Ikigai – Your Reason for Being Finding Meaningful Work

In search of inspiration for this piece, I flicked back to the first page of one of my favourite notebooks — the one where I capture all sorts of inspiring thoughts and definitions on topics such as Brand Identity, Copywriting, Marketing, Information Architecture, User Experience Research & Design, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, etc.

I found a post-it note with some interesting questions scribbled and a little venn diagram.

• What am I passionate about?

• What taps my talent?

• What meets a significant need in the world?

What is essential?

The shared centre on the venn diagram with Talent, Market and Passion overlapping indicates our highest point of contribution.

On the back of the post-it was written “Disciplined Pursuit of Less”. I found this phrase utterly intriguing, hence the note which remained pinned to the start of my notebook as a hopeful reminder. Only later did I track it down to the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

Later again, I came across the Japanese term Ikigai, which loosely translates as your reason for being. It combines 4 overlapping concepts — Profession, Passion, Mission, Vocation, or

• That which you are good at

• That which you love

• That which the world needs, and

• That which you can be paid for.

The big question being asked is “What’s your reason for existing?”

To be truly effective, fulfilled and live a purposeful life of meaningful contribution we need to be able to answer this question.

My own journey has taken me through several areas of design, art, craft, code and writing.

I am fascinated by creativity and playfully exploring the creative process. I am intrigued by a sense of underlying order and love to investigate different systems, structures and processes. I want to find what is at the core of things, the underlying principles and how things work.

I’m also quite practical and often ask what is going to be useful to know? What is going to help people flourish? What can I do to add value and inspire others?

This has lead me to develop skills in web design, brand identity and user experience design. I write and draw in my own time, which I make sure to create a lot of space for.

Through this I am aiming at becoming more masterful at the creative process as it applies to business as well as personal transformation and development. I want my skills to be relevant now and in the future, so I am looking for timeless human qualities that are hard to outsource and replace by machines.

I write this post as a reminder but also as a commitment to a process that has rewarded me with so much already. That is the spirit of enquiry, curiosity, creativity and the quest to figure things out and be useful.

We’ve all got a unique spirit to discover and share. I hope these words kindle something that reminds you of your own creative spark and reason for being.

What’s your Ikigai? I’d love to hear from you!


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