Should Work Be Your Ikigai?

Can we consider our work as our ikigai? People tend to focus on work that they believe is their ikigai. However, engaging with too much work might become a cause of stress itself. Hence, one must not simply rely on work as a source of his/her ikigai.

Nick and Dr. Yasuhiro Kotera talk about why people must find other sources of ikigai aside from work.

Nick: It actually reminded me of this book, Shigoto nanka ikigai ni suru na, and in the book, the author, Kanji Izumiya, talks about how Japan has this tendency to focus too much on work.

He encourages the readers to find other sources of ikigai including the appreciation of art -- appreciation of art, getting outdoors, and even sustainability where you could hunt and grow your own vegetables as a way to find a new ikigai source rather than working yourself to death, which unfortunately, the Japanese are famous for. They have a word for it.. 

Yasuhiro: Karoshi

Nick: I hope you're not doing that.

Yasuhiro: But that's a great book you picked. So the title, its translation is: don't make your work your ikigai; don't make your job your ikigai. I think it's brilliant.

But I think there is a cultural virtue in Japan that is beautiful. If you are a serious, responsible person, your work is your ikigai. I think it's not often healthy and karoshi is the product of it.

Nick: I was just gonna say, it's sort of becoming a problem here, this idea of hustle. In my sort of circle of online entrepreneurs, there is this word hustle going on about, that we hustle, and it's this badge of honour constantly working to start your business up and grow it and people almost pride themselves. 

And while that might be inspiring and beneficial for the initial phase but it will ultimately be going to impact your mental and physical health and impact your most important relationships and priding yourself on overworking is probably not a way to go. Certainly not the way to go for feeling or finding your ikigai.

Yasuhiro: Very true. I think another part of why ikigai is an experiential sense, it's not often shown, expressed in the same way, as other people do.

But for example, in the context of work, your work behaviours are expressed, and then people think that's the way to get ikigai.

But that's, I think, the other way around: people feel ikigai, then behaviours happen. So just coping with behaviours alone doesn't create ikigai for them, they first need to get in touch with a sense of ikigai, then behaviours will happen. 

So I think that the bad case of this karoshi in Japan may be that the founder of the company is full of ikigai, and he works 24/7, and his subordinates or staff see how he works.

That's what feeling passionate means or feeling ikigai means, and then they only copy superficial, visible aspects, without feeling the invisible part, then, of course, that's gonna create mental distress.