Labor Day. Where we celebrate work by taking the day off of work! 🤷♂️ That has always seemed weird to me.
I prefer the Japanese approach to work as exemplified by the word, Ikigai. The word roughly translates as “the happiness of always being busy” or “reason for being.”
The Japanese characters that make up the word combine the symbol for life and the symbol which means “to be worthwhile.”
According to longevity experts, the keys to living a long life are mostly what you would expect: things like diet, exercise, rest and strong social ties.
But also on the list is having a purpose in life. That purpose? That’s our Ikigai.
Our Ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning. It’s hidden deep inside each of us and finding it frequently requires a patient search.
If you are doing what you were born to do, you don’t really ever retire. You just keep doing what you love as long as possible. And, that meaningful life turns out to be a longer one.
So, how do you find your Ikigai? You do it by answering four related questions:
- What do I love?
- What does the world need?
- What can I be paid for?
- What am I good at?
Your Ikigai is something you’re passionate about. Something you would do even if you didn’t get paid for it.
It’s also something that makes a difference in the world. That difference could be in your neighborhood or, literally, around the world. The key is that you’re making a difference for someone else. A life focused on yourself may bring short-term happiness, but serving others is the path to true fulfillment.
And if it’s going to occupy the better part of your life, your Ikigai must be something you can make a living at.
Finally, your Ikigai must be something you are good at. It’s your contribution to the world. Something you can do with a degree of excellence.
If you haven’t found that purpose yet, keep searching. If you want a worksheet to help you reflect on what it could be, follow me on Twitter, tweet Ikigai at me and I will DM it to you.
Right after we all take Labor Day off.