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Unlocking Your Purpose: How Can I Find My Ikigai and Thrive in Life?

Life often presents us with a myriad of questions.

From pondering our existence to seeking our life’s purpose, these questions often lead us down the winding path of self-discovery.

One concept that can guide us on this journey is the Japanese principle of Ikigai, which translates to “reason for being”.

This guide aims to help you understand Ikigai and how to harness its power to find your life’s purpose.

How can I find my Ikigai? Photo by Finde Zukunft on Unsplash

Understanding Ikigai

Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese term that combines two words: “iki” (生き), which means life, and “gai” (甲斐), which means value or worth.

Together, these words create a beautiful concept that refers to having a life purpose or “a reason to jump out of bed each morning”.

The philosophy of Ikigai is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and is seen as a compass to guide individuals towards a fulfilling and balanced life.

It’s a concept that seamlessly blends life’s spiritual and practical aspects, encouraging individuals to find joy and purpose in their daily activities.

The Four Elements of Ikigai

Discovering your Ikigai involves a careful introspection of four essential elements:

  • Passion: This refers to what you love doing. It’s about finding activities that fill you with joy and make you lose track of time.
  • Vocation: This points to what you’re naturally good at. It involves recognizing your innate talents and strengths.
  • Mission: This represents what the world needs and what you can offer. It’s about identifying ways in which you can make a positive impact on the world around you.
  • Profession: This denotes what you can do for a living. Identifying a career that utilises your skills and provides financial stability is crucial.

When these four elements intersect, you find your Ikigai.

On the opposite side of this is where one of these is an imbalance.

  • For instance, you have a passion but can’t find a way to make any money from it.
  • You can make a lot of money from it, but you hate doing it.
  • You are good at it, but you don’t like doing it
  • You like doing it but not many people need it – meaning there is no real market for it.

It’s not about making loads of money but just enough to make a living.

Benefits of Discovering Your Ikigai

Discovering your Ikigai can be an enriching and transformative experience. Here are a few benefits:

  • Increased Happiness: Engaging in activities that you love and are good at naturally increases your happiness levels.
  • Improved Mental Health: Finding your Ikigai can provide a sense of purpose and direction, reducing anxiety and depression.
  • Enhanced Physical Health: Studies have shown a correlation between Ikigai and longevity. The sense of purpose Ikigai provides can lead to healthier lifestyle choices.
  • Career Satisfaction: When your career aligns with your Ikigai, it can lead to higher job satisfaction and improved performance.

Unravelling Your Ikigai: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Discover What You Love

Start by making a list of activities that bring you joy. Explore your hobbies, interests, and passions. Reflect on what makes you lose track of time and brings a smile to your face.

Step 2: Identify What You Are Good At

Next, identify your strengths. What are you naturally good at? What skills have you honed over the years? These could range from artistic abilities to problem-solving skills.

Step 3: Determine What The World Needs

Think about the issues in the world that deeply move or frustrate you. Is there a cause you feel strongly about? Identifying these can help you find a mission that aligns with your Ikigai.

Step 4: Recognize What You Can Be Paid For

Finally, consider how to turn your passion or mission into a profession. Is there a way to monetize your skills or talents? How can you contribute to society while also earning a living?

The Ikigai Diagram: A Visual Guide

The four elements of Ikigai can be visually represented in a Venn diagram, with each circle representing passion, vocation, mission, and profession. The intersection of all four circles represents your Ikigai.

Ikigai Diagram
How Can I find my Ikigai?

Embracing the Journey Towards Your Ikigai

Embracing the Journey Towards Your Ikigai is about recognizing that finding your life’s purpose is not a destination but a continuous path of self-discovery and growth.

Ikigai represents the intersection of your passions, talents, the world’s needs, and what can sustain you financially.

As you journey towards your Ikigai, remaining open and adaptable is essential.

Life is dynamic, and your interests, abilities, and circumstances can change.

Embracing the journey means being willing to reassess and realign your path as needed.

It’s about finding joy and fulfilment in the process itself, not just the end goal. Engage in regular self-reflection to understand what truly matters to you.

Be curious and explore new interests and opportunities. Cultivate resilience to navigate the challenges and setbacks you may encounter.

Surround yourself with supportive individuals who encourage your growth. And remember, your Ikigai is unique to you.

It’s a personal journey that is as diverse and varied as humanity itself. Embrace it with an open heart, and let it guide you to a life of purpose, fulfilment, and contentment.

How Can I find my Ikigai?
How Can I find my Ikigai?

