What do you want to do with your one precious life?
I came across this word while working at Toyota. The Japanese language comes from a rich tradition and has words that have a depth of meaning that we sometimes can’t capture with the English language. The word is Ikigai.
The direct translation of this word is:
A reason for being.
Ikigai. A combination of that which you are good at, that which you can be paid for, that which you love, and that which the world needs. Everyone, according to Japanese tradition, has an Ikigai.
As adults we often find ourselves in a position in life that we never expected to be in. When we’re younger we have huge plans. I recently had a 13-year-old counseling client tell me that he is going to make 60 million dollars by the time he reaches 20 years old!
Now it would have been easy for me to laugh and write him off. But I took a second to think back to when I was his age. When I was his age I was absolutely determined to be an NBA basketball player. I would get in before school every day and shoot 100 free throws before my first class. I would carry my basketball with me throughout the day, hoping to get a quick minute in between 3rd and 4th hour to shoot some hoops. You couldn’t convince me that I wasn’t going to make the NBA. I was determined.
Now if you ask some of my friends when I was that age, they may tell you that I was obsessed. And they’d be correct. But for me, making the NBA was about more than just the dollars and fame. It was also about having a platform to make a large impact on the world.
So when my client told me that he wanted to make 60 million dollars by the time he reached 20 years old, instead of laughing, I explored with him what was behind the money.
Because it’s never really about the money.
My client went on to tell me that he wants to reach the world through his music. He wants to help other kids who have struggled because he knows what it feels like to struggle, and music helped him get through it. My client wanted to have an impact on the world, doing something he loved, that he was gifted in, while also generating income.
So if you find yourself in a place in life where you’re unhappy, where you know you don’t want to be, where you are slowly dying, I have some good news for you.
Today you have an opportunity. You have the capacity to step back into your childhood self and ask a few questions;
What is it that I truly desire? What do I love, and how can I do more of it? How can I make an impact on the world while doing what I love?
When we’re doing what we love and others benefit at the same time, we all win. The best kinds of products and services are always mutually beneficial. They are beneficial to the consumer because they are getting a product or service that truly adds value to their life, and they are beneficial to the producer because they are tapping into their Ikigai.
So I want to challenge you today. What is it you love? What is it that you’re good at? Is this something that the world needs? I bet so! So why aren’t you making an income doing it?
Ikigai. Your reason for being.
I would love you help you on your journey toward discovering the reality of your Ikigai. Feel free to contact me!
About the author: Tim Wilkins is the owner and therapist at Identity Counseling Psychology PLLC. Tim’s counseling focus areas are anxiety, motivation, and identity issues. Tim is also an adjunct instructor at Jackson College where he teaches Intro to Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Intro to Counseling.