Finding purpose or meaning in life is one of the problems faced by most young adults in their 20s and 30s. It is often getting referred as a quarter-life crisis or a phase defined by clinical psychologist Alex Fowke as a period of insecurity, doubt, and disappointment around your career, relationships, and financial situation in this modern era. However, there is a Japanese concept called “ikigai” that can be used as an approach to overcome this problem.
Ikigai is a method for finding meaning or purpose in our life and can become a strong reason why we wake up every day. The word ikigai consists of iki and gai, which have the meaning of life (iki) and can describe values (gai). That means small amounts of pleasure in everyday life can lead to a more valuable life overall.
Tips for Finding Your Ikigai
The process to find Ikigai can start by drawing a Venn diagram of the four aspects of your life or four qualities of your life. Your first task is to identify these four aspects of quality of life, consisting of:
- What do you love?
- What is your expertise?
- What areas of expertise can pay you?
- What is your area of expertise that the world needs?
Once you’ve identified them, you can combine these four aspects to find the four slices with a deeper meaning that is the next phase in the process of discovering ikigai. The four slices are:
Passion is the intersection of “what you love” and “your field of expertise.” For example, you are an expert, and love creating comics. However, because the comics you create are never published, your work does not provide income and becomes something without value for others.
A slice of “your field of expertise” and “getting paid” is called a profession. For example, you work in an IT company as an accountant and can do your job well. However, you are unhappy because you don’t love it. Even so, it inevitably becomes your profession because it can support the needs of your life.
Vocation is a slice of a “getting paid” and “area that the world needs” or things that can benefit many people. For example, your family ask you to continue the family business. Even if you don’t like it, you would still do it because you’re earning income. It is also beneficial to carry on the family inheritance and provide a job for the workers.
A slice of “what you love” and “field the world needs” or things that can benefit many people is called a mission. A simple example is volunteering to help natural disasters victims. You can find happiness by helping others, but you don’t get paid for this activity.
Then, the four aspects of life that have been identified at the beginning and form the slice of passion, profession, vocation, and mission must be able to meet again in one complete intersection.
If passion only meets profession, you will feel satisfied but not useful. If a profession only meets vocation, you end up in a comfort zone that feels empty. If vocation meets mission only, you will feel uncertainty amid excitement. Meanwhile, passion that meets mission will create a feeling of lack of wealth in the midst of happiness and fulfilled interests.
Ikigai Can Be an Alternative in Facing Quarter Life Crisis
Facing a quarter-life crisis at the age of 20-30 is a natural thing that can happen. It is a period that becomes the gateway to real life for most people.
The pressures faced by young adults also vary and depend on the culture in which they live. In Indonesia, some of the pressures faced can be about school, marriage, household, career, and income.
All these stresses can cause insecurity in life, and ikigai can be an alternative method to get out of that pressure. On the other hand, take note that a person’s value in life is diverse and not limited to just one thing. Therefore, you can’t compare someone else’s ikigai with yours because it has different values.
The process of finding ikigai is also not something that can happen overnight. Doing what you love to become an expert in that field alone is time-consuming. However, these challenges are part of your journey to find the ikigai.
In the end, ikigai is about feeling that the field you love can be a source of income and, at the same time, can make a difference in the lives of other people. Therefore, you can start from small things. Start focusing on yourself to explore your potential and immediately prioritize the goals you want to achieve.