My Ikigai

Diagram explaining ikigai

NOTE: view this image as a guide open to interpretation, not a settled definition.

The word “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The word translated to English roughly means “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.”

Each individual’s ikigai is personal to them and specific to their lives, values and beliefs. It reflects the inner self of an individual and expresses that faithfully, while simultaneously creating a mental state in which the individual feels at ease.

Activities that allow one to feel ikigai are never forced on an individual; they are often spontaneous, and always undertaken willingly, giving the individual satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.

Learn more on Wikipedia.

Finding My Ikigai

I review my thoughts on ikigai annually, or whenever I feel that my daily actions are drifting from alignment with my sense of purpose. I find it useful in helping me to restore balance in life.

To help me narrow down my thoughts I introspect on several questions (based on that diagram above). Answers to the four core questions (the outermost circles) should be abstract values, virtues, and ideals. Only as the questions progress inward toward the convergence should the answers become more concrete. The outline I laid out here helps me, but may not work for you.

Skills and Interests

What do I love?

  • Creating things that people love and need (software, food)
  • Growing things that people need (wealth, garden)
  • Helping people (urgent needs, becoming more independent)

What am I good at?

  • Learning new skills/ problem solving
  • Software
  • Building things
  • Personal finances
  • Cooking
  • Gardening

What needs do I see in the world?

  • people need time, so they can focus on things that actually matter.
  • people need independence (especially with finances), and health (physically and mentally), so they may better serve others.
  • people need kindness and respect.
  • people need healthy, meaningful relationships.

What can I be rewarded for (income/non-monetary)?

  • Software development services, especially in a field I’m otherwise knowledgeable about or love.
  • Creating or fixing things I know about.
  • Teaching skills I am comfortable with.

Core Pursuits

Definitions

  • mission/ calling: a pre-established and often self-imposed objective or purpose (I want to…)
  • passion: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction (I must…)
  • profession: a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive preparation. a principal calling, vocation, or employment (I am a…)
  • vocation: the work in which a person is employed (I do…)

What is my passion?

What do I love that I am also good at? What are the things I can never get tired of doing?

I must create. I must build things that are used, things that matter, things that people enjoy, things that add value to people’s lives.

What is my mission?

What impact do I want to have on the world? What do I love that the world also needs?

I want to build projects that allow people to free their time and become less busy. What people then do with their time is up to them, but I’d like to hope they dedicate that time to pursue their health, healthy relationships, financial independence, and personal interests.

Examples of projects that might help people free time are tools that help people save money (reducing the need to overwork), generate passive income and/or wealth, automate and/or simplify mundane tasks like necessary shopping (groceries), meal planning, cooking, budgeting, household chores, home maintenance, etc…

I would also be thrilled to be a part of building tools that help people build local communities. Not like a social network where many posts are abusive, insulting, or vain statuses and highlight reels, but a tool that helps people build real, personal connections and deep relationships.

What is my profession?

What am I good at that I will be rewarded for? When I introduce myself, I say I am a…

I am a software engineer.

What is my vocation?

What does the world need that I will be rewarded for? What tasks take up most of my day/ week?

I build beautiful, accessible, useful, web applications and tools that help others accomplish their goals efficiently.

My Ikigai

What is the fire that drives my day?

I solve complex problems by creating useful tools, typically with software.