Ikigai (Purpose)

10 Oct 2022

'Ikigai' is a Japanese word that directly translates to life's value or worth. It is a concept that refers to a person's purpose or reason for being alive. It is considered by some  as the reason for long life, happiness or bliss, accomplishment and fulfilment.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ikigai as:

"a motivating force; something or someone that gives a person a sense of purpose or a reason for living"

The concept covers four elements representing areas of life, which is often demonstrated by a Venn diagram. 

These elements/areas are what you love, what you are good at, what thee world needs and what you can be paid for.

When any two of  these elements intersect, it gives another set of elements. When you find something you are good at and love doing, that is your passion; when you find something you're good at it and can earn money from, that's your profession; when you find what the world needs in terms of a product or service and you can also be paid for doing that particular thing, that is your vocation; when you find something the world needs  and you love doing, that is your mission. Where all the four elements intersect is your 'ikigai' or purpose. That is ikigai is something you love, are good at, the world needs and you can be paid for.

When you do not fully discover your ikigai; that sense of your reason for being alive, there will always be something missing. When what you are  being paid for is what you love and are good at, but it  does not solve any problems in the world, you will have a feeling of satisfaction with your work but you will feel useless. When what the world needs is what you are good at and can be paid for but is not what you love, despite feeling comfortable, there will also be that sense of emptiness. If what you love is what  the world needs and you can be paid for, but you are not good at, you will have the feeling of excitement and complacency but also uncertainty and insecurity. And if what the world needs is what  you are good at and love, yet you cannot earn money from, you will have a feeling of accomplishment and bliss, but you will be poor.

The concept of ikigai is important to create  a kind of balance in your life so you will be able to live a long, happy and fulfilled life.


[1] Wikipedia, 'Ikigai' (online, 2022) <https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikigai>.
[2] Image by <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/modern-ikigai-venn-diagram_28764348.htm#query=ikigai%20venn%20diagram&position=1&from_view=search&track=sph">Freepik</a>

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How does one discover their purpose?
I didn't know about the concept of ikigai (until now of course!) I quite like the emphasis on finding 'balance' between your passion, mission, profession and vocation. Thanks for sharing :)