How Do I Practice Ikigai?

Ikigai, pronounced ee-key-guy, is a Japanese philosophy of doing what you love. In essence, ikigai is about reviewing your life, looking for the things you adore, and then finding ways to orient your activities to line up with your passions. In an ideal world, all of us would be practicing ikigai on a daily basis. In our reality, often it takes concerted effort to move toward a more ikigai-aligned reality. So just how do you practice ikigai?

Determine What You Love

Ikigai is all about immersing in activities you have a passion for. Your ikigai could involve gardening. Maybe your ikigai is about knitting. It might involve woodworking or furniture building. Maybe it’s about writing a science fiction novel or rhythmic poetry. Every one of us has a different view of an ideal ikigai. Find a block of quiet time and brainstorm. If there were no restrictions in the world, what would you truly adore doing? Most of us have dreams which we have had to put aside. Some of us adore drawing. Others adore horseback riding. Reminisce about whatever it is which filled you with joy. Make your notes.

Find Small Steps

It’s generally not possible for most of us to leap directly from our current responsibilities into a world where ikigai fills our entire landscape. If that actually is a possibility for you, count yourself lucky! For most of us, we need to map out a plan for our journey. If your dream is to become a respected chef, start small. There are plenty of free YouTube
lessons on improving your skills. If you’ve always wanted to work with farm animals, maybe there’s a local farm which could use a volunteer helper. Build your experience. Spend time in your world. See just how well it suits you.

Research Your Ikigai

There are many times in life that we think we want to head in a direction. It feels so right. And then, when we test it out, we realize what we were imagining about that topic doesn’t match with the reality of it. There was a woman who dreamt for years of being a physical therapist. Finally, she took some courses in doing physical therapy. She soon realized that she didn’t like it at all.

The reality of the tasks was wholly different from her imagined version. That experience helped her reset her goals and move in a different direction. For other people, of course, the testing-the-waters phase wholly reinforces how much they adore that topic area. One man was always intrigued by cyanotype art. He finally bought a small kit and gave it a try. He adored the process so much that he delved whole-heartedly into creating cyanotypes. He was joyful every time he worked on them. Every one of us is different. Every one of us has our own ikigai. That is what makes our world so amazing.

Build an Ikigai Support Structure

Entire movie plots are built around people who have a passion in life and whose family and friends are actively blocking their passion. This is just what happens. A person who wholly embraces their ikigai is going to encounter resistance. It is the sad truth of our world. A critical part of moving forward is to build a support structure for your ikigai. If none of your family members will join in your effort, that is fine. Work to find friends and community members who appreciate what you do. Life is too short to be held back by people who do not understand your dreams. Embrace the things you adore. Find the people who will cheerlead your efforts. Move forward.

Cultivate Patience

Moving forward toward ikigai can sometimes take time. Be patient with the process. Count your progress with each step you take. Sometimes moving in another direction will involve setbacks and challenges. That is all right. Just keep working at it. Find a new solution or option. It is the people who persevere and who keep going who make it to their destination. This is also where having a support structure can help. By talking with others who have been on this journey and know of some of the setbacks, you can plan for those and find solutions. Be open to all avenues of support – online groups, books, videos, and more.

Be Present in the Now

It can be easy to get caught up in the time wasted in the past or the hill to climb in the future. Be grateful for the now you embrace right now. You have your dream in your heart. You know what the next step should be. Now is the time to treasure your motivation and to take just one step forward.

Ikigai can change lives. It can bring you joy and contentment. Keep taking those steps, every day, to move toward your personal dream.

About Author

Rajul Kaushik

As a result of my journey that spans continents and results in resilience and self-belief, I have navigated my way from self-doubt and social rejection to a senior executive role internationally.

It has been an unconventional path, guided by life’s lessons and invaluable mentors, that has led to key roles at Asian Paints and Ballarpur Industries Limited, and expanded my horizons in international business.

My greatest source of pride? My accomplished children, who embody the values I cherish. My approach is holistic, drawing on a range of methodologies such as Ikigai, Yoga, Mindfulness, Sanskrit Mantra Chanting and Vedic Astrology.

It extends beyond mere problem-solving, emphasizing introspection and forging an authentic path.

Success, I believe, is rooted in attitude, decisions, and meaningful relationships.

I am open to connecting with those seeking personal enrichment, especially within the global Indian diaspora.

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