Ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy”) is loosely translated as ‘your purpose in life’ or ‘reason for getting out of bed in the morning’ from the Japanese ‘iki’ (to live) and gai (reason). It is a framework based on finding the intersection where your passions and talents converge with the things that the world needs and is willing to pay for. The fundamental truth of Ikigai is that nothing is siloed. Everything is connected. The model is shown below, and I recommend that everyone has a go at completing it for themselves. Just draw or print off a blank version and write your answers in the gaps.
As an article in one of my favourite websites, Forbes, writes; ‘to discover your Ikigai, you must first find what you’re most passionate about. Then, you find the medium through which you can express that passion.’ In other words, your ikigai is at the intersection of what you are good at and what you love doing. It’s about focusing on something bigger than material wealth and material wealth only. It’s about living a happy, fulfilled life. An example of Steve Jobs is used here, explaining how he has always had a passion for ‘finely made items’, whether that be in the form of handmade Japanese teacups or technology. Apple was merely the way he expressed his passion for finely made items. So, what you need to do is find your passion, and then set about discovering how you can demonstrate that passion to the rest of the world. That is where you will find your Ikigai. Another example is the writer of the Forbes article I was just talking about, the founder of a finance company called ‘Bodetree.’ The founder is passionate about helping people live up to their highest potential- that is one of his deep-rooted values. His company, much like Steve Jobs and Apple, is simply the vehicle through which those passions can be applied to the world. In other words, Bodetree is his Ikigai. DISCOVER YOUR PASSIONS AND VALUES, AND EXPRESS THEM IN THE FORM OF A BUSINESS. The business should make a difference in people’s lives.
In order to find your Ikigai, you must first question; ‘what am I naturally good at?’ By determining what skills you were born with, you can identify what you were ultimately ‘born to do.’ You can then enhance your skills in those areas to become a master at your chosen skill.
Examples of Ikigai’s= to serve, to create, to delight, to nourish, to provide, to teach, to heal, to connect, and to build.
Ikigai is related to my faith, Buddhism. How? Well, Buddhism, in particular Zen Buddhism, places great emphasis on discovering the meaning of life which, as Ikigai demonstrates, differs for everyone. My Ikigai is likely to be different to yours because we are all individual- we all have different passions and things that ‘make us tick.’ As Buddhism focuses on personal spiritual development, the creation of goals and discovery of ones Ikigai makes it a key part of the faith.