues (yet), the benefits are still clear to see. Sometimes, it’s our own responsibility to take our health into our own hands and try something new. Next, we’ll discuss a few common types of meditation if you’re ready to get started but don’t know how.

 

 

Which Type of Meditation Is Right for You?

 

Over time, various cultures, educators, leaders, and experts have developed many different ways to practice meditation. There is something to suit anyone, no matter your personality or lifestyle. These variations were created because the same practice doesn’t work for everyone.

Cultivating a meditation practice is flexible, so you can create a unique practice that works for you if nothing else seems to fit your needs. There is no “right way” to meditate. But if you’re looking for a more traditional meditation practice to help get you started, here are a few types of meditation to consider:

 

  • Metta meditation, also known as loving-kindness meditation, focuses on cultivating an attitude of love, kindness, and compassion toward everything, even stress.

 

  • Mindfulness meditation aims to maintain your awareness of the present moment by noticing your surroundings without judgement.

 

  • Progressive relaxation, sometimes called body scan meditation, entails scanning your body for areas of tension, notice and release it, working your way through your whole body.

 

  • Breath awareness meditation is all about focusing on your breath; breathing slowly, deeply, and counting your breaths to help you focus and ignore the thoughts invading your mind. This is also a form of mindfulness meditation.

 

  • Zen meditation, sometimes called Zazen, involves specific steps and postures usually guided by a teacher. It is a form of mindfulness meditation that focuses on breath and mindfully observing your thoughts without judgement.

 

  • Transcendental meditation is more focused on the spiritual self than some forms of meditation practices. Practitioners focus on repeating a mantra while sitting still and breathing slowly in order to transcend above your current state of being.

It’s perfectly acceptable to blend different types of meditation until you’ve found your own personal practice. Keep in mind that this list only covers a few types of meditation and each description is a brief overview. There is a lot more out there to discover.

 

It’s perfectly acceptable to blend different types of meditation until you’ve found your own personal practice. Keep in mind that this list only covers a few types of meditation and each description is a brief overview. There is a lot more out there to discover.

 

Making Meditation Work for You

 

As a fellow modern woman, I know it’s difficult to cultivate a regular practice. Here are some quick tips from my research and my personal experience:

  • Use a guided meditation app. My favorite is Stop, Breathe, and Think.
  • You don’t have to sit and meditate. You can actually meditate anywhere while you’re doing anything — just take deep breaths and focus on the present moment.
  • Practice gratitude and take a few minutes to reflect on everything in your life that is good.
  • Unplug from all forms of technology for a set period of time.
  • Schedule your meditation practice like you would any other responsibility.
  • Try using a timer if you’re struggling.

 

In the not too distant future, I think we’ll find that meditation is a normal part of life for everyone, especially the modern woman. As we become more productive and connected than ever before, it will become increasingly important to take time to disconnect from the world and reconnect with ourselves. I hope this article will help you develop a practice that works for you.

 

Alex Quayle currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her partner, cat, and dwarf hamster. She can never say no to coffee, doughnuts, and good conversation. Follow her on Twitter @alexquayle33 for more articles and pictures of her cute, little family.

 

 

Simple Habits to Improve Your Quality of Life

 

 

They say it takes about 21 days to form a simple habit. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that depending on the habit, the person, and the circumstances, it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days — 66 on average — to form a new habit.

Even if it takes more work or a longer amount of time to make a behavior automatic, some habits are worth forming. Some habits help you stay safe, others keep you healthy, and some are worth the effort because they improve your quality of life. Everyday stresses and worries can wear you down and take some of the joy out of your daily life. To enhance your well-being and live a more meaningful life, consider adopting some of these habits (if you haven’t already):

 

Pay Your Debts Every Month

 

Money is the top source of stress for 61 percent of Americans, according to the American Psychological Association. Millennials especially face a grim picture with their everyday finances. Record amounts of debt make sticking to a budget, meeting increased costs of living, and saving for the future difficult.

