The Meaning of Ikigai in the Venn Diagram Means More Like Ikigai Business than Ikigai Itself

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It looks like the concept of Ikigai presented in the famous diagram was formed by the people who didn’t speak Japanese and that how this confusion had begun.


For most Japanese people, Ikigai means worth living or purpose of living, and we usually use the word Ikigai in sentences like I have Ikigai in playing golf as my hobby or I feel Ikigai in my family. You can feel Ikigai in anything. Therefore, it can be to do with your work, family, hobbies, or social projects.


However, when we look at the Ikigai Diagram, there are the following 4 elements.

What you love

What you are good at

What you can be paid for

What the world needs


They don’t necessarily correspond to the meaning of the Japanese word Ikigai, does it?


You don’t have to be paid for it to feel Ikigai: If you feel Ikigai in your family, for instance, you don’t get paid for it: If you feel Ikigai in your hobby, you don’t get paid for it.


I think what this diagram represents is more like Ikigai Business or work with Ikigai. If you put Ikigai Business in the center of the diagram, it will make total sense.


The concept of Ikigai introduced in the book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life is okay. The book states how Ikigai is one of the most significant factors of longevity, and not introduced only in business context: Therefore the meaning of Ikigai spreading in the West, such as the reason for getting up in the morning, isn’t completely misunderstood, it gets confusing when it is introduced with the diagram.


To communicate the nuance symbolized in the diagram, I think it is more suitable to use Ikigai Business.


Having said that, when we talk about Ikigai Business, it is better to include the concept of Sanpo-Yoshi, since it is more holistic if we interpret Ikigai to be the purpose of our life.

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