Small business owner working on her Ikigai, making hand bags at her workshop

20 Inspiring Ikigai Examples and How to Find Yours

"In the tapestry of life, your ikigai is the thread that weaves together your passion, mission, vocation, and profession, creating a picture of harmony and fulfilment." - Bayu Prihandito

Key Takeaways

  • Embracing your ikigai involves aligning your passions, vocation, mission, and the monetizable skills you have to forge a fulfilling life.
  • Ikigai is more than just a career compass; it deeply influences emotional well-being, relationships, and personal development.
  • To maintain progress towards finding your ikigai, self-reflection, breaking goals into steps, and seeking help from a life coach like us can be crucial aids.

Welcome to the journey of discovering your ikigai – a path that could lead you towards a more purpose-driven and fulfilling life. The concept of ikigai is like a compass that guides individuals to their true north, where their deepest passions and talents meet the world's needs. As we navigate through the tapestry of our lives, understanding and finding our ikigai can be the difference between merely existing and truly living.

20 Inspirational and Real-Life Examples of Ikigai 

Ikigai manifests itself in diverse ways, impacting people from all walks of life. Gleaning insights from real-life ikigai examples can illuminate paths to our purpose-driven existence. Let's explore how so many different individuals have represented through the years the true essence of ikigai.

1. Entrepreneurship: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs' passion for perfection and beauty in technology led him to co-found Apple Inc., where he revolutionized the tech world for all with his innovations. For Jobs, his ikigai was found at the intersection of his love for design, his technical prowess, the world's need for user-friendly technology, and the immense success and fortune he garnered through his profession.

A man serving humanity by sharing oranges to homeless kids on street

2. Philanthropy: Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa's ikigai lay in her compassionate service to the poorest of the poor. Her vocation was her calling to help others, which was something that matched her passion for serving humanity. In a way, she found purpose in filling a crucial need in the world, which became her life-long mission, transcending any traditional profession.

3. Arts: Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo found her ikigai in expressing her identity and experiences through activities like painting. Despite facing personal adversities, her passion for art was evident in her works that resonated with people's struggles and emotions. Through her art, she could connect with the world on a deep level, fulfilling her mission and sustaining her profession in life.

4. Science: Jane Goodall

Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall discovered her ikigai in the forests of Gombe, studying chimpanzees. Her deep passion for wildlife, coupled with her exceptional research skills, fulfilled an important need for conservation insight while shaping her career. In finding her ikigai, Goodall has not only made significant strides in science but also inspired countless others to respect and protect our planet.

5. Literature: J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling's journey from a struggling single mother to one of the most successful authors in history is a potent example of ikigai. Her passion for storytelling, combined with her writing talent, fulfilled her mission to enchant the world with her magical narratives and provided her with a lucrative profession through the Harry Potter series.

6. Athletics: Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan, often regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, found his ikigai in the intersection of his love for the game, his remarkable athletic ability, the entertainment it brought to millions, and his rewarding career both on and off the court through endorsements and business ventures.

woman providing home tuition to the a kid

7. Education: Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori's ikigai was realized through her innovative approach to education. Her passion for child development, combined with her skills as a physician and educator, met a significant need for educational reform and established her legacy as the founder of the Montessori method of education.

8. Activism: Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate lives her ikigai by advocating for girls' education worldwide. Her life's purpose is defined by her passion for learning, her ability to inspire through speech, addressing a global need for equality in education, and engaging in activism that has impacted the lives of many.

9. Technology: Elon Musk

Elon Musk's pursuit of innovative solutions to modern challenges represents his ikigai. Driven by his passion for progress and his proficiency in conceptualizing and executing technological advancements, Musk's work satisfies a global demand for sustainable energy and transportation solutions, ultimately defining his professional pursuits through companies such as Tesla and SpaceX.

10. Cooking: Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver combines his passion for cooking and education with a mission to improve people's health through food. His aptitude for crafting delicious, accessible recipes has met the world's need for culinary inspiration and healthier eating habits while also contributing to a fulfilling career as a chef, restaurateur, and media personality.

