What’s “icky-guy?”

ikigai is a Japanese term that describes the confluence of four things, that contribute to a fulfilling career:

  • Something you loveikigai,
  • Something you’re good at,
  • Something the world needs, and
  • Something you can be paid for.

“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” is a common adage, but only addresses part of ikigai.

If, for example, you love making handmade monogrammed eyeglass nosepads–even if you’re good at it–that’s great, but it’s not ikigai. There’s not a big market or cashflow for that.

Enemies of Ikigai

Some things can cause us to not have the right focus, and not hit that ikigai bulls-eye. Some are pretty obvious and some really aren’t:

  • Striving to be relevant–maybe your skills were in demand before, but now, not so much. Are you trying to be relevant when the market has moved on?
  • Apathy–even if you’re great at something, if you don’t have the passion to drive forward it’ll show up in your work. It’ll also show up in not learning more about the field in which you specialize.


Know Thyself

Half of finding your ikigai is knowing yourself.

What do you love to do? What makes you excited about your job, or your hobbies? When do you feel the most enjoyment? Trying asking other people if they’ve noticed what you were doing when you seemed the most happy. These are great data points.

Know Thy Market

The other half of finding your ikigai is noticing any market trends that would help you make money for something that there’s a demand for.

People always want something, and will likely pay money for it.

Finding the Intersection

Is there any overlap between what you know about yourself, and what you know about the market? Does anything stand out as a really excellent thing to spend your time on? Do you feel awesome when you do it? If so, that’s your ikigai. Neat, huh?

Tying Into QA

The cool thing about the QA space is that half the work of finding your ikigai is already done. People need QA and will pay money for it. If you can do it well and you enjoy it, well, you’re in great shape.

Is there part of the QA job that you love doing? That you’re good at? Yeah? Grab onto that and go as deep as you can. Learn stuff, spread roots, add value. And get ready for a fulfilling career 🙂

I have found my ikigai and part of it is helping other people find theirs, in the QA and automation space. Seeing people light up and realize what they’re capable of after a little guidance… WOO! Exciting stuff. Wish I could bottle it up and sell it. www.archdevops.com

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