"Ikigai" is a Japanese concept meaning a reason for being, a reason to get up in the morning, our raison d'être. It is the activity in your life which makes you smile, which energises and nourishes you. Importantly, it can energise others as well.
A great place to start searching for your ikigai is by acknowledging what it is that you love. If you can combine this with what you are good at, you determine and give life to your passion. We are often good at what we love doing - it sort of stands to reason - but not necessarily good at what we love. For instance, I love music and art, but I don't think I am particularly good at either. It stands within me, however, to get good at them, or at least better than I am right now, if I decide that that is where I will best express my passion. However, if I also happen to love exercise and photography and have spent a lot of time getting good at them, that then is where my true passion lies, at least for the meantime.
If I can combine what I love with what the world needs, I then have a mission which I can pursue. This is a bit trickier: does the world need music and art? Perhaps, in which case I would have to get good at one or both in order to pursue that particular mission. However, one needs to look at the world holistically, and then perhaps art and music don't show up, but rather a sustainable environment or lasting peace become the focal points. If I don't love or yearn for those in some sense, then the chances are I'm not going to get good at them. Finally, if I can identify what I love, what I am good at, know that it will help create an inheritable world AND I can get paid for it, then I hit the sweet-spot which ticks the boxes of passion, mission, profession and vocation and, ultimately, ikigai.
Having said that, there is also a moral overlay which tends to sort itself out in at least two of the areas. For instance, you may love sex and be good at it (at least in your own perception!), but if you think you can make money out of it, that would need to be by some way other than selling yourself, others or porn i.e. you would need to find some legal way to make money out of it, such as selling sex toys. But then you have to ask whether the world would be a better place if everyone had a sex toy. The answer needs to be objective and, objectively speaking, I would suggest that that is probably not the most pressing issue or holistic need of the world right now. So maybe that wouldn't be your ikigai. Just saying.
Ikigai is out there, waiting to be found and nurtured. If you haven't found yours, try playing with the variables to see what you can change in order to hit your sweet-spot.
So, as you approach 2017 and start thinking about what the dreaded new year's resolutions will look like, try aligning them and what you love and are good at in a way which helps you uncover your ikigai.
My warm wishes for this holiday season!