Ikigai: The Japanese Way To Find The Meaning Of Your Life + Ikigai Test

Updated on December 30, 2020

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ikigai concept

Have you ever wondered what is the meaning of your life? Why you wake up every day, and why you do the things you do? Many of us have no particular answer to this question… And for some, it can even feel depressing.

While searching for a life purpose has been a never-ending quest of the human race for thousands of years, it might be closer than we think. In Japan, people have discovered a unique, magnificent concept of finding their life purpose, and they do it in the most simple, beautiful way – Ikigai.

 

Ikigai: An Extraordinary Japanese Way To Find Your Purpose In Life

 

What Is Ikigai?

 

Ikigai is a concept that originates in Japan and means “the reason for being”. For many years, Japanese people have used their Ikigai to find their life purpose – a reason to wake up every day, and the ultimate goal to reach for in their life. The concept explains that having your own Ikigai gives every person a reason to live, an ultimate goal to achieve, and a roadmap of what one should do to achieve the ultimate fulfillment and contentment within. This complete happiness, fulfillment, and the feeling of inner peace is Ikigai.

In people of older Japanese generations, their Ikigai was usually described as “fitting the standard concept of a company or a family”. For younger people, their Ikigai swirls around the idea of “achieving their dreams of what they will become in the future”.

While this concept originally was born in Okinawa, today millions of Japanese people use their personal Ikigai as a motivation to go through life and stay focused on what’s important.

japanese style crane illustration with the japanese spelling of word ikigai

Ikigai spelling in Japanese: 生き甲斐 (“the reason for being”)

 

Why Is Ikigai So Useful?

 

For many people, finding their own Ikigai can help them to live a more fulfilling, happier, and easier life. When you know what is your ultimate reason to live, it’s so much easier to use your time and actions for a meaningful purpose. Ikigai can also help you to plan your life accordingly and lead you to the inner peace you may long for.

 

Ikigai Test: How To Find Your Own Ikigai?

 

1. The Four Cornerstones Of Ikigai

 

Two find your Ikigai, we must first note the four important parts of your life:

  • Your passion, or what you love to do in life;
  • Your mission, or what the world needs and you can offer it;
  • Your vocation, or what you are good at;
  • Your profession, or what you can do and get paid for;

The four important parts are essential to finding your Ikigai.

 

2. Your Ikigai Is At The Heart Of What’s Important

 

To find your Ikigai, you need to describe the four corners of your life and look at the center of it. Why? Because the one thing that you’re going to find in the intersection of these essential things of your life, is your Ikigai.

the japanese ikigai concept flower infographic

 

3. The Ikigai Test

 

As you can see in the infographic above, the Ikigai is at the intersection of what you love doing, what the world needs, what you’re good at, and what you get paid for. So, to find your own Ikigai,  do a quick Ikigai test by asking yourself (and writing down) several questions.

 

Part 1 of Ikigai Test: Finding What You Love To Do

To explore your first segment of Ikigai, ask yourself these questions:

 

1. Are there any particular things you enjoyed doing since childhood?

2. Which activities make you so happy that you lose track of time?

 

PART 2 of Ikigai Test: Finding What You’re Good At

For this segment, here’s what you can do:

 

1. Explore your abilities and write down your talents and strengths.

2. Are there any things you’re naturally better at than anyone else?

 

Part 3 of Ikigai Test: Defining What The World Needs

We are a part of this world and we all can offer it something unique. Ask yourself:

 

1. What things in this world make you sad or angry?

2. What things feel important to you (hungry people, homeless people, lonely children, etc.)? You don’t need to be broad and think globally if you don’t want to. A lot of people feel troubled by the problems that happen around them (like in their country or city).

 

Part 4 of Ikigai Test: Defining What You Can Do As a Profession

It’s important to get paid and provide for yourself or your family. For this Ikigai segment, ask yourself:

 

1. Can you offer any services or create products that people would want to buy?

2. What job you are so good at that it could easily be your profession?

 

Part 5 of Ikigai Test: Evaluation

Time to roundup your Ikigai test and come to a conclusion!

 

Once you’ve answered all of these questions, go through the answers, and discuss them with people you trust. Try to find a goal that could involve all of your Ikigai segments you wrote about, and imagine yourself achieving it. Does it feel satisfactory? Would it make you feel happy and content? This might be the direction you would like to explore more.

At first sight, it may not seem easy to find your own Ikigai – and that’s okay. We already know that finding the meaning of life is not a simple task, but doing an Ikigai test can help you to find the right direction. From there, it gets easier. Plus, you can always ask a coach, mentor, or role model for help to define your ultimate life goals.

 

Can Ikigai Give You a Feeling Of Fulfillment?

 

In short – it might! Japanese people have been finding, or rather – creating their own purpose with the Ikigai concept for many years. If it works for them, it can work for anyone. And is it worth it? Yes! Knowing your main goal, your purpose, and the driving force of life can be a real life-changer, for all of us. Why not give Ikigai a try?

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