Ikigai is a Japanese word that roughly means ‘the reason to wake up every morning‘, or the reason for being. It certainly is one of the prettiest words I’ve ever heard and added to my vocabulary. I’m guessing that you might have also heard of it before, since the book Ikigai by Hector Garcia ve Francesc Miralles has been highly popular over the past years and has been widely shared on social media platforms too. The word Ikigai derives from iki that means ‘life’ and kai, that means ‘the realization of hopes and expectations’. (Isn’t this wonderful?)
Well then, how do we find our ikigai?
According to this philosophy, your ikigai is the subset of the four larger circles that are: passion, mission, profession and vocation. The tiny area where these areas interlap is literally like gold and points to your ikigai. If you know people who have already found this tiny subset in their lives, go and have conversations with them and learn as much as possible!
FINDING OUR IKIGAI
Fundamentally, we’re searching for the answers to these four questions:
- What do you love doing?
- What does the world need?
- What can you get paid for?
- What are you good at doing?
When you’re able to give satisfactory answers to these four questions, you’ve taken a huge step towards your ikigai. In fact, maybe you’ll reach the moment of Eureka! If you’re retired or if you don’t need to make money, you can eliminate the third question and continue with the others. This way you’ll be able to find a meaningful way to live your life without the stress of getting paid. According to a BBC research, there’s a decent number of Japanese people who have found their ikigai after retirement. Perhaps the life expectancy is very high in Japan because of this, what do you say?
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
The questions we need to ask to find our Ikigai are simple – are the answers easy as well?
Personally, I haven’t been able to find the answers easily or quickly. I’ve spent several years thinking about these questions and found myself in some existential crisis moments. If you’re like me and dream of having contradicting concepts in life, it becomes even more difficult. Like what? Following my passions and living a meaningful, creative life but also having financial stability and ensure high living standards.
I know I’m in search mode, I am aware of it and believe I am getting closer to finding it. So how am I moving forward and what do experts have to say about this?
Ask yourself these questions from time to time:
- Why do you get out of bed?
- Why do you do what you’re currently doing?
- What was the last thing that you enjoyed greatly and lost track of time?
- What do you dream of doing more?
- Solving which problem for the world would make you happy?
A JOURNEY TOWARDS IKIGAI
Don’t forget that finding your purpose of life is a journey. It is an ongoing process and you need to make sure you accept that you won’t be able to find the answers very quickly. It will take time. Give yourself time, listen to your heart, trust your instincts, don’t self-criticise and keep asking. Here are some tips that can relieve your mind and heart during your search:
Write down everything that you’ve enjoyed to this and that has made you happy. Which values and goals are important to you? If you would dedicate your life to something, what would this be? What are some activities that make you lose track of time? Try to remember these and take notes, because our memories can fail us and we can easily forget about memorable events. To avoid forgetting, write everything down and take a look at your notes whenever you need to.
2. GET TO KNOW YOURSELF
Allow yourself to understand what you like and dislike and be experimental. Best way to learn something is by trial and error. Stop thinking and start testing. If you think you are passionate or have skills for more than one thing, try both of them and observe.
3. GET INSPIRED
Find and meet people who have similar passions and people who have found their ikigai in life. There’s so much to learn from their journeys. I’m sure they didn’t wake up one morning with their purpose of life. 🙂 They have been through a process, questioned themselves, tried (and failed) and one day, they’ve reached the answer they were looking for.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Have you found your ikigai or are you still in search of it? If and when you find it, what do you think would be different in your life? Let me know! ??