Finding Your Ikigai
Finding your purpose in life is hard. Using the Japanese concept of Ikigai, this framework will help you to find your unique intersection of passion, talent, and profession for sustained happiness throughout your career.
How to facilitate:
- Prepare yourself. This exercise, and self-reflection in general, requires a lot of honesty. You’ll get the best results if you tell it like it really is, and bring your honesty A-game.
- Download the free template by clicking “Get Template” below, or grab a blank sheet of paper. While the template may be most helpful, the real goal is to simply organize your thoughts into lists, or however else you may see fit.
- Take a look at the framework below. The idea here is to fill in each category with as many responses as you can come up with. Let’s start by working from the outside in:
• What are the things you love to do, or care deeply about?
• What are the things you’re good at, feel confident about, or can bring value to yourself and others?
• How can you serve your own, or the world’s, needs?
• And finally, what can you get paid for? The goal is to get paid for doing what you love, so we have to bring it up 🙂
- Now, each of these four categories intersect to form four new categories: Passion, Mission, Vocation, and Profession. Using your responses from the four outermost categories, now come up with ways to solve for these new ones. For example, how can you combine what you love to do with what the world needs to define your personal mission? Or how can you combine what you’re good at with things you can get paid for to determine your ideal profession?
- The final step is to drill down all of these insights you’ve arrived at within Passion, Mission, Vocation, and Profession to come up with your ultimate purpose. This is the single point at the intersection of it all, your Ikigai that combines all of your desires and goals into a path forward for a balanced and harmonious lifestyle that’s uniquely yours.
For this exercise, we turned to the ancient Japanese concept of Ikigai. While there’s no direct word-to-word translation in English, it’s essentially your reason for living, and the thing that makes you jump out of bed in the morning.
This concept originated in Okinawa, a city now known as “the land of immortals” and containing the largest population of people who live to age 100 or higher. If you asked yourself “how can that be?,” it’s because the people of Okinawa have mastered the art of design thinking, and cracked the code for living each day with purpose and passion, without inevitable burn-out.
Ikigai ultimately integrates all aspects of daily life that provides people with a sense of purpose. In other words, to get to the deeper meaning of your life beyond the superficial — which includes money, fame, and status — you have to engage in a multifaceted exploration of what drives you. From this framework, it’s easy to see how passion is just one petal on the flower that is Ikigai. You need all the other aspects to create the critical piece that allows the buds to bloom — you need to find the intersection of it all. Remember, “there is no path to happiness; happiness is the path.”