Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens, Life Coach

Discovering Purpose in Life: 5 top tools plus How to Find Ikigai

4 circles interlocking into a diagram to show how to find your purpose - Ikigai

Finding purpose in life can seem elusive, especially if you’re in midlife and thinking that everyone else has their s*** sorted, or you’re telling yourself, “I should know this by now”…

Having purpose and direction in life contributes to happiness and wellbeing according to psychologists, the NHS and mental health charities.

Here in the UK, government stats show that levels of life satisfaction are lower today than pre-pandemic. (Read more HERE).

The Japanese have a word for it – Ikigai, which roughly translates as;

‘a passion that gives value and joy to life’.

More on this later.


Want to get out of bed on Monday morning with a spring in your step?!
Read on…


Meaning in life or Purpose in life?

I like this brief explanation;
Meaning in life – how we…

“make sense of life and our roles in it”.

Purpose in life – the…

“aspirations that motivate our activities”

(Ivtzan et al., 2016 – source HERE).


Having purpose in life is the reason you get up in the morning.


5 Tools to Help you Find Purpose in Life

Here are some of the best tools I’ve shared with people I’ve worked with in my life coaching practice. I use them personally too, as they’re useful check-ins for clarifying my direction.



1.   Self-reflection for self-awareness

Allow your mind to wander and reflect on your passions, values, and strengths. This process of self-reflection will provide valuable insights and clues into what truly matters to you.

Then, get your thoughts onto paper and note your insights and next steps.

Coaching questions for self-reflection:
  • What lights you up and energises you?
  • Where do you find joy?
  • What do you stand for?
  • When and where are you in flow and lose track of time?


I used a similar exercise when I was trying to work out what else I could do if I left my career in HR. Strengths, skills, values and more.

It’s super practical and you can keep going back to it. Use this download HERE and get scribbling!




2.   Try new things

The unfamiliar can make us nervous – our brain tells us ‘it’s safer not to’ and let’s face it, it’s easier to stay home, stress-free than go out. I invite you to leave your comfort zone and try something new or different to change it up.

Tips to try new things:
  • Go to that event you’re interested in but haven’t yet gone to. If you’re a woman in midlife and haven’t yet attended my monthly Walk and Talk, book you place HERE!
  • Take a different route to work, even though it’s less familiar
  • Broaden your reading and listening tastes. A new podcast? A different genre of literature?

If the nerves kick in when you’re about to try a new thing, ask yourself this simple question;

What’s the worst that could happen?


And really go through the worst that could happen – get familiar with your fears (as they stop us from doing the things we really want to do).
Write it out on paper for perspective.


3.   Contribute to a cause greater than yourself

Connecting with others in need, being part of a community and offering something you are good at with no expectation in return, is humbling. Volunteering for a cause (perhaps you already do) that means something to you, provides a focus on others’ needs and an alternative perspective on what else is going on in the world.


4. Cultivate a growth mindset

Dr Carol Dweck coined ‘Growth Mindset’ through her research. To find your purpose and direction, it’s essential that you recognise the different mindsets you take on. A growth mindset allows for personal growth and development. A fixed mindset limits your potential.

Tips to cultivate a growth mindset;
  • Embrace challenges (rather than ‘problems’) as opportunities to learn and grow
  • Embrace failures as stepping stones to success
  • Believe in your ability to improve and adapt
  • Surround yourself with positive influences and note who they are and how you feel


Read more about growth mindset in a previous blog, where I skilfully resisted IKEA meatballs (!), HERE.


4 images depicting my purpose and direction
The clues are in the photos…!

5.   Get intentional and set goals

Once you have a clearer understanding of yourself, set your intentions with meaningful goals. Goals give you direction and serve as a roadmap to your desired future/ They’re even more powerful when they align with your values.

Make your goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant, and
  • Time-bound



Break down goals into smaller, actionable steps, and celebrate your small wins along the way. It’s a cliche I know, but remember…;

...it's not the destination but the journey that counts.

Read more HERE.


6.   Find your Ikigai

I referred to this term earlier; Ikigai is a Japanese concept that aligns your purpose with values, passions and more. Develop your awareness of your being in 4 areas.

It’s a tool I’m starting to use more around purpose in work and career. Great if you’re thinking ‘what else could I do that suits with my interests and values and what I’m good at’.

Tips to find your Ikigai – Ask yourself these questions:
  • Passion – what do I love to do?
  • Vocation – what am I good at?
  • Mission – what does the world need?
  • Profession – what can I get paid for?


Find your Ikigai, using my questionnaire! To claim it, join my mailing list on the button below.



Final word

Be kind on yourself. 


Finding purpose and direction means different things to different people – we’re all unique. For me it’s ongoing. I seem to hit key milestones, take smaller stepping stones and a few detours. Yet I’m continually learning and leading my own way, so I like that.

Book a call with me to find out how I can help you find purpose and direction on the button below.


Book recommendation; Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia

Read more about the concept of Ikigai from the Japanese government, HERE


Client agreement - ground rules.

1. Bring my whole self to this process; professionally and personally.

You cannot separate your professional and personal ‘lives’.

2. Be present in the moment and connected.

… to the coaching; what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing. And…to nature if and where we are outdoors. If we’re on headphones, I’ll invite you to be descriptive of your environment too.

