What you need to think about is the intersection of the following four things, and that will get you closer to your ikigai: What you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what you can get paid for.

Ikigai – Japanese concept to enhance work, life & sense of worth

What you love

So what is it that brings you joy, that wouldn’t feel like a job if you did it every day for the rest of your life? Something you loved doing when you were a child perhaps, as that was when you didn’t think or overthink, instead you just did. Another way of getting there is to consider when you have spare time, what you love to do.

What you’re good at

what are your skills and strengths…your skills are things you can do and your strengths are things that you enjoy doing. Go to Strengthscope for a helpful list of strengths and google ‘work skills list’ for some ideas on skills. Think about what people come to you for at work (or outside of work), things you’re known for because you’re good at them or because you enjoy them.

What the world needs

This will most likely get to your higher purpose rather than just things that you enjoy or are good at and we know that people experience all sorts of positive outcomes when engaged in something positive that is greater than them. So to get to this, think about things in the world that upset you and where you feel a difference could be made – locally, or in society more broadly, or where you have a vision for an area where you could make a difference, which is kind of the positive version of the thing that upsets or angers you. Purpose isn’t easy to get to, it may take a while, it may change over time, but the journey’s worth the effort.

What you can get paid for

So realistically, you will need to get paid, so think really creatively about how you can find a job or profession or sell a product or service that relates to the other three areas – where could you achieve your purpose, do what you love AND do what you’re good at. Go broad not narrow initially to get possible thoughts down and only narrow down once you’ve exhausted all possibilities.

“Purpose isn’t easy to get to, it may take a while, it may change over time, but the journey’s worth the effort.”

Paul Brewerton — YC Co Founder

Further thoughts

Once you’ve done the research and had the conversations, your plan to nudge closer to your ikigai, step by step, whatever stage of life or career you’re at, will make a difference both to your joi de vivre but also, quite possibly, to your life expectancy. Best of luck.