Ikigai – The way to a long and happy life or “what should I work with”

Ikigai is a Japanese word describing the sense of purpose in life. It is suggested to be one of the reasons for the longevity of the people of Okinawa, who have less desire to retire and continue to work as long as they are healthy.

Ikigai is also a method for finding your purpose when it comes to work. I enjoy what I do but it’s easy to become convenient and just go for the next thing that pops up.

I’m always thinking of what I should do next. Can I find something even more interesting. More meaningful and where I can use what I love to do and am good at, in a better way.

To find your Ikigai you can ask yourself these four questions:

  • What do you love to do?
  • What are you good at?
  • What does the world need (from me)?
  • What can you get paid for?

Then try to find something where all four answers work together.

The classic Ikigai graphic.

I have worked with design, products, marketing and technology since I was 19 but I’m still not sure of what my answers are. But let’s give it a try.

Here are my Ikigai (right now):

What I love to do (or interested in)

I love working with new products, new companies and innovations.

I love food and cooking. Especially healthy food and making things up as I go.

I love storytelling and movies.

I love new well designed technology that empowers normal people. Electric cars, computers, wearables.

I love reading and learning new stuff.

I love (learning about) what’s new in science. Medicin, longevity, physics, space.

I love traveling and experience other cultures.

I love sustainability and green tech. How we can save the world and at the same time make it better for everyone.

I love concepts and strategy.

I love branding and design.

I love running. Especially in nature.

I love architecture and well designed physical spaces and objects.

I love music. Listening to new music. Searching for new songs that surprises me.

I love the nostalgic feeling of old computer games and retro tech.

I love nature. The ocean. Forests and mountains.

So looking at the list above and maybe adding some things. What am I really good at?

What I’m good at

I’m good at developing concepts, products and business ideas.

I’m pretty good in the kitchen. Being able to quickly make something tasty from few ingredients.

I’m a fairly good designer. Having worked with designing logotypes, graphic identities, websites, apps and more for +20 years.

I’m good at go to market strategy and product positioning.

I’m pretty good at coming up with product and company names.

I’m good at inventing new ways of doing old things. Seeing the gaps or opportunities.

I’m good at being very productive. At least when doing something I like doing and are good at.

I’m good at seeing shortcuts when there are some (or maybe just lazy?). Why spend 100 hours building a feature you don’t know will work when there is a ready made component that does almost the same thing that you can test with first.

I’m good at endurance (at least for some tasks). Just pushing through if I have to, even if it feels bad.

OK, so that’s some things I’m good at if I have to say it myself. Maybe I’m wrong on some of it and I might have forgot something as well. But what does the world really need? What can make a difference for other people?

What does the world need (from me)?

The world is always in need of improvements. Better ways of doing stuff. More efficient ways. Or just different ways that damages the environment less or leads to less pain and suffering in general.

The world needs to eat better and healthier. Can I help with that?

The world needs people not only motivated by money but by changing things for the better.

So that’s some things that could be useful for others, but what of these things can I do and get paid for?

What can I get paid for?

I can be paid for designing stuff, building stuff and developing great products.

I can be paid for helping companies improve their business.

I can be paid for helping people start new companies or launch new products.

I can be paid for coming up with a new name for a company or product.

I guess I could be paid for cooking food. Starting a restaurant. But I need to be really good and put in a lot of work for that to happen. I don’t think I would be good at that actually.

My Ikigai

There’s probably a lot more I could write but let’s try to summarize this in some way.

I think the easy way to summarize it is to say I should continue working with creating new concepts, helping startups and be a part of creating new products, companies and brands using design, strategy and technology.

There’s also something about food, sustainability and music in there.

Mapping my exercise onto the Ikigai graphics.

Not sure I’m so much wiser but it’s an interesting exercise to do and have given me a lot to think about.

What is your Ikigai?

Also read Why now is both the worst of times and the best of times to be alive