A Reason for Being

As a new year begins, it’s often a time for reflection on our lives. For some, that reflection may be a quick passing thought. For others, it may involve some deep introspection of where we are and where we

A tool for doing that deep introspection thinking is one that comes from Japan. It’s called Ikigai: a reason for being. Ikigai is best envisioned through the Venn diagram shown below.



Ikigai challenges us to think of our reason for being along four dimensions:

  • What we love
  • What the world needs
  • What we can be paid to do
  • What we are good at

What we love should engage us as both a passion for what we are good at doing and a mission in support of others. But if we can’t be compensated adequately for our efforts, then we fail to fully achieve our reason for being.

What the world needs may provide us with a mission for our being and personal fulfillment. But it may not be where our best strengths lie. As a result, we may feel inadequate that we are best suited for meeting the needs of others and not realizing our reason for being. Some may call this imposter syndrome.

What are we paid to do comes from our professional knowledge and what others need. But if it isn’t what we love to do, then we fail to realize our reason for being.

What we are good at doing helps us choose a profession that engages our passion. But if it isn’t something that is needed by others, we may not realize our reason for being.

As we reflect on our reason for being at the beginning of this year, we might want to ask ourselves where we are currently in the above Venn diagram. Have we reached a point at the intersection of all four circles? And if not, what might it take to get us to that intersection?

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“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.” – Winston Churchill

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