Ikigai diagram

Ikigai – a how to guide for your career

I have blogged about ikigai before – Ikigai is a Japanese concept that is centuries old. It roughly translates as ‘the happiness of always being busy’. Two Westerners brought this ikigai diagram to the fore; Andrés Zuzunaga who created the initial diagram without ‘ikigai’ written in the middle and Marc Winn, who added this in and blogged about it. Ikigai can be a useful concept for career coaching.

Another translation of ikigai is ‘Life’s purpose’ and the venn diagram nicely captures the sweet spot where purpose can be found. I have recently read Tim Tamashiro’s book on ‘How to Ikigai’ and this goes into the practicalities of what this diagram means. It is a nice, useable, thoughtful book, which I thoroughly recommend.

Coaching yourself to find your half ikigai

The book takes you through your ‘half ikigai’, this is where you focus and start to notice where two of the circles in the venn diagram meet. These are ‘what you love to do’ and ‘what you are good at’.

Here are some tips for this:

  1. Focus your free time on doing what brings you joy, be mindful of what these tasks are. This could be music, art, playing sports, crafting or making items, writing, volunteering to help people etc.
  2. Once you have a reasonable list of what these are, sort out which of these come easily to you.
  3. See then if you can spend more time on these areas, building up your skills and expertise. Can you think of a side hustle where you get even more practice at these skills and can maybe even earn a bit of money from this? Examples could be playing in a band, blogging about art or sports, making items and selling them, writing articles and getting paid for them. Do not worry too much at this stage if you are not earning money, for example you could be doing a course to get better in this area. If you do this then you have a half ikigai, which is a great achievement, as you will be spending more time enjoying yourself and improving your skills.
  4. Also, think about where else you could implement your half ikigai. Could you do some ‘job crafting’ in your current role, so that you do more of work you find enjoyable? Job crafting means tweaking what you do day-to-day in your work. Coaching yourself or getting your boss on board with your half ikigai will be key here.
  5. Other recommendations in the book are to learn to be more mindful, to meditate and even to take time off in order to focus on finding your ikigai. Tamashiro calls this an ‘ikigap year’, where you focus on your half ikigai and see where this can take you.

Your full ikigai

When you are working out your full ikigai (and everyone has one), you want to start to define your life’s purpose. It will be an action word such as ‘to create’, ‘to delight’, ‘to make a difference’, ‘to heal’, ‘to teach’ etc. The idea is that once you have found the exact action word, then when you implement it, you will have found your life’s purpose. This therefore provides a model for a long and fulfilling life.

Your full ikigai is where you bring in the other two circles of the venn diagram, the ‘what the world needs’ and the ‘what you can be rewarded for’.  This for me is the bit that can be tricky and I don’t think everyone can slip easily from a half ikigai to full ikigai. Though this would be the goal. For some, it’s easier when you are more financially settled, or it can be that you are happier with less and are able to transition to part-time work. Therefore, you can see how finding your ikigai is often not financially-motivated. I know that’s not always possible. However, I like the idea of not waiting until retirement to be able to live the life you want to lead.

I think that focusing on your half ikigai, and changing up some areas of your life, can be something to which you can aspire. It could be possible to move towards implementing your full ikigai, at least you should have a bit of a clearer idea of what your life’s purpose is, if you follow the steps! Coaching using the concepts of ikigai is something I can offer, so if you are interested in this let me know.







One Comment to “Ikigai – a how to guide for your career”

  1. Very interesting. I had not come across this term but embody may of these principles/ideas in my approach to Career coaching. Thank you.

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