What is ikigai? I just learned about it myself. As a child, I never imagined that my hobbies and dabblings in different careers would lead me to find meaning and joy in my work … or, as the Japanese say, my ikigai (ee-key-guy).
Ikigai has roots in ancient Japanese philosophy. It is a large part of the way people live in Japan. Some believe, as I do, that it’s the reason for long-term happiness and longevity. Western culture does skew it a bit to define it as a way of discovering a meaningful career.
So, what does ikigai mean? Ikigai is a Japanese concept that literally means your ‘reason for being.’, as the French say, your ‘Raison d’etre”. ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life,’ and ‘gai’ express worth or value. Your ikigai is your life purpose or the source of your bliss. It’s what brings you joy and inspires you to quickly pick your head up off the pillow.
The Westernised version of ikigai says you’ve found your dream career when your career includes these four qualities:
- What you love
- What you’re good at
- What you can be paid for
- What the world needs
The ikigai diagram by betterup.com below helps to visualize this concept by showing these four main overlapping qualities. See the grey area in the middle? That’s what you want