"IKIGAI" is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0 by KLEOS GmbH.

Do you know that subtle feeling that something is missing in your life? People often talk about their work-life-balance. Putting the focus differently it can turn into a life-work-balance too. Whichever way you look at it, it doesn't explain your gut feeling. Continue reading to find out what is missing.

A reason for being

As an engineer, I like to solve difficult problems. This is what I studied and learned through my entire professional life. I decided to work on a dissertation. In that period I didn't recognize that feeling anymore. I had a goal to achieve. The two dimensions work and life merged for the purpose to press on and reach that personal goal.
Looking back at it, I compromised my life for work. In the beginning it appeared easy. I did compromise my life on purpose. Halfway through my dissertation my first child was born. All of a sudden the compromise towards work felt wrong. The way I looked at purpose of my decisions and actions changed. I asked myself whether the things I do are meaningful for future generations. Although I loved to work on the topic of my dissertation, it was missing the meaningful purpose.
One day I read about IKIGAI. It is the Japanese concept of: "A reason for being". In other words it asks: "What would you get out of bed for on a completely free Saturday morning?" That concept clarified everything. What has been a subtle feeling to me is now possible to describe.

What would you get out of bed for on a completely free Saturday morning?

IKIGAI consists of four dimensions:

  • What you LOVE.
  • What the WORLD NEEDS.
  • What you can be PAID FOR.
  • What you are GOOD AT.

Typical situations can be identified when two dimensions apply to the action you perform.
Being good at something and getting paid for it refers to PROFESSION. A good example are jobs people take on to simply cover their expenses.
Being good at something and loving it is PASSION. Usually that represents spare time activities and hobbies.
Loving to do what the world needs covers all MISSIONs in life. Supporting NGO's or nonprofit associations are good examples here.
What the world needs and you can be paid for refers to VOCATION. For example the task you end up doing without having ever studied its subject in the first place.
In all these cases, the other two dimension in the IKIGAI scheme do not apply.

Do you feel satisfied but useless?

Going one step further when three dimensions apply it becomes more complex and difficult to name things. This is where gut feeling kicks in.
Do you feel delight and fullness but no wealth? Surely you do what you love, the world needs, and you are good at without receiving financial compensation — e.g. being a voluntary sports trainer in your neighborhood community.
Do you feel excitement and complacency but with a sense of uncertainty? Quite likely you are spending your time on a subject you love, the world needs, and you are paid for without having the slightest clue of how to make progress and achieve anything meaningful — for example working on biodegradable packaging while being clueless about biology, physics, and chemistry.
Do you feel comfortable but empty in the daily actions you do? Almost certain you work on something the world needs, you are paid for and you are good at — e.g. engineering a car while being a convinced cyclist.
Do you feel satisfied but useless? Perhaps your task is something you love to do, you are good at, and you are paid for while it is meaningless and irrelevant to the world — such as silly science.

What IKIGAI did for me

Coming back to my subtle feeling of missing something. With the concept of IKIGAI in mind it is easier to explain: I found myself to replace "what the world needs" with "what i need". I replaced the societal goals with my personal goals. This is one way to do it. Yet, it is not very considerable. It is rather egocentric. My perspective changed completely with the day I became a father. It triggered an ongoing process of re-thinking and re-evaluation. Such that I can now state: The future of my kids will be brighter when I align my personal goals with societal goals — when I replace "what I need" with "what the world needs". Suddenly things start to make sense from any perspective.
As an example: I used to work as calculation engineer in the Formula One business. For an engineer it is a great environment with steep learning curves. It was fascinating and something I wanted to do. From a world's need perspective it is quite dispensable to spend time engineering a car that goes round in circles as fast as possible.
This indicates that it is not easy to identify IKIGAI. IKIGAI shifts through time. Once identified, it requires effort to achieve it. Once achieved it takes discipline and energy to maintain it. The strength of IKIGAI is that it delivers purpose to actions. It is the compass to find your reason for being.

How we incorporate IKIGAI at KLEOS

With KLEOS we identified a meaningful subject and started to work on our reason for being.
In short:

  • We love to solve difficult task with computers.
  • We are good at engineering solutions.
  • The world needs a more efficient way of funding in science. This is our mission.
  • Making our solutions available as products and services pays the bill.
Life doesn't have to be compromised by work anymore. Searching for the "work-life-balance" becomes obsolete. Work and life becomes one because there is purpose in actions. IKIGAI is our compass. The compass for KLEOS specifically and life in general.

Life doesn't have to be compromised by work anymore.

Join KLEOS and get in touch now.

We acknowledge that everyone identifies a different reason for being. Imagine you wake up one Saturday morning with nothing to do ... when KLEOS is the first thing that comes to your mind we should definitely talk. Bring purpose to your action and join our team.


By the way, at least every third person is missing purpose in their job. YouGov reported in 2015: 37% of British workers think their jobs are meaningless.

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