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March 6, 2023

Ikigai: A Japanese Concept for Finding Your Purpose

Have you ever felt like there was something missing in your life, but you just couldn’t put your finger on it? You may be familiar with the concept of “ikigai” – a Japanese concept which translates to “reason for being” or “the joy of living.” It is a way of looking at life and discovering purpose, meaning, and joy. Let’s explore what ikigai is and how it can help you find your passion.

Ikigai combines two words: iki, which means “life” and kai, which means “worth”.  It pertains to the source of value in someone’s life, something that gives a person a sense of direction and happiness. is based on four components that must come together in order to achieve true contentment: what you love doing, what the world needs, what you are good at, and what you can be paid for. These four concepts form an intersection where true fulfillment lies. It is important to note that each component has equal weight; none are more important than another. It is only when all four components come together that one can truly live with purpose and joy.

What you love doing

The first component is what you love doing – this could be anything from gardening to writing poetry or playing music. The key is to identify activities that bring a sense of satisfaction or happiness into your life. It could be anything that makes you feel good, or something that you would willingly do anytime. Once something has been identified as enjoyable, it becomes easier to focus on the other three components – needs of the world, skillset or talents and potential for financial gain – as part of an integrated approach to finding one’s purpose in life.

What the world needs

The second component is what the world needs – this might include providing a service that helps others in some way or advocating for causes such as social justice or environmental protection. Identifying needs within society provides direction on how one might contribute positively through their work or passions. Knowing that the things we do helps make the world a better place is fulfilling on its own, but when they are things we are passionate about and talented in, it is all that easier to keep our motivation high. 

What you are good at

The third component is your skillset (or talents). This includes both natural abilities as well as acquired knowledge or expertise developed through training or education. Are there things that you naturally excel at? Or skills you’ve spent years developing? Something you would like to be good at? By evaluating where our talents lie, we can get one step closer to figuring out our ikigai. When combined with other components such as loves and needs of the world, these skills can lead to meaningful work that makes a positive contribution while providing a sense of satisfaction at the same time.

What you can be paid for

The fourth component is potential for financial gain – this could include starting a business venture or finding employment opportunities related to one’s passions and skillset that offer financial rewards along with professional growth opportunities. It’s nice and all to feel fulfilled by doing things we love- but we gotta eat too. By focusing on all four components simultaneously, you can begin to see how to combine different elements into a career path that offers personal satisfaction while also contributing positively towards society at large.

Finding purpose isn’t always easy – but by understanding the Japanese concept of Ikigai—which teaches us how our interests, talents, and passions come together—we can learn how best to use our unique set of skills in service of ourselves and others around us! Women of color have so much potential—and by taking advantage of ikigai’s guiding principles, you can confidently create a meaningful life full of passion and purpose! Now that you know how find your ikigai, you can now start analyzing what these four components are in your life. By knowing what you love, what you are good at, what you can get paid for, and what the world needs, it can be a lot easier for you to understand what your unique ikigai is. Once you are able to find your ikigai, you will become more productive and feel more motivated to achieve success. You will achieve a natural state of flow that makes it easier for you to make the most of every day and stay busy. It will also motivate you to continuously improve and reevaluate what success and happiness means to you.

If you are having difficulty finding life fulfillment or feeling like you’re missing one of these categories, our team is here for you. Feel free to contact us to find out more about our services and our therapists. Our WOC workshops are helping women of color work on their self-improvement and bettering their life. We hope to see you at some of our future workshops!