What is it and what is the purpose of knowing your Ikigai?

There is a term that has recently become fashionable, although it is not new at all: ikigai.

Let’s go to the end of 2016. If my life were a movie, you would see me frustrated, wondering what was happening to me. Things were going well for me, but I felt empty.

I liked my profession, I worked with a partner from whom I learned a lot and we got along very well, we had good clients, I was in good health, I was surrounded by friends, I was traveling… and yet I was not happy. Something was missing.

That feeling was not new. It had accompanied me all my life. And despite having always tried to do things well – good at school, good career, good jobs – something was missing. I didn’t feel full. He did not know why.

I had resigned myself to thinking that my life would always be like this. An eternal search for something that made sense, that gave me more meaning.

Finding purpose is not difficult. We are the ones who make it complicated. Somehow, we turned it into a cornice road full of sharp turns and wrong turns.

Some follow their passion, but without a firm foundation in reality, they become discouraged when their dreams do not come to fruition. Others resign themselves to careers that give them money and status, doing things they don’t like, feeling like they are working as prostitutes. Some people, as was my case, work in what they like, in what they are good at and that gives them a good economic life, but they feel that they do not make a difference in the world, that they do not contribute anything to other people. And then they feel empty.

So the answer to why it is so difficult to find purpose is very easy: it is difficult to find purpose because no one showed us the way, and because we look for it outside of ourselves, in external things.

We don’t know that we already have it inside us, and that we just need to rediscover it.

A few years ago, in a job search posting, I saw a closing sentence that intrigued me: “We want whoever takes this position to know that they are following their ikigai.”

I had never heard of ikigai. I googled it.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that does not have a literal translation (similar to what happens with hygge Danish). It could be translated as “what makes life worth living”, “reason for being”, or as “the reason that makes you get up in the morning”.

Looking at the graph below, we see that ikigai is the intersection of 4 areas of life:

  • What you are good at.
  • What you love to do.
  • What the world needs.
  • For what they can pay you.
Ikigai, that which gives meaning to life

The idea is that fulfillment is achieved with things that go beyond passion, mission, vocation or profession. Beyond money, or talent, or tastes, or what is happening in the world.

Precisely fulfillment, finding the meaning of life, comes when all these factors combine with each other.

Therefore, none of the above, separated from the rest, is enough. Ikigai is made up of a delicate balance between all these parts.

The best thing about ikigai is that it serves as a compass for making decisions in life. Your ikigai synthesizes the concept of purpose, so when you know those areas and align them with each other, you are very clear about what your focus is and where you have to go.

Precisely fulfillment, finding the meaning of life, comes when all these factors are combined with each other.

Therefore, none of the above, separated from the rest, is enough. Ikigai is made up of a delicate balance between all these parts.

The best thing about ikigai is that it serves as a compass for making decisions in life. Your ikigai synthesizes the concept of purpose, so when you know those areas and align them with each other, you are very clear about what your focus is and where you have to go.

I know what you’re thinking: “how complicated this is!” But I assure you that it is more complicated to tell than to experience it. It’s challenging, yes, but there are ways to work on it. Because ikigai is a process, it is a continuous flow, it is like a river. It is not something that is discovered as if by magic and remains fixed forever. It demands that you put your mind to it, that you continue analyzing it. It will be developed and strengthened with the

And be careful, don’t use that as an excuse to do nothing. Finding your ikigai involves self-analysis, it involves trial and error. Reflection and action will help you reveal your values, your strengths and your abilities, so that you can find the meaning of your life and your work. So you can find your ikigai.

1. Let your ikigai be your compass

2. Don’t expect to feel full 24 hours a day

3. Try to clear your judgments and beliefs

4. Don’t take it as a destination, but as a path

Ikigai is not something dense or heavy, it is light and fluid. It moves like the tides, with the rhythm of your life. You have to take it slowly, living in the moment, taking small steps.

5. You can have more than one ikigai in life

Yes, it is possible to edit your life purpose over the years. It can evolve, or it can change. The key is to enjoy the process, and not take it too seriously. Ikigai is always light. Flowing.

John