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June 19, 2024

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Ikigai is a Japanese concept that translates roughly to “a reason for being.” It’s a philosophy that helps individuals find personal fulfillment by balancing what they love, what they are good at, what the world needs, and what they can be paid for. Among these four overlapping elements, the focus on “vocation” β€” what the world needs and what you can be paid for β€” is particularly compelling in today’s career-focused society. This article explores this aspect of Ikigai, offering insights on how to apply it to your life to enhance satisfaction and purpose.

Understanding Vocation in the Context of Ikigai

Vocation is traditionally defined as a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation. In the context of Ikigai, vocation intersects what the world needs and what you can be paid for. It’s not just about earning a living but doing so through work that is meaningful both to you and to society. This intersection is critical because it ensures that your professional life is not only financially rewarding but also contributes positively to the world.

Applying the Vocation Aspect of Ikigai to Your Life

  1. Identify What the World Needs: Begin by researching and observing the needs in your community or in the world at large. These needs could range from environmental conservation to advancements in technology or healthcare. Understanding these needs helps to pinpoint where significant contributions can be made.
  2. Evaluate Your Skills and Expertise: Assess what skills you have or can develop that align with these needs. This step is about finding a match between your capabilities and the opportunities where you can effectively contribute.
  3. Seek Opportunities for Alignment: Look for or create job opportunities that allow you to address these needs. This might involve switching careers, starting a new business, or pivoting your current business model to incorporate solutions to pressing issues.
  4. Continuous Learning and Adaptation: The world’s needs change, and staying relevant means committing to lifelong learning and adapting your skills accordingly.

Benefits of Applying Ikigai to Your Life

  1. Increased Job Satisfaction: Working in a field that aligns with what the world needs and what you are skilled at doing provides a profound sense of purpose and satisfaction. Knowing your work makes a difference can boost motivation and happiness.
  2. Financial Stability: By aligning your career with actual needs that must be met, you likely tap into sustainable and potentially lucrative markets. This approach can lead to greater job security and financial stability.
  3. Personal Growth: Engaging in work that challenges you and meets a significant need fosters personal growth. You’ll likely encounter opportunities to learn and expand your skill set, which can lead to personal and professional development.
  4. Social Contribution: Ikigai encourages contributing to society, which can lead to a better social reputation and a stronger personal and professional network.
  5. Enhanced Work-Life Balance: Finding a vocation that fits within the Ikigai framework often leads to more satisfaction which can improve overall well-being and work-life balance.


The vocation aspect of Ikigai offers a compelling route to a fulfilling career by aligning personal skills with the needs of the world in a way that is also financially rewarding. By applying this concept, individuals can find deeper meaning in their work, contribute positively to society, and achieve a harmonious balance in their professional and personal lives. In doing so, they not only enhance their own lives but also potentially improve the world around them.


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