Why do we work? Is it just for money? Or respect and recognition? Or is it something else? Why do we set career goals? What drives us to get up from the bed every morning? We are all looking for our purpose in life; something that makes sense. Something that would justify and celebrate our existence on this planet. Something that brings joy and pleasure into our lives. Something that gives us a warm sense of self-awareness and spiritual fulfillment. It all can be summed up in one simple word – Ikigai.
The Ikigai meaning implies that it is important for us to understand ourselves deeply and identify our one true passion that is sustainable, contributes to our personal growth, and benefits society. Ikigai is a Japanese term that means ‘reason for being.’ It can be easily described as the purpose of your life. Without a goal, a purpose, a sense of satisfaction, and fulfillment in life, we tend to feel demotivated and dull. The mundane corporate life may seem joyless and that can adversely affect your quality of life. Ikigai is a combination of four core elements in life. These elements are essential for your being, as they enrich your life and give it a purpose.
Passion is something that you love. Something that you pour your heart and soul into. It is one of those things that you can do anytime. You dedicate your life, your resources, your energy to it. It may be a hobby like playing a sport or a musical instrument. It is something that brings a positive change in you. It inspires you to take action and let your creativity flow. Once you dedicate your efforts to doing something you love, you are bound to become good at it. What type of work would you love doing all your life? What would make you restless and jump out of bed by the crack of dawn?
The mission is something that you undertake with a certain responsibility. It combines what you love with the needs of the world. We are social beings and exist by depending on one another. There is no greater satisfaction in the world than bringing about a positive change. How can you help other people? What will make you feel good? What skills and passion can you utilize to bring happiness into peoples’ lives? How can you do what you love while spreading joy among others?
Your vocation is something that you can get paid for. It is a set of specific skills that you can implement to earn a livelihood. It is what you dedicate a certain amount of your time for and enables you to exist proudly in this world. By doing something that people need, you become a part of this vast society. You earn a place amongst all others, striving to do what brings them joy. Vocation takes a certain level of qualifications, skillset, and specific abilities.
A profession is something that you get paid for if you are good at it. While vocation can take care of your livelihood, it is hard to find satisfaction in something that is not your calling. An ideal profession would be the combination of all three elements mentioned above. A profession is something that rewards you with satisfaction as well as financial prosperity. It is important to choose something that your heart calls for.
Once you find something that ticks all the four boxes, you have your Ikigai. Finding a purpose in your life and working hard towards making it possible is one of the most important steps in personal development. By incorporating Ikigai in your career path, you can find the balance in your life. It is extremely helpful in nourishing your mental and emotional well-being.