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How the concept of "ikigai" may improve your career
Finding the purpose of your work, your business, your company, etc
Ikigai is an ancient Japanese philosophy that emphasizes finding meaning and joy in one's work. It is believed to be a key factor in the happiness and longevity of Japanese people. Western culture has also adopted this philosophy in the pursuit of a meaningful career. This article will explore the origins, importance, and meaning of ikigai, as well as provide tips for finding and implementing it in one's life.
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that refers to one's "reason for being." The word ikigai is composed of two parts: "iki," meaning life, and "gai," meaning value or worth. It is often described as one's life purpose or passion, that which brings joy and inspiration to get up every day.
It is worth noting that while traditionally ikigai has been associated with finding one's passion, in the Western culture, ikigai is often used as a method of identifying a fulfilling career. The Western interpretation of ikigai suggests that a dream career will include four components: what you love, what you're good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs.
The Importance of Ikigai
As an ancient Japanese concept of finding meaning and purpose in one's life, Ikigai is considered important for several reasons. Japan is known for having a high life expectancy, and many Japanese people attribute this to the practice of ikigai.
In addition to living a longer and happier life, having a clear understanding of one's ikigai can also help:
Design a work lifestyle that aligns with one's values and goals.
Build strong social connections at work.
Achieve a healthy balance between work and personal life.
Pursue career aspirations with passion and purpose.
Find enjoyment and satisfaction in one's work.
When you know your ikigai, you are in alignment with the work you are meant to do and the work that the world needs you to do.
Where did this idea come from?
Ikigai, a Japanese philosophy of finding meaning and purpose in one's life, originated during the Heian period between 794 to 1185. The island of Okinawa, located south of the mainland Japan, has a high proportion of centenarians and Ikigai is an integral part of their culture.
However, the concept of ikigai is not limited to the elderly and is gaining popularity among younger generations both within Japan and internationally, as people seek to have more meaningful and fulfilling work lives.
How to discover your “ikigai”
Step 1: Identifying your Ikigai
What do you love?
Reflect on your current work and determine if you are fully absorbed, excited about going to work, and emotionally connected to the results.
Consider any hobbies or crafts that you can't get enough of, make you excited, and have an emotional connection to.
What are you good at?
Evaluate if people frequently seek your advice or expertise on topics related to your work or hobby.
Determine if there are aspects of your work or hobby that come easily to you and if you consider yourself to be one of the best or an expert.
What does the world need?
Assess if your work or hobby addresses a social, economic, or environmental problem and if it will remain valuable in the future.
What can you be paid for?
Research if others are getting paid for similar work or if there is potential to monetize your hobby or craft.
Consider the level of competition in the field.
If you answered "yes" to all the questions in the "If you're currently working" section, then you should continue to do what you're doing.
If you answered "yes" to all the questions in the "If you have a hobby or craft" section, then you can take steps to turn your hobby into your dream career. Go to step 2 to start.
If your answers were "no," don't worry, keep reading for more tips on finding your ikigai.
Step 2: Identifying your Ikigai through brainstorming
Visualize your ideal day from start to finish and pay attention to how you feel. Consider what makes you feel fulfilled and happy at work.
Write down your visualization and the changes you can make to align your mission with what you love, what you're good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.
If you identified areas where you feel unfulfilled or disconnected, brainstorm ways to make small changes, such as finding ways to work with clients face-to-face or pursuing a leadership promotion at work.
Keep in mind that it's normal to have doubts, fears, or negative thoughts during this process, but try not to attribute too much meaning to them. Remember that you are strong and adaptable.
The ultimate goal of this process should be to find your center, your ikigai, and align your mission with it.
Step 3: Verifying your Ikigai through Study and Research
Take the vision of your ideal workday and consider researching, studying, taking classes, or seeking mentorship or coaching to determine if it meets your real-life expectations.
For example, if you want to become a wedding photographer, consider mentoring under a professional wedding photographer to determine if it's the right fit for you. Or, if you want to sell vintage fashion, research the process and inventory management to see if it aligns with your vision.
If your vision aligns with your real-life expectations, then you have likely found your ikigai. Move on to the next section to implement it.
If not, don't worry, it may take time to find your ikigai. Repeat the process with different jobs, hobbies, or crafts until you find the one that speaks to you.
Experiment with different activities like baking, coding, volunteering, starting a book club, or designing a logo to discover what you love.
Keep in mind that finding your ikigai doesn't mean you'll love every aspect of your career, but it means that you are willing to accept the not-so-perfect parts as it aligns with what you love, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs.
4 Steps to Embracing your Ikigai
Setting Small Goals: After identifying solutions for aligning your mission with your ikigai, set concrete annual goals, and then break them down into smaller monthly and weekly goals. Keep in mind that small incremental steps can help you reach your long-term goal.
Planning it out: Organize your short-term and long-term goals using a chart, calendar, or notebook. Make sure to have a dedicated spot for your plans that you can refer to often and make both digital and paper copies of your plans.
Building a Support System: Surround yourself with mentors, coaches, teachers, and other professionals who have reached similar goals, and network with people who are heading towards the same goal. Learn as much as you can from your support system.
Testing it out: Once you've implemented your plan, regularly evaluate if you're achieving your short-term and long-term goals, and if not, reassess and adjust your goals and plans to ensure that you're focusing on what you should do and not just what you want to do.
3 Challenges You May Face While Discovering Your Ikigai:
Overwhelm: It's normal to feel overwhelmed when trying to discover your purpose. However, the key is to keep moving forward and seek support when needed. Keep taking action steps towards your goals, no matter how small.
Limited Time: Sometimes, it may feel like you don't have enough time to pursue your passion. But with a little creativity, you can stretch and organize your time to fit your needs. Wake up early, look for time gaps, and rearrange your schedule to make time for your goals.
Fear-based thinking: Our brains are wired to protect us from danger, but it can sense danger even when it isn't present. This can make it difficult to push past fear and take action towards your goals. With practice, it will get easier to overcome fear-based thinking.