How the Japanese Concept of Ikigai Can Help You Find Your Life Purpose

Want to find out your purpose in life? Look no further than ikigai.
Finding your life purpose is hard and often messy. But ikigai (pronounced e-key-guy) can help!
Ikigai is the Japanese concept of life purpose or “reason for being.” According to ikigai, four main categories need to converge to define your life purpose.
They include:

  1. What you’re good at
  2. What you love doing
  3. What the world needs
  4. What you can get paid for

Each of these categories work together to make your life purpose. And you can’t have any of them missing!
If you do, you might end up in one of these uncomfortable situations:

  • Doing what you love but not getting paid for it
  • Doing something you get paid for and like, but feeling out of your depth
  • Doing something you get paid well for, but feeling really bored
  • Doing something that feels empty because you aren’t helping the world


Missing Purpose? Ikigai Can Help

My journey went something like this:
First, I was a secretary. Then, I was a tutor. Then, I was a teacher.
My major in college was psychology. Then, it was humanities. Then, it was biology.
The common thread through all of this? The desire to help people. But in every single one of these majors and careers, I always felt like something was missing – some essential part of my personality that didn’t quite match up with my job.
Perhaps you’ve experienced this too, feeling like, “Yeah okay, I earn money but I’m really f*ing bored.”
Or, “Yeah okay, it would be cool to be a movie star, but I’m not really that dedicated to it.”
Well, I’m about to introduce to you to Ikigai, the Japanese concept of finding that sweet spot of life purpose, where you get to combine the four essential qualities you need to be fulfilled and happy in a job!

Here Are the 4 Factors to Create Ikigai

You must have the following four ingredients to make a happy life-purpose cake!

1. What You Love Doing

For me, these are things like gardening, scrapbooking, dancing, making videos and graphics, and – more specifically related to a career – working with people, sharing, and creating community. These are all things that I LOVE doing.
What are these things for you?
If you’re missing this piece, you might feel bored at your job, you might be making money, maybe you’re even pretty good at what you do, but you just don’t have that spark that makes you excited to show up every day.

2. What the World Needs

It’s all well and good if you love making art out of lint, but in order to make a life purpose out of it, it needs to be in demand. Also, it needs to be something where – if you’re like me and this is fundamental for you – you’re helping people.
Serving the world fills us with a sense of purpose and gives us the feeling of belonging and being needed. If you’re missing this piece you might feel lonely or isolated, and people might be disinclined to pay you, as they don’t give a rat’s ass about your yodeling.

3. What You’re Good At

This one was a hard one for me to learn, because this ingredient means not only your talents, but also the skills that you’ve picked up in your life.
For example, you may enjoy gardening, and people need you to tend their gardens, and will even pay you to tend their gardens . . . but if you’re not confident in your abilities as a gardener, this career would leave you feeling uncomfortable.
You need to trust in your own abilities, skills, and talents for your life purpose or you will not be fulfilled with a sense of integrity when you perform your job.

4. What You Can Get Paid For

Whew. This one took me a long time to learn, because it also has a lot to do with self-esteem, (i.e. charging what you’re worth). But this is such a vital piece of the puzzle.
You may love hosting charity events, you may even be good at it, and your community may really need it, but if you don’t get paid, you won’t be able to continue doing it long-term. I mean, a girl’s gotta eat.


Apply Ikigai to Your Life

If you still haven’t been able to hone in on YOUR life purpose, it may be because you’ve never really understood this principle.

So, Here’s Your Ikigai Homework:

Begin to find something that exercises every single one of these four categories. Because once you hone in on that, you’ll be able to make a real plan to make it happen.
For me, it was creating my blog:

  • I get to do what I love: connect with people and be creative
  • I give what the world needs: help people build their own careers or online businesses
  • I apply what I’m good at: writing, creative design, and public speaking
  • I’ve found what people will pay me for: one-on-one client work, products, and more

If you want to get started on the journey of discovering your life purpose, first list a few things for each of the four categories: what you love doing, what you’re good at, what people need, and what you can get paid for.
Once you have a few things in each category, see if you can match some of them up.
For example:

  • What you love doing: “dancing”
  • What you’re good at: “working with kids”

A natural line can be drawn between these two, and you’ve taken your first step to uncovering your life purpose!
If you need some divine intervention to find your purpose, read: Stuck In a Rut? Ask For Divine Guidance to Ignite Your Passion + Find Your Purpose

Ikigai: The Takeaway

You were not meant to lead a boring life, or to be broke all the time. You were meant to live enjoying everything this life has to offer including a strong sense of purpose and the ability to make money from it!
So, take a look at ikigai and begin your path to defining how you want this lifetime to unfold.
Need more insight on finding life purpose? What Jim Carrey Explains In 1 Minute Will Change Your Life Forever (Video)

This article has been read 10K+ times. Bada bing!


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Simone Clement

Simone is the owner of her blog about mental health, meditation, and spirituality. Her purpose is to help people discover their connections to their souls, their God-given talents, and how to heal the pain that no longer serves them. She offers coaching services, courses, and a weekly newsletter for people who are interested in moving forward in their spiritual journey.


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