Ikigai: A Moment Of Reflection

Admit it lah.

You want a life worth living.

A life where you wake up in the morning feeling excited and raring to go pursue your passion. Days that require no alarm clock to get up, with the prospect of pursuing your passion being the only motivation you need to get out of bed.

That feeling of 5 pm on a Friday, excited at the prospect of yet another weekend to do the things you actually want to do. Ah, that 8 am football game with your buddies…that road trip to Penang with your BFFs….the lazy Saturday & Sunday mornings with the sappy Korean (insert other countries deemed suitable) dramas on your laptop while eating breakfast in bed.

The feeling totally opposite of what you feel at 8 pm on a Sunday night, where the Monday blues actually start kicking in well before Monday.

What do you wake up for everyday? A seemingly simple question, but deep enough to bother the most nonchalant person out there. That’s you yourself questioning your Ikigai (生き甲斐, or what the Japanese call “a reason for being”). So…what in the world is an Ikigai?

Ikigai consists of 4 things:

1) What you love

What is your passion? What would you do everyday if you weren’t paid for it? What is your ultimate hobby? Something that you can spend hours and hours doing without regard for time. Something that gets your heart beating with the mere mention of it. Now that…THAT is what you love.

2) What the world needs

What would you do if you were Superman? Save the world? Get rid of all the bad guys? Think again. Maybe what the world needs is not something derived from movies. Maybe it could be something meaningful like clean water for those poor villagers without water pipes. Maybe it could be something basic like a good maintenance company for new, aged-looking buildings (yes Malaysia, that’s you). Or maybe something simple like mowing the lawn for a neighbours house. In short, what problem are you trying to solve?

3) What you’re paid for

Quit your job and pursue your passion. Who needs money when you’ve found your passion, right? Absolutely not. Absolutely ******* not. No money? Then what, ask for donations from your parents every month? Ask for BR1M from the government? Nobody owes you anything, my friend. What about your passion, you say? Monetise it. If not, forget it.

4) What you’re great at

We’re all good at something. It might be something as simple as washing dishes or something complex like deriving an algebraic formula for a thesis. Maybe it’s blogging, maybe teaching. I don’t know. Only you do. Do what you’re good at and it will shine through.

Finding Your Ikigai

Go. Spend some time. Find a slot of uninterrupted time to think about all 4 factors that make up your Ikigai. List them down. If you manage to find it immediately, go celebrate. Very few can find their Ikigai immediately, if any. For some, it takes a few minutes…for others it may take years, maybe even realising it upon breathing their last at the point of death.

It’s a struggle worth pursuing, yet it is the ultimate fulfilment. You may be an employee or a business owner, but you’ll struggle as long as you don’t find it. You’ll probably know when you do…and everyone else around you will too. When you do, take a deep breath and be thankful. Many of us are still finding ours…including yours truly.


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