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8 Ways to Achieve a Life of Fulfilment Using an Old Japanese Concept

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The Japanese philosophy of Ikigai became established in the 8th century on the island territory of Okinawa. When translated, iki means ‘life’ and gai represents ‘hopeful expectation’. Ikigai promotes ‘the individual’s raison d’etre’ or ‘reason to be throughout a long and meaningful life’.

Guided by a simple framework, it encourages each one of us to seek an ideal balance of life’s needs in relation to our personalities. A successfully fulfilling career is not necessarily one that only exists at a high-flying executive level but one that harmonises with the unique qualities of your inner-self. Achieving this balanced contentment is the surest route to a long, worthwhile and healthy life.

Here are 8 tips to help you achieve fulfilment using the Ikigai framework:

1. Discover your Unique Ikigai

On a sheet of paper, draw four circles that overlap in the centre. Each section represents the motives that directly affect your life: what you excel at, what you adore, how you can earn and if your skill is of use to anyone.

The ultimate aim is to adapt your career to ensure your personal fulfilment. When compiling your chart, remember the phrase ‘to your own self be true’. Only by being honest will you find your Ikigai and real purpose in your life and career.

For instance, if your Ikigai chart reveals a love of plants but in reality, you’re stifled by an office environment, a career in horticulture might be of greater benefit to your personal well-being.

2. Spare Time for the Present

Planning for the future is part of building a life that realises ambitions and ensures financial security. However, Ikigai is a reminder that a personal journey through life should also value the present. Time can never be recaptured so pause occasionally to appreciate the unique opportunities of each day. Enrich the quality of today by spontaneously visiting an exhibition, trying a new hobby or relaxing with a favourite book.

3. Harness Energy from Nature

Japanese culture places a great value on the restorative forces of nature. Appreciating an inspiring landscape of majestic forests, hills or lakes restores balance to a stressful life. Its powerful antiquity is reassuring and calming. Admiring the intricate beauty of flowers or listening to birds singing, reminds you of the harmony to be found in nature. The force of the natural world helps put your own existence into perspective renewing your energy and purpose.

4. Learn to Remain Active

Aim to extend the usefulness of your physical life by establishing a routine of regular exercise. As you get older, try adopting gentler activities such as walking, yoga or tai chi. Keeping your muscles and joints supple and flexible is important in maintaining mobility when pursuing a career in your later years.

5. Eat for Health

To achieve a life of worthwhile longevity with the assistance of Ikigai, you need to keep your body balanced with natural, healthy food. There isn’t a diet to follow, simply an awareness of consuming balanced amounts of essential vitamins and minerals through fresh ingredients. It is a Japanese tradition to practise hara hachi bu, a regime where meals leave you feeling around 20% hungry. It accelerates your digestive metabolism which then quickly raises your energy levels.

6. Seek Inspirational Companionship

Balance the energy to be gained during bouts of solitary contemplation with the warmth of good company. Enjoy stimulating conversation to keep your mind sharp. Relaxation and laughter amongst friends are essential for your well-being. However, Ikigai isn’t all about yourself. Maintain an ideal balance by sparing time for relatives and friends who might be in more need of companionship than you are.

7. Avoid a Worthless Retirement

The philosophy of Ikigai is primarily to achieve purpose, energy and fulfilment throughout a long, contented life. The Japanese belief is that total retirement from a useful working life is detrimental to physical and emotional fulfilment. It’s important that every day should still have a worthwhile purpose and motivation, factors that are especially beneficial in old age. When the time is right, followers of Ikigai continue useful employment by simply exchanging high-flying careers for roles that are less demanding.

8. Be Adaptable

Using the philosophy of Ikigai, allows you to regularly reassess whether your career is still suited to the ever-changing circumstances of your life. By honestly reflecting on what you enjoy and accomplish well, then seeking to combine this knowledge with earning a financial reward is a method of retaining motivation and following a useful existence throughout your life.

Ikigai helps you understand how you can achieve and benefit from a fulfilling career that is uniquely tailored to your individual personality.

Billy White is part of the writing team behind E88 Bangkok, the Bangkok-based creative space specifically designed for nurturing creativity. He likes to write about tech, lifestyle, freelancing, and how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

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Knowing Your Message vs Delivering Your Message

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Have you ever sent a text message only to have it misinterpreted by the person reading it? Happens all the time. Have you ever given a presentation that you were totally prepared for only to have it fall flat? Happens all the time. Have you ever had someone ask you something like, “Why are you mad?” when you were not at all mad? Happens all the time. (more…)

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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​​4 Boss Level Growth Strategies That Create an Optimized Life

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Building a business is about more than sales, marketing, and flexing on social media. While those things tend to draw attention, they attract the wrong type of clients and are not how you build a sustainable and freedom-focused business. (more…)

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Practicing Self-Devotion: 3 Ways Towards a More Mindful and Compassionate You

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I can still hear the voices of my older relatives and my elementary school teachers telling me “be disciplined”, “keep at it”, to give time and energy towards what we want. As a young, impressionable child, I believed all those things because well, they made sense. They worked. And honestly, I felt like it’s the only way to flourish. (more…)

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