Mastering Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a fulfilling life

Do you feel lost in your life and career? If so, this Japanese concept of ikigai can help you find your purpose.

Mastering Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a fulfilling life

Saturday January 06, 2024,

4 min Read

Do you feel lost in your life and career? You’re not alone. According to a study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, 75% of people feel "stuck" personally and professionally. In today’s fast-paced and chaotic world, feeling lost has become the new normal, and the pursuit of a meaningful and fulfilling life is a universal quest. 

Here, the Japanese concept of ikigai comes to the rescue. It offers a unique way of finding purpose and satisfaction. This concept helps you find your purpose by intersecting passion, vocation, profession, and mission. Though rooted in ancient wisdom, it has gained immense popularity recently as a guiding principle for a more balanced, purposeful, and happy life.

Understanding ikigai

The term ikigai combines two Japanese terms 'Iki', meaning alive or life and 'Gai', meaning benefit or worth. It means reason for being and the art of finding joy and fulfilment in the everyday activities that make life meaningful.

It is not limited to one single thing and encompasses all the things you do in your daily life that make you happy. It’s often represented using a Venn diagram with four quadrants: what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for, and the intersection of these four things is considered your Ikigai.

Components of ikigai

  • Passion (What you love): Identifying activities that bring joy and excitement, those moments where time seems to stand still.
  • Vocation (What you are good at): Aligning your passion with a sense of purpose, understanding how your interests can contribute to the needs of the world.
  • Profession (What you can be paid for): Balancing passion with the practicality of earning a living, exploring the intersection between what you love and what can sustain you financially.
  • Mission (What the world needs): Recognising and leveraging your unique strengths and talents to make a positive impact on the world.

Does it work for everyone?

While Ikigai is a great way of finding your purpose in life, its effectiveness can vary from person to person. Like if you don’t feel an inclination towards one particular thing and enjoy doing a lot of things, you might feel that you have multiple ikigai and get confused. There are a lot of factors such as cultural background, individual values, and life circumstances that play a role in deciding if this concept will work for you or not. 

Hence, it's crucial to understand that Ikigai is a guiding principle, not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, personal adaptation and interpretation of its application can be helpful.

Is it really relevant today?

In an era of constant change and great connectivity, we are often so burdened to follow the trend that we forget to reflect on our lives. This makes the relevance of the Japanese concept of ikigai a valid consideration. Following age-old concepts over the new ones might appear daunting but the principles of Ikigai have proven to be timeless. 

Moreover, today’s world of limitless options and confusion makes the search for purpose and fulfilment even more crucial. Ikigai reminds us to balance personal satisfaction with societal contribution, providing support in dealing with the complexities of modern life.

Find your ikigai

  • Self-reflection: Take time to reflect on your passions, values, and aspirations. Identify activities that bring genuine joy and fulfilment.
  • Explore passions: Actively engage in activities that align with your interests. Experiment with new hobbies and experiences to discover what resonates with you.
  • Identify strengths: Recognise your unique strengths and talents. Seek feedback from others and reflect on your achievements to understand what you excel at.
  • Align with purpose: Consider how your passions and strengths can address broader societal needs. Finding your mission within Ikigai involves contributing meaningfully to the world around you.


In a world of self-help philosophies, this ancient Japanese wisdom Ikigai still stands out as a holistic approach to a fulfilling life. It seamlessly merges passion, vocation, profession, and mission to find the purpose. It not only serves as a guiding principle for creating a life that brings personal joy but also adds meaning to the world. 

However, remember that discovering your ikigai isn’t a task with a deadline. It is an ongoing process of figuring out something you feel passionate about and enjoy doing every day, so you can make every moment count.