Recently I met a woman who introduced me to the word IKIGAI. It was during a business networking meeting. When I asked her what how she was, as you do when you meet someone, she replied “Absolutely Wonderful!”. I was a little surprised that this frank demonstration of joy during a rather serious evening. She went on to explain, “Since I found my IKIGAI I love my job”. Being completely ignorant of what an IKIGAI was, I had many questions.
She explained that IKIGAI is a Japanese word meaning Happy Life. It can be defined as being the intersection of 4 aspects of a person’s life.
- What you are good at
- What you love doing
- What the world needs
- What you can get paid for
If you look closely at this definition, we also see the definitions for our Passions, Missions, Vocations & Professions. The idea is simple but undeniably powerful.
There is an island in Japan called Okinawa, that has an unusually large population of centenarians. One of the secrets attributed to this long life is IKIGAI.
It seems that everyone has an IKIGAI (or many IKIGAI’s in fact) and if we take the time to find it, it can transform our lives, so that we too can be “Absolutely Wonderful” 😁.
As I left her, she recommended that I read the book “How to IKIGAI” to know more.
I’ve since found this bestseller on the subject as well.
IKIGAI in action
To illustrate well how the IKIGAI works, I’ll take the case of the same woman who introduced me to the notion of IKIGAI. Before she found her IKIGAI she was working in finance. After discovering IKIGAI and reading one of these books she put all the necessary steps in place to undertake a professional reconversion to be a commercial interior decorator. In essence, she provides fit-out services for commercial premises, such as restaurants, shops, etc. She told me that she loves the mix of creative and organizational elements involved in each project (She found something she loves). Apparently her strength is that when she hands over the completed sites to their owners after fit-out, she is (almost) never called back to fix something or add some features that were not forecasted in the project plans, etc (This confirms that she is good at this job). In addition, the fact that she has a flourishing business also demonstrates that there is a need and people are willing to pay her to do it.
The link between IKIGAI & SLOWFI
If you’re reading this, I probably don’t need to remind you of what SLOWFI is, but in case your new to the idea SLOWFI, it’s all about evolving incrementally your professional/personal lifestyle activities to enable you to be financially independent (at some point) WHILST making the most out of the way you spend your time along the way. The FIONEERS explain it more deeply here.
Putting it another way, SLOWFI is a longer-term approach to achieve FIRE without making it a race to get there. FIRE is the acronym for Financial Independence, Retire Early. I’ve written previous articles describing in detail the FIRE movement and how to achieve FIRE. FIRE can be achieved more or less quickly depending on the level of sacrifices you are prepared to make to achieve a financially independent status along the way.
Striving for SLOWFI is all about structuring your life to earn enough money to be financially sufficient and ultimately financially independent, whilst at the same time ensuring you have sufficient time available to spend on the activities that are the most important for you. It’s an incremental approach allowing a person to gradually evolve their lifestyle over a period of time to have the optimal professional/personal balance, and the goal of achieving happiness all a long life rather than having this mythical goal of being happy in retirement when you have “enough money saved up”.
It’s just as its name suggests. ie: a slow way to get to FI (Financial Independence) but without the notion of sacrifice and without the main priority to stop working a traditional job as soon as possible.
Finding your IKIGAI provides a framework enabling you to do the things that you are good at, that you love, can get paid for, and fulfill a need that people are prepared to pay for with the underlying idea that if you do what you love and are good at for a living, you will be happy.
It does not take a genius to see the connection between the two subjects which both have the ultimate goal of building a happy life.
Where to look for your IKIGAI
If you read at least one of the above books, you will discover that finding your IKIGAI is not as simple as you might think. It requires significant self-work and personal discovery. I read that taking one year to find your IKIGAI is more or less the expectation to have. Once you have found your IKIGAI, then you have to put the necessary steps in place to be able to live your IKIGAI. This might entail being trained, obtaining new skills, building new networks around you, setting up a new business, etc. There will be an element of trial and error to find what really works for you. It’s easy to imagine that between the time you decide in finding your IKIGAI and that day you can truly say that you are “Absolutely Wonderful” and living your IKIGAI life (like the woman I mentioned previously), a number of years might go by.
I like the idea to marry IKIGAI and SLOWFI together as both aim to deliver happiness and use an incremental approach. IKIGAI and SLOWFI can be considered as goals or destinations, but in reality, they are voyages that we embark on that take us on pathways full of rich experiences and happiness along the way. Well, that’s the objective in any case. 😁
An IKIGAI forever?
One point that I’d like to add, is that finding your IKIGAI is not a one-off process. We all change during the course of our lives, and what we like and don’t like changes with that. Also, the world evolves. What people need and are willing to pay for today, they may not need tomorrow. This reinforces even more strongly that IKIGAI (and SLOWFI) are not destinations, but life voyages to be embarked on with an open mind and willingness to adapt along the way.
Finding your IKIGAI, or embarking on a SLOWFI lifestyle – or perhaps a combination of the two – after you have read this article, 😉 are not necessarily goals but the means to an end and lifestyle choices. If you can adhere to the philosophies and make sure to fine-tune your chosen path over the course of your life to follow the gradual evolutions in the world around you, then you are well on your way to ensuring an optimized life, extracting the maximum of joy and happiness from your time on this planet.
Id love to hear back from anyone who has made the effort to find their IKIGAI. Real-life experiences shared with others make excellent incentives and provide motivation for others, so don’t be shy to share. 😉 Has anyone else make the link between SLOWFI and IKIGAI. Let me know.
Feel free to leave your messages in the comments section below. ⬇
Photo: Road out of Milford Sound, New Zealand.
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