Like the Danish word hygge, there is no simple, direct translation into English for the Japanese word ikigai. It roughly means "the thing that you live for" or "the reason for which you get up in the morning." In a nutshell, it encompasses the idea that happiness in life is about more than money or a fancy job title.
It is easiest to think about ikiagi as an intersection, the common ground between:
What you love
What you care about
What the world needs
What you can get paid for
Ikigai has a few essential qualities that separate it from the "follow your passion" truism as we conceive of it in Western culture:
It is challenging. Your ikigai should lead to mastery and growth.
It is your choice. You feel a certain degree of autonomy and freedom pursuing your ikigai.
It involves a commitment of time and belief, perhaps to a particular cause, skill, trade, or group of people.
It boosts your well-being. Ikigai is associated with positive relationships and good health. It gives you more energy than it takes away.
In some sense, an ikigai can serve as a compass to navigate both career and life decisions, which it seems people crave for now more than ever. After all, 20% of millennials and 21% of Gen-X-s say that doing work they are passionate about is an important long-term goal.
Before you think this sounds too pie-in-the-sky, consider what one researcher noted: ikigai is often not something grand or extraordinary.
What better way, then, to discover a sustainable passion than by finding your ikigai?
Text by Melody Wilding , Dec 1, 2017