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How to use Ikigai to find your purpose

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is an ancient Japanese Philosophy. It means something like "reason for being". Your Ikigai is your life mission, it's what brings you joy and keeps you motivated. It is believed to be the secret of Japanese people's happiness and longevity.
Working on your Ikigai is an excellent exercise to find harmony and energy for your projects. However, there are two things to keep in mind when working on your Ikigai:
- You will change and evolve over time, and so will your Ikigai. It's perfectly normal.
- Although Ikigai is often used as a tool to uncover your dream career, the original concept involves the individual as a whole, not just the professional version of them.

The Ikigai method

Your dream life and career will be at the intersection of the four qualities:

1. What you love: what you're passionate about.
2. What the world needs: your values, what you'd like to contribute to the world to make it better.
3. What you can be paid for: your skills and qualities
4. What you're good at: your talents and natural abilities.

Note that the difference between a skill and a talent is a skill is learned, acquired, or developed, whereas talent comes naturally.

Exercise

Answer these questions to find your Ikigai. You can simply write down the answers in a notebook, or use sticky notes with a different color for each category.

1. What you like

What do you enjoy doing? What are the activities that give you energy?
What kind of activities bring you to a state of flow, where you get so absorbed that you lose complete track of time?
In my work, what are the tasks and missions that stimulate and excite you?
What are your professional interests?
What do you like doing in your spare time?
What are your favorite movies and TV shows? What do you like about them? What is this saying about you and your values?
(For example: maybe you love the TV show FRIENDS because it puts a big emphasis on friendship, and friendship is an important value to you).

2. What the world needs

What does the world need? more empathy? more love? more solidarity?
What are your values? Make a list of your values and narrow them down to your top 10 core values. Note that these values are not sacred and final, they will evolve over time, as you learn and grow.
Craft your "Jealousy and Admiration Map". Make a list of people you admire and/or are (kinda) jealous of. These people can be relatives, friends, or public figures such as artists, politicians, activists... You can even add movie or cartoon characters that carry strong values you admire.
Ask yourself WHY you chose these people, and what does that say about you? How does that reflect who you want to be as a person? How can you cultivate the traits that you admire/are jealous of in these people?
Who are the people who can support you or help you in your journey? Who could make the right introductions to bring you closer to your mentors? Cultivate your network, you could be surprised by how close you are to meet extraordinary people.

3. What you're good at

How do your friends and loved ones perceive you?
What your qualities?
What are the things you do with ease and require no or little effort?
For example: are you known for organizing the coolest parties? Or for remaining calm in any situation?

4. What you can be paid for

What are your skills ? List things like your academic background, the courses, coaching programs and trainings you've taken, the technical skills you've learned, etc. It doesn't matter whether or not you have college degrees: your self-taught skills are extremely valuable.
What are the things you can do well? Be specific/ For example, if you've worked as a programmer for ten years, lists the type of projects you've accomplished, the apps you've developed...
What are the qualities and soft skills you've developed throughout your career?
Who do you want to work for or with? Do you want to work for a big corporation, a small company, a non-profit, or is your goal to be self-employed?

Also ask yourself:
How much is your minimum income requirement? How much money do you need to make just to cover your vital expenses?
How much is your equilibrium income ? How much money do you need to make to cover your expenses and have extra money to to live comfortably and afford to have hobbies and vacations?
And finally, how much is your dream income? How much money do you need to make to be able to afford your dream lifestyle ?

Once you've answered all these questions, you'll know yourself better and you'll get clarity about the next turn you should take for your life and career. 

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