Ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy”) is a Japanese term that roughly translates to “reason for being.” or, in our words, a way to find your purpose and live it. The concept derived from the island “Okinawa’ a region where life expectancy far exceeds ours in the west.
According to a study, feeling Ikigai, as described by the Japanese, usually means the sense of accomplishment and fulfilment that follows when people pursue their passions.
The concept is to find your balance in life around the things you do. It’s about doing:
- what you love
- what you are good at
- what the world needs
- what you can be rewarded for
If you can discover a focus that brings all four together in one model, i.e. a business, job, hobby, you’ve discovered Ikigai.
In our understanding, Ikigai is very much aligned with another great philosophers theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology, comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging needs (friendship), esteem, and self-actualisation.
Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. What we find fascinating about this model is that most people live their lives in the first four quadrants with a far lesser focus on the top quadrant – self-actualisation. What we notice is that many businesses are created from the space of self-actualisation.
Self-actualisation is the space where we are purpose, where the things we do in our life and work fulfil us. We believe most people desire more out of life than the typical pathway offered by society, which could be said to be; go to school, get a job, buy a house, have a family. To truly feel satisfied, we believe one needs to do work aligned with their personal purpose. When one works out of their purpose state, deeper levels of life satisfaction are experienced.
What is ironic, though, is that most people don’t reach self-actualisation; instead, they limit their focus to the first four levels of the hierarchy. Perhaps this could be because the first four levels are the fundamental needs, and once we have these, we are ‘ok’, semi-satisfied, but maybe not fulfilled.