Updated: Apr 14, 2020
There are many ways of processing the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. We have witnessed many different reactions: some within ourselves and some reactions of people around us. First and foremost, we want to acknowledge that whatever you are experiencing, you have the right to experience and process it in your own way. This post is not here to discuss the validity of any reactions, emotions, or feelings you may or may not have. What we will do with this post is provide some tools that might help you, in case you are struggling to find your path forward or if you are feeling a bit lost.
Some of us use this time to rest and recover while others are deeply affected by anxiety and worry due to financial impact. Most of us are worried and/or cautious about our health and well-being and some of us are experiencing existential anxieties about the post-COVIDian world. At least here in the US, in part fueled by the (mis)information by the administration and some "conservative" new media, some of us are in denial that there is a pandemic at all, and that economic impact of this situation is far superior than the risk of loss of human life. Then, some of us also see tremendous opportunity in this situation for communal and/or personal growth. Whichever of these reactions you may be experiencing, they are all valid to you, because that is what YOU are experiencing. If you are struggling with your well-being, we have shared some ways you can address that in our previous posts Managing fear in times of crisis and Positivity, optimism, and balance in times of crisis. Seeking assistance from a mental healthcare professional is also quite useful at times like these. We don't have to process these experiences alone.
If you are at a juncture that you would like to take this opportunity to do some self-reflection and use this moment as a catalyst for growth, then you are in luck. We are going to share some of the ways that have helped us in our journey of finding fulfillment with what we do in our careers, with our lives overall, and identifying what is important to us.
As you may know, there is more than one way of going about anything, and this instance is not any different. There are many ways of discovering what is it that you want to do with your life and how to get about it. Caution may be warranted when someone offers you the "quick ways of realizing your dream in 1 month."
There are a few things you may need to get started:
Self-critical but compassionate attitude: You may have to be rather surgical with cutting through the layers of defense mechanisms or walls we have built over the years around ourselves to protect us from being hurt. Compassion helps us to know that it is only human to have these "faults" or "imperfections" we observe in ourselves. You essentially become an expert of yourself while maintaining the kind of compassionate attitude you might extend to a young person who is learning the ropes of life.
Patience and Perseverance: When you decide you want to set in motion a change in your life or future, brace for the obstacles that might arise along the way. You are going to need to be patient and persistent. Persevere through all that stands in your way to get to where you want to get.
Curious Mind: Always question even when you find answers that are seemingly perfect. Look for ways to continue to improve. Stay hungry to learn, for new opportunities. Stay curious my friend! 😉
Your career or occupation doesn't necessarily have to be the purpose of your life: In fact, this is often the case with most people. But you can look at some research that has correlated longevity with having a sense of meaning and purpose. Introspection leads us to ask the big “why?" Having it creates a sense of mission and that our life’s work is worthy and improves the lives of others. Purpose is at the very top of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and receives a place in Daniel Pink's motivational trifecta for this reason.
The first method we are going to share with you is best explained in the diagram below, based on a Western interpretation of the Japanese concept of Ikigai.
The idea is to analyze yourself deeply to identify what you are passionate about, what you you might be good at or want to become good at, and if you can make a living off of it. If you can match this up with an unmet need in the world, then voilà! You have found an occupation or an enterprise that will give you tremendous fulfillment. Even if you can't fill all four of the criteria in your first go, do continue down the path and this is a good goal to aspire to.
In the popular Ikigai diagram, it is alluded that purpose can only be found when you are good at something, and you love it, and you can get paid for it, and the world needs it. We disagree with that in different levels. Firstly, we think this formula is best in identifying the most fulfilling occupation or career that one might chose. Secondly, we think purpose can be found in any task you chose to perform to improve the world around you, i.e: meeting an unmet need in the world. Thirdly, you don't need to love it, but you need to like it enough to find the motivation to do it and continue to do it. Seeing the impact of your work, can lead you to grow to love it. You don't have to be good at it, in fact, but you can aspire to be good at it as you practice along. For future entrepreneurs, you don't already have to be good at founding an enterprise to know how to get started. What matters more is that you are willing to work towards acquiring the necessary skills to perform the task at hand. Seeking happiness, one doesn't always find it, but meaning often leads to happiness.
Nelson and Manori started Neuma Being applying this approach. Here is how we have applied it:
We both have independently, since adolescence, felt the need to contribute to improving the world around us. When we came together, we looked at various ways we can do this and in the last few years we have worked out an unmet need in the world we want to address: empower other creative, professionals, entrepreneurs, and change-makers to improve their creative performance by tapping into their sub-conscious. Our solutions use technology and mindfulness / heightened states to help reduce stress, promote relaxation, super charge their mind, and improving cognitive skills. According to a recent Gallup poll, a staggering 77% of professionals in the US experience burnout. These are the people who are finding solutions to the world's most pressing problems i.e: Climate crisis, pandemics, social inequality, etc. Burnout negatively impacts overall wellbeing (health, happiness, fulfillment, etc.), performance, decision making, and creativity. If we can empower these people to perform better and live happier and more productive lives, then we can grow along with them and energize the next generation problem-solvers to make the world a better place.
We did this by combining what we are good at or what we want to be good at. Our expertise in design and technology, combined with our nearly 40+ years of combined experience in mindfulness and heightened states got us looking for ways to innovate the ways to address the problem we chose to work on. What we didn't have expertise prior to 2014 was in entrepreneurship. Nelson is an engineer, educator, innovator, and author, and Manori is a designer with a background in architecture and business. Both of us had worked for non-profits, Fortune 500 companies and smaller companies. Manori had a few years at an e-commerce startup, but it was not nearly enough to call it expertise or good at being an entrepreneur. So, we decided the best way to get the experience is to do it and learn. Neuma Being is now the 4th company we have founded. Our previous experience gave us insights as to what to do and what not to do with a new venture. We also assembled a brain trust of trusted advisors who acted as an amazing sounding board.
We actually love that we get to combine our passions into one venture. So, during the hard parts of running a business, we find motivation to get through it by leaning into the parts that we love and like about running Neuma Being.
Once we realized that there is an unmet need in the market, it was easy to see that there is a way we can empower others to achieve their potential and be fairly compensated for our efforts. We didn't set out with a goal of monetizing our project as the first priority, but we soon realized the potential it carries within itself. We are determined to take it to where it deserves, as we grow alongside the project.
In part II of this post, we will discuss another technique we have used in many different instances in our lives, both personally and professionally. Continue to read Part II here.
We have been cooking up some exciting new programs we will reveal in the next few weeks. One of them is a leadership program that is geared to empower entrepreneurs, creatives, professionals, and change-makers. If you are find our insights useful and would like to work closely with us, please contact Manori at email@example.com to find our how you can be eligible to participate in this exclusive, innovative leadership program (only 12 spots will be available).