This One Word Will Help You Figure Out Your Life’s Purpose

Photo of Anine Bing

This is the perfect time to start to reassess what you want to do with your life, in the summer months when things are a little slower, vacations are on the horizon, and you’re ready to get your head back in the game.

The perfect time to think about all this is when your head’s laying on the plane window, or you’re sitting away from work deciding what to do with your life. And, you only need to know one word if you want to get your head in the game and figure out what your life’s true calling is – and that word is Ikigai.

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means ‘a reason for being,’ translated roughly to English, it means the ‘thing that you live for.’ Everyone has a different ikigai, dependent on their life, their values, and their personal beliefs.

Ikigai diagram Ikigai is a combination of all the things you’re passionate about. It’s your life’s purpose, the job you’d get up for in the morning even if you didn’t have to. Your ikigai should never be a chore; it should be a pleasure.

How to use Ikigai to figure out what to do with your life?

Grab a notebook or planner (we recommend this one) and start to write down all the things that could possibly be your ikigai. Use the diagram above to create your own ikigai, write down all the different sections, and once they overlap, you’ll get close to finding your ikigai.

First, start with your passions, really think about this, you could be passionate about good food, traveling, animals, and not know how your passions link to your purpose, but all will become clear if you start to fill out your own diagram.

You might find many different things that you could be suited for, volunteering at an animal shelter (for example) or writing self-help books, and there’s no rule that means you have to stick to one purpose in life. Your life’s purpose could be anything you dream of. Albert Einstein was just a boy who loved maths at one point; everyone has the potential to do great things; it’s just about being confident in your passions and thinking big.

In Japan, there is no word for ‘retire,’ the concept of leaving work for good doesn’t really exist because in an ideal world you’d love your job so much you’d work as long as you can. This reflects the entire concept of ikigai. If you find your passion, follow your vocation, and get paid for doing what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Instead, you’ll just enjoy having a purpose.


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