This is the part where I live tweet my #uxrconf talk (thx for the idea @albanvillamil @uxrcollective).

1/ We all have those phases in our lives where we’re not sure what we’re doing with our career. I’m going to talk about a concept called #Ikigai that can help navigate this.
2/ Even if you know what you’re doing, Ikigai is that inner compass that can give you clarity/courage when things get hard.

e.g. As researcher, we have to speak truth to power. Drawing attention to problematic findings can be tricky depending on the clients/leadership.

3/ And, Ikigai helps us have energy for things that we may be struggling with or see as less fun.

e.g. maybe we’re learning a new skill/subject that we’re not good at yet and dragging our feet. Ikigai can helps us sustain momentum and find joy in the learning journey.

4/ In this talk, I share:

✨What the heck is #Ikigai
🔭How do you find your Ikigai
🗺And, how I aligned my career with my Ikigai

So let’s do it :)

#uxrconf #uxrconfanywhere
5/ What is Ikigai?

It’s a Japanese concept and, really, a way of life.

The direct translation is

IKI: life, breath, alive, living
GAI or KAI: use, purpose, result, worth

Basically, it means: The thing that get's you up in the morning. Or, the joy of living.

6/ It drives people to be part of community.

In Japan: people rarely fully retire, continuing to spend their days doing the things they 💗until they're physically unable to do so (health or other reasons)

Ppl's identity & sense of belonging is so tied to their Ikigai.

7/ There are also some common misunderstandings of what Ikigai is.

As the concept gained popularity in the west, some things got lost in translation. (i.e. that popular venn diagram is misleading - I'll explain why)

So next, I’ll share 3 things that Ikigai *is not*.

8/ mistake 1: Ikigai doesn’t necessarily have to do with 💰, status or a job.

Ikigai's 2 ingredients are
- Self actualization: mastery of a craft
- Sense of belonging: commitment to the wellbeing of a specific group

which can relate to a workplace but not necessarily

9/ mistake 2: Ikigai is not one grand thing.

It often gets described as your purpose/passion.
But it’s often very simple.
And it can also be a couple things.

-help people understand each other
-help make tech intuitive for people
-build useful things for society

10/ mistake 3: Ikigai is not a set destination.

a) It's a way of living. It’s about the journey/practice more than the end point.

b) It's constantly being reassessed & refined — it evolves as you, and the world, evolves.

This growth mindset aspect often gets lost.

11/ But how do I find my ikigai?

Get curious about yourself.
Use your research methods on yourself.
Start somewhere knowing that it'll evolve. (see this doc for ideas…)

When I started my career, my Ikigai was: saving the planet (super broad🙈)

12/ Next, you want to hone your Ikigai.

We can think of it like ordering food🍽
You can either choose something you know you like (exploit) or try something new (explore).
Either way, you will figure out what you like to eat.

We can apply this to finding your ikigai.

13/ Exploring means: stepping out of your comfort zone and sampling new things that you might end up loving.

You can:
go to events/courses
conduct info interviews with friends/contacts
create routines to try new things

More ideas here:…

14/ Exploiting means: keep doing what you’re good at, let your passion emerge from there. It becomes more interesting as you learn more about the complexity.

You can:
take a master class

This video talks more about this approach:

15/ With either approach, you’re never really done. You’re always growing and learning.

And, you don’t have to just stick to one way. In reality, people do a combination based on where they’re at.

This article has more (job related) ideas:…

16/ Alright, let’s ground this in a real life example.

I mentioned that my ikigai is: helping people understand each other.

I also mentioned that, when I started my career my ikigai was: saving the planet.

So how did I get from that to where I am now?

Story time...

17/ I was working at a property management firm after undergrad. While there, I learned old buildings are huge greenhouse gas emitters. That’s terrible!

So I wanted to do work in: sustainable buildings and green infrastructure.

And, my Ikigai was: “saving the planet”

18/ I enrolled in a grad program to pursue that. While I was there, I explored a lot of different fields.

I learned about social enterprise and innovation in government—and was compelled to pursue that.

So my Ikigai shifted to: “leveraging business for societal good”

19/ Through a bunch of reflection and work experiences, incl. co-founding a startup, I decided I wanted to focus on doing design research in a creative agency setting.

And my Ikigai at the time was: “amplifying and advocating for voices that may not otherwise be heard”

20/ I continued working at different places, reflecting, writing and public speaking, and co hosted a meetup.

Through all this, I decided I wanted to do design research for AI software.

My ikigai evolved to the one it is today: “helping people understand each other”

21/ My Ikigai can play out as: bridging understanding among friends/strangers OR users & product teams OR ML scientists & PMs...

I realized it stems from growing up in a biracial home where my mother (🇯🇵) and father (White 🇺🇸) literally spoke different languages.

22/ You can see that finding your Ikigai is a journey.

Once you find it though, it can guide big decisions about your life, like: where to live/work, who you surround yourself with.

Ikigai grounds you, directing you towards what makes life the most meaningful.

23/ Quick Summary

The things to remember about Ikigai are:

- It’s about what makes your heart sing (not💰)
- It’s often super simple and can be a couple things
- If you’re feeling stuck, you can explore or exploit
- Your ikigai continues to evolve as you do


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