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Organo Editorial

The I in IKIGAI – Find your own Purpose

Haven't we all heard of IKIGAI by now, even if we haven’t read the book? At least most of us have. The four circle diagram (which apparently is not the original IKIGAI but modified by another coach circa 2014) has been the most viewed on search engines the world over. The logical mind loves concepts and processes and the creative mind loves the free flow.

We’re attempting to decode the `I’ as in the Individual in this article. So, let’s begin by pondering over a few existential questions most of us have thought of at least once in our lifetime. Here goes…

  • Do we really have to find something in life that has purpose and meaning? 
  • Is it about why we are on Earth?
  • Is it about learning our lessons and doing something with those lessons, or finding meaningful work, the work come on this Earth to do? 
  • Is it just ONE thing that each one of us is here to do?

Let’s look at Jim Collins `From Good To Great’ Hedgehog concept. The three questions asked were:

He said that it was understanding what you can be the best at. So, focusing on ONE thing right now that you CAN be the best at. The points that Jim addressed are all about paid work.

Whereas Ikigai asks four questions:

  • What do you LOVE?
  • What are you GOOD at?
  • What does the world NEED?
  • What can you be PAID for?

And where these intersect is no longer a hedgehog but an Ikigai. And the way that most people look at this is in the context of their professions.
We are not born for work alone; is what the work-life balance exponents are crying hoarse about. They make it seem like `work’ is not a part of `life’ but outside of it!
But, what if you did ‘work’ that doesn’t feel like `work’ and if that gave your life purpose and a reason for being? Chances are that even when you retire, you will still be doing it. Like painting, writing, building eco-habitats (like Organo does).

What does Ikigai even mean?

Like many Japanese words, there isn’t a direct translation into English. Iki is life, and the simplest translation of gai is value or worth. The value or worth you place on life could be one way to look at it. What makes you happy or brings you joy is another way. Think about all of the little things that come together to give your life meaning. This could be your work (whatever that means to you), your family, your spiritual life, or things you do for the greater good.

Having a life of worth and value is great, but humans are wired for connection, and Ikigai needs somewhere for the energy to flow. That purpose is being of service to your community (family, friends, tribe, customers, animals, Mother Earth, etc.). Some people hate the word service, and if that’s you, think of it as sharing your gifts or your heart. Ikigai gives you a purpose because you share your gifts and are making a difference in others’ lives (what the world needs).

The most confusing aspect of the model was the idea of what you can be paid for if Ikigai was about life value or life purpose. But paid can be translated in many ways. It might mean money, a reward, impact, happiness, fulfillment, or how you invested your time or heart.

Is Ikigai about having ONE life purpose?

According to a few theories, we come to Earth to learn our lessons and discover the gifts we share with others.

If you go by that, all of us have many turning points, and these are the Ikigais that become our reason for being at that time.

Then there is the medium to deliver those gifts based on our knowledge, skills, and experiences to date. The medium could be teaching, writing, painting, building schools, animal shelters, old age homes, sports arenas, green building, or Eco-Habitats, to name just a few. Even when you get on in years, you may mentor others to take your mission, vision, and philosophy ahead.

Our themes of life, as we all experience, are constantly changing, evolving.

Ikigai and purpose

Ikigai is about finding purpose, but it is much deeper than that and in my ponderings. Let’s decipher or at least attempt to:-

  • Love and good at = passion – what drives you
  • Love and world needs = purpose – what pulls you
  • World needs and rewards = values and living by your values
  • Good at and rewards = other motivators and opportunities for growth

The net result is your reason for being.

The secret to a happy life

The secret to a happy life is to know who you are, who you are becoming, feel confident in that, live by your values, look at where you have been, where you are and to celebrate often how far you have come, find and follow your heart’s desires, be grateful for the lessons and gifts and to do stuff that fills your heart for which you get the greatest reward.

Shall we start with a few fundamentals that can be the beginning of personal revelations:-

  • What is it that I find most important in life?
  • What makes MY life worth living?
  • What gives my life meaning?
  • What drives ME?
  • What pulls ME towards being MY best self?
  • Where do I find fulfillment?
  • How do I give my heart’s desires more meaning?
  • How am I living by my values?
  • What are the stories that shape me that I can use to inspire others?
  • What are the greatest rewards of my life right now?

Get out there and live a happy life, which, wherever you are, doing whatever you are doing is your reason for being right now.

What is your Ikigai, for right now?

Ours is to build Eco-Habitats that integrate the Seven Strands of Sustainable Living (Sapthapatha).


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