What Is Your Ikigai?

William Willis
2 min readJun 28, 2021


“Ikigai is the action we take in pursuit of happiness.” — Yukari Mitsuhashi

What is your reason for being? What gets you up in the morning?

That is your ikigai in a nutshell. The rough translation from Japanese is “life’s worth” or “reason for being.” As the locals in Okinawa say, “being happy every day is ikigai.”

The word ikigai is pronounced “ee-kee-guy.” Just smile when you say it, and the pronunciation will be correct! Isn’t that beautiful?

According to Ken Mogi, “Japanese do not need grandiose motivational frameworks to keep going, but rely more on the little rituals in their daily routines.”

People are at their happiest when taking time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures:

  • Time with family and friends
  • Not being so serious all the time
  • Experiencing the beauty and bounty of nature
  • Simple pursuits of mastery benefiting you and your community

Ikigai is not the same for everyone. It differs as much as we do as human beings. It is not some lofty meaning or purpose in life. Ikigai lives in the smallest of things.

How do you best pursue your ikigai?

  • Smile often.
  • Reconnect with nature.
  • All things in moderation.
  • Be present in the moment.
  • Be generous with small gestures.
  • Stay active for the rest of your life.
  • Follow your passions with grace and kindness.
  • Surround yourself with happy, supportive friends.
  • Share what you create with friends and community.

Ken Mogi’s The Little Book of Ikigai sums it up nicely in five pillars:

  • Starting small
  • Releasing yourself
  • Harmony and sustainability
  • The joy of little things
  • Being in the here and now

Ikigai is a beautiful word for a beautiful state of being. Seek out your ikigai today by starting small with what makes you happy.

🤔 Food for Thought:

What really gets you up in the morning?

Can you name some simple pleasures that make you smile?

⚙️ One Small Step:

Pick one simple pleasure in your life. How can you experience it more often? Simple pleasures are small and inexpensive, so fitting it in a busy day shouldn’t be an issue. Try thinking about if first thing in the morning when you wake up. Don’t you deserve it?



William Willis

Professional Coach: I write about motivation through meaning, becoming who you aspire to be, improving a little each day and reaching high performance.