IKIGAI - Finding your life’s passion and purpose
IKIGAI helps you discover which goals and passions you should pursue. The focus is taken out of the virtual world, and prioritises you in the here and now.
The birth of IKIGAI dates back to ancient times, but was first popularized in the early 1960’s. The philosophy is based on a practice that requires deep and thorough self reflection to discover your life’s passion and purpose, or your reason for being.
IKIGAI is made up of four essential components:
- What you love doing
- What you’re good at
- What you can be paid for
- What the world needs
An essential aspect of this is that nothing is siloed off, everything is connected and relevant and the task is to find how all sectors intersect to bring meaning to your life and career. The philosophy distinguishes itself from other self help or self discovery philosophies, because it acknowledges the practical realities of life. So finding your IKIGAI combines the spiritual with the practical. It does not condone pursuing something entirely frivolous with which you can’t build a life e.g. Your dream is to be a lifeguard, but you can’t swim and live in a landlocked country. So in short, IKIGAI teaches you to discover what you're passionate about, while also finding a way to turn it into a skill that the world NEEDS and will PAY you for.
Finding your IKIGAI is central to harnessing and channeling your energy and skills towards something that is meaningful to you, but also has an impact on the world. This may seem like a simple task, but isn’t necessarily so straightforward. Many of us find ourselves in situations, jobs etc. that don’t bring us happiness or fulfilment. In an ideal world, we would all be in jobs that we love, doing something we’re good at that has a positive impact. But in most cases, we do things more out of necessity than desire, or because we’re so far down that path we don’t know how to go back. But by pursuing concrete action and reflecting thoughtfully, you can discover your IKIGAI and bring more meaning to your life.
Finding a job that you enjoy, and waking up every day feeling like you have a purpose, is central to a happy, and healthy, life. This is also associated with a reduced risk of mortality. Having a job that means something to you and that you’re motivated by, helps build a resilience to stress. Exploring passions and interests engages your mind in novel and challenging ways and leads to higher productivity. You enter ‘work flows’ of concentrated engagement that create feelings of accomplishment and belonging, which in turn builds self-esteem.
It’s therefore fairly unsurprising that Japan, the origin of IKIGAI, has a population with the highest life expectancy in the entire world, with an average age of 87 years for women and 81 years for men.
IKIGAI is an excellent tool that encourages us to take a step back and critically assess our life and question whether the path we’re on, is one we’re happy with. This task requires courage, determination and thorough self reflection, which can be challenging and perhaps lead to uncomfortable answers or things that throw us off our current path entirely. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that finding a purpose and meaning is the essence of life. Mindlessly working away at things that don’t serve us or enhance our well being, is a waste of our time, skill and efforts, and can eventually have detrimental impacts on our health and above all, our happiness.
So while it may seem like a daunting, complex challenge, practicing the challenge of IKIGAI can have tremendous, life changing benefits. ‘Better late than never’ is also a phrase that is very relevant here, because no matter what age or stage in our life you are in, finding something that truly gives you happiness and intrinsic motivation is absolutely priceless and can never come ‘too late’.
Make 2022 your year by discovering your IKIGAI! Here you can find an official IKIGAI test: https://ikigaitest.com/
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Gaines, Jeffrey (2021) ‘The Philosophy of IKIGAI’ Positive Psychology Magazine https://positivepsychology.com/ikigai/
Myers, Chris (2018) ‘How To Find Your Ikigai And Transform Your Outlook On Life And Business’ Forbes Magazine https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrismyers/2018/02/23/how-to-find-your-ikigai-and-transform-your-outlook-on-life-and-business/?sh=6556b3ea2ed4
Bidle, Emily (2019) ‘Ikigai: The Secret to a Purposeful Life’ TEDxYouth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDbYVlJntYU
Ishida, Natsuko (2020), ‘Japan's Average Longevity Hits Record High’, Lifestyle and Medical News Japan https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210802/p2a/00m/0na/003000c