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How to Find your Ikigai: Unlock your FULL Potential

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Discover your life's purpose and passion with this guide on finding your ikigai - the Japanese secret to living a meaningful, fulfilled life.
ikigai diagram

Have you ever woken up feeling that there must be more to life?

Ever wondered what you’re meant to do? What’s that one thing you’d be great at and love so much, that you’d wake up every day eager to do it, no matter how challenging?

That’s what Ikigai helps you discover – Your reason for being.

What is Ikigai? 

Ikigai is a Japanese concept I’ve recently come across. It’s a term made up of two Japanese words:

  • ‘IKI’ (生き), which means life or alive
  • ‘Kai’ (甲斐), which means an effect, a result, or a fruit

Venn diagram on how to find your ikigai

Ikigai is all about finding the perfect balance between four key elements: 

  1. What you love
  2. What the world needs
  3. What you can be paid for
  4. What you’re good at

💡 Personal Insight: Did you know there’s no word for ‘retire’ in Japan?

When you discover your Ikigai, you’ll want to keep working until you physically can’t. Why, you ask? Because you love what you do

Your motivation comes from within, not from external factors.

So, how do you find your Ikigai? I had the same question, and here’s what I found:

How to Find Your Ikigai ?

There are two methods to discover your Ikigai: The Robert Greene Method and The Ikigai Method.

01 The Robert Green Method

Robert Greene quote from mastery

I came across the Robert Greene method while reading his book ‘Mastery’.

He didn’t label it as Ikigai, but it’s all about finding what you naturally excel at (Achieve Mastery which is very similar to Ikigai). Robert Greene suggests two ways to achieve mastery:

1️⃣ Niche Down

Start by learning the broad strokes of something you’re interested in, like design, then narrow down your focus. The more you specialize, the more expertise you gain until you find that one thing that no one does better than you.

2️⃣ Combine Multiple Skill

First, you pick a skill that you enjoy or interested in. Once you become really good at it, instead of going deeper into it (Niching Down), you start learning another skill that catches your attention, even if it’s from a completely different field. Mixing these different skills together creates your Ikigai (Your own Niche).

💡 Personal Insight: This is my favorite way, but it can take a bit more time because you need to figure out how these skills link together. I know this from my own experience!)

02 The Ikigai Method 

The Ikigai Method gives you a straightforward way to find your Ikigai. Here are the steps: (Remember the Ikigai Venn diagram above?)

1️⃣ Create a List of What You Love

Write down activities, hobbies, or subjects that you enjoy and feel passionate about. Don’t hold back—include anything that gets you excited.

2️⃣ Identify What You’re Good At (Strengths and Skills)

List your strengths and skills, both work-related and personal. Consider what others often praise you for or tasks that come easily to you.

3️⃣ Reflect on What the World Needs (Reflect on What Drives You)

Reflect on the values and principles that matter to you. What are the causes you want to advocate for that get you out of bed in the morning?

4️⃣ Ask Yourself: What Can You Be Paid For?

This could be what you do for a living, but also explore industries and sectors that align with your skills. Look for areas where there’s a demand for solutions or services that you can offer.

5️⃣ Brainstorm Ikigai Combinations 

Use a Venn diagram to see where your passions, skills, market needs, and personal values meet. Try out different combinations to see where they overlap.

💡 Personal Insight: By now, you should have an idea of the direction you should head in. Start small—you don’t have to know exactly where you’re going but have a sense of the direction. Experiment with different projects or initiatives related to your potential Ikigai. See what feels right for you and your audience.

Now that you’ve learned how to find your Ikigai, it’s important to know that finding your purpose is just one piece of the puzzle.

There are other elements that go hand in hand with Ikigai, and considering these is essential to truly experience a life filled with purpose.

But to truly understand these parts, you need to know where the Ikigai idea came from.

The Origin of Ikigai: People of Okinawa

Have you heard about the Blue Zones? 

The Blue Zones are five special places known for having the healthiest, happiest, and longest-living people. One such place is Okinawa, often referred to as the top Blue Zone city.

The concept of Ikigai gained popularity from studying the people of Okinawa, which is home to a significant number of centenarians – individuals who live beyond the age of 100.

