Finding Your Ikigai: A Comprehensive Guide to Discover Your True Purpose In Life

Finding your Ikigai Emily Watson Books

Ikigai is a profound Japanese concept that translates to ‘a reason for being’. Rooted in the belief that everyone has a distinct purpose in life, Ikigai is a compass guiding you towards a life of fulfilment, balance, and profound joy. Finding your Ikigai can help you uncover your true purpose in life and even change your mindset.

This post aims to be your guide on this journey, helping you find your Ikigai and understand the transformative benefits it can bring to your life. From enhancing your physical health and mental well-being to providing a sense of direction during challenging times, understanding your true purpose can change your life. Get ready to join this exciting journey to discover your true purpose and live a life that truly resonates with your soul.

The Origin and Meaning of Ikigai

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that has its roots deeply embedded in the culture and philosophy of Japan. The first recorded mention of Ikigai dates back to the 14th century, but Gordon Mathews first highlighted its contemporary significance in the 1980s.

In Japanese, Ikigai is a combination of two words – ‘iki’ meaning life, and ‘kai’ representing the value or worth of life. The term Ikigai, therefore, translates to ‘a reason for being’ or ‘the thing that you live for’. Finding your Ikigai brings purpose and meaning to your life.

Contrary to popular belief, Ikigai is not confined to one’s professional life or grand ambitions. Instead, it is about discovering joy in the small, everyday moments and cherishing them. Ikigai is the art of finding profound meaning in the mundane and appreciating the beauty of life in its entirety.

The quest to find your Ikigai is a never-ending journey, a continuous exploration that adds value and purpose to life. It’s an essential part of the Japanese way of life, contributing significantly to their longevity and happiness.

Finding Your Ikigai: The Four Elements

Embarking in a new direction can be the right step towards discovering your true purpose; for example, many have found their Ikigai in digital careers. But what is Ikigai? Let’s break it down in terms of the four elements and an example of your job.


Your passion is what sets your soul on fire. It’s what you would do even if money and job benefits were off the table. It’s not just about finding a job you love, but a career that lights up your inner spark. In a tech career, for example, many have found their passion in creating, designing, and helping others.


A mission is more than a to-do list. It’s about feeling motivated to achieve a greater cause. Your mission should intersect with your passion and vocation.


Your profession is more than a job title. It’s the physical manifestation of your passion and skills. It’s about giving back to the world through your developed strengths and talents.


Your vocation is what you get paid to do. It’s about finding a balance between what you enjoy doing and what you can do well.

For example, if you are still unsure about making a career move, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I love doing “just because?”
  • What motivates me to work?

These questions may help you find a career and a sense of fulfillment, create purpose in your life, and make a positive impact. Discover your Ikigai, and find a career that’s truly rewarding and fulfilling.

Incorporating Ikigai into Your Career

Incorporating Ikigai into your career can be a transformative manoeuvre to advance your career when feeling lost. This is because Ikigai invites you to locate the sweet spot where your passion, mission, profession, and vocation overlap. This alignment can launch your career onto a trajectory of gratification and success.

To integrate Ikigai into your career, begin by applying the four elements we explained above:

  • What you love and are good at (Passion)
  • What you love and what the world needs (Mission)
  • What you are good at and can be paid for (Profession)
  • What you can be paid for and what the world needs (Vocation)

These elements can guide you towards your career’s ‘happy place”—a unique blend of joy, value, and profitability. This concept of a ‘job archetype’ can help you find your Ikigai, transforming not just your career but your life.

Finding your Ikigai in your career is about maintaining balance. Don’t just chase the paycheck. Instead, strive to find a career that fuels your passion, serves a purpose, and meets a need in the world. 

Practical Steps and Tools: The Ikigai questionnaire

Embarking on the journey to finding your Ikigai, your true purpose in life, can be both rewarding and enlightening. You can complete the Ikigai questionnaire designed to help you explore your passions, strengths, and values.

