Choosing the paths, a way to make life complete and ideal through every walk of it.

It’s good first to ask the right question to find the right answer. Consider life is a journey. Once you find the destination you can commence the life journey. (just breaking down the problem for better understanding).

What is the highest, best, noblest destination in life? I doubt even any man knows the answer to that. No one ever reached that noblest destination ever shared it to us. Few good advice I come across by some real good wise people is to find your purpose, find your why‘s. The reason for the journey. Sometimes destinations are not important. Why you have to travel that particular path may be the most significant factor. Pretty much nomadic is also makes a great journey.

Destination or no-destination journey. It’s Okay, which path to take? Which is the most successful or best’est path? Nope, nothing is there like ‘most successful’ path. Every path with a different experience. But anyone who loves to travel enjoys all, who loves the destination will be ready to travel any path with the same virtues they possess. A path where your needs, desire, ambitions and satisfaction meets is you have to choose. You can change the path as your needs, ambitions and satisfaction changes over the course.

Summing the analogy up. Journey decides all. Not the path, not the destination. The journey includes changing the path, and even changing the destinations. Everyone evidently wants to be happy, peaceful, wealthy and healthy throughout their life, not at the end of when they achieve success. In other words, how we live is more important than how we finish it.

Okay, How can we possibly live it? Let’s not see life as duration as it is not determined for anyone. Let’s see it in a more qualitative way rather than quantitative. How to have a valuable life lived? As said life is all about the journey, you need a reason(purpose) to move in the journey. Along with fulfilled needs, challenging missions that keep the journey interesting, realising wishes to keep you happy and satisfactory for the peace you deserve.

I recently came across this wise idea with simple 4 point checklist to find your own way that makes your journey ideal in your own terms. (Obviously, no one should choose how your life should be, right?). This method is inspired by the Japanese lifestyle philosophy famously known as ‘Ikigai’ which translates to ‘worthy of living’ or ‘reason for being’.

Ikigai is the reason for living. Just not the reason itself. By living for that ‘reason’, you will live the life optimally for as long as possible in which all your needs, wishes, ambitions and satisfactions are met with better health, wealth and mind to enjoy the same.

So finding your Ikigai and following it will make your life worthy of living. Choosing your Ikigai. The 4 point checklist

  1. [ ] What you love to do
  2. [ ] What you are good at doing
  3. [ ] What the world needs
  4. [ ] What you can be paid for or rewarded for

Whatever the big thing you do in your life, your reason for living should satisfy all the above 4 conditions to make it as an ideal life.

Ikigai Chart

Say suppose you have multiple choices in your life, you can choose the path which can satisfies all these 4. If you want to create a path, you can based on these fundamental needs of a worthy or ideal life.

1. First thing is first, Choose “what you love to do”.

Follow your passion, Do what you love to do, work hard, work smart, get inspired, blah blah blah. I often hear these invariably from almost all so-called “gurus”(motivational speakers, trainers, coaches).

That’s not enough. That doesn’t answer how to choose the career? how to be successful? how to achieve more? how to feel satisfied? how to be happy? how to improve my life? and all other sorts of questions you can imagine (including the few you have in your mind now).

2. You need to be “good at it”.

Obviously you can’t do anything in your life for a long time, in which you are not good at.

3. It should be Contributing to “What the world needs”.

This completes the circle of society. If you live in a society, you need to play a part in it and connecting with it. Giving back to the world what it needs makes you feel accepted, safe and appreciated. What you do must be received well in this world, so that you can get back what you needed, setting a flow there.

4. Finally, it should be monetizable. “What you can be paid for”

I have seen people miserably fail even after pursuing their dreams for long and sadly even after making it realise in life. We obviously know people who really work hard for their dreams, burnt their fingers trying new things are not peaceful. Obviously we’ve seen and pity a few people who are so honest and altruistic but not successful. They are well, talented, helped others but failed to keep their ship afloat. You can’t run long if your needs aren’t fulfilled.

You should be wealthy to the point where you can get all that you needed for a healthy, mindful living. “Money should not be the reason for what you do”, yes, I agree. But money will definitely be a significant reason to stop what you want to do. Keep the money at last in the list, if not at first in case you have nobler reasons.

  • Profession = What you are good at + What you will be paid for
  • Passion = What you love + What you’re good at
  • Mission = What you love + What the world needs
  • Vocation = What you will be paid for + What the world needs
For people who already found their “Profession” and “Passion”

The majority falls in these categories. Profession & Passion. This is for those who don’t love their profession. If you love your job, just skip to next title. Assuming you know what you’re good at and what you love already and assuming you already have a job or a way to earn for your living, I ask you to consider a work area (don’t confuse work with a job) which fulfils both conditions (“what you’re good at” and “what you love”).

If you don’t have many choices in the intersection area of what you love and what you’re good at, then make yourself good at a few things that you love (Obviously you can’t change what you love). There are two types of skills.

  1. Natural
  2. Nurtured

Skills always can be acquired by learning, regular practice and habituations. So take your time to nurture a few skills. I know it may not easy as it wrote in a sentence. But every day we’re learning, improving or expanding our skills for the job needs. So you can learn some in this if it pays you well.

If you’re successful at clubbing these three sections (“good at”, “paid for”, “love doing”), you are almost there. All you left with a task to find a ’cause’ that can give something to this world as a good deed.

Augmenting, “What the world needs”

The need of this world is never been in shortage. You can always find a way to contribute. I am not talking about a philanthropical work. It should not be as separate work. What you do must inclusively favour fulfilling some needs of this world (society, other men, animals, nature, etc)

For people who are in Mission & found their Vocation

I have nothing much to tell if you fall to this category. People who have a mission, first need to make themselves good at what they doing or want to do. I suggest, your mission should be self-supportive instead of inclining towards a funding model like NGO’s. As this is your Ikigai, not of any organisation’s. If you can’t make a decent living out of your mission, you’ll become the first reason for the failure of your mission if it is long term. I know you can be successful with your mission if you do it with extra-ordinary conviction, yet you will not be happy or satisfied, the worst case is you might feel empty deep inside.

Vocation is a very short-lived thing. Relying on it may feel quite beneficial for certain years, but it is a very very temporary state and leaves you stressed, unsatisfied and feel hypocritical in later years. If you doing your work as Vocation, constantly repeating and improving will make you good at it though.

What to do if you ticked 3 and can’t find a find a way for the 4th?

If you lack at choices that goes along with other three, then some tips to make it complete.

You can acquire new skills (what you’re good at) by nurturing, signing up for courses/programmes, training, etc.

But if you can’t match things with “what you love”, you should explore more to find more options that you may love.

The most challenging part of this is “getting paid for”. I am going to give cliche tips. Ask expert, research, learn to market your skill and passion.

I’ve covered about what to do if you can’t get augment “what world needs” in the process of finding your Ikigai.

Concluding…

Use your analytical skills and intuitions to find the perfect mixture and balance of all four. This is not a one day process, but only if you search you will find your Ikigai. I don’t think Ikigai is ‘set-once, follow-forever’ kind of thing. As the 4 parameters changes in your life, your Ikigai should be updated.

I use this idea personally in my life to set my long-term goals and in-turn to choose my short term goals and projects. I will try to cover more on this, the practical issues in further articles.

All the best, love you all.

You can find the book about Ikigai at Amazon India, Amazon Other countries

About the author

Sakthitharan Subramanian

Professor by Profession | Thinker by Passion | Systems Thinker | Academic Researcher | Productivity Enthusiast | Loves Minimalism, Philosophy | PhD in Computer Science |