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Find Your Ikigai: A Japanese Concept That Will Empower Your Life

Ikigai is a simple Japanese concept that will empower you to find your purpose. When you find your ikigai, you’ll notice the overall shift it makes in your life. Loosely translated, the meaning of ikigai, an old Japanese ideology, is “a reason for being.” I want to keep this post simple and easy to understand so that you can effectively apply this knowledge to your life.

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What exactly is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a combination of the words “iki” (to life) and “gai” (reason), which is used to describe finding joy through purpose. There is no exact translation, but there are many rough translations of ikigai, such as a life worth living or something to live for. From my understanding, Ikigai signals a sense of finding and living your purpose. Purpose gives you something to live for, and if correctly applied, you will benefit from the happiness that comes with your reason for being. 

The 4 Components of Ikigai

The Venn-diagram below is widely used to explain the four components to finding purpose and embracing your life.

this is a venn-diagram that explains the Japanese concept to find your Ikigai
1. What do you love?

Finding what you love trickles down to a combination of your passion and mission in life. Make a list of the things that you love and what you perceive to be your mission in this world. Find a way to combine the two.

2. What are you good at?

Profession combined with passion will give you a sense of what you’re good at. You aren’t required to be passionate about one singular thing. For example, I’ve finished three diplomas, and I work with numbers. However, my passion lies in travel, education, and blogging. I’m aware of what Ikigai looks like in my life, and I actively pursue this daily. 

3. What does the world need?

The world needs your mission and vocation. Vocation refers to something that you are drawn to or trained to do. Your voice and perspective are unique. You bring something to this world that nobody else does.

4. What can you be paid for?

Now, take your vocation and profession – give them a nice little whirl, and there you have something you can find ways to monetize. 

These four components are meant to guide you in your self-discovery. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying if you do what you love – then you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Finding your purpose and being paid to wake up to it every day is a special kind of feeling.   

How do you find your Ikigai?

Often Ikigai is described as “the reason you want to get out of bed in the morning.” Yet, it’s not enough to want to get out of bed in the morning – we need to understand the why. Finding your ikigai comes from digging down to the root of why. 

I’ve created a free easy to use ikigai pdf worksheet to help you on your journey of self-discovery and ultimately help you find your ikigai. 

Free Printable Ikigai Workbook

Download your free ikigai pdf and get a start on finding your reason for being.

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    Honestly, there have been plenty of times in life where I’ve felt discouraged and thought of calling it quits, but I didn’t. I still blog because I hear there’s a lot of money in it – kidding. If you’re blogging to make money – oh honey, abort mission. I blog because I get to help others and that that’s where it’s at for me (ok, fine – I’m not all that selfless – secretly, I hope to be my own boss one day, traveling the world and leaving a trail of cookie crumbs along the way). Therein lies my Ikigai. 

    Ikigai examples range from person to person. We all don’t have the same ideals for passion, mission, vocation, or profession. As I mentioned above, my Ikigai, for the most part, is being in service to others and myself. I enjoy blogging because it allows me to help others and provides me with a sense of direction on achieving my hopes and dreams. 

    Things to remember while trotting down the winding roads of life:

    1. Build your life on your terms, not based on the choices or decisions of others. 
    2. Start working on a small area of your life daily and make changes gradually. 
    3. Don’t settle for the status quo of a preconceived way of living.
    4. Think about what brings you peace and work out if it’s sustainable.
    5. Accept that your happiness is not rooted in the completion of goals.
    6. Bask in the joys of a daily gratitude practice.
    7. Most importantly, live in the moment and embrace the journey.
    Turn inwards to find your true reason for living. Click To Tweet

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How is ikigai pronounced? 

    The correct pronunciation of Ikigai is ”ee-kee-guy” not ”eye-ka-guy. 

    Why is ikigai misunderstood?

    Ikigai is misunderstood to some degree because of the Venn-diagram created by Marc Winn in 2014. The diagram was actually from Andres Zuzunaga as a means to understand your purpose. Marc changed the word purpose to ikigai in order to merge the two concepts together.

    Who invented the word ikigai?

    The word ikigai comes from the Heian period (794 to 1185 CE). Psychologist Akihiro Hasegawa explained in a research paper that the word “gai” translates to shell in Japanese. During the Heian period, shells were quite valuable, hence understanding “value in life.” 

    Is ikigai possible? 

    Yes, it most certainly is possible to find your reason for being. Personally, I find ikigai in blogging, taking care of the people I love, helping others, and spending time with loved ones. Your purpose does not have to be a complicated way of life or a difficult-to-reach destination.  

    If you dream of the word Ikigai chasing you around tonight, I take full responsibility. You probably can’t even close your eyes without ikigai making an appearance, but at least it’s making you work for it. 

    My goal in explaining this ancient Japanese term was to help you gather the information on a high level to start. For further learning – take a gander at the books below. 

    Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
    Ikigai: The Japanese Art of a Meaningful Life
    The Ikigai Journey: A Practical Guide to Finding Happiness and Purpose the Japanese Way

    I hope you strive to find your ikigai and embrace a fulfilling life with open arms along the way. The Japanese concept of ikigai is only as simple as you allow it to be. The reason I stress simple is to remind you not to overcomplicate life. Find joy through purpose by connecting all the things you want in life and accepting that you can have more than one purpose. Don’t forget that joy isn’t found only in the destination – embrace the journey (and don’t say no to cookies).


    Have you found your ikigai, or are you searching for it? Let me know in the comments below. 

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