  • Ikigai questionnaire: This comprehensive tool consists of 20 questions to help you find your sense of purpose and fulfilment. You can access it here.
  • The Perma Model: A scientifically-backed approach to understanding the elements that promote happiness in your life. Find out more here.

    Each test offers unique insights into different aspects of your life, helping you identify your unique talents, values, and passions. When you align these elements, you can uncover your Ikigai—the sweet spot where personal fulfilment meets meaningful contribution.

    Finding your Ikigai is not a destination but a journey of self-discovery and growth. Discover your Ikigai, take your time, reflect on the things that make you happy, and let the path to your true life purpose unfold naturally.

    Applying Ikigai To Flourish in Your Everyday Life

    Many of us wrestle with the question, “What gets me out of bed in the morning?” The answer could be your career, family, hobbies, or something as simple as a hot cup of coffee. But have you ever pondered deeper? Have you ever tried to find your Ikigai?

    The Ikigai concept is not just about making money or climbing the corporate ladder; it’s about finding joy and purpose in the little things, being in the present, and achieving a harmonious balance in life.

    But how can you incorporate Ikigai into your daily life? Here are some tips:

    • Start small. Don’t try to overhaul your life overnight. Begin with small, manageable changes, and gradually work your way up.
    • Release yourself. Let go of the need for external validation. Find value in what you do, regardless of recognition.
    • Strive for harmony and sustainability. Strive for balance in all aspects of life—work, relationships, and personal growth.
    • Find joy in the little things. Remember, happiness doesn’t always come from big achievements. Sometimes, it’s the small, everyday things that bring the most joy.
    • Stay present. Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. Focus on the here and now.

      Your Ikigai is unique to you and will bring you joy. It’s about finding what truly matters to you and pursuing it with passion and purpose.

      Overcoming Challenges and Obstacles

      Finding your Ikigai, or true purpose in life, is not always a walk in the park. It can be a journey fraught with challenges, including financial constraints and societal expectations. These obstacles are not insurmountable. They are merely stepping stones on your path to discovery.

      Financial constraints, for example, can be daunting. But don’t let this deter you. Brainstorm professions that align with your passions and talents. You’d be surprised at the opportunities that may unfold when you follow your bliss. Societal expectations can also be a hurdle. However, it’s crucial to remember that your Ikigai is personal. It’s about what gives you a sense of vitality and purpose. Not what others expect of you.

      Staying motivated on your Ikigai journey can be tough, especially when the path isn’t clear. But keep faith. Take small steps each day that align with your purpose. Your Ikigai is not a fixed endpoint but an ongoing journey of discovery.

      Ikigai and Personal Growth

      Ikigai is not just a static concept; it’s a dynamic force that propels you towards continual personal growth and fulfilment. The Japanese philosophy embedded within Ikigai instills you with a sense of purpose that fuels your ambition and growth.

      • Understanding and finding your Ikigai helps you make meaningful choices and decisions that align with your true purpose. Much like a compass, it guides you towards the right path, steering you clear of detours that detract from your goals. It provides a strong sense of purpose in your life.

      Your Ikigai serves as a catalyst for personal growth. It’s like a gardener, nurturing the seeds of your skills and passions and helping you blossom to your fullest potential.

        As you journey through this life, finding your Ikigai might evolve. Finding your Ikigai takes time. It’s essential to continuously practice and improve your Ikigai, adapting to life’s changes. It’s not about reaching a destination, but enjoying the journey and growing along the way. So, look for your Ikigai, not just to find your purpose, but to live a fulfilling and purposeful life.

        Finding your Ikigai is the intersection of what you love, what the world needs, what you can be paid for, and what you’re good at. It’s not just a concept, but a lifestyle that brings satisfaction and meaning to life. Start your journey towards finding your Ikigai today and uncover the unique path that leads to your fulfilment and happiness. Be patient, be persistent, and, most importantly, enjoy the journey.

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