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Ikigai: Finding the Purpose In Your Career

You may have heard about the term “Ikigai” before, but do you know what it means?

“Ikigai” is a Japanese term for “The purpose of life,” which can serve as a guide to finding your ideal career, leading to a long and happy life.

The concept is illustrated by a Venn diagram which mainly contain four components: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.

We will briefly introduce to you these components and provide some guiding questions to find the Ikigai in your career.

What you love

The experiences and activities that bring you the most happiness and satisfaction in life. It can be any of your current hobbies; be it singing, playing a sport, drawing, cooking, and many other possibilities. When you do something you love, it is not for fame or fortune, but simply for enjoyment. Ask yourself, what is that one thing you would like to do during your spare time?

What you are good at

This sector refers to anything you can do well, whether it may be skills that you have acquired or talents you've demonstrated throughout your life. Your capability plays a significant role in this sphere. Some people are born with specific talents, such as physical strength, aesthetic perception, beautiful voice, mental calculation ability, etc. Just look at those popular mukbang YouTubers; even eating a lot can be a talent! Now think about it, do you have any talent that you are proud of?

What the world needs

It is a broad concept that is based on your perception. Let’s narrow down the scope by asking yourself: What are some issues in your community, or the world, that touch your emotional side? Are there any social problems you wish to offer help to? It can be environmental issues, gender equality, wealth disparity, minority rights, animal rescue, and many other possibilities. Contributing to the betterment of the world can provide fulfillment and self-worth.

What you can get paid for

Naturally, it is important to consider whether your career will provide you with a living. It would be great if the market demands your talent or what you do as a hobby. However, this might not always be the case. For example, if someone is talented in writing poetry, it may take years for the person to be noticed and barely make a living if the poem can’t make a good profit. So before choosing your career path, think about whether other people are being paid for this job. If yes, are they the majority or the minority in that career?

The perfect combination

You can now take out a piece of paper and draw your own “Ikigai” diagram. Begin with drawing four intersecting circles and fill them in with the help of the questions stated above.

According to the "Ikigai" diagram, the intersections represent the different combinations. Are you considering a career that fits your passion, mission, vocation, or profession? The ideal combination lies at the center, your “Ikigai”- a job that fits all criteria that you enjoy, that you are good at, get paid for, and needed by the world. Don’t worry if you can’t find your purpose in life at this moment. It takes time. Just be patient; explore the possibilities is the first step to a purposeful life.

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