IKIGAI: Going to Work and Loving It

In today’s rat race, competition for jobs is so high that too many people will end up in a job they have no interest in. The result? Zero job satisfaction. Just ask around in your community or circle. How many of the people you know changed jobs in their mid-life or are happy in their current jobs?

There will be more “No”s and “I guess”s than fervent “Love it”s. Too many people these days are following a path that neither their mind, heart, body, or soul is supporting. Then why are they doing it? Why haven’t they figured it out?

The answer is that they failed to ask the right questions or did not take the right path to gain the answers. Had they known about IKIGAI back then, they might have been in a completely different place today.

What Does Ikigai Mean

Ikigai is a Japanese term formed by the conjunction of two words Iki and Kai or Gai. Iki means life and Gai means worth, value, benefit, or reason. Thus, together, Ikigai means the value of your life or the reason to live. Ikigai is an ancient Heian concept which helps people figure out the purpose of their life. 

Ikigai is defined by the union of four components, which are:

  • Passion
  • Vocation
  • Profession
  • Mission

and you can find your own Ikigai by asking the following questions:

  • What Do You Love To Do
  • What Are You Good At Doing
  • What Can You Be Compensated For
  • What Problem In The World Can You Solve

How to Find Your Ikigai

If you study the picture for some time, you will see that it starts to make sense. From the perspective of the components, 

  • Your Passion is what you love doing and have gotten good at
  • Your Profession is something you can do really well and that you are employed for.
  • Your Vocation is what you are good at doing and through which you are adding value to the world.
  • Your Mission is a cause that requires a solution and that you love to contribute to.

Alternatively, asking the questions will help you reach your Ikigai if you haven’t figured out what it is yet. 

  • If you love doing something, it is your passion and you keep pursuing it.
  • The constant practice allows you to gain mastery over it, to the point that you can now pursue it professionally.
  • Once you start doing that, you will get paid for it because it becomes your job or vocation.
  • If someone employed you to do this job, it means that there is a need for it in the world.
  • When you are helping the world because you love doing it and find fulfillment through it, it becomes your mission.

Very few people have the luck or the one-track mind to find what their Ikigai is in one go. The best way to go about it is to first find out what gives keeps you interested. Self-fulfillment is the first step to finding your Ikigai. Try out a number of things if you are not sure. 

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma, had said that it takes 20 days to make something your habit. So, pursue a hobby for 20 days. If, on the 21st day, you do not feel “obligated” to do it but are doing it still out of pleasure, you have answered your first question.

Now, keep practicing this hobby. Practice makes perfect. Seek professional help if you feel. Get so good at it that people tell you that you should try to make a career out of it. This is where you have crossed the second question.

Once you get a job in the field and start earning, the third question is also passed. Now analyze how you are using your passion to help make the world a better place. Are you changing any lives for the better? If yes, then the fourth question is done and you have found your Ikigai.

A Transformation Worth Pursuing

Finding your Ikigai, especially if you are settled in another field can be daunting. Change is scary. But always remember: It is better to take the step now than regret your life on your deathbed.


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