Finding Your Ikigai

The Path to Purpose and Passion

The purpose of life is not to be happy.

It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
[4-min read]

After 22 years in the corporate world, I felt burned out.

Surrounded by great colleagues, skilled in my role, and well-compensated, I still felt an emptiness.

It wasn’t until a major life change that I discovered my Ikigai.

It’s that sweet spot where what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for all come together.

Here’s an infographic I created on the concept. Click it for a high-res PDF version.

H/t to Marc Winn for the Ikigai Venn diagram concept.

My journey to find my Ikigai transformed my career and personal life.

It led me to become a LinkedIn creator, now ranked in the top 5 worldwide.

Favikon LinkedIn Top 200 Creators Worldwide as of 30 Jan 2024

To reach my Ikigai, I had to start from scratch. Just last May, I hadn’t made even a single LinkedIn post before.

Going from a corporate leader to creating engaging social media content was quite the shift. And a humbling one.

It meant seeking out mentors, forming a supportive network, and honing new abilities.

And it meant not giving up after multiple failures (like when I removed my first carousel post due to 0 engagement).

As I mastered content creation, my next challenge was to turn my skills into a business. Once again, it’s required a lot of learning.

My Ikigai lies in creating content that inspires and educates. Creating both for myself and for other thought leaders.

Although I’m in my Ikigai now, I still face hurdles daily.

Writer’s block is real. The health impacts of long hours at the computer take a toll. And I still work 15 hours a day sometimes.

In fact, I’ll add one more circle to the Ikigai chart: What you can do in a healthy way.

You need to be flexible and adapt to changes in yourself and your circumstances. What fulfills you today may not tomorrow.

The key is to embrace the journey.

How to Find Your Ikigai

  1. What You Love: Start by listing activities that bring you joy. Ask yourself:

  • “What would I do even if I wasn’t getting paid?”

  • “What could I talk about to a friend for hours?”

  • “What do I lose track of time doing?”

  • “What gives me energy?”

  1. What You’re Good At: Now, note down your skills, especially those that come naturally to you. Consider compliments or positive feedback you’ve received.

  2. What the World Needs: Identify global or community needs that resonate with you. What issues do you feel passionate about addressing? Sometimes, you might discover a need unexpectedly. Act quickly to grab the opportunity.

  3. What You Can Be Paid For: Look for the spots where your passions and expertise intersect with opportunities to earn. Explore careers, business ventures, or side hustles that fit your interests.

  4. What You Can Do in a Healthy Way: Remember your well-being. Finding the right balance may take time. True Ikigai should energize rather than deplete you.

Making It Work for You

Once you’ve pinpointed your Ikigai — or a few paths you’re curious about — it’s time for the next steps:

  • Experiment with Your Interests: Start with small projects or hobbies that spark joy. Notice what genuinely excites you.

  • Gather Insights: Talk about your vision with friends, mentors, or groups. Feedback can sharpen your focus.

  • Map Out Your Development: Pin down the skills you need to enhance or areas to improve. Create a learning roadmap with specific goals. Practice makes progress.

These steps will guide you closer to living your Ikigai daily.

Diving Deeper

Need a little inspiration? Don’t miss this inspiring video on Finding your Purpose from former monk Jay Shetty and 4 other motivational speakers.

Want to learn more about Ikigai? The book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc is a must-read.

Connecting the Dots

Finding my Ikigai was about more than happiness.

It was about being useful and making a difference, just like Emerson said.

In creating content, I found a way to help others and live well.

This journey has its ups and downs, but the joy comes from the impact it makes.

It’s about touching lives, one post at a time.

For you, it’s an invitation to explore your own path to purpose and fulfillment.

Until next time, stay brilliant, my friend.