Ikigai is a Japanese term with many interpretations. Literally translated, iki means “life” and gai means “value” — together, “your life’s value” — but its full meaning is more complex and difficult to define. It’s most frequently used to refer to a person’s journey of living their life to the fullest.
The path to finding your ikigai is a deep, self-reflective one, and it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Instead, think of ikigai not as a singular “purpose in life,” but as a verb that directs you to be the best version of yourself: to serve, to create, to delight, to nourish, to provide, to teach, to heal, to connect, and to build.
Here are some journal prompts — one for each month remaining in this year — to help you get started on your journey.
What are some ways you can better serve your community?
Think about what “service” means to you. How can you better serve others in your daily life? What are some ways that you might better serve your neighborhood, workplace, or community? How can you serve yourself through serving others?
What is something you’ve created that resonates with you?
When was the last time you created something that deeply resonated with you? How did it make you feel? What made this creation so special? What might happen if you tried to create something like that again?
What delights you?
What are you absolutely delighted by? Think about times you might have delighted others. What makes these moments special? What can you learn from them?
What are some ways that you can nourish your body, mind, and heart?
Like plants need water for nourishment, we too need to nourish ourselves in order to grow — physically, mentally, and emotionally. What do you need in order for your body to feel nourished? What kind of nourishment does your mind need? How could you nourish your heart?
What can you provide for others just by being present?
When you hear the phrase “provide for others,” what does that mean to you? Do you think of “providing” as an action, an identity, a state of being, or something else? What can you provide for others through your presence alone? What about by being present in the moment?
If you could teach the whole world one lesson, what would it be?
We might not realize it, but we can teach others how to treat the world around us through our individual actions. What lessons do you want to teach? How do your actions demonstrate your teachings? What can you do to become a better teacher for those who might follow your lead?
What parts of you might be in need of healing?
We all endure some challenges and hardships at some point in our lives. Reflect on what you’ve overcome to become the person you are today. What wounds have you worked hard to heal? What parts of you might still need healing? How can you encourage your own healing process?
How do you connect with others in a meaningful way?
Today, there are more ways to connect with others than ever, yet sometimes we still feel disconnected from each other. How do you usually connect with others? What aspect of connection feels most meaningful to you? How might you connect with your loved ones more deeply?
How might you build a better future for yourself and others?
When you picture a better future, what does that look like? Think about what you can do as an individual to help build that future for yourself and others. What are some steps you can take, small and large, to build the future you envision?