 

While paying for the necessities can take up most or all of a paycheck, be sure to contribute toward paying off all your debts every month. You can split up payments to relieve the burden: pay off your credit card early in the month and make payments on your student loans in the middle or at the end of each month. Consider setting up auto-payments if you have trouble remembering. For example, if you are thinking of getting a car, “it may be best to look into leasing deals, as this will save money as the monthly payments is generally lower than purchasing a car”, said personal leasing company ICL.

 

Even paying just a little bit or the minimum balance can help reduce any large balances. Not only will it improve your finances, regular debt payments will help put your mind at ease and hopefully reduce your stress about money. When you aren’t worried about finances, you can put your energy toward other things and spend more time enjoying your life.

 

Go to Sleep Earlier

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in three Americans don’t get enough sleep on a nightly basis. Between work, family, and other obligations, sleep is often the first thing to fall by the wayside. However, on top of being cranky and tired, sleep deprivation can lead to health complications, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

 

Do your best to develop a healthy sleep schedule to get that full eight hours before you have to wake up the next day. Prepare as much as possible for the next day: pack your lunch, choose your outfit, and get the coffee pot ready. Set an alarm for an hour before bedtime so you can begin getting ready. If you have a tough time calming down and unwinding after a long day, create a pre-sleep routine. Do something that helps you relax, like meditation, yoga, reading, or listen to calming music.

Whatever you choose to do, be consistent! By establishing a steady routine, your body and mind will begin to associate it with sleep, and you’ll be able to drift off with ease. You may feel like you’re taking away precious time from your day, but this is an investment worth making in yourself. If you regularly get better sleep, you’ll likely feel more energized and productive than ever before.

 

Use Your Phone Less

 

A recent study found that Americans look at their phones 80 times per day — about once every 12 minutes. The amount of time that people use mobile devices has been on the rise, which can contribute to health problems like sleep disturbances or deprivation, strained vision, and headaches. Rutgers University also notes that social media use, in particular, can contribute to mental illness by causing or exacerbating feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and depression.

 

Whether or not you’re a social media addict, you can probably cut back on the amount of time you spend using your phone. Using your phone can affect everything from your communication skills to your driving. Nomophobia is the fear of being without a mobile device, and it may still plague you if your phone dies or you leave it behind.

 

Work to become less dependent on your devices and spend your time doing other things. If you have some time to kill while waiting at your doctor’s appointment, flip through a magazine or read a few pages of a book instead of checking your Twitter feed. In group settings, make an effort to leave your phone in your pocket and give your full attention to the other people there. Focusing your energy on things outside of the digital world will help your life feel fuller and freer.


There are many habits you can take on to improve your quality of life, so pick one that will truly make your life better. Try to do something that really speaks to you; if you aren’t passionate about forming a new behavior, it will be even harder to stick to it. Set yourself up for success, take it slow, and you’ll truly bring out your best self.

 

Madison Ann Baker is a writer, Netflix-binger, and pop culture enthusiast who lives in Idaho. Literature and linguistics are her two passions, both of which she studied in college. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her Borador, Dash, and re-reading Harry Potter. You can follow her on Twitter @mabakerwrites and check out her work on https://mabakerwrites.contently.com/ 

 

 

 

Designing Your Home Office for Maximum Productivity

Designing Your Home Office for Maximum Productivity

Working from home is a balancing act of responsibilities, a tricky exercise in flexibility and focus. However, with over 70 percent of the country working at home at least some of the time, it’s becoming increasingly important to know how to do it well. Thus, your home office should be comfortable, but not too relaxing. It should be functional, but with boundaries. And, you’ll want it to be warm and welcoming, but not distracting. Even if you’ve got the best selection of office furniture from somewhere like Office Monster, there is so much more that goes into creating a friendly home office environment. Listening to your body, your mind, and your heart will not only facilitate a healthy home work environment, but it will also foster productivity and overall well-being.

