Why Ikigai Is Not A Venn Diagram

A lot of people relate ikigai to work or business, but ikigai is not restricted to one's work. Rather, it is something that makes our lives worth living, and it can be the simple things that give us joy in our daily lives.

Nick Kemp explains the origin of the Ikigai Venn Diagram circulating the web, and why it can't be considered as ikigai.

Have you seen the Venn diagram with ikigai as the center asking the questions of: are you doing something that you love, that you’re good at, that the world needs, and that you can be paid for? Well guess what, this is not ikigai. 

Don’t get me wrong, I find this Venn diagram very helpful and inspiring, and I think it’s time that the creator of this Venn diagram gets the recognition. That man is Andres Zuzunaga, whose an author among other things. 

What he created over ten years ago, he called it proposito which means purpose. So it really is the Purpose Venn Diagram. 

If you do want to relate some of these questions to the ikigai concept in the context of Japanese culture; if you talk about what you love? Maybe you would want to ask: what gives you life satisfaction? We would find out obviously that it’s more than one thing. It could be many things that make your life satisfying. 

Then for the question: what are you good at? You probably want to think about: what activity or what new things would make you grow? Because growth is an important aspect of ikigai. 

Then, rather than asking yourself what the world needs? You might want to think: what are my roles? How am I serving others? For example, in your family, in your social network, or at your work. 

And then for the question: what can you be paid for? You’d really wanna ask yourself: what makes my life worth living? Or what is intrinsically motivating?

One more point is: ikigai is not restricted to one’s work. It’s about your life. Because the word ikigai consists of the word ikiru which means to live, and the suffix gai, which means value, worth, or result. 

So you should associate ikigai with our whole life, not just our work. Perhaps, the best question to ask ourselves is: what makes you feel that life is worth living?


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