A formula that’s been around for hundreds of years, Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept that roughly translates to “a reason for being.”
With four main components you need to check off in order to achieve Ikigai, how does this method support students’ study skills and keep their academic goals on track?
It’s believed that without all four of the blue components, you will never truly be happy or feel fulfilled.
So, to further explain the method, here are the four sections that complete Ikigai:
1. Something that you love
The first component asks that you always have something that you love in your life so that you’re always present.
The technical term for it is ‘the flow state’ – a blissful state where you’re content with everything around you and are focused on a task that you enjoy doing.
For example, you may achieve your flow state by drawing, writing, singing, hiking – anything that sets your attention alight and keeps your mind focused.
You need this in your life, especially during your university years where it’s easy to feel weighed down by assignments and additional work. By doing something you love on the side, you’ll have completed the first section of Ikigai and be one step closer to a balanced life.
2. Something that the world needs
This part of Ikigai refers to a sense of need.
As humans, we tend to feel great when we feel needed in the community or when we serve a bigger purpose.
Many students achieve this through environmental action, such as campus clean-ups, charity fundraising events or by engaging with eco trends.
Tying your talent together with real-world purpose adds value to your actions and enables you to feel good about yourself. Providing something the world needs helps you achieve Ikigai.
3. Something that pays you well
The third area of Ikigai points to something that pays you well.
At this stage, many people question the method since money does not translate to happiness!
When choosing your future course, it’s not necessarily the financial return that keeps you motivated – it’s the fulfilment you’ll feel while studying something you love or something that will better the world.
But money is what puts a roof over your head, stops you from getting hungry and pays your tuition fees.
That’s why being paid is a fundamental part of Ikigai. It prevents additional worries from entering your mind and keeps you in a more tranquil state.
4. Something you are good at
The fourth and final component you need to achieve Ikigai is that you need to have something you’re good at.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be born with talent, it means that you’re able to put in the time and effort in order to get better.
That’s why extra curricula sessions are a great place to start. While at university, don’t be shy to perfect your intellect and strive towards the completion of Ikigai.
Overcoming your obstacles and becoming confident in your trade will eventually transfer into great achievement and overall happiness.
Overlapping sections of Ikigai
As you can see from the diagram at the top, there are four overlapping sections of Ikigai, represented in green.
A key advantage of this formula, these overlaps can tell you where you are in life and what you need to work on by seeing what components you have so far:
What you love to do vs. what the world needs: Mission
If you have what you love and you can see how the world needs it, you’ll have a mission.
A lot of people that fall into this category are amateur activists or campaign strategists. They want to see positive change in the world but they’re not successful at taking action.
Aim: You need to focus on getting better at your craft, such as through public speaking or marketing, and convince people that they need to take action and join your cause.
What the world needs vs. what you’re paid for: Vocation
If you’re paid well and you know it’s helping the world, this would be a vocation.
For example, your professor. They’re most likely paid well and they’re training the next generation to become proactive global citizens.
While this may be rewarding, it could also lead to a repetition of information without any new insight.
Aim: To constantly challenge yourself to be better.
What you’re paid for vs. what you’re good at: Profession
Merging the thing you’re paid for with what you’re good at converts into a profession.
A common 9-5 job will often fall into this category, so after university, you’ll hope to be paid for the trade you studied in.
What’s stopping you from happiness might be love for your work – you might be good at it, but are you enjoying it?
Aim: Try out new things and figure out what it is you love doing.
What you’re good at vs. what you love to do: Passion
If you currently have what you love and what you’re good at, its highly likely that you’re an aspiring academic or creative.
For instance, you could be an aspiring writer but the main thing stopping you from being happy is that you’re not paid enough for your skill or you’re not noticed for your talents.
Aim: Focus on marketing yourself and finding a way to be paid well for it.
What’s your ‘ikigai’?
— World Economic Forum (@wef) February 25, 2019
Strategise your studies with Ikigai
By achieving Ikigai, not only could your study performance improve, but also your mental well-being while at university.
Throughout stressful periods of work and transition, Ikigai is a useful method of recalibration to refer back to. Even if you don’t stick to it, it helps you map out your future and keep your aspirations on track.
Just one of many lifestyle concepts out there, could Ikigai improve your study skills and your academic focus?