Nov 20, 2020
Self Knowledge

What is the Ikigai Framework and When Should You Use it?

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There's an increasing number of people that, nowadays, have the privilege of finding purpose through work. With an internet connection, even those who work for a paycheck have the means of discovering professions that could provide them with a sense of purpose.

It is tricky, though, that we think of purpose as something we'd find and live with it for the rest of our lives. This kind of logic ignores that individuals are constantly evolving, changing, so as our supposed purpose.

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means something similar to "reason for being". It suggests that instead of thinking of work as a social obligation, you can find a sense of purpose by working on something you love, you are good at, can be paid for and it's, somehow, needed by the world.

This framework is a tool for identifying symptoms that can reveal what's missing from your equation. For example, you're feeling delighted and fulfilled doing what you do, but it isn't creating your wealth. Or, perhaps, you're making lots of money and you're good at what you do, although you're still having feelings of emptiness.

How and when to use the Ikigai framework


Begin by making a list of things that are inside each component. By filling it with personal non-work-related stuff, you might uncover aspects in your life that are being neglected but could help you find fulfillment - as soon as they're brought into your professional life.

I suppose you already know what you love and what you are good at, but if that's not clear enough you should be experimenting (and failing) more. In relation to what you can be paid for, we're not talking about what you ARE being paid for: your task is to discover things out of your radar that can do that.

The most nebulous question to answer, at least for me, is what the world needs. A tip here is to define which world you want to impact. Is it the Earth? Your country? Your community? Your family? No right or wrong. No judgments. It's very altruistic to have a similar purpose to Elon Musk's, but as he said once in an interview, "you don't want to be me".

Remember that there's nothing wrong with wanting to impact solely your country, or your local community. There's immense satisfaction to be found in contributing to the world somehow, it's a higher psychological need we've inherited from our ancestors.

Be mindful, though, that to live doing only what you love and what gives you money might, sooner or later, make you feel bored and empty. That will be the moment when this framework can be the most useful.

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