Okinawa is a beautiful Japanese island with a very high life expectancy and a disproportionately high number of happy people. In addition, Okinawa has one of the highest concentrations of centenarians — people who are 100 years or older – in the world. Okinawan men live till 84 on average and their women live till 90. They are also very healthy, fit, happy, and physically/psychologically independent.
A host of researchers have explored different explanations for this unique phenomenon. One common thread that consistently emerges from these studies is Ikigai – a Japanese word that means “a reason for being” or “a purpose for living.”
Ikigai travels well across the world. It encompasses the universal search for purpose and a reason for living. We all seek a meaningful life and hope that our lives will count for something. Quite often, we start by finding purpose in work. But with time, it becomes clear that work alone is an insufficient reason for living. Ikigai promises a better way. It encapsulates 4 key concepts and the bliss that exists at their intersections.
The 4 concepts are (see the diagram below):
- What you love to do.
- What you are good at.
- What the world needs.
- What you can be paid for.
The idea is that we will find a reason to live when we find something we love to do (a hobby), something in which we seek mastery (a skill), something the world really needs (a market focus), and something for which we get paid (a profession or business).
The intersections of Ikigai are also important. They encapsulate our passion, mission, vocation, and profession while postulating that our lives can only find meaning when we seek to balance all these concepts.
But Ikigai is not only about finding meaning in life. It is also applicable to our sometimes-all-encompassing goal of achieving financial independence. I define financial independence as the state where money does not dictate our lives anymore. An amazing place where we can live a life that is independent of financial considerations because our lives are funded by passive income that does not require our physical or psychological involvement. My experience is that we often need to find the areas where our profession/business resonates with our passion and market dynamics to move towards the financial independence utopia.
This is what I teach and espouse. How do we create a life that is financially independent and inherently meaningful?
Over the next few years, I will write a monthly article for Nairametrics where I will explore different aspects of Ikigai. My key focus will be on personal finance and how we can build a fort to protect our lives and investments. After all, the good book says, “money is a defense.”
Thanks for reading. Let’s walk towards Ikigai together.
Dr. Tayo Oyedeji is the CEO of Overwood Investment Limited (www.overwood.ng). His career spans finance, marketing, and consulting across Europe, North America, and Africa. Dr. Oyedeji holds a Ph.D. from Missouri-Columbia and an MBA from Oxford University.