Ikigai - a Practical Framework to Finding your Purpose
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
A few years ago I stumbled upon the Japanese concept Ikigai which roughly translates to "a reason for being". This ancient concept sets up an amazingly simple and practical framework one can use to help determine their life's purpose.
So for those of us who have not yet found our reason for waking up in the morning, how do we find our Ikigai?
Ikigai is the intersection of the following components:
What you love (passion)
What you are good at (vocation)
What you can be paid for (profession)
What the world needs (mission)
Most people live life as if they are on one of the moving sidewalk found in airports. We are born, go to school, get put into extracurricular activities (that if you are lucky, you actually enjoy), move up the educational ranks and find yourself in the professional world where we basically pick a job that we hope will provide enough money to live off of (and again, if you are lucky, you will actually enjoy)... all in reaction to surviving systems humans have created for ourselves over generations.
Conversely, our Ikigai is rarely what society expects of us or leads us down the conveyor belt of life towards but instead is the instinctual actions and gut responses that result from a "higher calling", also thought of as our soul's purpose.
With the resources that are available to us today and the knowledge we all hold on our smartphones right in our pockets, there is no excuse to not explore your purpose and live a life that is meaningful to you. This isn't something that is just for wealthy individuals who have the luxury of following their passions, this is all about making money and being a contributing member of society in a way that benefits everyone but most importantly YOU!
So, what are you waiting for, get out a pen and paper and start brainstorming. Here are some questions to help you get going:
1. What brings you joy
2. When do you feel most useful
3. What do friends and family compliment you on
4. What are your strengths
5. What need do you see in your community that you can fill
6. What is the thing you have always been interested in but never explored
7. What causes do you believe in
8. What service can you provide that no one else can
9. What are you good at without even trying
10. When are you fully immersed in what you are doing
Once you have spent some time brainstorming, apply your answers to the Ikigai 4 question Venn Diagram [download worksheet here] and look for areas of overlap or intersection. Reflect on the exercise and see what patterns and themes are standing out to you and how you can apply this to your life.
While you will likely not find your Ikigai over night, spending time thinking about this framework can help you discover a well-balanced life of purpose and practicality, and really, who wouldn't want that?