Find your Ikigai
Wandering aimlessly around the Internet a while ago, I stumbled across the intriguing concept of “IKIGAI”. I can’t remember why or how I stumbled across it, but I did find the concept interesting and thought I would share it briefly here. I am probably not doing it justice in this space, but I suspect it is a concept that could command hours of discussion and reflection so don’t just take my word for it, explore!
Composed of two Japanese words: iki (生き), referring to life, and kai (甲斐), which roughly means “the realisation of what one expects and hopes for,” IKIGAI (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”. The Japanese believe we all have one but finding it requires a long and deep search of oneself. The search is worth it however, as the discovery of your Ikigai is believed to be an important step towards contentment, enjoying life and self-realisation.
In Okinawa, Ikigai is considered to be the reason that we get up in the morning and, in his TED Talk, Dan Buettner references Ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area have such long lives.
The diagram above shows the four main building blocks of Ikigai:
- That which you love
- That which you are good at
- That which can be paid for
- That which the world needs
and shows how those building blocks combine to develop your sense of worth and focus in on your Ikigai. For example, something that you love and are good at creates passion within you and something that can be paid for and that the world needs can lead to finding your vocation. Put all these together and perhaps you have found your Ikigai; your reason to get up in the morning.
Does writing fit those building blocks for you? Is writing your Passion, Mission, Profession and Vocation? If it is not all those things, perhaps writing is not your Ikigai?
Or perhaps it isn’t yet?
Maybe using this model to review where you are in your writing will help you identify the areas in your life that you need to focus on in order to identify writing as your Ikigai?
For me, I think the missing component is “That which can be paid for”. I definitely love writing and, after several years of working at it, I feel confident that I am good at it.I have to believe that the world wants my stories (otherwise I would give up) so the next stage is to move on to being paid for that work. The opportunity to make a working wage that would support me writing full time (and my family) would be the dream. I am not there yet, so that is clearly the area I need to concentrate on. If I can achieve that, writing would clearly be my Ikigai and I would be a step closer to greater self-realisation.
The beauty of this is that this is not a model of something that finds you, you can actually go out and fight for whatever you believe is your Ikigai. So go and make your own happiness, find a reason for getting out of bed in the morning and, I guess, follow your dreams.
Is writing your Ikigai?
Does the Ikigai concept help you identify where you need to make changes to find your Ikigai?