Discovering The Japanese Concept of Ikigai

I recently read an article about a Japanese concept called ikigai.

Ikigai is a way of life that enables people to enjoy every day and be happy with what they do. It’s not so much about money or career, but more about finding joy in the small things we do every day.

As a coach, I’m always looking for ways to help people find their ikigai — especially when it comes to achieving goals and being motivated by them. We all have natural talents and abilities that can help us achieve our dreams and desires if we just look deep within ourselves and find what makes us feel alive!

What motivates us is doing work that helps others and seeing or meeting the beneficiaries of our efforts. When we interact with someone directly, we feel better about ourselves because we know we made a difference. In one experiment, cold callers at the University of Michigan who spent time with a recipient of the scholarship they were trying to raise money for brought in 171% more money when compared with those who were merely working the phone. The simple act of meeting a student beneficiary provided meaning to the fundraisers and boosted their performance.What does ikigai mean?

What does ikigai mean? – An Ikigai definition

In Japanese, ikigai translates roughly to “reason for being.

It’s a word that has been around since the 1960s and is believed to have been coined by writer Shingo Tanaka. Ikigai is a word comprised of two parts, iki and gai.

Iki comes from the verb ikiru; to live, and relates to daily living.

Gai, meaning worth or value, comes the word kai, which means shell in Japanese.

The Japanese concept of ikigai represents a sense of fulfillment, happiness and purpose in life that comes from fulfilling what you believe your essential task or mission is. It’s different from purpose, mission and vocation in that it does not require external recognition or approval, but rather is something that exists within you — an inner motivation or desire that drives your actions and gives your life meaning.

It may be helpful to think of ikigai as similar to identity, meaning and purpose, as well as happiness and fulfillment (which are often used synonymously). Everything on this spectrum can be thought of as forms of internal motivation: an internal sense of self-worth based on having an “essential task” — also known as a calling — which makes us feel like we matter in the world even if nobody else notices us or cares about what we do with our lives.


Ikigai is the thing that gets you up in the morning.

The first step to using ikigai in coaching is to identify what your client’s ikigai is. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “How will you know if you don’t know?” You can’t help someone until they understand where they need help. So ask questions like:

  • What makes them happy?
  • What do they love doing?
  • What are their passions?

It’s not always that easy to find ikigai. It’s possible your client doesn’t like their job, but they still go to work and do it because they need the money or want to provide for their family. But I can assure you if there was something else in their life that made them feel happy then they wouldn’t be going to that job.

What are the 4 components of ikigai?

The concept of ikigai includes a few elements that help define an individual’s purpose. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that describes the reason why you get up in the morning. It can be thought of as a personal mission statement, but it’s less about what you do and more about why you do it. Ikigai includes four elements: passion, mission, vocation, and profession.


is what makes you feel alive when you do it—a hobby that gives meaning to your life or a calling that fulfills your soul.


is the activity or activity area where those passions are put into practice—for example: writing children’s books, collecting antiques, teaching yoga classes on weekends or painting landscapes during leisure hours at home.


refers to another way of expressing passion beyond hobbies or artistic pursuits; this might be something like being an entrepreneur who runs her own startup business based around running marathons for cancer research fundraisers (and training for them).


refers to earning money from one’s passion; people whose vocations involve teaching others how to sing may work as vocal coaches while those who operate small businesses might sell their wares online through e-commerce platforms such as eBay or Etsy

People who have ikigai tend to live longer than those who don’t

You can use ikigai to help your clients increase their quality of life. Having an ikigai is associated with a longer lifespan, as well as healthier and happier people. The idea that you should pursue what makes you happy isn’t a new one, but I believe it’s important to bring this into the coaching world because so many people don’t know how to do it on their own.

Ikigai may sound like a luxury reserved for those lucky enough to have found their purpose early in life, but it doesn’t have to be that way at all! People who haven’t yet found purpose can still reap huge benefits from learning about this concept and applying it in their lives in ways that make sense for them—and they might even be able to find answers they never knew they were looking for!

According to IkigaiTribe, Ikigai can contribute to your health because it is closely related to creativity and is indispensable to well-being. Buettner believes that there are several factors behind why Okinawans live longer than most people. Among them, he points out their sense of purpose, which he describes as “a way of life.”

Ikigai requires a good lifestyle.

Ikigai requires a good lifestyle. This means eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. However, this doesn’t mean putting one’s self under pressure by aiming for an ideal body size or shape.

A healthy lifestyle involves making simple but significant changes in our daily habits like adding more vegetables to our diet, reducing sugar intake and drinking more water.

Exercise is essential if you want to maintain your health and stay fit as well as feel good about yourself. But don’t be hard on yourself if you cannot find the time or motivation to go to the gym every day; just make sure that you do some form of physical activity every day – even if it’s just walking around your block twice instead of once!

Sleep is important because it allows us to recharge our batteries so we can function at optimum levels throughout the next day! Without sufficient sleep we will feel tired during the day which can affect both work performance and personal relationships in general…so make sure that you get enough shuteye each night!

Ikigai requires family, friends and community.

People need support to be happy.

Ikigai is about being happy, but it’s also about achieving your goals. Ikigai means “a reason for being.” You have to have a goal in order to be happy and fulfilled. This requires family, friends and community. As the saying goes: if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.

Your relationships with family, friends and community provide you with support – they can help you achieve your ikigai!

Set Goals and Work on How to Achieve Them.

One of the most important things you can do for your clients is help them set goals and create plans to achieve them. Goals are important because they give us a universal framework for our lives—they give us direction, purpose, and focus. When we have clear goals for ourselves, we don’t waste any time or energy on things that don’t matter in the long run.

Additionally, setting goals gives us a sense of control over our future—we feel like we’re making progress towards something meaningful and tangible. By giving people concrete goals they can work towards (rather than just vague hopes or wishes), you’ll be able to help them build confidence in their abilities and start seeing themselves as capable agents of change in their own lives.

Ikigai is a tool for finding your purpose in life. It’s about finding out what makes you unique, what gives you energy, what makes your heart beat faster. It’s about discovering who you really are and how best to express that person through daily activities, goals and relationships with others.

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