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Ikigai roughly translates to ‘reason for being’ and somewhat reflects the amount of happiness in living. It is a Japanese concept which has been in use for years. In Japanese language, iki means ‘to live’ and gai means ‘reason’ but it is now being used on a global level.

It is a lifestyle that seeks to take the work-life balance to the next level and is found at the intersection of four concepts:

  • Passion
  • Mission
  • Profession
  • Vocation

Passion means something for which an individual has natural tilt. Someone can be good at painting naturally while another person could be good at writing.

In simple terms, Ikigai is achieved at the intersection of:

  • What you love (Mission)
  • What the world needs (Vocation)
  • What you can be paid for (Profession)
  • What you are good at (Passion)

It means that if you love doing something, look whether the world needs it. If the answer is yes, move on to check whether you can be paid for it and if the answer is yes move on to see whether you are good at that. If the asnwer is yes, you have found the Ikigai for you.

Ikigai helps us go through life one day at a time. We consider that our work, family, passion and mission are all unrelated. Ikigai helps us understand that they are all connected. It helps us to do something which can bring in happiness and fulfillment at the same time while serving the needs of the world and personal financial needs.

According to Japanese psychiatrist Mieko Kamiya, as a word ikigai is similar to ‘happiness’ but nuance wise, there is a slight difference. If you are in a miserable condition right now, Ikigai allows you to look forward to the future.

If we look at the life expectancy of Japanese people, it is beyond 80 years which somewhat confirms the importance of Ikigai, however, Ikigai originated in Japan’s Okinawa island wherein the people live beyond 100 years. The reason for such life expectancy is Ikigai.

Journalist Dan Buettner explored the Ikigai concept in a 2009 TED talk titled “How to Live to Be 100+,” in which the lifestyle of five places in the world where people live the longest was explored.

Buettner shared that in the US adult life is divided into work life and retirement. In comparison, Buettner says in Okinawa, there isn’t even a word for retirement as they rely on ‘ikigai,’ which means the reason which wakes you up in the morning.

Buettner also shared the ikigai of several Okinawans. For instance, for a 101-year-old fisherman, it was catching fish for his family three times a week or for a 102-year-old woman, it was holding her great-great-great-granddaughter.

How to find your Ikigai?

Ask yourself few questions like what makes you happy? what are you good at? what do you value and what motivates you to get up in the morning?

For a humble start, you can start Ikigai part time as a side hustle. Take this for example, if you love writing, you are sure that the world needs it. You are also sure that you can be paid for it if you become a copywriter. So you should start learning about writing in the part time after your regular job. It would help you to get out of your job and be a full time copywriter as well. Putting your job at stake for a full time Ikigai is not practical and suitable for us but a part time Ikigai routine can help us stay afloat.

How Ikigai is relevant?

Ikigai is still relevant. In fact, it it most relevant at this time when we are facing difficult time due to the coronavirus pandemic. You are stuck in your job, start a part time Ikigai and transform your life. Now a days, we can easily switch our careers if we are not finding fulfillment in our existing job.

It is relevant in a sense that a civil engineer can learn to code in the evening (as coding is well paid and the world needs it) and can switch career some years down the road. We are living in an age where passion is becoming relevant with each passing day and those who align their passion with the needs of the world can achieve more.

Just keep one thing in mind that you need to keep the pace with the world. For instance, you might love typewriters and wanted to be a mechanic of typewriters, however, we are far past the age of typewriters. We are in the age of printers and 3-D printers. So better see if your passion is relevant to this day and then you would be able to enjoy your Ikigai.

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