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Opinion Editorials

The marvelous relief of finding your ikigai

(EDITORIAL) There is no English word that expresses the complex nature of what “ikigai” means, but finding yours is so critical.


You know that place where you’re in the zone? Time kind of stands still because you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing that you forget to eat, drink or rest. There really isn’t an English word for that, but the Japanese have a concept that loosely translates – “ikigai,” or a reason to live. Kind of like having a purpose in life.

To find your ikigai, ask yourself:

What do you love?

What are you good at?

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What does the world need from you?

What can you get paid for?

At the place where these four ideas intersect, there’s your ikigai, your raison d’etre. It’s not a grand or extraordinary philosophy, just a matter-of-fact joy of life, something to live for, a purpose.

How can this translate into business?

Many people call work their ikigai. There’s no denying that your job is an integral part of your identity.

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But if you’re in a job you don’t enjoy, then you need to find your ikigai outside of work. And if work is your only enjoyment, you may not have relationships outside of that. We all need balance in our lives.


Throughout your day, ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” Choose to put your efforts into things you enjoy and what you’re good at, especially when you have a choice in the matter.

Focus on the things that bring meaning into your life. Hopefully, you chose your profession because you could get paid for doing something you enjoy, it brings meaning into your life, and the world needs you.

There’s that old bumper sticker, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.” But many of us go to a job to have money to travel, to enjoy a hobby and to have a roof over our heads.

Instead of looking at what we “have to do,” choose to look at it like you do have a choice. You get to go to work and earn a living.

When I get to a point of burnout, I remember those things. I work not because I should, but because I want to keep my car running, my cats fed, books on my shelves and to be able to help others. Writing is my ikigai, even though there are times when it does get routine and boring. It’s then that I know that I’m ignoring other passions.

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Go and find your ikigai.

Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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