Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” Ikigai is about self-reflection, purpose, and alignment: if you’re not doing something that aligns with who you are at your core, then chances are it won’t bring much meaning or fulfillment into your life. It can be hard to discover your ikigai when everything else seems chaotic or confusing, but once you find it (and keep finding it), things will start falling into place.
It’s a concept that has been used in Japan since the Edo period, and it can be a helpful tool as you move throughout your career.
Ikigai is different from passion or hobbies because it refers specifically to what gives your life meaning–your purpose.
Unsure about yours? There are many ways to find one’s true calling: meditation, journaling, talking with friends/family members…the list goes on. But keep in mind that once discovered (or rediscovered), this should be something constant throughout life–not just something temporary that comes and goes depending on how well things are going right now.
Ikigai is about self-reflection, purpose, and alignment.
It’s important to remember that you might not have a clearly defined ikigai at first. This is a process of self-reflection and discovery, which takes time, patience, and practice.
- Explore Your Passions
Start by reflecting on the things that bring you joy. What activities energize you? What topics do you find yourself endlessly curious about? Your passions are vital clues on the road to your ikigai.
- Identify Your Strengths
Take stock of your talents, skills, and natural abilities. What are you good at? What comes effortlessly to you? Recognizing your strengths will guide you toward areas where you can excel and bring value to others.
- Consider the World’s Needs
Shift your focus outward and think about the problems, challenges, or gaps in the world that resonate with you. What positive impact do you aspire to create? How can you contribute to a better society? Identifying the needs around you helps you find a sense of purpose beyond personal fulfillment.
- Explore Career Possibilities
Now, it’s time to connect the dots. Investigate career paths, industries, or roles that align with your passions, strengths, and the world’s needs. Seek out mentors, conduct informational interviews, and gather insights to make informed decisions.
Embrace the Process. Your ikigai might change over time as your life and career changes.
The concept of ikigai is meant to be a guide for life, not a static definition. It’s important to remember that your ikigai may change over time as your life and career changes. In fact, we can think of this as an essential part of the process: The idea that you will never stop discovering who you are and what inspires you can be comforting when things get hard or confusing in our lives.
Rather than trying to find one answer (like “I want to be an entrepreneur”) or follow someone else’s path (“I want my career trajectory to look like Elon Musk’s”), consider using ikigai as a tool for self-discovery instead–and then make adjustments along the way if needed!
Finding your ikigai may help you achieve career goals.
If you know your career goals and what you want to achieve, ikigai can help you understand how to work in your ‘zone of genius’ to make sure you’re in the right role and using your talents.
Want to learn more about ikigai? Check out Tim Tamashiro’s TED Talk.