Your Body

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Think about the nature of your work as the effect on your body depends completely on where you work. If you work from home then you need a computer system that fits your needs. But if you work in a factory then the best thing that you can do for your body is to consider something like rugged industrial keyboards in an integrated computing system as this will help you have a calmer working experience and not put too much pressure on your body if you work in a factory. However, many people wouldn’t consider this as most people just work in an office with a simple laptop. Many of us don’t consider the toll that office work takes on our bodies until we simply can’t ignore it. Stagnant working positions such as sitting, typing, and staring at computer screens all day puts unnecessary stress on your body, often in the form of pain. Pain precipitates lost or restricted time in the office, reducing productivity and increasing frustration. The good news is, there are a variety of ways to mediate this before it becomes a serious problem.

Start with your chair. Your chair should be ergonomic, meaning that it promotes both efficiency and comfort. It should be adjustable in all aspects, while also providing lumbar support. Movement is key—you don’t want your chair to force you to stay in the same position for hours on end. Consider using an exercise ball; you can use the ball all on its own, or you can choose from a variety of bases. Ball chairs keep you active while you’re sitting and promote good posture. Similarly, you’ll want a desk that is flexible. Desks with adjustable heights allow you to move from a sitting to standing position, or somewhere in between. Using an adjustable desk allows you to use chairs with multiple heights and functionality, allowing you to keep moving while you work. Be comprehensive—you’ll want to pair these adjustable furniture choices with footrests and anti-fatigue mats so that you don’t put unnecessary pressure on your body.

Light and sound can also have negative impacts on your body. Glare and unnecessary noise can be both distracting and headache-inducing; so, eliminate them! First, position your desk so that natural light is filtering in from the sides of your work station. This way, you’ll have sunlight and be able to look out of your windows. Secondly, lamps and overhead lighting should be supplemental; light should be directed at your keyboard and paperwork, but not your screen. This reduces glare and is much easier on the eyes. Soundproofing, too, is easier on the ears. If you’re juggling family responsibilities and working from home, you may want to consider soundproofing your office. Soundproofing can get expensive, so if you’re on a budget, you can also look into ambient noise makers and apps. If you want to read some simple tips on how to soundproof your home, check out soundproofpanda.com.

Your Mind

Just like your body, your mind adapts to fit the space you’re in. You don’t want to settle into a stagnant space; rather, you’ll want a space that is flexible, allowing you to create a work environment that will facilitate ingenuity rather than boredom. Our work habits and responsibilities are variable; what is conducive to a conference call may not be ideal for word processing. Consider furniture that’s easy to move. It should be light, and have wheels so that you can easily change your space. Designate a spot for relaxation to allow yourself short breaks, even if it’s as simple putting a comfy chair by the window. Invest in quality work tools and high-speed internet to cut down on unnecessary frustration. Most importantly, create boundaries for yourself and for your family. Your workspace should stay your workspace—remove any distractions, such as TVs and gaming consoles. If you respect your own boundaries, your family will too.

Your Heart

While boundaries are important, your home office should still be a welcoming space where you look forward to spending time. Personalization is important. Don’t be afraid to add artwork, family photos, and sentimental mementos. While these items may be perceived as distractions, they actually facilitate creativity and innovation. Similarly, you’ll want to avoid grey, beige, or white walls when designing your office space. These colors can cause depressive feelings, particularly in women. Instead, turn to nature. Colors and themes that are commonly found in nature, such as blues and greens, promote calm, focus, and efficiency in the workplace. You can also take it a step further with low-maintenance plants and fish tanks. Creative professionals such as artists and developers may want to include yellows in their paint pallet, as they foster optimism, energy, and innovation. Feeling adventurous? Accent with purples; as a combination of warm and cool colors, they tend to trigger imagination. Be sure to match your paint scheme to your work life so you can settle in to your new home office!

