What’s Your Ikigai?

Ikigai – pronounced “ee-kee-guy” – is a Japanese concept that has been called the secret to finding happiness. Ikigai is something that gives a person a sense of purpose, a reason for living. Some have even called it a treasure map for finding one’s own happiness.

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a concept that has evolved from holistic medicine. Traditional Japanese health and wellness principles believe that physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing are all intimately tied together. In ikigai, your overall well-being is affected by your mental-emotional health and a sense of purpose in life.

Where the magic happens

The magic happens when operating in our “ikigai sweet spot.” This is a state of high performance, productivity, and happiness that comes from we are consistently doing what we love, what we are good at, what the world needs (i.e., brings value to others’ lives), and what pays a living wage. It’s essential to understand that the ikigai sweet spot does not refer to having a personal purpose and fulfillment in life without regard for others or society at large. 


The lifelong journey

Ikigai is an unending journey of aligning your vocation, profession, passion, and mission.

  • Vocation is the intersection of what the world needs and what I get paid for
  • Profession is the intersection of what my strengths are and what I get paid for
  • Passion is the intersection of what I love and what my strengths are
  • Mission is the intersection of what I love and what the world needs

For example, I have a passion for building community and I love exceptional clean-specialty small farm-to-cup coffee. I support a mission for providing better access to that coffee in a way that improves the lives of everyone involved in the supply chain. I believe in a vocation of building strong communities, balancing the needs of shareholders and stakeholders, and making a product that is best for the planet. I am committed to providing access to networks, capital, and knowledge so everyone involved can make a living wage in their profession.

You could say I hit the ikigai sweet spot when I modeled the initial ikigai for Bear Lake Coffee Company, our first portfolio company. I am excited to see this company come to life in 2022 as I continue to pursue my ikigai in the years ahead. 

It’s a continual process of reflection, alignment, and courage as we journey through life. Our understanding of our ikigai sweet spot is perpetually evolving –and taking on a greater dimension, depth, and breadth as we grow older and experience life. In essence, ikigai is not a static state – it’s an action.

Build an ikigai for your business idea

Step 1: Inventory

  • Think about what your strengths are, what you love, what the world needs, and how you can make a living wage while bringing that need to the world
  • Fill in the sentences in each box in our attached template (click here)

Step 2: Reflect

  • Will this make the world a better place and/or improve lives?
  • Do the passion, mission, profession, and vocational statements align in a way that makes you want to join this movement?
  • Do you believe there is a long-term play for your product/idea or service? Will it survive?
  • Is there sufficient addressable market share today and in the future?
  • Does your business idea have alignment with your personal ikigai sweet spot?           

If you answered yes to all these questions, congratulations! If not, it might be time to keep digging, reflecting, researching, and dreaming. Have the courage to align with your ikigai sweet spot when it presents itself!

“Once you discover your ikigai, pursuing it and nurturing it every day will bring meaning to your life.” – Francesc Miralles

Want to learn more?

We recommend the below resources:

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