What is ikigai? And how to apply it.

“Ikigai is the concept that purpose lies at the cross-section between what you love doing, what you are good at, what the world needs and what you are paid for”


Japan has long been a powerhouse for exerting profoundly deep insights into the human spirit and condition. Intricate concepts such as Ikigai, Omoiyari and Wabi-Sabi can hardly be explained in a blog post and must be lived and felt to truly understand their meaning.

Ikigai could be translated roughly as ‘your reason for purpose’. The term Ikigai is believed to date back hundreds of years to the Heian period.

In Japan there is a great emphasis placed on workmanship and doing a task properly. Ikigai is about harnessing your natural talents and personal interests to channel you in a direction. Sadly this has been somewhat interpreted in the West to mean that Ikigai is often associated with a career instead of a passion.

Your Ikigai can be ANYTHING. Wood carving. Painting. Building houses. Helping others. Cleaning up your community. Teaching others. Starting businesses..

The process of finding an Ikigai is not something that may happen instantaneously, overnight or even in a week. Ikigai is about living with purpose, and that often means forging a direction which may require sacrifices and changes to your current lifestyle.

So how to apply Ikigai?

Look again at this image.

Ask yourself:

What do I love doing? Write these things down (it can be anything)

What am I good at? Write them down

What does the world need? (What do you personally believe the world could benefit from?) Write some thoughts down.

What am I paid for? Write it down.

So, in what ways to each of these topics intersect? Is there a defining theme?

Try and visualise your ideal day from start to finish, not necessarily a work day, just your ideal day. What are you doing? Are you painting? Working out? Are you eating with friends? Are you out in nature?

Now, is there a way your ideal day could be a paid job? Does the world need what you are doing in your ideal day? What in your ideal day might you be doing that you are good at?

I hope this blog has helped you in some small way, at the very least it is a great practice to write down the things that are important to you and to identify what you are good at.

Japan is a country with one of the highest life expectancies in the world and is renowned for its austere and polite culture, its modern lifestyle and contributions to advances in technology. It is a country with a long and rich history and the concepts discussed in this blog are meant to honour and cherish its traditions.

If you like, you can take a free Ikigai test here:

Link: https://ikigaitest.com

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