Ikigai (生き甲斐) pronounced ""i-kee-guy" is a Japanese term which roughly translated means "your reason for being". It is in essence the balance between the practical and the spiritual. It is found where your passions and talents converge with what
the world needs and is willing to pay someone for. Ikigai is a life practice towards fulfillment of your life's purpose.
This image shows the four themes; What you love | What you are good at doing | What the world needs | What you can be paid for; all converging to reveal the ikigai.
Ikigai is the perfect harmony of the four components of passion, mission, profession. and vocation (calling). When all of these areas are in synergy with one another your Ikigai reveals itself. (Now you know the inspiration behind the logo for my business!)
What's your Ikigai? When looking for answers, know that Ikigai cannot be forced. It will reveal itself. When discovering your Ikigai, you must first find what you are most passionate about, and then find a way to express that passion in a way that can be monetized.
Start by asking yourself these questions, and look for recurring themes in the answers:
What do you find easy to do? What comes naturally to you, and what do you do with very little effort.
What did you love doing as a kid? What was that one thing that lit you up? What are your innate strengths?
What activity can you do in "the flow"? What do you find yourself fully immersed in, that you can work on for hours, yet feel as though no time has passed?
Who are you authentically? Do you prefer to be alone or in the company of others, are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Within the concept of ikigai there are no silos. Ikigai is intrinsically a way of life, and about a holistically well rounded work-life balance where every aspect of ones life is intertwined.
Over the past decade, I have struggled internally with conflicting desires. The desire to enjoy an adventurous lifestyle that came along with money (hence my financial services career) and the yearning for a life filled with purpose, meaning and contribution, (hence my work force development/non-profit pursuits). I used to think that I couldn't have one desire met without forfeiting the other. I've been realizing lately that it doesn't have to be all or nothing, it can be both!
You really can have it all!
Finding my ikigai has provided joy, balance, and the realization that I don't have to have conflicting desires. The purpose of my life is to live my best life in financial independence, as a way-maker and coach, inspiring and influencing others to live their best lives. Now that feels like a great reason for being!