How to find your passion with ikiga

Ikiga what?

It was some years ago I first heard about Ikiga, which is a wonderful Japanese concept.

If you hate your job and you have no idea what you want to do, then I suggest you try ikigai.

Why? Well the translation is ‘reason for being’ and the place it originates from has the largest happy and healthy population in the world, so they must be on to something! I also used this some years ago when I was figuring out my career and it really helped me!

So what is it? 

It considers only 4 factors, which are: 

  1. What you love

  2. What you believe the world needs

  3. What you’re good at

  4. What you can get paid for

How does it help you to find your passion? 

You’ll need a pen and paper for this part; let’s turn them into questions.

  1. What do you love to do?
    Then does time fly by for you? When do you feel passionate? 

  2. What do you believe the world needs?
    What injustice in the world really gets to you?
    What can you complain and rant about for hours?
    You don’t have to think about the whole world here, a great place to start is your local community. 

  3. What are you naturally good at?
    Something that seems to come to you easily and people often ask you for your expertise in. This doesn’t have to be a passion. 

  4. What skills do you have that people would pay for?
    Again, this doesn’t have to be a passion but things you are very competent at.

As you can see from the diagram below, ikigai is the sweet spot where all four intersect; that’s where you’ll find your passion, your aligned career and fulfilment!


Struggling to answer the questions? 

Start with the questions you can answer and consider what is your most important factor and your least important factor. For example some people are more driven by money than others. These people may be content doing a job they are not the best at, but find happiness in the financial security. Or maybe you want to make a difference in the world and happy to earn less and just enough to get by. We all have a different definition of happiness. 

If you are struggling to figure out your passions, then I encourage you to try things out that appeal to you, do something totally different, be open to new opportunities so you can discover what your passions are and what they aren’t. You’ll never find them by doing nothing.

If you want to read further, here is a link to the book Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles