Ever find yourself staring at your ceiling or focusing at a point on the wall, thinking, “what am I doing with my life”?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. And for some of us, this thought finds its way to us again and again throughout our lives!
Let’s face it, so many of us are living our lives aimlessly, without a purpose.
We might think we have it all figured out, our careers, our relationship, our income levels, but are we really doing what we should be doing? Are you doing our Ikigai?
If the concept of Ikigai is new for you, let me explain it part by part.
In this blog post, we will discover the world of Ikigai so that you can live your life without having to question your next step ever again – for the most part!
Let’s start with the basics – what does Ikigai actually mean?
What is Ikigai?
Ikigai is a Japanese word, translated as “purpose of being”.
It derives from the words Ikiru meaning “to live,” and kai, meaning “worth”. Combining the two words translates to the concept of Ikigai, the concept of finding life’s purpose, life’s worth.
Just like everyone (well, most of us), we strive to find the meaning of our life. What was the purpose of our creation? What path should I take to make it all worth it?
As we grow older and if we have the opportunity to make more money, we start to realize that we cannot find our happiness in material things.
Don’t get me wrong – money is important! But money by itself will not give us the satisfaction we are looking for. The shiny object syndrome can only last so long.
An ideal life can only be achieved by finding our life’s purpose, by finding our Ikigai.
But, your Ikigai is not served on a silver platter to you.
There is no Youtuber or online quiz that will reveal your Ikigai.
Finding your Ikigai is a deep reflective work you will have to do for yourself. But there’s a method to this madness.
That’s why I’m writing this piece to help you start your journey towards finding a clear purpose.
Are you ready to find your Ikigai? Let’s get right into it.
Finding your Ikigai
The purpose of your life depends on different elements.
To explain further, I’ll refer to this book I love on Ikigai by a Spanish writer, Francesc Miralles, “The Ikigai Journey”.
Francesc has written other books on the same topic, like “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life”, but this one is a good place to start.
Most writers have taken inspiration from Francesc when writing about Ikigai. Like those writers, I am trying to explain the concept of Ikigai inspired by Francesc’s explanation.
Here’s Francesc’s whole concept wrapped in a Venn diagram:
I have asked many people this question in my life, what is the one thing that satisfies you the most?
I’m pretty sure someone must have asked you this question, as well. Even if they have not, you must have asked this question to yourself.
As Francesc states, your answer must’ve been part of the following four categories:
- Your passion
- Your profession
- Your vocation
- Your mission
So how do you figure out these 4 parts? Simple, let’s divide your life into four parts:
Part 1: Things you love
What do you love doing?
Things you love doing are the things that you do effortlessly, without any promise of reward. No one has to force you or make you do these things.
And they don’t have to be complex either, Even a simple hobby like book reading or traveling could be one of these things you love doing.
But if you want to think bigger than that, then reflect on your passions in life. What gets you excited in your business, career, relationship, or even with yourself.
Don’t overthink this – just write down what comes to mind. We are going to examine how these things you love fit into the other categories next!
Part 2: Things you are good at
Everyone has a talent that they excel at.
For some people, it’s a natural skill, and for some, it’s knowledge accumulated over years of life experiences. And, most of the time, both involve consistent practice and continuous improvement.
So, write down what you think you’re good at. And if the imposter syndrome is starting to kick in, remember, you only need to know 1% more than your peers so you can teach them.
Think back to your school days or your office time – what do you often get praised for? Are you the problem solver? Are you the resilient one? Do you communicate effectively? Are you the patient one who knows how to listen actively?
Are you a skilled writer, programmer, organizer, or musician? Do you have a good eye for design?
There must be a thing that you are good at. Even if you think there’s not much in you right now, give yourself a little time and reflect. Explore yourself.
Part 3: Things world needs
Now, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
When you turn on the news and switch from one news channel to the other, this thought might come to mind, “What does the world need more of?”
We all intrinsically want to play our part to make the world a better place. In fact, studies show that once we reach a certain level of wealth, our happiness is no longer attached to money. We start looking for something more.
This something more is often us seeking our purpose in life, what moral obligation we feel is expected of us. Now, not everyone feels this way, but for the most part, serving a purpose is tied directly to our happiness level.
When you prove yourself valuable to society, you get closer to the satisfaction you strive for, closer to your Ikigai.
Part 4: Things you can be paid for
Who said that money can’t buy us happiness? Let’s be honest, we would all feel better if we knew we had $100,000 in the bank right now.
Having money is what keeps you going. No business would keep running if it was not making profits. Similarly, you need to ensure that whatever you choose to do for the rest of life pays you an amount that you can create your desired lifestyle with.
