Have you ever wondered about the meaning or importance of Ikigai?
Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy that has over the centuries shaped the way the Japanese live their lives. It is widely believed that the Ikigai concept is the reason behind the longevity and happiness of the residents of Japan. In the other parts of the world Ikigai meaning is sought in a bid to discovering a meaningful professional and satisfactory personal life.
In simpler words, Ikigai means ‘reason for existence.’ ‘Iki’ is Japanese for ‘life’, and ‘gai’ means ‘value’ or ‘worth.’ The difference between the original Japanese Ikigai meaning and its western interpretation is that in Japanese it focuses on ‘finding bliss’ whereas the western concept uses the method to find the ‘dream career.’
The principle of Ikigai is based on brainstorming to discover your dream career that should have the following four qualities:
- What you love
- What you’re good at
- What you can be paid for
- What the world needs
Ikigai is often depicted through a diagram that visualises the discovery of Ikigai by depicting four overlapping circles. The point where all the four circles converge is identified as Ikigai.
The discovery of Ikigai is known to provide several benefits such as:
Longer and happier life
Designing the perfect work and lifestyle
Building better professional relationships
Enjoying a healthy work-life balance
Once you know your Ikigai and its meaning, you are able to find the profession that you always wanted to be in, and identify what the world truly needs you to do.
The discovery of Ikigai is a three-step process:
Step 1: Self Questioning
There are some work related questions that you need to ask yourself when you set out to discover your Ikigai. For instance:
What is it that you love to do?
Do you feel passionate about your work?
Do you feel happy going to work or when you are about to leave from work?
Do you feel emotional about your work performance?
Do you have a hobby or talent that you can’t get enough of?
Do you love your hobby or art more than anything else?
Are you great at what you do?
Do others consider you an expert in your field?
Do people appreciate your hobby or art?
Finding answers to these and many other such questions will help you zero-in on some specific activities or professions.
Step 2. Brainstorm to find your ikigai
The second step of the process requires you to visualise how you would want an ideal day to be from start to finish. The clothes you wear, the people you interact with, the food you eat, the tasks you do, and the emotions you experience, it all has to be visualised.
Once you have created the vision, write it down vividly on a paper as if you are describing a video you are watching. Then you need to look at the answers from the previous step, and find out what are the questions that you answered negatively. Indulge in some brainstorming and make the necessary changes that you need to make in order to align the mission.
Step 3. Study to find your ikigai
Now that you know what your perfect workday looks like, you need to study, research, learn and even hire a mentor if needed. This will help you acquire the clarity and knowhow to achieve your Ikigai. This will also help you find out whether your vision is in sync with your real-life needs and expectations. For instance, you might want to be a travel photographer, but after learning about the profession in depth, you might find it incompatible with your lifestyle expectations.
Remember that it is not easy to find Ikigai at times. It can take days, months or even years for some people. However, once you have discovered it, it is time to implement the Ikigai by taking the following four steps:
Goal setting – Start with small monthly goals that would eventually lead to the annual goals. Baby steps are the best approach to move forward.
Planning – You need to plan your small goals strategically to align them with a calendar, chart or a notebook that systematically leads to the longer annual goals.
Building the support system: Talk to mentors, professionals and people who have achieved the goals that you are after. You can also team up with others pursuing the same field. Build a network and learn as much as possible.
Validate – Once you have got the whole plan ready and knowledge in place, go ahead and test the waters. Are you able to achieve your goals? Are you able to answer ‘yes’ to all the questions in step 1?
Ask yourself if you are doing what you should do or you are doing what you want to do?
Once you have the answer to this question, you have discovered your Ikigai and its meaning.