Must have heard the word Ikigai being thrown around these days? What is it exactly, ever wondered? Well, it is a life-changing philosophy just waiting to be discovered by you.
Ikigai is a truly traditional Japanese life concept that has stood the test of time and is now here to make waves among the 21st-century populace.
Iki means life, and Gai is the value of something. Loosely translated, it means “life purpose”. What job is it that invokes joy in you and also helps you find meaning & purpose in this world?
The fundamental question above that humanity has been struggling with is what Ikigai aims to answer. Ikigai is your reason for being – why you get out of bed each morning.
But, in a more practical sense – the philosophy is being used to help find all professionals their dream careers.
The Resurgence in Modern Ethos can be traced to a recent literary phenomenon that has taken the world by storm.
The book ”Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” has successfully brought the philosophy to a larger audience.
As a result, more and more people are striving to attain this zen of life.
Finding your Ikigai: 3 Essential Steps
A difficult, difficult task indeed. Let us simply it for you. The 3 quick steps to discovering your Ikigai include:
A. Few Questions For You
C. Studying Deeply
A. Few Questions for You
Note down your answers to the following questions:
- What do you love doing?
- What are you good at?
- What does the world need?
- What can you be paid for?
These are the 4 components of Ikigai.
Once you note down the first answers to these 4 questions, delve deep into the details.
- Does your work excite you, or does your hobby excite you more?
- Are you the best at what you do, or are you aiming to gain expertise?
- Do people love your craft?
- Is there a demand for it in the marketplace?
You will need to picture the next 10 or 100 years and see where your vocation is placed in terms of value. Are you solving a problem for humanity?
And will you be paid for it? If your answer is Yes to all that you are currently doing – then you should continue to do the same.
But if you feel your hobby drives more passion from you – then it’s high time to turn that hobby into a living.
Oh no, don’t worry. It is not the usual kind but one where you are needed to visualise your day in synchronicity with your surroundings and how you feel placed in it.
It’s your ideal day. Where are you, and what are you wearing? Who are you talking to, and what tasks do you have? Do you feel good? Do you feel burnt? Make sure to write down immediately what you visualised.
Take a look at the questions you answered ‘No’ to. Are there changes you can make to these, so your dream aligns with your ideal day?
Don’t let the fear or negative thoughts creep up before exhausting every possible strategy that can make you feel at home in your dream job—bored at work. Want to leave?
What about applying for a leadership position that challenges you?
C. Studying Deeply
Extensive research and experimental dabbling will help you find your way to your Ikigai. Take as many classes as needed, attend workshops, and sign up for new hobbies.
Learn to code, bake, or apprentice under photographers and designers. The more you live the day-to-day humdrum of your dream, the more your understanding of it becomes clearer.
You will then not hesitate to make a call – is this really what you want to do for the rest of your life? The answer will be a simple Yes or No.
Repeat the steps time and again till you find your Ikigai.
Keep experimenting till you find that sweet spot of fantasy meets reality. Your work needs to speak to you.
Remember – you need to be ready to embrace the kinks of your career too! Once you find your Ikigai, it is not necessary for all elements of it to make sense or be enjoyable.
Applying and Embracing Your Ikigai
So you found your Ikigai and now can’t wait enough to have it reflect in your life? How do you go about that?
What to Do:
1. Make your Goals Small and Actionable
For you to eventually make that great, big leap – you need to start small. First, note down the annual goal that you have envisioned for yourself. Done? Now write down smaller monthly goals that are within your grasp.
Example: If you see yourself becoming the manager within a year, you need to set monthly goals that align with them. Meet your district manager, take up a leadership development training course etc.
2. Make a Blueprint for Your Plan
This is where you go even smaller. The monthly goals need to be broken down into weekly or even daily goals.
Smaller goals help you create a plan and schedule your life around it. You can organise using a Google calendar, a chart, journaling apps, or even a notebook.
The plan is to dedicate each day to a task and follow through. Make a paper copy of your plans and keep them in front of you.
The more you see them each morning – the stronger the efforts to manifest them.
