Career & Jobs

How To Find Your Own Personal ‘Ikigai’ To Get The Job You Love And Live Your Best Life

The pandemic has made many people reevaluate their life and work. Seeing so many people succumb to the Covid-19 disease was an eye-opening, sobering experience. It hit home that life is precious and too short. We’re always one step away from disaster. In an instant, our time here is over. 

After this revelation sinks in, it’s natural to rethink everything about your job and career. You start considering if you really want to continue the same-old thing for another 10 or 20 years. 

You contemplate, “Is this all there is? Am I wasting my talent and is it possible to find a job that offers meaning and a sense of purpose? Is there something that inspires me to wake up and get out of the bed in the morning, feeling excited about the upcoming day?”

If you are having these feelings, I’d like to introduce you to the Japanese-inspired concept of  “Ikigai.” This loosely translates to having a reason for being—similar to the French expression, “Raison d’être” (a reason to be).  

Achieving the Ikigai state of mind starts with a little soul searching. It’s not too hard. You just need to think about what would offer you career satisfaction and some meaning to your life. The word itself is derived from the combination of the Japanese words “iki,” meaning life and “gai,” value. Ikigai is the art of finding your purpose in life. It’s the reason for being—getting out from under the covers in the morning and making it through difficult times.

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Here’s how you could simply start. Draw on a piece of paper a Venn diagram with three concentric circles. In each circle, write “things that I like to do,” then “things that I’m good at”  and add a dash of reality by including “I can earn a living doing this.” The intersection of the circles will show your purpose.  

We aren’t static in our desires. The economy and job market tend to swiftly shift. As things change, you may need to change too. On a regular basis, you can have a daily mantra and continually ask yourself, “Am I living the life I want? Am I engaged in the work that I find worthy of devoting my time and energy to?” If you lose your drive and passion or the industry you’re in falls apart, you’ll need to adjust your Ikigai.

There is an amazing benefit that comes along with finding your Ikigai. When you labor at something you enjoy, it doesn’t feel like work. Think of a fantastic athlete like former basketball star Michael Jordan. When he was on the court, you could feel his intense love and passion for the sport. He was always locked in to what he was doing. 

This is called “being in the flow.” You get so caught up in what you’re doing that time flies by quickly. You’re so immersed in your job that everything else is a blur. All extraneous, outside stimuli are nonexistent to you, as you’re laser-like focused on what you’re doing. As you notice the tasks that automatically place you into a state of flow, try to gravitate toward those activities.  

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When you engage in work that you love, it has an exponential growth component. You work long and hard hours because you want to do it. Managers at work notice your drive and enthusiasm. They’ll offer you promotions and raises to keep you. This will add fuel to your fire. Colleagues will want to partner with you, recruiters call to entice you to move to a competing company and internal bosses will try to get you on their teams. The showering of appreciation and rewards will inspire you to keep going strong. This is one of the reasons why you see people who are rich getting richer. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Although this pandemic has been dark and dreadful, there is always a little sunlight, if you look hard enough. One of the unintended—yet positive—consequences of the disease is that it is forcing people to reevaluate their jobs, careers and lives. Use this time wisely, find your personal Ikigai and live your best life.

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