11. Music: Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven found his ikigai in composing timeless music that continues to stir people's souls. Despite the adversity of losing his hearing, he was driven by an unwavering passion to create and a masterful command of musical expression. His work fulfilled his own need for artistic output and resonated deeply with humanity, securing his place as a venerated composer in the annals of history.

people coming together to plant trees to save environment

12. Environmentalism: Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg, a young environmental activist, is empowered by her ikigai to make urgent strides towards combating climate change. Her youthful passion, amplified by her public speaking skills, meets a pressing global concern for the environment while also laying the foundation for her role as a leading voice in climate advocacy.

13. Innovation: Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison's ikigai centered around his pursuit of innovation and contribution to humanity through invention. His enduring passion for discovery, combined with his ability to solve practical problems, met society's need for advancement and provided him with myriad opportunities to monetize his creations, making a lasting impact on our everyday lives.

14. Philosophy: Confucius

The ikigai of Confucius, an influential Chinese philosopher, lay in his devotion to moral and social harmony. His insights and teachings, driven by a passion for order and ethical conduct, supplied a timeless framework for personal and societal governance that remains impactful in shaping cultural norms and human relations.

15. Nursing: Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale's determination to reform healthcare standards and improve hospital conditions illustrates her ikigai. Driven by a passion for nurturing and her skill in nursing, she met a profound need within medical care. Her professional path, marked by the establishment of modern nursing practices, has saved countless lives and enhanced the health sector significantly.

16. Human Rights: Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela's lifework as an anti-apartheid revolutionary exemplified his ikigai. His deep passion for justice and equity, combined with his formidable leadership skills, addressed a dire need for societal change in South Africa and resonated worldwide. His dedication not only shaped his professional life but also made a lasting global impact.

a well structured modern architecture of a house

17. Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright discovered his ikigai in fusing architecture with natural harmony, creating structures that stood out as works of art. His innate passion for design, matched with his innovative architectural talents, fulfilled his mission to enhance living environments and defined a prolific career that has influenced generations of architects.

18. Filmmaking: Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa's esteemed career in filmmaking was driven by his ikigai. His passion for storytelling and expert craftsmanship resulted in films that addressed profound human themes, fulfilling both a cultural need and a personal calling that solidified his standing as one of cinema’s most influential directors.

19. Advocacy: Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony found her ikigai in championing women's rights and suffrage. Her fervent belief in equality, coupled with her ability to mobilize and advocate for social reform, met a critical need in the fight for gender equality and laid the groundwork for women's rights movements to come.

20. Well-being: Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra’s ikigai revolves around integrating spirituality and medicine to promote holistic well-being. His passion for healing, paired with his medical background and skill as an author and speaker, addresses a growing need for wellness consciousness and has redefined the health and wellness landscape.

Understanding Ikigai and Its Significance in Life

In a fast-paced world, where all of us are searching for meaning and satisfaction, ikigai emerges as a lighthouse, offering clarity and direction. The significance of ikigai goes beyond just finding a hobby or career that one enjoys – it's about discovering the core of what makes life truly worth living.

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that essentially translates to "a reason for being." At its heart, ikigai is about finding joy in life through purpose. In a way, it's what gets you up in the morning, keeps you going during tough times, and provides a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.

The Key to a Purpose-Driven Life

Embracing your ikigai is integral to living a life that's not only successful but also meaningful. It's about making your existence not just comfortable, but rich with intention and happiness. When you align your life with your ikigai, every step you take feels both essential and gratifying, as if you're contributing to something larger than yourself, which in turn, nurtures emotional well-being and personal growth.


The four pillars of Ikigai 

The Four Pillars of Ikigai

The framework of ikigai is supported by four fundamental pillars that intersect to help you find your unique place in the world. These pillars are what you love (your passion), what you are good at (your vocation), what the world needs (your mission), and what you can be paid for (your profession).

