Use Ikigai to Find Your Purpose

Identifying your sweet spot offers meaning in life.

Happy and fulfilled Japanese woman.

(kenchiro168 /

Leaping out of bed each morning and feeling excited about a new day makes life worth living. This is the Japanese concept of Ikigai. It is different for everyone, exists in us all, and is attainable, according to  the website Ikigai Living. Ikigai can set you on a course of finding your own sweet spot. Let’s go! 

Ikigai is composed of two Japanese words: iki, meaning life or alive, and kai, which means reason or worthiness. Put together, the concept signifies  a meaning to live, an ideology that has long existed in Japanese culture. Ikigai is the fuel that excites you about life. 

More of a journey than a destination, your ikigai is tailored to you and serves as your life force, according to Ikigai Living. As opposed to the Western idea of working towards an end goal, the ikigai way winds its way through life and grows as you do.

In the West, people may assume that ikigai must align with a job. However, in Japan, ikigai is not always associated with career, according to the BBC.

In a Japanese survey from Central Research Services, it was found that only 31 percent of respondents felt their work was their ikigai. This shows that the majority find ikigai elsewhere in life. In fact, for the Japanese, it may be more aligned with the joys in everyday living which make life fulfilling and offer hope for a happy future.

The Four Components
Your own sweet spot can be revealed by using an ikigai diagram. Although it requires patience, effort, and self-reflection, according to Positive Psychology, the diagram may help you find your way.

Your passion
This is where “what you love” and “what you are good at” meet. It is what brings us the most joy and fulfillment in life. It can be a hobby, a sport, or a social activity. 

Your mission
The junction of “what you love” and “what the world needs” is considered your mission. This is where your skills and talents lie.

Your vocation
That spot where “what the world needs” and “what you receive a salary for” is called your vocation. This is what your community needs and how you can do good for them via a job. 

Your profession
This is the place where “what you are good at” and “the job that pays you for this”.  There need not be a job that satisfies this for all, but as you can learn from the Japanese, ikigai can be in the everyday and not the professional sphere of life.

 Ikigai dwells in the center, the place where these four components overlap. This is the place where your passion, skills, needs, and vocation intersect.

Like a piece of origami where each section folds neatly into the other, ikigai sweetly and simply reveals life’s work of art — that which you live for. Living in this flow way may create a lasting form of happiness.

An Exercise to Help You Find Your Ikigai
This YouTube video offers a simple way to reflect on your personal ikigai. The exercise takes 30 minutes and can be done alone or with friends. Take out a notebook and divide a page into the four sections of the ikigai diagram and answer the prompts. Then see if there is a common thread in each section. This will lead you to your ikigai. 

You may not identify it right away, and that is fine; finding your Ikigai is a constant process, just like living life. Keep in mind that is not fixed and may evolve as you grow older.

Just get started on your path. Once you identify your ikigai, you may be fulfilled knowing that you are living a life that is meaningful and has a positive impact on those around you.

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