3. Bring the agenda to each session and keep your overall objective alive.

You can do this in several ways:

  • Be goal and action orientated – bring what you want to discuss and achieve to the session; OR
  • Talk and see what lands – exploratory and intentional.

I will bring the process, tools, ideas, resources and best practice to best support you towards your goal/intention/objective. More in your pre-coaching questionnaire. 

4. Give feedback and be responsive.

Coaching is collaborative. Neither of us should guess where we stand. I ask you to give me feedback and respond – you can rely on me to give and do the same.

I aim to get back to you within 24 hours of you emailing me, even if it’s just to say ‘I received your message’ before I respond properly. If it’s over the weekend or holiday, this may take longer.

5. Do the work in the session and in between sessions.

…so that you get the best value, even when it’s challenging. I might suggest a piece of work based on what you brought to the session. Mainly you will decide your course of action.

Whichever way, I’ll invite you to:

  • Reflect more; through walking, writing and whatever else fires you up, to help you achieve your objective.
  • Explore more; be curious and follow those trails of thought, intentionally
    Practice more; habits? Actions? Keep trying/tweaking.
  • Note what’s coming up that’s important or interesting to you in the session. I may share a few bullet points with you after, via Google Docs.

6. Session duration and timescale.

Generally a session is an hour but happy to shorten or increase session lengths, as and when we both can, that day. Where either of us thinks it appropriate, let’s say in the session. Timescale – let’s keep to the timescale agreed in the contract.

Additional information...

  • Coaching is a relationship designed to facilitate the development of personal or professional goals and develop a plan/strategy for achieving those goals.
  • It is comprehensive; it may involve other areas of your life beyond what you may have originally intended. It is your responsibility to choose and decide how to handle this, or even whether to.
  • It can be challenging; digging deep, creating better habits, becoming more self-aware, changing unhelpful beliefs you hold about yourself to something more helpful. There will be ups and downs. You will gain new insights, learnings and perspectives to help you achieve your goal.
  • You – the Client, are solely responsible for creating and implementing your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, decisions, choices, actions and results arising out of or resulting from the coaching relationship and your coaching calls and interactions with me – the Coach. As such, you agree that the Coach is not and will not be liable or responsible for any actions or inaction, or for any direct or indirect result of any services provided by me – the Coach. 
  • You – the Client, understand that in order to enhance the coaching relationship, you agree to communicate honestly, be open to feedback and assistance and to create the time and energy to participate fully in the program. I will do the same.
  • Coaching is not a substitute for counselling, mental health care or substance abuse treatment.  If you are in any kind of therapy, please tell me.  Tell your practitioner (medical or therapeutic) of you working with me.
  • I ask you to agree to commit to the coaching sessions to facilitate the required change.
  • I will treat you as the expert regarding the subject matter, which is…YOU.
  • I will allow time and space for you to explore your thoughts and think for yourself, no interruptions. There may be long pauses or silence sometimes to elicit more.
  • What goes on in your sessions is confidential. I do not discuss it with anyone. There may be occasion when it is my duty to break confidentiality:
    > If I feel you or I are at risk of harm.
    > Criminal / illegal activity.
    > A safeguarding concern or something else so serious that warrants concern.
  • I may talk to my coach or supervisor about issues arising in our sessions without ever naming or giving away you as the client. This is to ensure I am following professional and ethical guidelines and delivering my best. I subscribe to these by the ICF; https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics
  • Qualifications and CPD; I am an accredited coach. This means I have trained, practiced and qualified with Animas Centre for Coaching (Nov 2020). I hold a ‘Diploma in Transformational Coaching’. This is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
    > I have my own coach and group supervision
    > My CPD includes –  Outdoor Intelligence for Online Coaching (Oct 2020) -Positive Psychology (Feb 2021

My accreditations


My story

I’d been trying to work out ‘what else’ I could do with my career and life.

After 20 years in HR and with the children getting older, I wanted to change careers, but into ‘what?’ And ‘how’ was that even possible? And…’who would take on a mid-40’s apprentice?’!

I took small steps to boost my confidence and mindset; a regular ‘walk and whinge’ with friends to offload, short courses to up-skill, more running, more netball.
I asked my workplace ‘what else’ they needed that I could help with – ‘job crafting’. 

I was trying to make changes but it wasn’t really working. I was still frustrated and now, more miserable. I needed a different approach to find a way forward and release the building pressure I felt.

Hiring an accredited coach with whom I knew I could work with, enabled me to take a good look at myself – at times, uncomfortably.

To be listened to without any interruption, or judgement was empowering and I started to recognise what made me, me – my personality, strengths, what energised me and made me happy. What if these things amounted to a job I would…love…?

I followed my curiosity and dabbled with ideas about potential jobs, tasks and environments that would suit me, with a new, growth mindset.

I started to shift perspective. When I finally realised the ‘what’, I felt an energy and sense of knowing that was powerful. And I laughed, because it had been right in front of me!

Coaching undoubtedly helped me get to know myself, to see my potential and what was possible. I wholeheartedly decided through those sessions, on what and how I wanted things to be.

It had taken me two years of feeling stuck and miserable and a number of hours to be liberated.

This is what I now do with my clients. I help them rediscover themselves so that they can play to their strengths and thrive.