I Is For IKIGAI — How To Find Your Purpose #1

IKIGAI. It rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it? No doubt you’ve heard of it and or seen the four circle diagram. As a lover of concepts and processes, as well as the free flow of creativity, I latched onto this as soon as I discovered it.

But… I was disappointed in my search to find the real purpose and meaning behind it. It seemed that no one could really explain it in a way that made sense to me. Was it about finding something in life that had purpose and meaning? Was it about why we were on Earth, learning our lessons and doing something with those lessons, or finding meaningful work and when I say work, I mean the work you were put on this Earth to do? Was it just ONE thing that I was here to do?

I was already familiar with Jim Collins From Good To Great Hedgehog concept. Which at the time of learning, it was all about work. The three questions asked were:

  • What you are deeply passionate about?
  • What you can be the best in the world at?
  • What best drives your economic or resource engine?

He said that it was understanding what you can be the best at. So, focusing on ONE thing right now that you CAN be the best at.

Ikigai asks four questions:

  • What do you LOVE?
  • What are you GOOD at?
  • What does the world NEED?
  • What can you be PAID for?

And where these intersect is no longer a hedgehog but an Ikigai.

Moving from the Hedgehog to Ikigai made me think about the concept of work. We are not born for work; it seems that is what we spend our lives doing. But what if you did ‘work’ that was meaningful, gave your life purpose and a reason for being? Chances are that even when you retire, you will still be doing it. I know for sure I’ll still be writing. Writing has saved my life, and I would like to think that I will still be journaling and writing books to entertain others until I head back to the soul place.

Like many Japanese words, there isn’t a direct translation into English, which I love as it gives us all room to decide for ourselves what it means to us. Iki is life, and the simplest translation of gai is value or worth. The value or worth you place on life could be one way to look at it. What makes you happy or brings you joy is another way. Think about all of the little things that come together to give your life meaning. This could be your work (whatever that means to you), your family, your spiritual life, or things you do for the greater good.

Having a life of worth and value is great, but humans are wired for connection, and Ikigai needs somewhere for the energy to flow. That purpose is being of service to your community (family, friends, tribe, customers, animals, Mother Earth, etc.). Some people hate the word service, and if that’s you, think of it as sharing your gifts or your heart. Ikigai gives you a purpose because you share your gifts and are making a difference in others lives (what the world needs).

The most confusing aspect of the model was the idea of what you can be paid for if Ikigai was about life value or life purpose. But paid can be translated in many ways. It might mean money, a reward, impact, happiness, fulfilment or how you invested your time or heart.

So is Ikigai about having ONE life purpose? I don’t think so. I believe that we come to Earth to learn our lessons and discover the gifts we share with others. We have many turning points, and these are the Ikigias that become our reason for being at that time.

Then there are the vehicles to deliver those gifts based on our knowledge, skills and experiences to date. A vehicle could be coaching, therapy, a book, a program or a course. It could be offering a foster home to children who need a safe space, creating food banks or animal shelters. Your vehicle could be a sport that you love, and when that career ends, you may coach others to excel in it — that’s two Ikigais…

When I look at the themes of my life, they are constantly evolving. When my spine fractured, my Ikigai was to inspire others to know that they could heal naturally. When I wrote my first memoir, which was a collection of life stories, it was to inspire others to write theirs and for the readers to know that there are gifts in our strange lives. As I grow and evolve, I know that my Ikigai now helps others discover who they are, use their story, give it meaning (find it’s purpose), and go out and inspire others lives — to change the world. Most of my customers (friends with amazing hearts) write books, create courses and programs. Your customers might learn about nutrition or some other healing modality from you.

Ikigai and purpose

Ikigai is about finding purpose, but it is much deeper that that and in my ponderings this is how I have extended the model for me:

  • Love and good at = passion — what drives you
  • Love and world needs = purpose — what pulls you
  • World needs and rewards = values and living by your values
  • Good at and rewards = other motivators and opportunities for growth

The net result is your reason for being. The secret to a happy life, I think, is to know who you are, who you are becoming, feel confident in that, live by your values, look at where you have been, where you are and to celebrate often how far you have come, find and follow your hearts desires, be grateful for the lessons and gifts and to do stuff that fills your heart for which you get the greatest reward.

There are probably more secrets, but these fundamentally work for me.

Finally, let me ask you, and these questions are based on right now:

  • What is it that I find most important in life?
  • What makes MY life worth living?
  • What gives my life meaning?
  • What drives you?
  • What pulls you towards being your best self?
  • Where do I find fulfilment?
  • How do I give my heart’s desires more meaning?
  • How am I living by my values?
  • What are the stories that shape me that I can use to inspire others?
  • What are the greatest rewards of my life right now?

Get out there and live a happy life, which, wherever you are, doing whatever you are doing is your reason for being right now.

What is your Ikigai, for right now?

For a chat over Ikigai or something else that needs a brainstorm, book in for a Power Hour.

Originally published at https://daledarley.com on February 28, 2021.

Intuitive Coach, Book Coach, Writer