Example: Your Leadership Development Training course goal for February requires you to start searching for such courses from January, zoom in on one and sign up.
You can divide your weeks into attaining upskilling, meeting potential mentors, and expanding your research base.
The weeks will start filling up, and your annual goal will be one step closer.
3. Make sure to have a Support System
It is invaluable to have the correct kind of people surrounding you as you start on your Ikigai journey. It can be your friends, family, colleague, gym bro or even a stranger.
What’s important is that they share your understanding, acknowledge the rough journey ahead and help you as an accountability partner.
How do you find one? Reach out to your close friends, mentors in college, or teachers from back in school.
Teaming up with colleagues with similar goals can also be an effective way to create a sound ecosystem for yourself.
Foster these relationships, learn from them and use your network to your advantage.
5. Make Methods to Test your Plan
Ready with the plan? Time to test it out.
A couple of questions you need to answer to be able to test this.
- Is your plan helping you achieve your short-term goals?
- What about your long-term goals?
- Does all seem ok with you?
- Or do you feel overwhelmed?
You need to re-assess your plans depending on whether you can answer positively to the questions that matter.
So often, we face a dilemma between what we ought to do and what we want to do. This is a good time to get clarity on it.
What Not To Do:
So, what are those tiny little hiccups you need to be wary of? Those challenges that you will need to overcome to win the day?
1. Do NOT Feel Overwhelmed
It is utterly terrifying to re-discover yourself – we understand.
But to give up easily or let yourself be overcast with the clouds of under-confidence?
We can’t let that happen, can we?
- Do not let anxiety get the better of you.
- Identify mechanisms to recover from moments of breakdown and make them your armour.
- Do not stop, no matter what.
- You are allowed to make mistakes, take breaks, and recover. What you are not allowed to – not keep moving forward. You must.
- Do not go big; go consistent.
- Your action steps need not be grand statements. Afraid that your small steps will matter? If the small wins each week will surmount to something tangible? They will.
2. Do NOT Fight for More Time
Again, it’s not the amount of your efforts – but the intensity and continuity of it that will bring in palpable changes.
- Do not be too strict to be dynamic.
- Let your creativity find avenues to fit into the daily steps and efforts. It needs not to be set in stone as to when and for how long you practice methods of Ikigai. Find a way to organise your plan within your schedule and in alignment with your needs. The harder you try – the more chances of you getting overwhelmed.
- Do not be afraid to try the new.
- While traditional methods do reap in returns – one should always try the road less travelled. Not able to practice Ikigai at work? No worries, listen to that podcast while travelling back home. Fuse in imagination, the risk to try, and the willingness to learn – and what you get is the dynamic flow of life you were seeking.
3. Do NOT Let Fear Get The Best Of You
Our brains are wired to protect us and survive – instead of taking fancy leaps into the unknown.
Let it do its job but only up till it restricts your agency from exploring the new and wild. You will feel afraid – terrified at times.
But to let that stop you from moving, trying, getting up back again – is not allowed.
- Do not let your survival instincts get the better of you.
- There might be false alarms when you try to delve into new avenues. You will need to balance out the logical ones from the panic attacks.
- Do not let intuition be the boss of you.
- Rarely do our intuitions lead us astray. But when it comes to reinventing yourself – you need to make it take a back seat. Your goal is within view; all you need is a little practice. The last thing you need is the impulse to slide back into your comfort zone.
The Ikigai philosophy can help you discover your life’s purpose and lead you to your dream career.
The key to discovering your Ikigai is to ask yourself a few questions, brainstorm, and study deeply.
The 4 components of Ikigai are:
- What do you love doing?
- What you’re good at?
- What does the world need?
- What can you be paid for?
Through extensive research and experimentation, you can find the sweet spot of fantasy meets reality and make a call on whether this is truly what you want to do for the rest of your life.
Once you find your Ikigai, you need to be ready to embrace the kinks of your career and realize that not all elements of it may make sense or be enjoyable.
So embrace your Ikigai and be ready to find a new you.
You now have the complete guide to arm you in this quest to find your Ikigai. So start right now and find your true calling.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below. I will answer!
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