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How Do I Find My IKIGAI?

“Have you read Ikigai – the new Los Angeles Times bestseller?” My friend recently asked me. Ikigai has been everywhere recently, from office lunches to coffee conversations and outings with friends to family dinners. And fairly so, as Ikigai is something every one of us has been searching for our whole life, which is a “reason of being.”

What is IKIGAI?

IKIGAI meaning in Japanese, translates to a sense of purpose, a reason for living. In short, Ikigai is your reason to wake up and get out of bed every day.

As interesting and pleasing as it sounds, finding your Ikigai is equally difficult. That is because the concept is finding the balance between your spiritual and practical world.

How do you find the balance between both worlds? By following your passion. According to this Japanese concept of happy and long life, you will find your Ikigai at the intersection of your passion and talent that coincide with what the world is willing to pay for.

Tips for finding your IKIGAI

  • Discover your passion

What are you most passionate about – art, music, marketing, or technology? Well, these are just mediums through which you can express your passion; they may or may not be your passion.

Confused? Let’s take the example of Steve Jobs; the whole world knows him as one of the biggest tech tycoons. But did you, the founder of Apple and Pixar, was actually passionate about fine craftsmanship and not technology.

Jobs was a lover of finely made items, be it about collecting Japanese teacups or obsessing over the design details of different products. Technology was the medium he chose to express his passion for finely made products.

Similarly, your passion could be something else than the field or industry you are working for or the job you are doing.

  • Understand your mission

“What do you want to in life? Who do you want to be?” All of us had been asked this question in our school days. My friends had different answers to this – doctor, engineer, CA. When the teacher asked, I remember I had said, “I want to do something that will help people improve their quality of life.”

That is my mission to date. What is your mission in life? It could be helping the less fortunate, reducing human impact on the environment, or bringing a change in your field, region, or religion.

  • Know your talent

Whether it’s cooking, art, music, sports, or repairing things, or creating something new at home, which you may know as DIY, we all have some kind of talent within us.

Know what your talents are. It could be more than one for most people. For example, you could be a great cook and an excellent entrepreneur at the same time. The number of talents and skills you have will open equal or more professional opportunities for you.

Now, which professional path to choose will depend on your Ikigai.

  • Find your Ikigai

Let’s say you have already discovered your passion, you know your mission, and you have a few choices of professions you could choose based on your talent. Now, to find your Ikigai, ask yourself these questions:

  • How can my skills pay me?
  • How is my talent relevant, and can I solve problems in real life?

If you have the answer to these two questions you have found your Ikigai.

Yes, Ikigai is nothing but the intersection of your passion, profession, vocation, and mission.

Riya has been passionate about redesigning clothes since her childhood. She would often experiment on her old clothes, cut and sew them to find out how she could reuse them and make them more stylish. She was also obsessed with environmental issues and how we can control, manage, or reduce their impact.

As she grew up, knowing her passion for designing clothes, she chose to become a fashion designer. But her values and obsession over human impact on the environment led her to practice sustainability in her designs, and she found a fashion designing label that was contemporary, ethical, and sustainable.

Here Riya’s

  • Passion – designing clothes
  • Mission – reducing human impact on the environment
  • Profession – fashion designing

So, Riya’s Ikigai could be being a sustainable fashion designer and an entrepreneur – the intersection of her passion, profession, and mission.

I hope this has helped you start your journey of finding your Ikigai. Although these are just the starting steps, you can find more about Ikigai by watching online videos or, even better join short courses online. When in doubt, discuss with your friend, family member, or colleague through interpersonal communication with who you have a good rapport.

Finding your Ikigai might sound tedious. Some may find it easily, while some have to go for trial and error. However, once you have found your Ikigai, you will have found the key to a happy and fulfilling life.

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