|Figure 1. Conceptual model of ikigai|
- What one loves
- What one is good at
- What the world needs
- What the world will pay for
A natural progression from the most personal to the most corporate might look like this: Do what you love and you will get good at doing it. If the world needs and values the thing you are good at, you can earn a decent living doing it. If all is working well, you will love your activity even more and the virtuous cycle repeats and expands.
|Figure 2. Although the four components work concurrently, not linearly, it may be helpful to imagine a progressive path, beginning with the most personal (what you love) and advancing through to the most external (what you can be paid for).|
The four factors are weighted equally, hence the same-sized circles. Their relationship to one another is captured in a Venn diagram, implying that simultaneous outcomes are achieved through cyclic, iterative, interconnected, and mutually reinforcing factors. The factors are shown in a balanced state. All the circles and overlaps are uniform in size. However, the implication is that the relationship can become distorted if a factor grows or shrinks relative to the others. The "Love" circle can get bigger or smaller over time, and any change within that factor will distort the overall image.
The combination of what you love to do and what you are good at generates passion for your actions. If you can apply that passion to meet a need in the market, you are performing a mission. If customers are willing to pay you for the goods or services you bring to the market, your actions are consistent with your calling or vocation. And finally, if the thing you are getting paid for is also the thing you are good at relative to others, then you have found your profession.
- Delight and fulfillment (12 o'clock),
- Excitement and usefulness (3 o'clock),
- Wealth and comfort (6 o'clock), and
- Satisfaction and certainty (9 o'clock).
The rewards will be diminished if you are missing one or more of the four components. For example:
- If you are doing what you love but are not getting paid, you may experience delight and fullness but no wealth (12 o'clock)
- If you are doing what the world needs but you are not particularly good at it, you may experience excitement and complacency, but also a sense of uncertainty (3 o'clock)
- If you are getting paid but you don't love what you are doing, you may be comfortable but experience a feeling of emptiness (6 o'clock)
- If you are doing what you are good at but the world doesn't need it, you may feel satisfaction but also a sense of uselessness (9 o'clock)
|Figure 3. Imbalance stresses the factors and reduces ikigai|
In theory, if you are not happy and fulfilled, look at all four factors for reasons. Look at the factors separately and together (love + skill = passion). Identify the gaps, and set out to make improvements.
- Are you doing what you love?
- Are you good at the thing you are doing?
- Does your product meet a specific need in the market?
- Are you getting paid enough to cover your expenses and provide comfort?
If the answer to any one of these questions is not a resounding YES, then perhaps there is some room for improvement--or maybe even a requirement for radical change. If love is lacking, then either figure out how to bring more love into the activity or find a different activity you love even more. This process is personal. Life is too short to entrust your personal happiness--your ikigai--to anyone else.
|Figure 4. Cover art for García and Miralles (2017)|
Ikigai is the realization of what one hopes for and expects from life. This realization is achieved through discovering, revealing, curating, and perfecting one's useful purpose or reason for being.