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  • Writer's pictureLeanne Goff

THE JAPANESE CONCEPT OF IKIGAI… BUT WHAT IS IKIGAI?

If like me, you have never come across this ancient Japanese philosophy, until now, then sit back, continue reading and let me teach you a thing or two about the philosophy of IKIGAI which has, for many years, enveloped the way Japanese people live.


Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth”. In other words, your reason for being or get out of bed in the morning. It is a place of balance; where your needs, desires, ambitions and satisfaction meet. When you successfully identify your ikigai, it is believed that you find purpose and meaning in life which in turn encourages you to become more hopeful, even in difficult circumstances. Hence, finding your ikigai is closely linked to living longer and who doesn’t want to live longer?


Western society has adapted this traditionally Japanese concept as a method of finding your dream career suggesting that your dream career must include these four qualities; 1) what you love, 2) what you’re good at, 3) what you can be paid for and 4) what the world needs. The diagram below helps to visualize this concept by showing these four qualities overlapping and in the middle lays your ikigai;



Learning from the Japanese: Japan is ranked second in the world for life expectancy, with women expected to live to 88 and men expected to live to 82. Diet does play a significant role in these statistics but many Japanese people believe that ikigai has a more significant impact on their longevity and ability to live a happier life. Knowing your ikigai can also help you; design your ideal work lifestyle, create strong social connections at work, create a healthy work-life balance, pursue your career dreams and above all else enjoy your work. When you know your ikigai and understand its meaning, you become aligned with the work you have longed to do and the work the world needs you to do. Hence why identifying and understanding your purpose and meaning in life or ikigai is so important.

Three steps to discovering your ikigai:


Step 1: Answer some questions to find your ikigai

1. What do you love?

2. What are you good at?

3. What does the world need?

4. What can you be paid for?


Step 2: Brainstorm to find your ikigai

Spend some time visualizing your ideal day from start to finish and make sure to write it down. Spend some time brainstorming and writing down small changes you can make to align your mission. Align this with your responses to the questions above; what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. It is normal for doubt, fear, or negative thoughts to come up during this time because at times facing your future can feel like a heavy challenge. Remember you are stronger and more adaptable than you think.


Step 3: Study to find your ikigai

You now have a picture in your head about what your ideal workday looks like so now consider studying, researching, taking classes, or hiring a coach or mentor which can help you discover if your vision meets your real-life expectations. If you find that your vision meets your real-life expectations – you have successfully found your ikigai! If the opposite is true, don’t worry, it can take time to find your ikigai. Finding your ikigai doesn’t mean you will love every aspect of your career. It means that you’re willing to accept even the not-so-perfect parts because your career is aligned with what you love, what you’re paid for, and what the world needs.


We all have a purpose in this world, all you have to do is find it. Do that and you can make every single day of your life joyful and meaningful.

Sounds easy doesn’t it??!!

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BRAIN DUMP: Have you found your purpose in life? What is it?

This might be a question you’ve never asked yourself but with this blog I aim to encourage you to find and implement your ikigai.

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I am by no means claiming to be an expert in IKIGAI so if you like the sound of this very simple or basic introduction to Ikigai, then I suggest you continue your own research by investing in this book;

This book will help you work out what your own ikigai really is and equip you to change your life.

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If you feel you are ready to discover or explore your ikigai and would like to work through this with a professional - reach out.

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