I first came across the term ikigai about two or so years ago (can’t recall where). It was a visual with a venn diagram that was made up of four circles intersecting.
Ikigai—one’s purpose or reason for living—was said to be found at the intersection of all four circles.
These four circles comprise of the following elements:
- What you love
- What you are good at
- What you can be paid for
- What the world needs
Our passion is found where what we love and what we’re good at intersects.
Our profession is likely where what we’re good at meets what we can be paid for.
Our vocation is the intersection of what we can be paid for and what the world needs.
Our mission is the intersection of what the world needs and what we love.
My own quest to find ikigai
Just today I saw a Twitter thread that discussed the idea of ikigai, and as we’re still in the first week of the new year, I thought it would be a good idea to ponder some questions that may help me get to my own ikigai.
What do you love?
As you ponder this question, whatever you come up with here should pass the test of, “Do I still love this thing, even when it’s hard or doesn’t work out the way I hoped?”
I have a pretty solid idea of what I love and what I’m passionate about. I love art, writing, creative problem solving, design.
What are you good at?
This is a question about natural talent. The things in this category should be things that you’re effortlessly good at. You can like something and not be naturally gifted for it. Those things don’t make it into this section. This section is solely for the things you’re good at without needing to try. The things you can do without being able to explain. These are the things for which your answer to “How did you do that?” is always a shrug and the awkward, “Idk how to explain it, I just did it.”
For me, the things that fall into this category include art, writing, and project-managing the heck out of a situation. These are the things I don’t have to work at.
What can you be paid for?
The money-maker question. The things in this category don’t need to be a traditional job or something practical. If you can find a way to make money from it (whether locally or online), then it counts.
This section is where I often get carried away with the million and one options/business ideas in my planners and my ClickUp workspace. Here’s (the Cliff’s notes version of) my running list, off the top of my head:
- Handmade candles
- Website designing
- Social media marketing agency
- Canva template shop
- Copywriting coach/membership
- Business coach
- Marketing consultant
- Publishing consultant
- Visual artist
- Planner (design & sell)
What does the world need?
This is the one that I struggle with the most. Because the idea of what the world needs feels very abstract to me. I mean, one could argue that if someone in the world needs that thing then it qualifies. Which would mean just about everything on all these lists qualify as things that the world needs.
My responses reaffirm something I’ve always known. My purpose is rooted in creating. Creative endeavors are what I was put on this earth for.
These days my biggest struggle is finding creative work that feels good, pays the bills, and doesn’t feel empty. Which is where being selective about the kind of clients I write copy for comes in.
It’s not always easy, but for this year, I want to work exclusively with brands that do work that aligns with my values. It’s a small step on the path to fulfillment—which, incidentally, is one of my words for 2023.