What is ikigai?

Like the Danish word hygge, there’s no simple, direct translation into English for the Japanese word ikigai. It roughly means the “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you get up in the morning.” In a nutshell, it encompasses the idea that happiness in life is about more than money or a fancy job title.

It’s easiest to think about ikiagi as an intersection, the common ground between:

Ikigai has a few essential qualities that separate it from the “follow your passion” truism as we conceive of it in Western culture:

It’s challenging

Your ikigai should lead to mastery and growth.

It’s your choice

You feel a certain degree of autonomy and freedom pursuing
your ikigai.

It involves a commitment of time and belief

Perhaps to a particular cause,
skill, trade, or group of people.

It boosts your well-being

Ikigai is associated with positive relationships and good health. It gives you more energy than it takes away.

In some sense, an ikigai can serve as a compass to navigate both career and life decisions, which it seems people crave for now more than ever. After all, 20% of millennials and 21% of Gen-X’s say that doing work they are passionate about is an important long-term goal.

Before you think this sounds too pie-in-the-sky, consider what one researcher noted: ikigai is often not something grand or extraordinary. What better way, then, to discover a sustainable passion than by finding your ikigai?

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Walt's Ikigai

A 6 min video explaining my Ikigai as my compass for my life. If you have ever wondered about finding your reason for being, please check out my video and may it inspire you to seek your Ikigai.

My ikigai

I am the emerging awareness of our brilliance, in the presence of my creator who abundant in patience and kindness, and who is Love

I support others to become their highest and best vision of themselves

Seekers who have forgotten their purpose and are drifting

I teach, support, and empower in a space of compassion, non-judgement, and belief

They uncover the life of their dreams in the present moment; their lightness of being

They emerge as the awareness of their brilliance.

Steps to find your ikigai

Understandably, once people become familiar with the concept of ikigai, they want to dive right in, tackle defining it like a discrete project, then leap into action based on the results of that project.

But it’s important to understand that figuring out your ikigai doesn’t happen overnight. Rather than being something that you magically discover, your purpose unfolds and will evolve over time.

That’s not an excuse to sit back and expect your ikigai to present itself. Finding it requires a willingness for deep self-exploration and experimentation, and there are ways to work on that. Thoughtful reflection combined with action-taking can help you to uncover how your values, strengths, and skills can be brought to the foreground to help you find more meaning in your life and career—and the balance of ikigai