What is Ikigai? It’s Not a Venn Diagram Framework


Ikigai is not a framework of doing something that you love, that you are good at, that the world needs, and that you can be paid for.

So I have made several videos about this already, but ikigai is not a framework. There is no framework. So you need to forget that there’s a framework. This framework of doing something that you love, that you are good at, that the world needs and that you can be paid for is a misinterpretation. To learn more about that read Ikigai Misunderstood and the Origin of the Ikigai Venn Diagram.

There Is No Framework

If you were to show the framework of doing something that you love, that you’re good at, that the world needs and that you can be paid for to a Japanese person, they would be confused. They wouldn’t understand why there is a framework. So there is no framework. And again if you were to show that framework to Japanese, the first thing that they probably point out is that ikigai has nothing to do with making money. Making money is not a consideration for Japanese when they contemplate their ikigai. So that’s something you need to get out of your head as well.

We need to be clear; ikigai is not this framework for you to find your dream job, and it’s not a framework that you can use to establish your company’s or organization’s purpose. So really, you need to unlearn what you’ve learned. I’m quoting Yoda there, but you really do need to unlearn what you’ve learned. There is not a framework.

So I guess the question you’re asking now is what is ikigai?

Well, it is a complicated and difficult concept to explain, but it would be best to think of a ikigai as a spectrum. And this is something that Ken Mogi, author of The Little Book of Ikigai talks about. So you could think of ikigai as a spectrum, starting with the things that give you life satisfaction, and they can be small things. It could be your morning coffee. It could be taking your dog for a walk. It could be exercising. It could be pursuing a hobby. So for me, playing guitar gives me life satisfaction, so it’s one of my ikigai. And you can have more than one.

So if there’s anything in your life that gives you some form of life satisfaction, no matter how small you could consider that your ikigai. Then to the other extreme, ikigai can be your personal mission, but again it’s not related to making money. If there’s something in your life that you desperately want to do and pursue that could be ikigai.

Now a great example of this is the author of the book Ikigai ni Tsuite. This book which I’ve talked about before was written by Kamiya Mieko. And Kamiya had a diary, she kept a diary and to her writing this book was extremely important. It was something that she desperately wanted to do, and it’s something she didn’t do until her mid forties. So Kamiya Mieko had this desperate desire to write this book and to write. Writing was her ikigai, and this is something she discovered later in her life.

So if there is something you desperately want to pursue, that would give your life meaning and a sense of purpose that could also be your ikigai. So it really is this spectrum from small things, hobbies and pursuits that give you life satisfaction, or it could be your work, aspects of your work they give you life satisfaction, to this extreme where you have a personal mission and you’re doing something that for some reason you desperately want to do, and that your life would be unfulfilled if you didn’t pursue it.

So I hope this video helps in clearing up the ikigai concept. And just remember any author, life coach, HR manager or blogger telling you that ikigai is that four circle framework, it means they have not fact-checked ikigai and they don’t know what they’re talking about.