And this amount is a very personal decision. Do you want to live s simple minimalistic life away from the big city? Do you want to drive a Tesla around New York City? These two lifestyles are very different and require different income levels.
So, the goal is not to reach a certain imaginary income that will magically help you reach your optimal happiness.
Instead, take some time to reflect on what kind of life you want. Include expenses related to family, children, pets, parents, days off, and retirement. Think of emergency money and health plans. Now, reverse engineer the process. How much money would you need to make that life happen?
Ikigai: Where the four parts intersect
At the intersection of the 4 areas we discussed, you’ll find your Ikigai. The meeting of:
- What you love
- What you’re good at
- What the world needs
- What you can be paid for
There are not many things that fit all the circles. And that’s exactly what you’re looking for. How so, you ask?
I told you all about things you love to do. Achieving your passion and your mission combined can be very satisfactory but tell me, can you discard the money factor?
I also discussed the things you were good at. I told you that you could make your passion your profession but are you contributing to the world? Are you valuable to society?
Then I combined your vocation with your mission. This way, you were helping the world. You were doing what the world needed. But are you excited about it?
Ok, then let’s talk about your vocation and profession combined. You are going to make that one profession your career and excel. Maybe you’ll be at the top in no time. But where’s the satisfaction in it?
So, you can play the game with everyone. You can even act the part. You may be available for everyone. You are earning more than you dreamed of. But, you are still nowhere near your Ikigai.
Let me reveal what Francesc tells us about Ikigai:
To achieve the true purpose of life, you have to find all four parts of your life- passion, mission, vocation, and profession.
By knowing what the world needs, what will get you paid, what you are good at, and what you love, you’ll find your Ikigai.
How I found my Ikigai
For me, copywriting and marketing is what I love.
These skills have helped me build a solid full-time income with a flexible lifestyle. They get me excited and make me always strive for more.
And I can use my copywriting and marketing skills to empower businesses that I believe in. This is how I see myself doing my part in changing the world, one word at a time.
But it wasn’t always this way. I spent many years looking, and my Ikigai found me, instead.
Feeling lost and demotivated
I remember feeling empty a few years after graduating my university. With a business degree from a top-ranking university and 9 months working at Deutsche Bank, my heart was slowly sinking by the day – was this what my life was going to be now?
I resigned and moved into marketing. Immediately I knew that was the right step for me – I remembered how I used to love marketing back in high school, so this felt like play more than work for me. But something was still missing.
Eventually, I resigned again. That’s when I hit a real low. As someone who had always had a goal to achieve in school, being in the real world was not as simple to navigate as I thought it would be.
Realizing I needed more
Working 9-5 every day irrespective of how much work I had to do, sitting in meetings that I often felt was a waste of time, and having to please managers so that I could get those promotions was not the way I wanted my life to be.
The following year I fell into freelancing. Someone had found a travel blog I started for fun and asked me if I would be willing to write for her business online – real work, involving real money!
Since then, I exposed myself to more and more opportunities online and eventually became a freelance copywriter – the perfect marriage of writing, marketing, and consumer psychology. All areas that keep me on my tippy toes and – this is the best part – let me work online anywhere in the world! You can read more about my story and what I do for a living on my About page.
So, I think I can say I have found the true purpose of my life, or at least I’m on the right path.
Now, what’s your Ikigai?
I’m telling you my personal story because I know what it feels like to be clueless, bored, and “on the search”.
For some people, finding their Ikigai comes naturally. It’s like they knew what they were meant to do the moment they started walking. For others, like me, it can take years of trial and error to figure out what sparks joy in our life.
Now, tell me:
Are you ready to find your Ikigai?
Just grab a piece of paper and a pen – or open a google doc – and answer the questions we talked about:
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What does the world need more of?
- What can you be paid for?
And right there in the middle, my friend, is your very own Ikigai, your reason for being.
Once you find out what your Ikigai is, you’ll realize that you do not have to go out of your way to find happiness and that feeling of fulfillment. You will start to find joy in your daily routine tasks.
And always give yourself permission to move with the flow. Your Ikigai might change slightly, but chances are that even those changes will be closely related to your overall desires.
Well done – you are one step closer to finding your Ikigai than you were before reading this.
Don’t stop now. Keep going. Best of luck!!
PS: If you are an aspiring or new service provider and want some extra tips on how to find your ideal clients, I’m sharing it all in my FREE blueprint. You’ll get an overview of the main pillars I focused on and also have a bunch of questions you can reflect on so that you can move forward with more clarity. I hope it helps! Click here to download.