A young man works on his laptop while in his living room.

In today’s hyper-connected world, you may find it challenging to achieve a work-life balance. You can address this by embracing the principles of Ikigai, a Japanese ideology that, when loosely translated, means “reason for being” or “your purpose in life.” Moreover, Tokyo-based neuroscientist and Ikigai expert Ken Mogi defines Ikigai as an umbrella term that describes everything that gives people joy.

Ikigai started during the Japanese Heian period, between 794 to 1185 AD. Experts attribute the Japanese' high quality of life to the concept. According to clinical psychologist and Ikigai expert Akihiro Hasegawa, Ikigai is the feeling that one is “alive in the here and now,” noting in an interview that it is this awareness — that they have control over their lives — that drives people to move forward.

In a more modern context, you can use Ikigai to strike a work-life balance by allowing yourself to inspect four key elements: what you love, what the world needs, what you are good at, and what you can get paid for. According to lifestyle experts, the intersection between these four elements can help center your life and allow you to live a more balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

Here’s what you should do to find your Ikigai and experience true work-life balance:

Start Small

According to Mogi, starting small is the first thing you should do to achieve balance and find your Ikigai. Let those small steps contribute to your overall progress. For example, you could create a routine, which can help ground your day and give it some structure. It includes finding your most productive hours, tracking the time spent on your tasks, and sticking to a schedule.

Release Yourself

In his book, Awakening Your Ikigai: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day, Mogi notes that people should do some introspection and accept themselves for who they are — flaws and all. Doing this can help you put things into perspective. You allow yourself to grow through experience and accept your individuality. It will also encourage you to stop comparing yourself to others.

Create Harmony and Sustainability

In his book, Mogi talks about the importance of creating harmony and sustainability as you interact with others and go through life. He believes people are intrinsically dependent on one another, so your actions affect society as a whole. In today’s context, this means being considerate to others and always thinking beyond your needs.

Find Joy in the Little Things

To achieve true work-life balance, Mogi recommends peppering one’s day with the things that make one happy. This can be as simple as listening to one’s favorite music, sitting down to a good breakfast, ,   or reading a few pages from one’s favorite book. Getting into the habit of finding joy in the smallest of things can help facilitate contentment and steer us towards finding our Ikigai and achieving fulfillment.

Be in the Here and Now

Staying in the present and practicing mindfulness are just some things that people should do every day if they want to find their Ikigai and bring happiness to their lives and those of other people. Practicing mindfulness also allows one to remain free and creative and even helps facilitate continuous learning in individuals.

Learn how to unwind

While not a tenet espoused by Mogi in his book, individuals, especially those who may be tiring themselves out while , must learn how to unwind.

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It's nearly impossible to overstate the importance of work-life balance. And while the process of achieving true work-life balance may be challenging to some, it's good to know that there are philosophies like Ikigai that can make the process a little bit easier for us.