That which you love. That which you’re good at. That which you can be paid for. That which the world needs. In union, these four pillars are believed to give meaning to life.
In this post, you’ll discover:
- What ikigai really is (and isn’t)
- How to find your own ikigai path and purpose through a series of free printable ikigai test questions and ‘the wheel of fulfilment’.
- What’s really holding you back from realising your wildest hopes and dreams with a quick interactive ikigai test & quiz
Make sure to grab your free pack of printables to kickstart your ikigai journey – you can download the self discovery question pack here and at the end of the post.
WHAT IS IKIGAI REALLY? – ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
Ikigai is a unique and beautiful concept that hails from Japanese culture to mean ‘finding your reason for being.’
It has long existed on the island of Okinawa, but was first popularised in the 1960’s in Kamiya’s book ‘On the Meaning of Life’.
Ikigai is a perfect combination of ‘IKI’, meaning life, and ‘KAI’, meaning the realisation of hopes, dreams and expectations.
There’s no single word in the English language that fully embodies this sentiment.
Ikigai isn’t just a one off exercise of finding your direction or purpose in life, but it’s a feeling, a feeling of pure joy, accomplishment and unshakeable fulfilment that lasts a lifetime.
It’s an inner knowing that keeps you motivated during the low times because no matter what happens you realize you’ll end up reaching your ultimate destination. Or, you know you’ll discover something even bigger and better than you ever could have imagined.
HOW WILL I KNOW I’VE FOUND MY IKIGAI PATH?
You’ll know you’ve struck the euphoria of ‘ikigai’ when life seems ‘effortless’ for want of a better word.
There’s a deep rooted belief in our society that life is meant to be difficult, that somehow a life filled with constant, heart-wrenching challenges, lack and struggle is what it takes to be ‘successful or happy’ in this world.
But this mentality couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are only two reasons we experience discontentment, a feeling of lack and struggle in our lives: 1) deep down we know we’re meant for more and 2) we believe there’s no way out of our current situation to become that ‘more’.
INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS AND MENTALITIES THAT COULD BE PREVENTING YOU FROM FINDING YOUR IKIGAI
- You don’t think you can make a career out of your passion
- You can’t risk leaving your stable job to pursue your passions
- You’ve become too tied up in day-to-day life and have lost sight of what makes you happy and fulfilled
- You don’t believe change or opportunities will happen for you
- You think you’re too old to find a new path in life
- You’re worried that you’re not good enough to pursue your passion
- You’re worried about what other people will think of you
The ikigai quiz/self discovery pack I’ve put together will help you unearth some more of these intrusive thoughts and beliefs.
From what I’ve seen in other people, deep down we often have a vague idea of what we would love to do, but bury it under a heap of worries, fears and doubts, so much so that we believe we don’t know what we’re good at, or could offer to the world.
You’ll often find it’s the simplest idea that is our ikigai path. The test below will hopefully help you get to the root of the problem.
HOW I FOUND MY IKIGAI AFTER LOSS & GRIEF (MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE)
In December 2020, at 22, I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my dad. High emotions coupled with grief led me to start thinking about what I truly wanted from life – after seeing it so quickly and cruelly snuffed out.
For me, finding my ikigai started with a change in thinking, not from negative to positive, because we all know that doesn’t work, but instead from ‘want’ or ‘lack’ to ‘have’ and ‘abundance’.
I started reminding myself of everything I had to be grateful for through mental gratitude lists and I slowly transformed problematic thinking into a world of possibilities.
I used to be terrible at living inside my comfort zone (rather I was too good at it!), comparing myself to others, body-shaming the tiniest of flaws, and putting obstacles in my own way.
So much so that I frequently questioned how and when my life was going to change.
Day by day I was losing enjoyment in my writing, hated venturing outside my house, and grew to thrive in ‘the known’ (not somewhere you want to stay for too long).
The only way I could describe it would be pure despair.
Creating my ultimate life and gratitude lists over the course of a few weeks built an incredible energy inside of me – like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
For the first time, looking to the future only made me more excited. For me, bucket lists take the fear and worry out of the equation and instead replace the path of the unknown with a feeling of accomplishment and aliveness.
Looking at those shiny scratch off stickers gave me that whole ‘just do it’ attitude, even if I wasn’t sure of the hows, whats, and whens.
Despite not knowing how or when I’ll do those things, deep down I know that I’ll do them at some point.
That knowing, combined with turning my writing and personal growth and spiritual challenge into a career is what fills me with the feeling of ikigai. And I couldn’t be more happy that I found it.
IKIGAI TEST: HOW TO FIND YOUR IKIGAI, TRUE PURPOSE & WHAT LIGHTS YOU UP
Your ikigai is said to lie at the center of these four interconnecting circles:
Mission: What you love
Vocation: What the world needs
Profession: What you can get paid for
Passion: What you’re good at
The idea being you find life fulfilment and happiness by connecting all four pieces together.
In other words, where; what you love meets what you are good at, meets what you can be valued and paid for, meets that which the world needs.
The Ikigai concept places heavy emphasis on being of service to the world somehow, probably because psychology shows we feel more satisfied in giving gifts than receiving them.
20 SELF DISCOVERY IKIGAI QUESTIONS
Download Your Free Ikigai Test Question Pack Here – (All Self Discovery Questions, Wheel Of Life, Ikigai Zones, & Diagram.
Q1. If money was no object, what would you do with your life?
Q2. What topic(s) fascinate you? What could you research without getting bored?
Q3. What does the word ‘excitement’ bring to mind for you? Any images?
Q4. How would you describe your current outlook on life?
Q5. If you were a child again, how would you answer, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?
Q6. Looking back at your past, what is one thing you regret not doing, and why?
Q7. Do you feel led towards a certain career path? like you’ve been put here to do it?
Q8. What are you most afraid of? Is it something logical or a self made belief?
Q9. Which of your weaknesses could actually have potential?
Q10. What makes you feel the happiest?
Q11. ‘The way I spend my daily life is how I will spend the rest of my life’. How does this
statement make you feel?
Q12. What beliefs do you hold that could be holding you back from change?
Q13. Where do those beliefs come from? are they yours or someone else’s?
Q14. If you could see how many days you had left on earth, what would you be doing?
Q15. Name something outside your comfort zone you’d like to do, but never have. What do you think is really holding you back from doing it?
Q16. If you wrote a letter to your future self, what would you like it to say?
q17. What am I most grateful for in life?
q18. What change would I love to see in the world, no matter how small or big?
q19. What flaws or insecurities about myself resurface every day on a loop?
Q20. If you were always guaranteed to succeed, what would you do with your life? how different would it be from now? What is the best possible image/story you can create for yourself?
WHAT IKIGAI ISN’T – DITCH THE SHOULDS & COULDS
Ikigai is definitely not about ‘shoulds’ or ‘coulds’. An activity or profession forced on you is completely the opposite of what ikigai teaches.
You should only do or follow something because it matches your passions, ethos and core values (basically who you are at the core).
Though I know this can be harder said than done, especially when there’s a salary involved – in this scenario, try mentally and physically placing yourself in a transition phase, whereby you take baby steps to moving away from those forced duties or responsibilities.
This could involve starting a side hustle, a small income stream, researching ways to turn your hobby into a money-making idea. Baby steps, always.
Ikigai is a simple, but magnificent Japanese philosophy that when applied can have drastic, life-changing results.
Finding your ikigai path most likely won’t happen overnight, although epiphanies can happen when you’re committed to finding out who you are at the core.
I hope this post has been helpful in some way. What do you think your ikigai path is? Have you found it, or do you feel something’s blocking you? Let me know in the comments.