Ikigai: Find your purpose in life
Updated: Apr 18
One of the biggest challenges for people in 2020 is a lack of purpose in life, resulting in a lack of inspiration and ambition. The world is currently in lockdown due to a global pandemic, and many find themselves stuck at home with endless time on their hands. The combination of nowhere to go and no work has a silver lining: it creates the perfect atmosphere to look inwards and plan for the next stages of our lives.
If you want things to go back to normal, to go back to your old job and continue your old habits, then Ikigai might not be for you. If you feel inspired to change, improve, and evolve during this time then Ikigai is exactly what you need!
What if I told you there was a Japanese tool that allows you to look deep into yourself, and identify your life purpose. Welcome to Ikigai!
Ikigai is a Japanese concept designed to help you realize your purpose in life. The word "ikigai" roughly translates to means "a reason for being" or "a reason to wake up in the morning".
Ikigai starts with the awareness of four key pillars:
What you love
What you are good at
What the world needs
What you can be paid for
Ikigai works best when you go deep into each individual question. Take a deep breath, and ask yourself these questions. Take your time! The more detailed and specific the answers are, the more effective your results will be.
Below I list some follow-up questions you can ask yourself to dive deeper into each section, and locate something you might have forgotten. I also give my own examples for reference:
What you love
Ask yourself what you love in this world. This includes your passions, the things that get you excited, and what you looking forward to.
What made you happy recently?
What are you looking forward to?
Who do you love, and what characteristics do you love about them?
I love creating new things, solving real challenges, and doing something I'm passionate about. I love travelling, technology, photography. I love creating digital things. I love helping people, and seeing the positive impact I have on others.
What you are good at
Is there something people often compliment you about? Are you an amazing writer, photographer, empath, or chef?
What do you know you are really good at?
What do people compliment you on?
What do people ask your advice for?
If you had to perform at a talent show, what would you do there?
I'm good at asking the right questions, and finding the best methods to organize my thoughts. I'm good at making websites and figuring out new technologies. I'm good at talking about travel and advising digital nomad-focused companies. I'm good at taking stunning photos. I'm good at inspiring people, and knowing the right thing to help, if needed.
What the world needs
From your perspective, what do you think the world is missing?
What would make the world a better place?
What is the world missing?
If you can broadcast one message to the world, what would it be?
The world needs inspiration, love, something to smile about, a feeling of things going back to normal. The world needs more empaths, healers, and people to be aware of their actions. The world needs a more balanced income distribution, and better living environments for the poor.
What you can be paid for
This question is important because it is empathetic to the fact that we need money to survive. If you want your life purpose to be sustainable, it needs to bring enough income to support yourself.
How have you made your income so far?
If you lost your current income, what would be the next thing you pursue.
What are the opportunities you see in the market?
I can be paid for creating websites and working gigs on Fiverr. I can be paid for having a well-planned and well-executed digital offer online. I can be paid by offering my marketing services to companies looking to elevate their messaging, or being employed in the marketing sector.
The next step in Ikigai is to connect the answers from above to find intersections. Bringing two questions adds a whole new depth into discovering yourself.
If you don't have a pen and paper handy, or prefer to do this digitally, I built a tool that makes it easy for you to find the intersections here.
Passion - What you love + what you are good at
Your passion is the intersection of what you love and what you're good at. Can you really be passionate about something that you don't love? Of course not!
Think of your passion. It might even be something that you haven't identified when thinking about what you love and what you're good at individually.
My passion is creating new things using technology to channel my love for travel and photography. My passion is to tell inspiring stories through photography.
Mission - What you love + what the world needs
Your mission is the intersection of what you love, and what the world needs. This is a really important section for direction in your life. Your mission also ties together with your personal values, and
My mission is to create new solutions to help people achieve their goals. My mission is to help the less fortunate through volunteering during my travels.
Vocation - What the world needs + what you can be paid for
A vocation is an occupation to which a person is well suited or qualified for. Your vocation is the intersection of what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.
My vocation is offering helpful solutions using productivity tools and services. My vocation is building a website with inspirational content while also connecting people with a community of like-minded people with similar interests.
Profession - What you're good at + what you can be paid for
Last but not least is your profession, which is the intersection of what you're good at and what you can be paid for.
I am good at marketing, and can be paid for offering marketing services or being employed in the marketing sector. I'm good at helping people, and can can be paid for creating helpful tools for productivity. I can create websites for travel and digital-nomad focused companies, or offer photography services to those that need them.
Now that you've completed the bulk of the work, it's time to see it all presented together. Is there a lot of overlap? It's okay if there isn't since it takes years to align ourselves with our purpose in life, and awareness is the first step towards it!
I like to complete Ikigai a few times a year to recalibrate my purpose, and bring some inspiration for next chapters in my life. It's the perfect tool for transitioning into new chapters of your life.
For me, all of the above is enough to bring some insights and inspire change into my life.
There is, however, more wisdom that Ikigai can bring. Let's look at the chart again:
Your ideal life purpose in a perfect world will touch all of the sections, meaning that your purpose is something you love, you're good at, the world needs, and you can get paid for.
The reality is that it's near impossible to get to this on your first try, and might take years of growth, personal development, and self-reflection to reach it. Don't worry if you don't find the central Ikigai that puts everything together.
Here's some more insights we can get from Ikigai:
Passion + Mission (love + good at + world needs) = Delight and fullness, but no wealth
Mission + Vocation (love + world needs + paid for) = Excitement and complacency, but sense of uncertainty
Vocation + Profession (world needs + paid for + good at) = Comfortable, but feeling of emptiness
Passion + Profession (love + good at + paid for) = satisfaction, but feeling of uselessness
After you have completed an in-depth Ikigai chart, you should be able to identify the aspects of your life which overlap, and shift your focus towards those elements of your life.
Also, keep in mind that you might not find the perfect aspect that touches all the pillars, but don't worry!
I hope this tool helped you in some way. Feel free to reach out to me for any clarification, or for some help with this tool.
I love doing Ikigai, and find that it's one of the most helpful tools I've been introduced to. That's why I built an online Ikigai generator to be able to do it anywhere, even on your smartphone.