The average life expectancy of people on the Japanese island of Okinawa is higher than anywhere else in the world (Blue Zones). This is widely attributed to their way of life, and the concept of Ikigai.
Ikigai describes the pursuit of a purpose that will allow you to live a long, happy, and meaningful life. It teaches that passion, expertise, demand, and value are key components of finding one’s true purpose.
How can entrepreneurs use this miraculous approach to life in order to build a business that has real value, authenticity, and longevity? There are just four simple ingredients to this recipe for success.
This is one you’ll have thought about already when building your business (hopefully!), and this is a great starting point, because your Ikigai needs to reflect your skills.
The Okinawans believe that everyone is born with a specific purpose. You might be pursuing that already, or you might not have really nailed down your fundamental strengths yet.
Training and formal education are one thing, but let’s zoom out a little. What have you been skilled at since you were a child? What would your friends, family or colleagues say you are good at? What do people always ask for your help with?
These are questions you should be asking yourself to discover your Ikigai. Building your business around the fundamental strengths that make you who you are will most certainly help you succeed.
Let’s pause for a second and think about what success actually is. Is it about how many zeros are on your bank statement? Is it about being the leader of your industry? Is it about flexible holidays, or generating passive income?
These are all great, but one phrase I’ve always been particularly fond of is, ‘Find a job that you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’
Building a company out of your personal Ikigai doesn’t mean doing something that is convenient or profitable. It doesn’t just mean doing something that you’re good at or something you’re used to. It goes beyond that.
A business built upon your Ikigai will be something that you genuinely believe in. Something that you are wholeheartedly willing to fight for. This way, your passion and enthusiasm for the cause will never wane.
Having your Ikigai at the heart of your business will mean that your source of income becomes so deeply intertwined with your values that you could not give up on it even if you tried.
In order to sustain the passion for your business and its goals, it needs to be geared toward something that the world needs. This is an important aspect of Ikigai. One of the reasons Okinawans are thought to live such rich, long and healthy lives is due to their emphasis on community.
Your personal interests and opinions are likely to evolve over time. But when you look at the collective needs of your community, you will be able to recognise the more universal and enduring desires that connect us all. Tailoring your business to serve one of these desires will future-proof your business and make the work more rewarding.
Focus on fixing an issue purely for your own satisfaction, and you may eventually find that you feel unfulfilled and underappreciated, both of which will hinder the success of your business.
In this day in age, there’s no getting away from the fact that we need to secure an income. In corporate terms, you don’t have a business if it doesn’t make you any money.
You will certainly need money if you are to make a real success of your business. But you also need a motivator that is greater than money. Remember, the goal of Ikigai is not to make money, it is to live a full and happy life.
If your business is built around the concept of Ikigai, your work will bring you joy, and achieving a stable income will be that much easier. With this mindset, money is simply a necessary tool that allows you to keep pursuing your purpose.
Yes, you should be driven by financial security and personal welfare. But you should also be driven by passion, the desire to master your skills, and the impact you are making on the world.
If you have found a business that ticks all of these boxes, you have discovered your Ikigai. If not, it’s never too late…