Originating in Japan, the term is composed of two Japanese words; “iki” (life) and “kai” (the realisation of what one expects and hopes for). To further grasp the Concept of Ikigai, it is also seen as the convergence of four elements: what you love (your passion), what the world needs (your mission), what you are good at (your vocation), and what you can get paid for (your profession).
Although originating in Japan, the concept of ikigai is universal; the thing that makes you get out of bed in the morning; the thing you wouldn’t mind staying up late nights for; what drives you and ultimately, gives you a sense of purpose.
So many of us walk around complaining about our jobs - how we can’t stand our bosses, how we aren’t doing what we really want to do; how we feel stuck. We look around at those trailblazers who are doing what they are passionate about; the ones who stay up late but do so while keeping that vigor and zest for life; the ones whose eyes light up when you ask them what they’re currently working on.
So what does all this have to do with ikigai? How does finding or understanding your ikigai get you from feeling stuck in a job you hate doing to what you truly find meaning in?
First, you have to be aware that you are in full control. By staying in a job that you aren’t exactly fond of, you are making a decision; you are in full control of continuing in that position, no one is holding a gun to your head. At the same time, it is not always possible (for financial or circumstantial reasons) to throw in your resignation letter and work on that business idea you’ve been thinking of (and neither, are we suggesting that).
Rather, it’s taking control of the situation and doing what you can do right here & right now with your newfound knowledge of what your ikigai is!
Maybe you’re a lawyer fascinated with Coffee; you’ve been told you brew up a perfect cup of coffee and have always wanted to open your own cafe. At the same time, the financial responsibility you have on hand makes the concept seemingly impossible.
So what can you do? You could go to coffee festivals to connect with like minded individuals, you could host coffee catch ups for your friends where you astound them with your skills, you could attend coffee workshops to brush up on your barista skills. While these might not seem to be changing your current job situation, they will no doubt make you come and feel alive as you do what you love. Who knows? You might meet a potential investor or business partner at a festival… it’s all about keeping your eyes and mind wide open!
So often, life is easier sticking to the status quo; to go through life simply existing rather than living. Think though, about what you want your life to look like when you look back at it - what legacy do you want to leave? Do you really want to go through life knowing that you never did all you could for yourself or even, to make that little difference to the world?
Finding your ikigai is often a journey that involves gaining a deeper sense of self awareness; one that involves answering a couple of questions: When was the last time you looked forward to a certain project? How often are you excited to get out of bed and on with your day? What were you looking forward to in those instances?
At the same time, know it’s not just about you - finding what you are truly passionate about; your ikigai... makes you come alive, which will go on to inspire those around you and make them come alive as well!
If you're still not convinced, observations by Dan Buettner, an expert on Blue Zones, has revealed how individuals in Okinawa - the area of the world where people live longest - are living the concept of ikigai. Together with a particular local diet and a strong community of support network, ikigai is helping people live longer and happier on the island in Japan as it gives them purpose.
Don’t sit back and simply let life pass you by - if you aren’t feeling that sense of fulfilment you know you should, ask yourself what a fulfilled and “ikigai-ed” life would look like for you - what changes do you have to make in the current situation you are in right now; regardless of how small a change is, remember that small changes make a world of difference.
Are you ready to awaken your ikigai?
Join The Busy Woman Project LIVE in HK on Thu, 8th Feb 2018. MOVE AND LIVE: What is Your Life's Purpose?