FAQ: How can I find my Ikigai

What are the 5 steps to find your ikigai?

The 5 steps to find your Ikigai are:
Discover What You Love: Reflect on the activities and pursuits that make you feel most alive and fulfilled. Consider what you are passionate about.

Identify What You’re Good At: Assess your skills and talents. Think about the areas in which you excel and what others often seek your advice or help in.

Understand What the World Needs: Consider how your passions and skills can contribute positively to society or fulfill a need. Think about what you feel the world is lacking and how you can help.

Determine What You Can Be Paid For: Explore ways to make a living from your passions and skills. This could be through employment, freelancing, or starting your own business.

Find the Intersection: Ikigai is found at the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. Reflect on how these elements overlap in your life and focus on pursuits that encompass all four.

Remember that finding your Ikigai is a continuous journey of self-discovery and reflection. It may evolve as your interests and the world around you change.

Does everyone have ikigai?

Yes, everyone has an Ikigai, but not everyone has discovered it. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that refers to the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.

It’s your reason for being or what gives your life purpose and fulfilment.

Everyone has unique talents, interests, and values, meaning everyone has something that can give their life meaning and purpose.

However, finding one’s Ikigai requires self-reflection, exploration, and sometimes trial and error. It can be a lifelong journey for some, and it may also evolve and change over time as people grow and their circumstances change.

It’s also important to note that cultural, societal, and economic factors can influence one’s ability to pursue their Ikigai.

Can a person be my ikigai?

Yes, a person can be a part of your Ikigai.

Ikigai is about finding purpose and fulfilment in life, and for some people, this sense of purpose is deeply connected to relationships and serving others.

If your sense of fulfilment and purpose is derived from your relationship with someone, such as a partner, child, or someone you care for, this relationship can be considered a part of your Ikigai.

For example, a parent might find their Ikigai in raising their children, or someone might find it in supporting a partner through life.

However, it’s important to have a balanced approach to Ikigai, as relying solely on another person for one’s sense of purpose can be burdensome for the relationship and may not be sustainable in the long term.

Having multiple sources of fulfilment and purpose is beneficial, encompassing personal passions, talents, and societal contributions.

What is a real example of ikigai?

A real example of Ikigai can be seen in the life of a school teacher who is passionate about education.

What You Love: The teacher deeply loves education and genuinely enjoys teaching children. They find joy in seeing students learn and grow.

What You’re Good At: The teacher has a natural ability to communicate complex ideas in a way that children can understand. They are also skilled in creating a positive and engaging learning environment.

What the World Needs: Education is fundamental for developing individuals and societies. The teacher is fulfilling a critical need by educating the next generation.

What You Can Be Paid For: Teaching is the teacher’s profession, and they earn a salary for their work.

In this example, the teacher’s Ikigai is found in their profession where their passion for education, their teaching skills, the societal need for education, and earning a living converge. This gives them a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their daily life.fulfilment

Can Everyone Find Their Ikigai?

Yes, everyone can find their Ikigai. However, it requires deep introspection and a sincere willingness to understand oneself better.

How Long Does It Take To Find Your Ikigai?

Finding your Ikigai is a personal journey that varies from individual to individual. For some, it might be a lifelong quest, while others might quickly discover their Ikigai.

Can Your Ikigai Change Over Time?

Absolutely! Our interests, skills, and values might change as we evolve, and so can our Ikigai.

Final thoughts on how do I find my Ikigai

In conclusion, finding your Ikigai is a deeply personal and transformative journey that can imbue your life with purpose and fulfilment. It’s not a one-time event, but rather an ongoing process of self-discovery and reflection.

Be open to exploring new passions, developing your skills, and understanding how you can positively impact the world.

Remember that your Ikigai may evolve as you grow and as life changes. Stay adaptable, and don’t be afraid to reassess and realign your path.

Embrace the journey with an open heart and mind, and let your Ikigai be the compass that guides you to a more meaningful and fulfilled life.

1Reflect on PassionsThink about what truly makes you happy and fulfilled. Consider activities that make you lose track of time.
2Identify Your SkillsAssess your abilities and talents. Understand where your skills lie and what you are naturally good at.
3Consider the World’s NeedsReflect on how your passions and skills can be used to address needs in the world or contribute positively to society.
4Explore Livelihood OptionsLook into ways to turn your passions and skills into a livelihood. Consider how you can earn a living while doing what you love and contributing to the world.
5Continuous Self-ReflectionUnderstand that finding your Ikigai is a journey. Engage in continuous self-reflection and be open to evolving passions and opportunities.
How Can I find my Ikigai

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