How Does the Japanese Concept of Ikigai Link to Your Financial Prosperity?

 Should you work towards something you are passionate about?

Or should you work so to make money and find passions outside of your work?

Can you have both? If you had to choose one, which would you choose?

These questions are being asked more than ever as companies lay people off with the coldness of an ice bath.

We are fortunate to live in a world that has an almost limitless number of opportunities if you live in a capitalistic government system. It may take hard work and sacrifice, but it can be done.

But can you do something you love and are passionate about for a job?

Yes. The Japanese call this concept Ikigai.

What is Ikigai?

As you can see in the picture, Ikagai is comprised of 4 concentric circles that overlap. We are going to deep dive into those 4 circles, but ultimately, at the center they all overlap to create your Ikigai. Something that you love, that the world needs, that we are good at and can be paid for.

Estimates show that only 3% of people in the world have currently achieved their Ikigai. I believe that number can be higher if people focus on it more, but the reality is that its not easy and I'll explain why.

What We Love

If we could all choose to do this, then the world would be full of professional basketball players, video gamers, hikers and other leisurely things. 

Unfortunately, we all cannot get a job doing what we love.

What's more likely is that we will come to love what we do.

What We Are Good At

This severely narrows down the field. Not many of us are good at a lot of things. 

When you think about it, the average person is probably better than the average person in the population at about 5-10 skills/activities. 

And while you may be good at playing chess, organizing your closet or being a funny dad, these aren't necessarily something that the world needs.

What The World Needs

When we talk about this section, the world can be viewed at three different levels. 

Local, National, Digital.

Local - What does your neighborhood or city need? Dog walkers? City planners? Daycares?

National - What does your state and country need? More oranges groves? Home builders? Ocean clean up crews?

DigitalThere are 4 billion people online that all have problems. What needs do your social media groups, gaming communities, and work cohorts have? Are you excellent at Excel or building Notion templates? 

What Can We Be Paid For

This very much goes hand in hand with what the world needs though there are plenty of positions that we don't need that you can be paid for (like HOA board members and most politicians).

What are you good enough at that someone would pay for it? Is there something you can upskill in that will enable you to make money?

One of the great things about digital needs is that you can become good enough at something with about 30-40 hours of study and find paying customers out of the 4 billion people online to make some money.

When you find that there is demand for something (AI enthusiasts, video editors, electricians, etc), you can definitely be paid to solve it either in the real world or online.

Finding Your Ikigai

I recommend making a list in each 4 of these categories and going in this order:

  1. What I Love
  2. What I'm Good At
  3. What The World Needs
  4. What I Can Be Paid For

This can act as a great funnel to identify what you might enjoy, but it can also help clarify what you would hate doing.

For instance, I'll do myself.

  1. I love learning about business and money
  2. I am good at managing money, eliminating distractions and selling things
  3.  The world needs financial education and to learn how to make money in the digital age
  4. I can be paid to show people how to increase their net worth, income and grow their business

This is why I quit corporate life in 2022 and have since been working on the mode to do this. 

I had enough money to float us for a while and I wanted to chase my Ikigai. 

Even if I fail at replacing my previous income and have to get another job somewhere in the future, I will have chased a dream and created something valuable that can help others.

There's no long-term downside to what I'm doing! The only thing I stand to lose is money after all...

What's The Answer?

This article started with the common questions centered around passion, vocation and money.

Should you quit the job you hate right now to chase what you love? If you were laid off recently, should you just take the next job available so you don't go into debt or consider a career change based on your Ikigai?

It depends.

Not everyone needs the Ikigai to be happy.

My wife is a Physician Assistant for orthopeadics and spine specifically. She's good at it. The world needs it. And she can definitely get paid for it.

But she has been a part of many specialties in her career and spine isn't her favorite. She strives for excellence in everything she does but that doesn't mean she LOVES working on spine.

If you were to ask her, she would tell you that she enjoyed neurosurgery and dealing with brain stuff more. 

BUT, she has reframed it and what she also loves is helping people. And she's doing that at any of her jobs.

So is this the most perfect Ikigai for her? Not necessarily, but its close enough.

She sets boundaries with her job and pursues passions like her kids, fitness and travel outside of work. That's where most of us end up landing.

A true Ikigai takes foresight, sacrifice and luck. 

But you don't need it to be happy. You can learn to love or get good at a lot of things that the world needs and you can be paid for. 

That's where I'd put my focus. 

So take some time and fill yours out. See how it goes.

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