Find the Meaning of Life with IKIGAI

The term Ikigai can be loosely translated as "a reason for living." Originally a folk philosophy from the Japanese island of Okinawa, it is increasingly encroaching into the modern world of business. It helps individuals cultivate a mindset that enhances both personal and professional areas of life.

It teaches one to adopt an attitude that fulfils emotional and existential needs alike, without necessarily having to win the lottery or to be cast in a Hollywood movie. Simply by having the fortune to make a living by doing something one is good at and truly enjoys. But is it really appropriate to use the word "fortune"? No, Ikigai intentionally directs our thinking and actions toward a more meaningful life strategy. Happiness should then arrive quite naturally, as a reward. Since these are principles tested by generations, the current generation should adopt them as well. So, dear Generation Z, let us explore this Far Eastern philosophy. The core components are the four fundamental values of Ikigai:"


Ikigai can also be interpreted as "The reason to get up in the morning." And this definition is somewhat more relevant for each of us. It is not about the most annoying part of the day associated with the ringing alarm clock, but rather all the moments that follow.
It is simple. Our entire life is about trying to give it the right meaning. The professional guide says, "Find the right sources and objects and achieve satisfaction from this reality." Simply, find something to look forward to; day after day, year after year. It answers the question, why you are here; not today or tomorrow, but from the day of birth. It is an activity not from compulsion but from a desire for it alone. As a human being you are worth it. Clearly, you do not need a Japanese dictionary to realise this truth. But when we look at the attached diagram of the four mentioned values, we must admit that besides geometric lines, they are also logically intertwined.


If you're going to spend your life doing what you love, it would be good to choose a field where you can apply your innate gifts and talents. There is nothing better than having a head start in the form of a genetic gift package from your parents. Hard work and a good game plan are certainly important, but reason dictates that you should exert efforts in a field where you are truly strong. Such as Eddie the Eagle, known as the worst ski jumper of all time, who indeed spent his life doing what he loved, but certainly did not fulfil the second condition.


Just as you should enjoy what you are really good at, it wouldn't hurt if you could also make a decent living from that activity. Besides health and love, there is no greater victory than being able to earn a living doing what fulfils you. Ideally, your work and leisure activities should overlap and merge into one whole. Once you find love for your work focus, you won't be counting each year until retirement with the impatience of a conscript. With an occupation that does not fulfil you, you are cutting years off your life. If you are looking forward to retirement as a liberation, something is wrong. It doesn't just have to be about definitively leaving the work process for a deserved rest. It can also be seen as ending an employment relationship that simply does not suit you. Modern times offer Generation Z a much wider range of occupational options than those available to previous generations. Take advantage of them.


The last value of Ikigai discusses that our life effort should not only benefit us but the world in general. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to discover penicillin, the benefits of non-porous latex, or iodized salt. Nor is it necessary for you to start a globally successful company whose revenues will allow you to embark on a path of generous altruism. Similarly, no one expects you to necessarily compose songs that people will sing fifty years from now. Let's admit that most of us simply won't manage any of that. For now, it will suffice if you steer your career away from the arms industry or dog breeding facilities. 

Use the last rule of Ikigai as a personal moral appeal and work on yourself with the thought that the more successful you are, the more generously you will be able to help others. Consider it as a model to which you should aspire. With an emphasis on a sensible balance between fun and sufficiently secure. A compromise between profit and generosity is beneficial to yourself and those around you.

Let's not kid ourselves. Configuring all four circles into a pattern so that the centre is nicely chiselled out into the desired Ikigai is not an easy task; perhaps not even realistic. But consider it the navigation for the journey of our efforts, by which we avoid the worst.

Doesn't that all sound too good to be true? Aren't there more motivational gurus than we can handle, each promising more than the last? Everyone will have their own answer to that. But in any case, the Ikigai concept doesn’t seem to be after your wallet or your ability to reason. On the contrary, it feels sincere and meaningful at its core. If you can take away a lesson on how to step into life and the business world each morning with a more positive step and a more optimistic direction, why not give it a try?