IKIGAI: Japanese method to Find your Life Purpose

Willy Kon
4 min readFeb 22, 2021

The reason of being. The Ikigai is a Japanese system to find what you truly love; basically the meaning of your life.

Essential to our happiness and overall well-being, the Ikigai is, without a doubt, one big element and a spiritual crutch in the self-improvement journey.

What is Ikigai?

IKIGAI is roughly translated to the value of life: iki that means life and gai which makes reference to worth or value. The Ikigai combines recurrent factors in your life, in a way that you find out what is really meaningful.

So, before getting into Ikigai, I want to address why should we take a chance to look into it.

Stuck in the Mundane

The reality is this: most people go through their lives, they all have dreams and purposes but they carry on with their days with an “I don’t care” attitude.

I’m working! Why would I pursue my dreams when I have money!

Between the choice of pursuing their dreams and mundane short-term activities, they choose the latter.

“Someday, someday my dream will come?” One night you’ll wake up and you’ll discover it never happened. It’s all turned around on you, and it never will. Suddenly you are old. It didn’t happen, and it never will because you were never going to do it anyway. You’ll push it into memory, then zone out in your barcalounger, being hypnotized by daytime TV for the rest of your life.

Vincent, Collateral 2004

It breaks my heart that so many of us can relate to the quote, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The first thing you can do is identifying your purpose. Then go after it.

The Concept of Ikigai

The Ikigai consists of the combination of four categories to form one single component that dictates one of your possible life purposes (I’ll get into this in a minute) so, these are:

  • What am I good at?
  • What do I love doing?
  • What does the world need?
  • Will I get paid?

1. What am I good at?

So, which are the activities you are naturally good at? Take a look into your abilities and your weaknesses, then make a conscious choice to explore the most you can. Get to know what comes effortlessly, you might even discover some of them by the people who remark it to you: “Hey, you know, you are really good at Maths!” or “Hey, you are amazing at playing tennis!”

Maybe you are in tune with your body movements, then dancing would be quite an easy task for you. Maybe you are great at managing your time to maximize productivity; good! you could explore a career in Project Management.

Find what comes naturally to you.

2. What do I love doing?

Take a good look into what meaningful hobbies and activities you have at your disposal. If your hobbies consist of sleeping, being on the phone, and whatnot. You should know it’s not up to me to tell you to start making changes in your lifestyle.

Anyway, find the activities you not only enjoy doing, simultaneously putting you in a flow state but of which is something you create with your hands or with your imagination. Like drawing, cooking, or writing, playing an instrument, etc.

It is an activity that comes effortlessly, and in the doing of the activity, you get the sense that time flies yet everything is accomplished.

3. What does the world need?

What value can you bring out that creates a difference out there? In which manner can you leave your footmark to the world?

To find your Ikigai, identifying what others need is as important as what am I good at and what do I love. Society thrives on cooperation whether it’s a street sweeper or a business owner, they essentially are doing things that favor us from the collective standpoint.

4. Will I get paid?

And of course, you have to receive something for your hard-earned efforts. Not much to say about this. So here it is, the IKIGAI in a graph:

Then you might think, after getting to understand the Ikigai: “Ok, what now?”

The Ikigai is your sacrifice

The sacrifice is inevitable, but at least you get to choose it.

Jim Rohn said: “We all must suffer one of two pains. The pain of discipline, or the pain of regret.”

So, it’s the dichotomy of choosing between being an employee in a corporate industry that leaves you empty within or following what you were born for.

Your interests and hobbies are ever-changing over time so throughout your life you might have a couple of Ikigai’s. Here’s the thing: you can be anything but you can’t be everything. Pick your niche, then go pursuit it.

It’s either all or nothing in the game. If you are not training twice a day, if you are not dedicated you’re not gonna go anywhere. I felt that with enough talent, enough dedication, enough love for the sport, that was time to pack up my job and chase my dream. And that’s what I’m doing.

Conor McGregor, Before Fame Interview — 2008

Conor did everything he said he was going to do. Google him and you’ll see.

We all can do it, no matter what dream it is. Go out there and do it.