Haley is from Gilbert, Arizona. She loves reading and writing just about anything under the sun. In her spare time, you can find her exploring outdoors or sippin’ on a craft brew.

How to Maintain Work-Life Balance: Tips for Mothers and Entrepreneurs

 

How to Maintain Work-Life Balance: Tips for Mothers and Entrepreneurs

 

Looking for the magic pill to achieve ”work-life balance?” Unfortunately, there is no such magical thing, but by incorporating some of these strategies into your own life, you’ll find it is possible to maintain a healthy relationship with family while finding time to pursue your passions and business goals. 

Every entrepreneur struggles to find a balance and being a parent makes that struggle ten times more difficult. Working moms are amazing jugglers who execute multiple roles. You have to acknowledge all you’ve accomplished. The spirit of doing all the things and doing it every day is the driving force that keeps you running on the road to successful work-life balance.

 

 

Manage your time and learn to say no

 

Time management is one of the biggest challenges working moms face. Focus on the essential tasks first. Learn to say no to least important tasks and simplify your work. Using a calendar broken into categories of task importance to manage both professional and personal priorities will be helpful. Split it up into four groups: Urgent/important, urgent/not important, not urgent/important and not urgent/not important. Get it the habit of jotting down a to-do as it comes up and prioritizing its importance early on. 

 

 

Have a Plan

 

All mompreneurs use planners to balance their work and family life. Some use paper organizers and some prefer apps and software. The good news is that you can keep both personal and work appointments on the same calendar to avoid a clash. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different systems. Play around with apps like Asana or Trello and see what best works for you, what makes you more efficient and organized. Toggl is another helpful tool that allows you to keep track of hours to maximize productivity and efficiency. It allows you to see break down your schedule according to specific tasks and projects and then provides you with weekly and monthly summaries. 

 

Be optimistic

 

Business startups can be challenging, so you need to remain optimistic while facing failure. You will encounter a plethora of difficulties balancing your work and family simultaneously, but do not fall into despair. Remind yourself that you have the potential and you can do it.  A positive mindset will help you visualize your goals. A positive attitude is priceless.

 

Replace the word “perfect” with “good enough”

 

Most moms want to be the perfect mother, perfect wife, and a perfect entrepreneur – all at the same time, but chasing this perfectionism takes the joy out of motherhood. While making your work life perfect, you somehow lack in making your family life perfect, so isn’t it better to balance both with “good enough” rather than “perfect”? 

 

Make time for family

 

Family time can relieve stress, develop positive behavior and help you lead a healthy lifestyle. All these things will be beneficial in the startup world when you are struggling to remain positive. Organize family camping trips, game nights, walks to the park, and build a quality relationship with your family. These are little things that are worth your valuable time and you will never regret it.

Make sure you’re also awarding yourself some “me” time. Challenge yourself to work a little bit more the night before so you can reserve the following day for extra long naps, a movie marathon, trying out a new recipe, a much deserved shopping trip, or whatever it is that leaves you feeling recharged. 

 

Don’t let mommy guilt destroy your morale

 

When receiving unwanted parental advice whether it’s direct or passive, pay no attention. Do what works for you. Internalizing the “shoulds” and “should nots” in your life can create unnecessary hurdles in your success.

 

Encourage yourself

 

In today’s fast-paced society, it’s difficult to find time to be alone. When you are struggling to balance your work and family, it’s important to keep reminding yourself that you can manage everything. Things will get better with time. Find some self-reflection time for yourself. 

It is possible to balance motherhood and a successful, exciting career. It takes dedication, passion, patience, and self-love. 

To all the mothers tackling their own businesses or juggling a high-power career with kiddos, keep inspiring! 

 

 

 

 

Judy Robinson is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger. She loves to write on healthy lifestyle, fitness 101 and DIY related topics. Follow @judyrobinson for more updates.