I first heard of the term Ikigai a while ago in passing. Ikigai? What’s that? The term roughly translates into something that gives you being. I sat down for a long while and thought hard to myself – what’s my Ikigai? What makes me want to hop out of bed every morning?
A lot of things started buzzing in my brain. Tea makes me get up in the morning. The people I love make me happy. The hobbies I love pursuing give me meaning. But Ikigai is more than that. It’s a term thrown around a lot in recent years, especially among millenials, or people I’d consider around my age group. Or perhaps it’s relevant to anyone who’s stuck in a strange limbo trying to find a footing somewhere.
To me, Ikigai consists of three main ingredients – Purpose, Passion and Practicality. Without one of the three, the concept of Ikigai can fall off balance. This straightforward understanding has helped me simplified the direction I want to take in life, albeit having struggles from time to time.
Purpose is the basis of everything. Every action or intention has to have a reason behind it, or some kind of external objective to be accomplished. If not, whatever it is you seek to do isn’t as polished as it could be.
Passion is what gives life that kick and reason of being. It’s something tied closely with purpose. Our understanding of passion are things like hobbies or jobs, but it doesn’t have to be. You can be passionate about people, or a cause or a skill.
As an idealistic person, it’s great but practicality can’t be forgotten. And it’s so, so important. I feel that if your Ikigai is practical, you’ve already hit the sweet spot. I think this applies especially in jobs and careers, or in hobbies you wish to pursue as a career. Is it founded in reality? Can it be achieved?
Without one of the three elements, the concept of Ikigai falters:
1. Passion + Practicality = No long-term aim or objective (Purpose)
Your passion is grounded on reality, but what are you trying to prove?
2. Purpose + Practicality = Lack of emotional drive (Passion)
You can achieve anything and fulfil your purpose, but do you care about it?
3. Purpose + Passion = Probably not grounded in reality (Practicality)
You have big aspirations, but can you really turn it into reality?
It’s not that often that a super balanced Ikigai can be achieved. If you’ve ticked off every box in the checklist though, I really admire you! In an age where everybody is being prescribed a way to function and outliers are frowned upon, hitting the target of Ikigai becomes more and more challenging. People end up lacking reasons for doing the things that they’re doing, which leads to that feeling of time being wasted.
Once you find something you can anchor yourself to, don’t let go of it. Water it abundantly and watch your efforts grow.
Have you found your Ikigai?
Thanks for reading!