Ikigai

Ikigai is essentially your reason for getting up in the morning.

A LITTLE BIT OF BACKGROUND

In 2001, Akihiro Hasegawa (a psychologist) and an associate professor placed the word ikigai as part of everyday Japanese language.

iki means life and gai means value or worth

Many authors describe ikigai as being similar to the process of happiness, suggesting that even if you are feeling miserable now that there is hope for the future.

FUN FACT!

Practicing ikigai is linked to living longer! Dan Buettner (author of blue zones: Lessons from people who’ve lived the longest) points to long lived communities around the world as living blue zones. A pretty cool blue zone is Okinawa, which is a remote island with a high number of centenarians (people who have lived over the age of 100!) One of the main contributing factors to their long happy lives is said to be their focus on practicing ikigai.

You can find out more by watching this video (click here!)

Pop idol centenarian grannies from Okinawa performing in a herb garden following their ikigai (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

SO, WHAT IS IKIGAI? (pronounce ee-kee-guy)

We all know that when we put our health and wellbeing first we’re full of beans and energy. This reduces our stress levels, our anxieties, brain fog and tiredness, which in turn makes us more efficient, productive and proactive at work. So, how do we put our wellbeing first? Well, since we spend at least one third of our lives at work, perhaps we could start there.

Ikigai is what, day after day and year after year, each of us most essentially lives for.. finding your purpose

The diagram below (created by Andres Zuzunaga and developed by Marc Winn) shows a visual representation of how we can find our ikigai’s:

Ikigai is essentially soul searching through figuring out your values and your why (purpose of being). If you feel a bit stumped about how to find your why, check out Simon Sinek’s ted talk (click here!) or read this summary of the book The path made clear by Oprah (click here!)

THINGS TO BARE IN MIND:

  1. Your ikigai does not have to be anything grand or extraordinary, just things that make you feel full of energy.
  2. Ikigai is a process. Think of it as a map or path to coming up with your goals.
  3. You can have more than one ikigai
  4. You can have personal and professional ikigai’s

GETTING STARTED:

Step 1: Go and grab a piece of paper or pull up a word document. Now draw the circles to create a venn diagram (similar to the one below).

Step 2: Pick either the skills or love box and start to write in the circle. So for skills, think about what you’re good at in your personal and professional life. Then think about the kind of skills that your friends, family and those around you would say you have. Feel free to ask them! For what you love, think about what you enjoy doing. Then think about what you would do if nothing held you back. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a strict job. It could be hobbies that you enjoy doing.

Step 3: Next, consider what the world needs. Are there any ideas that you’ve had in the past? Are there any gaps that you have spotted where there could be a new charity or business?

Step 4: What are the different ways of making money that appeal to you? Are you fond of the 9-5? Or much like Dolly Parton, would you prefer to have more flexibility and work shorter hours for the same amount of money? Would you want to travel to meetings or would you want to work from home?

If you get a little bit stuck out, check out this video by The Futur, where he goes through ikigai step by step with examples (click here!)

Or put differently:

  • What do you Love? What aspects of your life bring you into your heart and make you come alive?
  • What are you Great at? What unique skills do you have that come most naturally to you? What talents have you cultivated and what do you excel at even when you aren’t trying?
  • What Cause do you believe in? What breaks your heart or pulls at your gut? What change would you most love to create in the world? What would you give your life for?
  • What do people Value and pay you for? What service, value or offering do you bring, or could you bring, that brings real value to others? Something people need and are happy to pay for or share some value in exchange?

I HAVE MY IKIGAI WHAT DO I DO NEXT?

Act on it. Now that you have a visual representation of yourself, start to consider what kind of hobbies, lifestyle and career paths suit your ikigai. Then look at your life and ask yourself, am I living my best life? Is there anything I need to change to align with my ikigai?

Whatever you do in life, make sure that you do it because it makes you feel fulfilled.