In Japanese culture, a concept called Ikigai (pronounced ick-ee-guy) means ‘a reason for being.’ The word itself can’t be directly translated to English, but the general gist of it is, ‘the thing that you live for.’
It’s your purpose, the reason to jump out of bed each morning. Ikigai isn’t just beneficial at an individual level, entire communities and businesses can learn from it too.
How can you achieve Ikigai?
- Do what you’re good at
- Do what you love
- Do what the world needs, and;
- Do what you can get paid for
It seems simple, however it’s quite difficult to achieve. Many people don’t get the balance – some may find joy in doing what they love, but can only earn just enough to get by, whilst others may have successful careers but are unable to find their passion. Though the premise is, if you can find a way to integrate all four of these aspects into your life, you’ve achieved Ikigai – and will feel more fulfilled and harmonious.
So how can you use this concept to help you in our career?
As well as being an effective form of self-assessment, it can be used as a tool to map out your broader needs and wants, thus building a better understanding of what exactly will bring you meaning and happiness. The diagram is fairly self-explanatory, although it’s not perfect – for instance, only a small percentage of people can make an impact to the world, but putting that aside, it’s worth exploring each segment and taking stock of everything in your life that applies to each one, even if they don’t interconnect. You may, for example, be really good at playing chess. It’s unlikely you’ll get paid for that, however including it can help form a pattern of interests and skills that can be applied to your professional life, such as logical thinking and problem solving.
If looking at each area is too overwhelming, another way to do it is by starting small. In Tim Tamashiro’s Ted Talk he advocates to start ‘part-time’ and focus on what you love to do and what you’re good at. He said, 50% of millennial’s are doing it this way, it’s their side-hustle, their passion. By starting off like this, your Ikigai will come to light. It does take a lot of self-reflection, planning, and understanding of yourself, but it’s worth the work you put into it. A meaningful life (a purpose) isn’t a destination, it’s something that can be enjoyed now.
Author: Rise team
Sources and notes: If you need more inspiration, read another one of our blogs, ‘how to find your work passion.’
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