ikigai diagram

Finding My Ikigai

On finding purpose, professionally and personally

Why do you get up in the morning? What is your reason to live? What drives you? What motivates you?

These are questions I’ve struggled with most of my life. I’ve never quite been able to pinpoint exactly what I wanted to do in life or what my path was. Some of my earliest memories of the questions asked, not by myself but by others, are at the age of around five years old.

“I will be a magician part-time!” I’d exclaim, “and the other half, I’d take over my dad’s businesses”.

Looking back at it now, I was incredibly well-trained and polite. I had learned what was expected of me when answering such questions, and I knew that one day, I was “meant” to take over from my father.
Luckily, that didn’t happen, and I managed to free myself of his toxic environment 19 years later. I now try to embark on my own path with a free and open mind, surrounding myself with people I admire and who inspire me. Nevertheless, let’s jump back in time and revisit when I first started defining what I wanted to do: magic

I practiced (although if you ask my mom, she’ll tell you I liked the performing part a lot more than practicing) and performed magic for nearly 8 years. It was a passion, a creative expression, and something I felt was truly mine.
I will always be grateful for the possibilities that my parents gifted me with, sustaining the endeavor financially and by sitting through my attempts at learning. I loved doing magic and have gotten the chance to perform at a few cool events, from schools in Poland to birthday parties in Austria (and a church, though that is a story for another time).
I loved magic, but what I couldn’t fully articulate at the time was that it was not the magic itself that drew me in, but the most important part thereof: storytelling.

ikigai diagram

I’ve long been a fan of Japanese culture, especially the concept of Ikigai. I was first exposed to it through the book The Little Book of Ikigai: The Secret Japanese Way to Live a Happy and Long Life by Ken Mogi, and more recently through an exercise during ADHD reimagined. Instead of trying to convey the meaning of it, allow me to quote Chat GPT for the definition:

Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being,” centered on finding joy and fulfillment at the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. It embodies the pursuit of balance and purpose in life’s various dimensions.

Some call it a north star, others yet guiding principles and researchers at Harvard used a similar strategy with The Seven Stories Excercise. It always boils down to the same concept: finding the common thread (the intersection) in your experiences/adventures and goals. I wholeheartedly recommend the book on it.

In my short 25 years, I’ve had the great fortune to have tried many different professions, hobbies, experiences, and paths. I experimented and ended up doing and liking things from seemingly wholly unrelated areas, such as:

  • Magic & Grand Illusions (ca. 2008)

  • Making a YouTube show (SciKids, this was also when I bought my first plastic-cover MacBook and Final Cut Pro ca. 2011)

  • Writing a young adult novel (which I finished, though I won’t comment on how cheesy it was ca. 2012)

  • iOS Development (2013)

  • Photography (ca. 2013)

  • Julo’s Development (2014-)

  • Making iOS courses and tutorials (ca. 2016)

  • Event Organization (2015-)

  • Scuba Instructor (2017)

  • Motivational Speaking

  • DevRel & Outreach (ca. 2016-2018)

  • Project Management (2017-)

  • Community Management (2015-)

  • Construction/Renovation & Physical Work (ca. 2022-2023)

  • Writing a novel (ca. 2018, though I have repurchased the rights to it this year)

  • Producing YouTube videos (ca. 2018 – Mile 26)

  • Social Media Marketing

  • Teaching / Workshops

  • Entrepreneurship (aka. professional failing & experimenting)

My passions and interests changed very frequently, pulling me in the most random of directions. There would be weeks or months where a new hobby would take over my mind, and every moment I wasn’t working, I would enrich my knowledge of it. Nowadays, I know this has a lot to do with my (undiagnosed) ADHD and the shiny-new-object syndrome.

e. Over the years, I’d gotten used to the fact that my interests were often changing and that I hadn’t yet found “my thing““. I envied other kids with clearly defined goals and aspirations, even if unrealistic at times, of becoming astronauts, footballers, or movie stars. Things seemed more manageable for them, as they had their north star guiding them.

After countless hours of contemplation, many sleepless nights, and reading every possible book on the subject, my common thread is starting to emerge: Storytelling.

Magic & Grand Illusions are based on storytelling and diversion. My writing endeavors. Both the successful one and the more comic one were based on telling a story. Working as a Scuba Instructor, in addition to the physical work, which was rewarding in and of itself, contained another form of telling stories and engaging students. Motivational speaking, teaching workshops, sales, and marketing are all based on evoking emotion through stories. The same was valid for making videos for YouTube.

Storytelling sits perfectly at the center of this Venn diagram.
I genuinely love it and have been pulled to it for as long as I can remember (even if I have not yet taken the jump completely).
I believe I’ve gotten good at it over the years through sales, marketing, and creative writing.
It’s something I am paid for through work in marketing and copywriting and something I hope to explore further through other creative outlets.
It’s something the world needs (or I choose to believe it needs), both for entertainment and for promoting causes that can have a real impact (such as Nutrified or other charitable causes).

I don’t yet know what the future holds. I don’t know what my path will look like, but I am incredibly grateful that I am slowly finding the right direction. I’m looking forward to telling the story of Nutrified professionally and looking forward to finding other creative outlets personally (in addition to this newsletter). Maybe I will get the courage to pursue filmmaking more seriously or finally find the time again to create something just for the fun of it. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I am excited to find out.

With love from rainy Milan,


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