How To Find Your Reason For Being With Ikigai

The Ikigai Venn diagram that has been shared by millions of people on the web, is interrupted as the Japanese version of the reason for being. The only problem is, this Venn digram has nothing to do with ikigai.  


ikigai venn diagram

The Ikigai Venn diagram was created by entrepreneur Marc Winn, whose only knowledge of ikigai was from a TedTalk. He simply replaced the word "purpose" with "ikigai" thinking it would be a cool idea.  He wrote a blogpost with his version of the Venn diagram, claiming that ikigai lies in the center of the interconnecting four circles. It went viral, and people still continue to share today.

You can listen to my interview with Marc Winn on episode 5 of my podcast - 005 – Marc Winn On Merging Ikigai With The Venn Diagram of Purpose.

There Is No Ikigai Diagram

There is no diagram, chart or framework that the Japanese use to understand or find their ikigai. Japanese learn the word Ikigai when they are young and understand its multifaceted meaning as they grow and experience life.

If we were to use a Venn diagram to visualise what ikigai means to Japanese then it would look like this:


In this representation, your daily life is at the center, and the overlapping circles represent areas of your life where you can find ikigai, your reasons for being. It’s important to understand that Japanese find ikigai in various areas of their lives - from small everyday rituals to the pursuit of meaningful goals.

This illustrates that your reason for being, or your reason for living is not a sweet spot of doing something that you love, that you are good at, that the world needs, and that you can be paid for, but a rich spectrum where you can find reasons to live in the realm of small things, in the practice of a hobby, in your roles and relationships, and by simply living your values.

We can see that Ikigai is something easily achievable, not a single formidable life goal that might take us years to achieve as represented by the Westernised version.

Where You Can Find Your Reason For Being

You can find your reason, or reasons, for being in:

Connection & Harmony - in the building of harmonious relationships that align with your values.

Creativity & Flow - when reaching a flow state in your hobbies, interests or work, and by expressing your creative self.

Gratitude & Contribution - by expressing gratitude, and in the helping of others via your life roles.

Rituals & Small Joys - when being present while performing daily rituals, and in appreciating the small joys of life.

Japanese ikigai

When You Find Ikigai You Have More Than One Reason To Live

When you have ikigai you are full of life and actively pursue what you enjoy doing. You don't just have one reason for being, you have several, maybe even many. And once you find your reasons for being your live will change or the better in four core ares:

  • life meaning
  • life purpose
  • life freedom
  • life growth

You find meaning in your life through interpersonal connections, intimate relationships and in your creative pursuits. When you reflect upon the meaning of your life you are satisfied and find that you have plenty to live for.

In performing your various life roles you have a sense of purpose as you contribute to your family, workplace, and community. You also find that you have a lot to be grateful for and express this to family, friends and the people around you.

Despite the constraints of life, you often experience a true sense of freedom in your hobbies, interests and work. You also find freedom and joy in the little things and in the practice of daily rituals.

When you have ikigai, your life is not stagnant, nor boring. You grow and embrace change as you anticipate a bright future ahead of you. Even during challenging times and after negative life events your ikigai can guide you to a positive new direction.

This is what ikigai is to the Japanese.

The Japanese Ikigai Diagram

reason for being