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ikigai

It is not easy to find a career path that makes us satisfied and successful. It's not something we are taught in school, and that makes the journey all the more difficult.

The biggest misconception of choosing the career

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life

I know, this quote is so overused. But have you ever wondered if it's really true? Is it the only thing that matters in the equation for building a successful career?

Probably not. Because neither might you be good at it nor will people want to pay for it.

Misconception #2

Hard work is painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love.

Some might say it's the higher purpose. The higher purpose might be the answer.

President John F. Kennedy visited the headquarters of NASA. On a tour of the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he was doing at NASA.

"I am helping put a man on the moon!" - The janitor replied. He had understood. He understood the vision, his role in it, and he had a purpose.

But let us take off the rose-colored glasses.

Do you believe that the higher purpose of your work makes the magic happen?

Yes, until you realize that you have bills to pay. If you do not get paid well, money becomes a real problem on your path to happiness. And I do not even want to talk about the other things like self-actualization, self-esteem, and so on.

If it's not what you love to do and the purpose, then what is it? Money?

It's harmony!

I sincerely believe that it's harmony. 

To live a meaningful, sensible and happy life and career, you need to combine a few things.

Ikigai is the ancient Japanese philosophy about the meaning of life.

Ikigai is literally composed of the Japanese words Iki (to live) and Gai (reason) and roughly translates to "reason for being".

Although Ikigai has never been and will never be about money or a job, we can certainly use the concept in a business sense to think about what we want to spend much of our lives doing. What niche and activity we should choose to be happy, valuable and profitable.

In Japan, the pursuit of Ikigai means maintaining a balance between: what you love, and what you are good at, what you can get paid well for, and what the world needs.

ikigai scheme

The point of the diagram is to visualize the intersection of the four main elements:

  • Passion
    You fulfill your passion when you do something you love and are good at.
  • Mission
    You fulfill your mission when you do what you love and what the world needs you too.
  • Profession
    You fulfill your profession when you do what you are good at and what you are paid for.
  • Vocation
    You fulfill your vocation when you do what you are paid to do, which also happens to be what the world needs.

When you manage to combine three elements, everything gets even better!

  • Good at + Love + World needs
     When you combine Passion + Mission you often find great joy and fulfillment in your work, but it's hard to accumulate wealth. Think of a truly dedicated teacher or charity worker or "starving artist."
  • Love + World needs + Paid for
    When you combine your Mission + Vocation, you find excitement in your work and a nice sense of security, but you’re uncertain because you don’t feel particularly skilled in what you’re doing. Think of someone who has been over-promoted at work and is trying really hard to do a good job but might not be quite up to the task.
  • World needs + Paid for + Good at
    When you combine your Vocation + Profession, you find a lot of financial security and you're good at your job, but it just doesn't feel fulfilling or meaningful. Think of someone who has a good, well-paying job, but is completely bored and unhappy at work most of the time.
  • Love + Good at + Paid for
    When you combine your Passion + Profession, you find a lot of personal satisfaction, but it doesn't feel like it really matters in the grand scheme of things. Think of a lab technician working on a sophisticated area of research that he has trouble connecting to real world problems.

Ikigai is an intersection of all four areas - what you love, what you're good at, what you can get paid for, and what the world needs. If you can find that, then you have found something fulfilling and sustainable.

Ikigai exercise

Your goal is to find an activity that can combine all these things that you love, that you are good at, that can be paid for, and that the world needs.

Can you find anything common in all these columns? Can you find out a pattern, perhaps? How can you connect these different things in your life and profession?

In my case, I see the design. I love to design, I'm good at this, I'm paid for my design services, and yes, the world needs more accessible and simple to use products.

Another connection that I can create is "simplifying". It goes through all columns Simplify complex things, good at finding patterns, User experience, and simplicity.

The third one is education and things related to that.

So, on the whole, I am probably driven to simplicity in design, in education, and in life. By "simplicity" I mean that it is easy to understand and do. By using my design knowledge, I can make complex things or concepts more understandable and that is my driving force. In this way, I can help the world and people. Educate them by simplifying the tools, processes or products they use. And that's the reason why I created this course.

Free mini-course "Find Your Niche Without Sacrificing Your Dreams."

In my free mini-course "Find your niche without sacrificing your dreams" you can do the Ikigai exercise. It's free. And I promise you it will serve its purpose. 

Create your account & get instant access to the course "Find Niche without sacrificing your dreams"

Purpose statement

Based on your findings, let's think about your personal Purpose Statement. Something that will help you inspire yourself. This is your motto, mantra, the slogan you should repeat every morning. This can be kept as a secret, something personal, or you can share it with the world.

Here is the template I used for myself:

I get up every morning to activity so that motivation.

Here's my statement: I get up every morning to simplify things for people so that my family and I can be proud and happy with what I do.

It may sound broad... but it's not made for anyone else. It's something that guides me through career or life decisions. Does it simplify anyone's life? Would my family be proud of me if I do this? I keep reminding myself why I do what I do. And it works.

Inspiring story of finding your Ikigai

I work at Shift 4 Payments that was founded by Jared Isaacman. He started this company when he was only 16 years old. He did a lot of work.

As he says, he started flying in 2004 because he "needed an escape from the daily grind." One thing led to another. He became a great jet pilot. So great he even performed in air shows with the Black Diamond Jet Team.

In 2009, he set a world record for flying around the world in a light aircraft. And in 2012, he founded the company that operates one of the largest fleets of private fighter jets in the world.

In 2021, he became the first commander of an all-civilian space mission Inspiration 4. Not only that, but he was able to raise more than 200 million dollars for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which focuses on catastrophic childhood diseases, particularly leukemia and other cancers.

So his passion for aviation and his entrepreneurial talent have taken him into space with even greater success - huge fundraising results.

As you can see, he was able to combine his passion, what he is good at, paid for, and world needs - and make his dreams come true.

Summary

As you can see, some of those things are not even related to money or profession but this is an effective way to define your goal and create a focus.

If someone wants to spend more time with their kids, they might focus on things like being able to pick up their kids from school and spend all the time with them, cook meals and etc.

So that defines what they looking for in their career. This is not about making you more productive. It’s about making you happy and proud of yourself.

That's what you should be all about. Find the perfect blend that fulfills you and the world around you.Many young people have a lot of energy... but if you channel that energy in the right direction, you can literally achieve great things in your life.


About the author 

Zbignev Gecis

Zbignev has been a product designer for nearly 20 years. He has worked on hundreds of projects and offered his expertise on everything from SaaS and eCommerce to marketing and branding.

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