Their secret to a long and happy life is often linked to their lifestyle that is deeply influenced by the concept of Ikigai.

The origin of Ikigai can be traced back to the Heian period (794 to 1185) in Japan, a time when the value of life and the pursuit of purpose were deeply ingrained in society. Over time, this concept evolved and became an integral part of Japanese culture, particularly in regions like Okinawa.

The deep sense of purpose that the people of Okinawa have significantly influences their way of life, values, and practices.

We can gain a wealth of knowledge from the age-old wisdom of Okinawa and its application of the Ikigai concept.

The 7 Rules of The Okinawa People to achieve ikigai and Live a long Fulfilled Life

01 Discover the Passion Inside You That Gives Meaning to Your Days

That’s what this article is all about – finding your Ikigai.

Identify those activities that make you lose track of time (Enter the Flow State)

💡 Personal Insight: The Flow State is what Cal Newport (an American nonfiction author and full professor of computer science at Georgetown University) refers to as Deep Work in his book (Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World). Here are several strategies that can facilitate achieving this state more easily:

Strategy 01: Choose a task that’s somewhat complex. It should be challenging, but not overly difficult.
Strategy 02: Be clear about the goal you want to achieve
Strategy 03: Focus on the task at hand. Avoid multitasking. Select one activity and dedicate all your effort to doing it well. This means no distractions like emails or phones.

02 Stop Living in The Fast Lane for a Better Quality of Life

It took me five years to learn this:

The fastest road to whatever you want is most likely the slowest.

03 Care About Your Health

I understand how life can get really busy, especially when we’re chasing our dreams. (I’ve been there)

However, without good health, most things lose their value. Therefore, please take care of yourself: exercise regularly, maintain a balanced diet, and ensure you get enough sleep.

04 Keep Friends You Can Share Your Worries and Good Stories With

Quality Connections Make You Happy (According to one of the longest-running studies on happiness)

In 1938, Harvard researchers started on a decades-long study to answer the question: What makes us happy in life? The researchers asked 724 people from all over the world about their lives every two years and kept track of their health.

You might think money, a good job, exercise, or eating right would make people the happiest. But that’s not what they found. The most consistent finding we’ve learned from this study, which has been going on for 85 years, is that having good relationships makes us happier, healthier, and helps us live longer. Period. 

You can watch this video to learn more about this study:

Harvard psychiatrist on happiness: Positive vs. toxic relationships | Robert Waldinger

05 Make everyday count and leave the past in the past

I like to approach each day with two mindsets:

  • I act as if this is my very last day. I savor every moment, appreciate the people around me, and don’t take anything for granted.
  • At the same time, I work on my dreams as if I’ll live forever. I stay focused on my long-term goals, persist through challenges, and keep pushing forward.

06 Enjoy the Small Pleasures

In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, it’s easy to overlook the small joys of life.

It could be as simple as savoring a cup of coffee, reading a good book, or watching the sunset.

When you take the time to enjoy these moments, you recharge and connect with yourself on a deeper level.

07 Smile often

It wins you more friends and helps you see a world full of possibilities.

🌌 My Design Days Extras

The cover of Ikigai and Mastery
Book Recommendations

If you want to learn more about the concept of Ikigai, I highly recommend reading “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. This book dives into the heart of the Ikigai concept.

Another insightful read is ‘Mastery’ by Robert Greene, which provides valuable guidance to mastery. 

These books can provide you with extra knowledge to help you on your journey to finding your Ikigai.


Finding your Ikigai is a journey, not a destination.

It’s about discovering what truly matters to you, what you’re good at, and what the world needs. It’s about finding that sweet spot where passion, mission, vocation, and profession intersect. So, take the time to explore, reflect, and experiment. Your Ikigai is waiting for you to discover it. And remember, the journey to finding your Ikigai is just as important as the destination itself.

Don’t forget to enjoy the everyday pleasures along the way. Happy exploring!

Picture of Bahaa Aydi

Bahaa Aydi

I'm Bahaa, a Licensed architect specialized in Interior design & Archviz • Sharing my design days with you to help you design better space