How a Japanese Concept Helped Me Find My Purpose in Life


It’s kind of strange, but I love reading charts, graphs, and analytics, so immediately I was interested in what my long time friend and mentor Ryan from CrossCounter.TV had to share with me. What I didn’t expect was for it to impact the course of my life forever.

Discovering The Concept of Ikigai

A few months back, I attended a fighting game tournament and ran into Ryan who had just gotten back from out of the country from another Street Fighter event. We caught up about the latest tournament results, who was in attendance that night, and how business was getting busier for us now that the holidays had been fast approaching.

Before he would forget, he immediately stopped talking and recalled something that blew his mind that he had been meaning to share. He reached for his phone and scrolled through his Instagram to stop on what appeared to be some sort of venn-diagram.


We talked about it for a bit that evening but I didn’t get to fully digest the information until the next day when I did some online research.

I discovered that “Ikigai” is a Japanese word that translates to “the reason for being” or “a reason to wake up each morning” and tied it’s origins to a Japanese short story:


What is your Ikigai?

In a small village outside of Osaka, a woman in a coma was dying. She suddenly had a feeling that she was taken up to heaven and stood before the Voice of her ancestors.

“Who are you?” the Voice said to her.

“I am the wife of the mayor,” she replied. “I did not ask whose wife you are but who you are.” “I am the mother of four children.” “I did not ask whose mother you are, but who you are.” “I am a school teacher.” “I did not ask what your profession is but who you are.”

And so it went. No matter what she replied, she did not seem to give a satisfactory answer to the question, “Who are you?”

“I am a Shinto.” “I did not ask what your religion is but who you are.” “I am the one who wakes up each day to care for my family, and nurture the young minds of the children at my school.”

She passed the examination, and was sent back to earth. The next morning she woke at sunrise, feeling a deep sense of meaning and purpose. She tended to her children’s lunches, and planned fun lessons for her students that day. The woman had discovered her ikigai.

Finding Your Purpose

To determine your own Ikigai, jot down your answers to these four core questions below:

1. What do you love?


All factors aside, what are some of the things you love to do? What are really passionate about doing or what is your mission in life? Does it make you happy?

2. What does the world need?


How can you bring value to society? If you think in terms of both small scale and large scale, there are tons of challenges in the world that need to be resolved. Find a few you can follow and lead in to question 3.

3. What can you be paid for?


If there is a true need for something, there is an opportunity for people to happily pay you for it or share some value in exchange; you just have to be creative and seek these individuals out.

My other friend James shares a similar story about combining his passion of meeting new people with cutting hair as a barber here.

4. What are you good at?


I believe that every person has a few things or skills that they are naturally good at. It’s up to us to determine what those things are and how to apply them using our inherent strengths and weaknesses.

A good example is my friend Farbod, who is naturally good at being open and personable. He used his natural gift of gab to meet some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities and eventually even worked within his passion for basketball with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Once you determine what those strengths can be, practice and apply those skills towards your passions. Your results may be surprising.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

– Howard W. Thurman

By putting all of these things together, they allow you to understand the different parts about yourself. Understanding what you love and what you are good at can lead you to excel in your passion.  Additionally, finding what the world needs and how you can be paid for it determines your career or occupation.

Why I Wake Up Every Morning

The path to discovering your Ikigai may not be easy as this can take months to years before yielding a solid answer but the result will be worth it. It is the ultimate form of self-realization and will make your outlook on life much clearer when you start internalizing it.

All my life I have been known as the person to come to for advice because of my willingness to listen and help solve their problems. It wasn’t until I learned about Ikigai that it made me truly understand why I always enjoyed doing it.

I lived to promote happiness and to take care of my friends, family, and future. I encourage others to take life by the reigns and get what they want out of it.


Make life what you want

I am very fortunate to have an amazing virtual assistant running my dropshipping business as it has allowed me the time freedom to take up another project as a coach/mentor/problem solver to put others on the same path to building a successful eBay store like myself and many others did. More details on this project will be revealed very soon!

Have you discovered your own Ikigai? Leave a comment below with your story!

2 thoughts on “How a Japanese Concept Helped Me Find My Purpose in Life

  1. Pingback: December 2016 Update + End Of Year Review | DANIEL "SHGLBMX" TAM

  2. Pingback: February 2017 Update + Income Report | DANIEL "SHGLBMX" TAM

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