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Ikigai: A Reason for Being

“You have to have a reason to get up in the mornings.”

“Follow your bliss.”


Ikigai? What’s that? We are not recommending a new sushi restaurant to you, but rather a Japanese approach to finding your purpose in life. The philosophy is known as ikigai (eye-ka-guy). Loosely translated it means a “reason for being”. We are all familiar with the idea that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Ikigai is a way of living that helps balance the spiritual with the practical. Ikigai is at the intersection of four principles:

  • What you love

  • What you’re good at

  • What the world needs

  • What you can be paid for

So, how do you find your ikigai?

  • Find what you strongly believe in: Being able to articulate your values and passions will help you persevere through the difficult times. This requires some reflection on the ideas listed above. Think about what makes you happy in life, as well as what isn’t satisfying. Reflect on any “aha” moments you may have had that provided you with some clarity about your purpose in life.

  • Just do it: You can think all you want. But don’t let thinking override pursuing your passion. There is no perfect time, perfect age, or perfect moment, so just dive in and do it. When your true passions start to become clearer, you can then set a path towards achieving your goals.

  • Find your tribe: Look for people who have similar ideas and interests. Listen to their stories. Collaborating and learning from like-minded people can help you focus more clearly on your goals. Having a support system of people who believe in you and your goals will help you through any challenging times.

  • Don’t be afraid to fail: Setbacks are inevitable. But when you have a strong vision and purpose, you’ll be able to overcome them.

And finally, think of your ikigai more like a compass then an endpoint. Everyone’s ikigai is going to be individual to them and there is not just one path to get there. There may be times when you need to correct your course. Continually asking yourself what is your “reason for being” enables you to take actions that help you to grow as you pursue your goals.

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