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Article: The Ikigai Method: Towards a More Fulfilling Life (EXERCISE)

Die Ikigai-Methode: Auf dem Weg zu einem erfüllteren Leben (ÜBUNG)

The Ikigai Method: Towards a More Fulfilling Life (EXERCISE)

What gives our lives meaning is different for every person. The Ikigai method is a concept that is intended to help us find this very individual meaning in life. This happens primarily through a specific and simple exercise. All you need is time, a pen and paper.

“Ikigai” is Japanese and stands for “ meaning in life ” or “ the feeling of having something that is worth getting up for in the morning ,” and can therefore also be understood as a philosophy of life. You can read in more detail here what was originally meant and how Ikigai is interpreted today, especially in the West . At the center of the Ikigai method is a diagram made up of four circles that intersect. The intersection of all four areas represents Ikigai – the “meaning of life”. Each circle represents its own section: what we like to do, what we're good at, what we can get paid for, and what the world needs.

Ikigai Venn Diagram

The diagram can be wonderfully converted into a reflection exercise , which is what today will be about. It can help you get closer to the meaning of your life.

The Ikigai Method: Try it for yourself

Let me say in advance: Maybe you will find your Ikigai today with this exercise, but maybe not. Both are completely fine, because the point of this exercise is primarily to get started and reflect on yourself.

Ideally, you have around 30 minutes to complete the exercise and have a piece of paper and pen ready. Try not to think too hard about the things you're about to write down. Above all, write down what comes to mind first.

Step 1: Preparation

Draw a horizontal and a vertical line down the middle of your piece of paper so that you have four equal sections . These four areas represent the four circles from the diagram. Now start in the top left section and write the question “1. What do I like to do?” into it. Then continue counterclockwise and fill the other three areas with the questions “2. What am I good at?”, “3. What can I get paid for?” and “4. What does the world need?”

Ikigai journal exercise template

Step 2: Fill the areas with content

Now it's time to answer the questions. Approach the areas individually and ideally take 3-5 minutes per section .

We want to start with the simplest question and then work our way slowly:

1. What do I like to do?

The following questions can help answer this question:

  • What have you never been bored with?
  • What activity do you return to again and again? What activities “magically” attract you?
  • What gets you into the “flow” so that you forget about the time around you while you are doing the activity?

  • Example answers:

    • have deep conversations
    • read exciting stories/books
    • write/keep a diary
    • cook

    2. What am I good at?

    The following questions can help answer this question:

  • What skill have you dedicated time to practice? What skill(s) are you currently learning?
  • What things do people come to you to ask for help with?
  • What skills do other people admire in you?
  • What has always been easy for you?
  • Is there something you want to become good at?

  • Example answers:

    • Accounting
    • to sing
    • listen to other people
    • Write stories and essays

    3. What can I get paid for?

    The following questions can help answer this question:

  • What have you been paid for so far?
  • What work would you do if you weren't working in your current job?
  • What do you want to get paid for?

  • Example answers:

    • marketing
    • writing blogs
    • Accounting
    • Singing performances at weddings

    4. What does the world need?

    This question is the most difficult for most people. We therefore want to approach answering the question in small steps. Don't ask yourself what “the world” needs, but rather what “your world” needs : The society in which you live; your immediate environment. The reality in which you currently find yourself.

  • What are the people around you like, what do they need?
  • How can you help leave a positive impact on those around you?

  • Example answers:

    • People need more fun and less stress
    • more with each other, less against each other
    • Impulses & stories that inspire people and make them think differently

    Step 3: Find your Ikigai

    Take a look at all the areas again and maybe add things that you would like to add.

    Now let’s get to the exciting part: your Ikigai. From the four areas, choose what overlaps or what appears again and again . To do this, you may have to get a little creative or think about how different things can be combined with each other. You have to look at some specific activities or skills in an abstract way in order to find an intersection between the areas. This can be summarized as “I’m good at painting and enjoy doing it” and “I’ve been paid to write song lyrics” and “the people around me need something that makes them happy / lets them escape from everyday life.” become “Creativity & Expression”.

    In our example, the intersection would be something like “writing meaningful/inspiring stories.” – Great, then we’re done now, right?

    Ikigai is a process

    Unfortunately, it's often not that simple. Not all of us find our personal Ikigai straight away. Some people need days, months or even years. Some people will find that the contents of the four circles or areas change depending on the stage or phase of life. All of that is okay.

    The original “promise” that you will inevitably find your own meaning in life with the Ikigai diagram is not always fulfilled or kept. But if we don't see this as the goal of the exercise, but rather see it as an opportunity to get to know ourselves better and navigate in a direction that corresponds to our idea of ​​a fulfilling life, then Ikigai can bring us a lot.

    Maybe it will help you just to think more about these areas and find starting points for things that you can change in your life. Finding your own Ikigai is a constant process. Take your time. Keep asking yourself difficult and challenging questions and answer them honestly. Reflect on yourself and those around you regularly. Be open to trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone - because until you try something, you can't know whether you'll enjoy it. The “meaning of your life” is often not one thing that stays the same forever. Dare to think in different directions and test them out.

    If you would like to find out more about topics such as mindfulness & spirituality, sustainability, family and pregnancy or healthy nutrition, take a look at the exciting blog articles here.

    Person reads Ikigai book

    Photo by Tarun Savvy on Unsplash

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