Ikigai: The Japanese Way to Find Your Life Meaning


Ikigai (ick-ee-guy):

The thing that you live for, the reason for which you wake up in the morning.

By Tayla Powell

Maybe it’s heading into my final year of uni, the millennial obsession with self-improvement or my quarter life crisis is a couple years early – but I’m giving serious thought about the purpose of my life and what I want from it. Deep I know.

I think this is a problem that haunts most people, but it is especially prevalent in my age range – the twenties. A decade of such confusing times as everyone is at different stages of their lives and you have no idea where you’re supposed to be. But let’s face it; comparing your life with others is SO unhelpful.  

Concepts like Ikigai are amazing for combatting that unhelpful comparison as they force you to look inwards at yourself, rather than wasting your time looking at others. It helps you find the things you value in your life by identifying what personally brings you satisfaction, happiness and meaning. If you feel like your life is valuable, it has a positive knock on effect on your physical and mental health. In fact, Ikigai has been cited as the reason for the people of Okinawa living such long and healthy lives.

What is the Ikigai Concept?


Ikigai is the convergence of four elements:

  • What You Love (your passion)

  • What The World Needs (your mission)

  • What You Are Good At (your vocation)

  • What You Can Get Paid For (your profession)

They all overlap with each other and in the centre is Ikigai – your true life purpose.



How do I find my Ikigai?

Get writing. It’s going to take time and a lot of soul searching. Draw your own version of the circles overlapping. Start asking yourself questions and get it all written own on paper:

  • What brings pure joy and makes you feel alive? – That’s what you love.

  • What cause do you believe in, what pulls your heartstrings, what change to the world would you create? – That’s what the world needs.

  • What are you amazing at without even trying, your unique natural talents and skills? – That’s what you’re good at.

  • What do people value and pay you for, what service/offering do you have that can bring value to others, something people are happy to pay for? – That’s what you can get paid for.

The deeper you dig, the more you will get out of it. Now look at how these elements overlap with each other to form your passion, mission, vocation and profession. How can you realistically combine these elements in the real world? Brainstorm and write all your ideas down. Start working closer towards the centre of the circle, towards your Ikigai and things will start to become clearer in your head.

How will it help?


This process can help you to figure out what you really want from life, your inner calling, instead of blindly following society’s expectations that we’ve created for our modern world. Whether this be discovering what your dream career is, your ideal humanitarian work, your passion fueled pastime or your ideal life plans.

In a time of a global mental health crisis, I can’t think of anything more important than figuring out what you can do in life to find true happiness and to give us a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And any concept that helps us to see the bigger picture a bit more clearly is a winner in my eyes.



Here’s to a longer and happier life for us all after we find our Ikigai. BRB got to go soul searching …