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IKIGAI: Living A Purpose-Driven Life ∙ Finding Meaning and Fulfillment in Work and Life

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

In a world where the majority of people feel unfulfilled, disheartened and lost, the concept of Ikigai offers a glimmer of hope. Ikigai is a Japanese word that translates to "a reason for being." It is the intersection of your passions, skills, values, and mission in life. When these four elements converge, they create a sense of purpose and fulfillment that can drive you towards a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Ikigai Meaning


Ikigai is a philosophy of life that emphasizes the importance of finding one's purpose in life. It is rooted in the idea that everyone has a unique combination of passions, skills, values, and mission in life, and that finding the intersection of these elements is the key to a fulfilling life. The word itself comes from the Japanese culture and is used to describe the reason for waking up in the morning.

Ikigai Meaning and Pronunciation

The word "Ikigai" is pronounced as "ee-kee-guy." It is a combination of two Japanese words "iki" meaning "life" and "gai" meaning "value" or "worth." When these two words are combined, they form the word "Ikigai," which refers to the value and worth of one's life. In essence, Ikigai represents the reason why a person's life is valuable and meaningful.

"Discovering your Ikigai is finding your purpose in life."

5 Pillars of Ikigai

The five pillars of Ikigai serve as the fundamental basis for cultivating ikigai. They provide a useful structure for considering and understanding ikigai.

  1. Start Small

    1. Identify activities that bring happiness and positivity.

    2. Take small, feasible steps instead of big, unrealistic ones to avoid giving up.

    3. Allocate time each day to engage in enjoyable activities.

  2. Release Yourself

    1. Accept yourself and your personality, even if others don't approve.

    2. Avoid egotism and center your values instead of yourself.

    3. Our actions define who we are.

  3. Harmony & Stability

    1. In Japan, there is no notion of retirement.

    2. Everyone should approach their work with discipline and harmony.

  4. Enjoy the Little Things

    1. Focus on finding happiness in small, frequent experiences instead of rare, grand ones.

    2. Appreciate and value the little moments in life.

  5. Be in the Here & Now:

    1. Mindfulness involves focusing completely on present tasks.

    2. Avoid worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

    3. Practice mindfulness by being fully present in each moment, e.g., savoring the experience of drinking coffee.

Japanese elderly symbolizing the search for ikigai


Finding your Ikigai can be a long, challenging but rewarding journey. The process involves self-reflection, introspection, and a deep understanding of your passions, skills, values, and mission in life. Once you have gone through these steps, you should have a clearer idea of what your Ikigai is.

4 Components of Ikigai and The Ikigai Chart

Some people find it helpful to create an Ikigai chart to visualize the intersection of their passions, skills, values, and mission in life. This can be a useful tool to help you identify your Ikigai and see how the different elements of your life fit together.

Ikigai Chart

When viewing the chart, consider the following 4 components of Ikigai to help determine your Ikigai:

  1. Passion: Find what you love and are passionate about ∙ What do you love doing? What activities bring you joy and happiness?

  2. Mission: Discover your life's mission and make it a priority ∙ What is your purpose in life? What impact do you want to make in the world?

  3. Vocation: Align your career with your passions and values ∙ What is important to you in life? What do you believe in?

  4. Profession: Turn your passion into a paying job or start a business ∙ What are you good at? What skills do you possess that could be used in a job or career? How can you continuously develop and grow your skills to advance in your chosen career.

By considering these four components, you can start to see where they intersect and identify your Ikigai.

"Ikigai is the intersection of what you love, what the world needs, what you're good at, and what you can be paid for."

Ikigai Tests and Questionnaires

There are many Ikigai tests available online tests and questionnaires that can help you identify your Ikigai. These tests usually consist of a series of questions designed to help you explore your passions, skills, values, and what the world needs. However, it is important to keep in mind that these tests are just a starting point and should not be relied upon as the only means of finding your Ikigai.

Here are a few steps to help you find your Ikigai:

  1. Identify your passions and interests: What are the things that you love doing in your free time? What activities bring you the most joy and happiness?

  2. Assess your skills and strengths: What are you naturally good at? What skills do you have that you could use to make a positive impact on the world?

  3. Consider your values and beliefs: What is important to you? What are your values and beliefs that guide your decisions and actions?

  4. Think about what the world needs: What problems do you see in the world that you feel passionate about solving?

  5. Explore different career options: Have you considered going into careers that align with your passions, skills, values, and what the world needs?

"Ikigai is the balance of the mind, body, and soul."


Once you have discovered your Ikigai, the next step is to apply it in your work and life. Here are some tips on how to do so:

Integrate your Ikigai into your daily life

Incorporate your passions, skills, and values into your daily routines. This could mean volunteering for a cause you care about, pursuing a hobby, or finding ways to apply your skills in your work.

Set goals that align with your Ikigai

Consider what you want to achieve in your personal and professional life, and set goals that align with your Ikigai. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your purpose.

Surround yourself with supportive people

Seek out individuals who share your values and passions, and surround yourself with a community of people who support and encourage you to pursue your Ikigai.

Find work that aligns with your Ikigai

If possible, find work that aligns with your passions, skills, and values. If not, find ways to incorporate your Ikigai into your current work by taking on tasks that align with your purpose or seeking out opportunities for personal growth and development.

Practice self-care

Taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial in pursuing and maintaining your Ikigai. Make sure to prioritize self-care by engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, and seeking help if needed.

"Ikigai is the path to living a life of happiness, meaning, and fulfillment."


Stop wasting your time living a life without purpose or fulfillment! Take inspiration on the 5 examples below on how people have applied Ikigai in their work and life:

  1. A teacher who has a passion for education, a skill for communication, and values making a positive impact in the world, may choose to teach in underprivileged communities.

  2. A chef who has a passion for cooking, a skill for creating unique dishes, and values health and sustainability, may choose to open a farm-to-table restaurant.

  3. An artist who has a passion for painting, a skill for color coordination, and values creativity and expression, may choose to host art workshops for children.

  4. An environmentalist who has a passion for nature, a skill for research, and values preservation, may choose to work for an environmental organization.

  5. A nurse who has a passion for helping others, a skill for caregiving, and values making a difference in people's lives, may choose to work in a hospice.

These examples demonstrate how Ikigai can guide individuals to their purpose and fulfillment in life. By applying your Ikigai, you can align your passions, skills, values, and goals to create a life that brings you joy and satisfaction.

3 Japanese living a purpose-driven life after finding their Ikigai


The ultimate goal of Ikigai is to find purpose and fulfillment in life. When you have discovered your Ikigai, you will feel like you have a reason for being, and that your life has meaning and purpose. This sense of purpose and fulfillment will bring you joy and happiness, and it will motivate you to live each day to the fullest. But, finding your Ikigai is not always easy. It takes time, reflection, and self-discovery. To help you on your journey, you can take Ikigai tests and questionnaires, consult the Ikigai chart and the 4 components of Ikigai, and follow the guide on how to apply Ikigai in work and life. These resources will give you a better understanding of your passions, skills, values, the things that the world needs, and how you can use these to find your Ikigai.

By finding your Ikigai, you can create a life that is meaningful, fulfilling, and enjoyable. You will be able to live each day with purpose and feel like making a positive difference in the world.

Remember, the goal of Ikigai is not just to live a longer life, but to live a happier and more fulfilling life. Start embracing your Ikigai today, and finally find purpose and fulfillment in your life!

"Ikigai is finding your passion and using it to make a difference in the world."


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