What is the one thing that makes you jump out of bed and feel happy for doing it? If there’s something that is engaging and gives you a sense of pleasure, then you might have found your ikigai. If you haven’t, there are a lot of reasons why you should get one. Finding your ikigai means to find your reason for existence, something that will change your life and in turn create a positive impact in other’s life. Those who have a clear sense of purpose combined with the ability to empower others by their actions are truly remarkable. They know what they want to do in life and have clear goals to get there. The people who have found ikigai are generally conscientious and self-disciplined to work towards their dream.
What is Ikigai?
The two words – “Iki” meaning Life and “Kai” meaning the realization of what one hopes for, put together form the term “Ikigai”. Ikigai is the highest level of satisfaction that a human being could achieve that makes their life significant while unleashing their inner potential. In simple terms, Ikigai means “something that makes life worth living”.
While some people focus on material wealth and fame, there are others who focus on values much bigger than that. This brings them the biggest satisfaction that all the money in the world cannot provide. The feeling of wanting to create a better world for others gives pure joy and a sense of relief that you’ve found your reason for existence. You can not replace this value or give it up for something else, as this is something inscribed within oneself.
The Elements of Ikigai
Ikigai is seen as the convergence of these four elements:
- Passion – What you Love doing.
- Mission – What the World Needs.
- Vocation – What you are Good at.
- Profession – What you can get Paid for.
To discover your ikigai you have to find the correlation between these four elements. If you have some activity that covers these four elements, then that’s your ikigai!
How Not to Find your reason for Being
The reason for me starting off with this is because of the countless occasions where people have gone wrong. Some people never find their ikigai even after many years of existence. So what’s the factor they are missing? People take the long route and sometimes end up in a loop trying to find their ikigai.
I’ve seen people start off with “what you can get paid for” as the first step. This keeps them going for the short-term. Sometimes, people do make some money. But after a while, they grow tired of it and start losing interest over time. While wealth is important, it shouldn’t be the primary deciding factor in finding your ikigai.
There are countless arguments as to where you need to start. I recommend one among Passion and Mission. The world has a lot of problems to solve. If what you love is aligned to the mission, it’s much easier to work towards the other two elements.
Most of us are pushed into work that we don’t feel like doing or continue doing what we are not good at. By doing that, you lose yourself over the process and never live a fulfilling life. If you’re stuck in a similar situation, I strongly recommend you to find a bridge to connect all the four elements together in order to live the life you are destined for.
How to find your Ikigai?
Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles break down the ten rules in their book Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, to help anyone find their own ikigai.
- Stay active and don’t retire.
- Leave urgency behind and adopt a slower pace of life.
- Only eat until you are 80 percent full.
- Surround yourself with good friends.
- Get in shape through daily, gentle exercise.
- Smile and acknowledge people around you.
- Reconnect with nature.
- Give thanks to anything that brightens our day and makes us feel alive.
- Live in the moment.
- Follow your ikigai.
If you’re just exploring the way to find your ikigai, start with the hardest part – What the world needs. This is where most of the successful people start. If you know what the world lacks, you naturally find a clear sense of what needs to be fixed in order to make it better.
Then work your way to identify the strong points of you and find a correlation between your strong points and the world’s needs.
If you have made it up to this point, you should be loving what you do obviously. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. You’re making the world a better place, love what you do and on top of it, you have identified your personal strengths.
If you are solving a problem that the world needs, this by itself brings in greater value to most of our lives. But there are chances that you can make a living out of this and make material wealth. Thus you can continue to keep doing the work to get satisfaction and live a fulfilled life.
What is your Ikigai?
Ikigai emphasizes process and immersion rather than a final aim. So it’s not necessary that you only need to have one ikigai. And you can change your life’s purpose anytime you want, provided you have a clear vision to back it up and consistently work towards it. Ask yourself these questions in order to make the process simple:
- What is your motive or cause for doing it – The greater the purpose, the harder you need to work. Causing a change in the world requires a lot of effort and if you aren’t putting yourself on the line, chances are that you will be hidden among the crowd. The cause need not necessarily be a big one as even the smallest ones have significant effects in the long run.
- What are you great at – If you haven’t mastered anything yet, work towards making yourself better. Your strength should add additional value to the people and benefit the cause.
- What you love doing – when you truly love doing something, it takes you into the state of bliss and makes you feel alive by making you momentarily forget every other problems that you have.
- Why do people value you – If you are adding great value to the community, people will start valuing you for what you are. Something that they would pay you for in exchange for the services you provide.
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Let’s take a moment to think of all the good things we would like to bring into this world to make it a better place. Life should have a purpose and meaning, for us to be worth living it. Work towards finding your ikigai and enjoy the process. The journey to a fulfilling life is just beginning. Take one step every day to get towards your ikigai.