Ikigai and the Energy Unleashed by Identifying Your Purpose
Entrepreneurs are often dubious about “personal growth” activities like identifying their sense of purpose or spending time getting to know themselves. It all sounds new-agey and beside the point.
“My purpose is to make money with my business,” is what they’re likely to say.
Lots of people can afford to ignore the idea and it’s understandable that those who are going along without any bumps in the road would stick with a narrow, highly practical purpose like that.
But odds are, “making money” as a life pursuit is going to become less and less fulfilling over time. At some point the money will come and then what? In addition, it’s unlikely to inspire and attract the right people to create value.
I’m convinced that most human beings need more meaning to create real value. Real value and purpose allow them to get the most out of their limited time here on planet Earth – and especially if they want to sustain the energy, they need to keep all the plates spinning as an entrepreneur.
Ikigai is a Japanese term that expresses that idea. The basic meaning of the word is “the reason you get out of bed in the morning.” In the West it’s usually explained by the accompanying Venn diagram.
Ikigai is your purpose, your reason for being. It’s the place where profession, passion, mission, and vocation overlap. It’s those aspects of yourself that are common to all four areas.
If you make a list – of somewhere around a dozen items – of what you’re good at, and then another for what you really love, and one for what the world needs and what you can get paid for, you’ll start to see terms showing up on each list that are the same or at least closely related. Those are usually good hints to your purpose.
IKIGAI is a great tool that reinforced times in my life that I was able to get into flow. In addition, I got more clarity on the actions to align with my purpose. Now I know how important it is to focus on those actions and avoid wherever possible the loops and distractions that keep me from them.
Energy Generated from your Purpose
The concepts that showed up on all four of my ikigai lists were innovate, create, challenge, and inspire. These are the things that energize me. When I’m engaged in activities that feed into one of these, I’m in a flow state, in other words, I’m in the zone.
I’m completely absorbed by what I’m doing and have a feeling of energized focus and enjoyment in the activity. My mind is full power, is available for the task, and I get new and useful ideas for solving problems. Time speeds by and I’m not in any way drained by the work.
And that’s why it’s worthwhile spending some time looking inward. Knowing yourself well enough to find your way to your purpose opens up new reserves of energy and clarity. It allows you to perform at your peak, to do more and to do it better. It can feel uncomfortable and even pointless when you get started, but the investment really pays off. You can also create an attractive energy, that leads to flow and ultimately creating real value.