Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept that loosely translates to “a reason for being.” Some may call this their life’s mission, their reason for getting out of bed at five in the morning, or if they’re fancy, a raison d’être.
In other words, ikigai aims to provide you with the answer to life’s most burning question: what am I doing here?
For some people, their “reason for being” is quite clear, while others struggle with finding a clear purpose.
Basically, ikigai is the convergence of four core elements:
what you love (your passion)
what the world needs (your mission)
what you are good at (your vocation)
what you can get paid for (your profession)
Ikigai, the space in the middle of these four primary elements, is the best described as the art of balancing all of these elements in a way that makes life purposeful.
What’s preventing you from discovering your ikigai?
- You don’t think you can make a career out of your passion
- You can’t risk quitting your job to pursue your passion
- You’re a slave of the daily grind and have lost sight of what makes you happy
- You were told, over and over again, that your passion can never become a source of income for you
- You’re worried that you’re not good enough to pursue your passion
What you deeply care about can help you figure out your ikigai
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”Howard W Thurman
I’ll be honest with you. This isn’t a walk in the park. This isn’t as easy as answering a personality quiz.
Ikigai often feels like walking on tightrope, even for those who have a clear purpose.
I have always wanted to be a writer. I have dedicated more than half the time I have lived on this planet to becoming a full-time writer.
Yet… I am still being pulled in all sorts of directions. Sometimes by external factors, and other times by internal ones.
For instance, my love for self-improvement, success, and motivation. I love to write about these topics, the same way I love to write about blogging.
I also love to spend 1-2 hours every day working out. It’s a passion of mine.
Now, the question that arises from this is: what should I pursue?
And I think most people are having this issue. There are too many options, some of which are seen as less viable, true, but they are options nonetheless.
I think that the trick is to let it go.
I mean it.
Just accept that this is who you are, that your life’s purpose is, in fact, to pursue your curiosity for as long as possible.
I once wrote into existence a character whose life purpose was to develop a new set of skills every two or three months: learning a new language, learning to play a new instrument, and so on.
The way I see it, your ikigai is supposed to be fluid. It’s supposed to change as you change, it’s supposed to offer you perspective when you are feeling lost, that is all.
But you should always approach life thinking that not all those who wander are lost.
And, truth be told, I’ve always thought that the only way to find the wonders of life is to wander for as long as possible through life.