A Closer Look at the Components of Ikigai

Let's dissect these pillars:

  1. Passion: These are the things that bring you joy and excitement. It's that spark that lights up when you're engaging in activities you love.
  2. Vocation: Reflect on your strengths and skills here. Your vocation lies in what you excel at, even perhaps without trying.
  3. Mission: This pillar identifies the value you bring to the table. It answers the question, "What does the world need that I can provide?"
  4. Profession: Lastly, consider what you can do that others are willing to pay for. This recognizes the practical aspect of living in society.

This intersection creates a balance that can ensure both personal satisfaction and societal contribution.

How to Balance All Four Pillars in Your Life

Finding equilibrium among the four ikigai pillars requires introspection and honesty with oneself. It might involve:

  • Assessing your life's current aspects and how they align with each pillar.
  • Identifying gaps or imbalances and creating a plan to address them.
  • Incorporating new activities or making changes in your work to better align with your ikigai.

Balance doesn't mean equal parts; it's about finding a harmonious blend that suits your unique circumstances and aspirations.

Integrating Ikigai into Your Daily Life

In transformational coaching, we often emphasize the importance of aligning daily actions with deeper values and aspirations, similar to the pursuit of ikigai. Embarking on this quest isn't always straightforward, yet it's a stride toward profound personal fulfillment. Reflect on aspects as diverse as your daily routines, interpersonal connections, self-discovery moments, and career aspirations, each potentially a building block towards a life enriched with ikigai.

Finding Your Unique Reason for Being

Your ikigai isn't merely an idea to muse over—it's about making intentional choices each day that foster a deep connection to what's genuinely meaningful to you. It's your unique 'reason for being' that bolsters your contribution to the world. Dig deeper by asking introspective questions that uncover your passions:

  • Which tasks do you find most fulfilling, even if they're challenging?
  • When do you find yourself feeling the most useful to others or society?
  • What are you often complimented on, and which achievements fill you with pride?
  • In moments of reflection, what legacy do you aspire to leave behind?
  • What are the causes or issues you feel most passionate about?

Exploring these thought-provoking areas can unveil your genuine sources of satisfaction and is instrumental in pinpointing your ikigai.

Take it One Step at a Time

The pursuit of ikigai doesn't necessitate grand revolutions; often, it's the tiny, consistent tweaks to our daily existence that matter most. Here's how to start:

  • Identify incremental objectives that inch you closer to a life that feels more purposeful and joyful.
  • Allocate time for self-reflection to assess whether your current path aligns with your deeper aspirations and ikigai.
  • Cultivate habits that support your ikigai, whether that means setting aside time for creative hobbies, volunteering for causes you care about, or advancing your education and skills in an area you're passionate about.
  • Stay adaptable; as you grow and circumstances change, so too might your understanding of your ikigai. Embrace this as part of your journey rather than a setback.

With every intentional action, even the smallest effort counts, and each step taken is an act of commitment to a more meaningful life guided by your ikigai.

Final Thoughts

Embarking on the quest for your ikigai is a profound commitment to yourself. It's a journey toward inner peace, joy, and fulfillment. Ikigai is not an end goal but a way of living that embraces continuous discovery and growth. Treasure the pursuit, cherish the learnings, and remember, your ikigai is a path meant only for you, meant to be walked with courage, mindfulness, and an open heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that represents an individual's 'reason for being,' encompassing passion, vocation, mission, and profession in a blend that fosters fulfillment and joy.

How can Ikigai contribute to personal development?

Ikigai encourages personal growth by pushing individuals toward self-mastery and continuous improvement in aligning their life with true passion and purpose.

Can Ikigai change over time?

Yes, as people evolve, so can their ikigai. It is adaptable and may shift as your interests, skills, and societal contributions evolve.

Is Ikigai only related to professional life?

No, while professional satisfaction is a component, ikigai also relates to personal hobbies, relationships, and ways one can serve others and humanity at large.

How do I begin to find my Ikigai?

Begin by exploring your passions, evaluating your skills, considering what the world needs, and reflecting on what you can be paid for, seeking balance among these elements.