What on earth is Ikigai, and how can it benefit me?

In last week’s blog post, I talked about purpose and values.  This week, I’d like to extend on those topics and talk about Ikigai.  What on Earth is Ikigai, you might be wondering.  Ikigai (pronounced ee-kee-guy) is a Japanese concept which roughly translates to “reason for being”.  It takes the concept of purpose and values and builds on it in a way that can be applied specifically to your career.  Your Ikigai is where the following four elements intersect:

What you love

This is where your values come into play.  As I mentioned in the last blog post, our values are things that are important to us, which is a key driver to helping you determine the things that you love.  To demonstrate this, I’m going to use my imaginary friend Jim (who I just made up).  A couple of Jim’s core values include being able to help people solve problems and thinking logically.  These values guide Jim towards his love for computers.

What you are good at

Generally, when you love something you want to spend as much time working in that field as possible.  Over time, you’ll build your skills and become very good at what you do.  Because Jim loves computers and solving problems so much, he’s spent a lot of time coding and creating lots of different little apps, which has made him a very good programmer.  Passion occurs when your love for something intersects with something you’re good at.

What you can be paid for

While it’s great to be able to do something you love, it’s very hard to do it all the time if you’re unable to pay your bills.  The next piece of the Ikigai puzzle is finding something you can be paid for.  In Jim’s situation, you can see through various job seeker websites that it is possible to earn a living by programming.  When something you can be paid for intersects with something you’re good at, that is your profession.

What the world needs

One of, if not *the*, most important parts of the Ikigai concept is doing something the world needs.  The key to being successful in business (and life in general) is the ability to help others solve their problems.  Since the world needs people like Jim to program computers to make life easier, he’s got this covered.  Your mission in life is where your love for something intersects with something to world needs, and your vocation (job) is where something the world needs meets something you can be paid for.

Bringing it all together

When you’ve identified the four previously mentioned elements, where they intersect then becomes your Ikigai.  People will often work in a job they hate just because that’s what they’re told to do, or told what they can do.  This leads to high levels of stress, which in turn leads to a decrease in mental and physical health over time.  The Ikigai concept aims to increase the level of personal fulfilment, resulting in lower levels of stress and better long-term health.

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