Breaking Down Ikigai – Giving Purpose to you Career

Are you confused about your career choice? Do you not like what you do? It’s time you sat down and figured out a way that can help you in making the right decision. 

Inspired by Dan Oswald’s quote, “Asking the right questions is the key to finding the right answers”, Sahil Aggarwal, Co-founder & CEO, Rishihood University shares his knowledge to find the right path through the Japanese concept of “Ikigai”. 

Before you think of your career or field, ponder over your purpose of being here (Ikigai). This purpose can be found by asking yourself the following – 

  • – What do I like? 
  • – What am I capable of?
  • – What gets me money? 
  • – What does society need?

For instance, if you often look at clothes, get fascinated by the design and wonder how one could have thought of it, your interest might be in art/design. The next thing you need to ask yourself is, can you learn it? Do you have the skills and desire for it? 

You can do a course in design/art and figure out the field like stylist/fashion designer/textile design etc. There are many options for you to explore. This way you know how you can make money. The last step is to ask yourself will you be able to help the society/community by working in design. For instance, you can explore sustainable clothing.

A common answer to these 4 questions will be your Ikigai. Sahil says the Ikigai concept is like a friend for life and you don’t have to figure out all the answers right away. 

The 4 questions can be divided into internal & external interpretation. Internally, you have to unravel your interest & capabilities, also known as, attitude & skills. Establish whether you are –

  1.   Analytical – Engineering, Science & Accounting
  2.   Logical – Legal & Administrative
  3.   Empathetic – Psychology, Healthcare & Teaching
  4.   Creative – Design, Arts & Humanities
  5.   Business focused – Startup & Technology
  6.   Glamour & Adventure – Sports, Multimedia, Tourism

 These fields are not exhaustive, there are many more options out there but this defines the gist and identifies some of the broader/popular categories. If you come up with innovations or can identify which service/technology could appeal to the audience then you’ve got a great business sense and can explore this field.

The two areas left to crack are financial viability and social needs. For the first one, you’ll need to research and determine the futuristic aspects of your career. Will technology make your career obsolete or will it bring new opportunities? Will it give you an increasingly sustainable income?

Identify things technology can do and cannot do. Like creative work or being an actor/actress isn’t something that has been seen so far for robotics or AI.

Also, consider the population growth of India. The more it increases, the harder it is to acquire a job, so we have to create jobs. People can do so within the company by adding more value, which will eventually help in employment.  

In terms of social needs, you can think of different ways to innovate that’ll create a social impact. For instance, as a journalist you can do articles for the community as well as popular pieces or in an art & crafts profession you can do sessions for the autistic or do free courses to inspire others. 

To start doing different things and finding your purpose, you need to follow this decision-making framework.

  1.   Don’t sit idle, explore different activities or courses online.
  2.   Be an active seeker of knowledge. Talk to people/professors/elders, watch documentaries or read the newspaper.
  3.   You may also find yourself to be good at 2-3 things but you have to see where you would have more advantage in the futuristic & social sense.

There’s a need and demand for healthcare professionals who can support doctors like nurses, lab technicians etc. Similarly, during the pandemic, there has been a need for mental health professionals to manage the stress & anxiety of being in a lockdown. 

For engineering, explore new technologies like blockchain, AI, Internet of Things.

For entrepreneurship, you must acquire and ease into the entrepreneurial mindset. It’s about creating value and putting new ideas to the table. 

Experiences in different parts of the world create a lot of impact. Thus, personalised services are gaining popularity and importance. These include the hospitality industry and tourism. 

In conclusion, to find your purpose you have to start somewhere and ask yourself questions while you explore different fields.