What gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it the promise of career progression or the excitement of your daily workout routine? Perhaps it’s the anticipation of your Saturday night plans or the simple pleasure of a fresh cup of coffee. We are all faced with this (often recurring) question, and yet the answer is rarely straightforward.

If you’ve asked this question, you’ve already preoccupied yourself with the concept of ikigai. Meaning "a reason for being", ikigai represents the unique purpose that brings joy and fulfilment to one’s life. It helps you find happiness both in the present and future, and understanding your ikigai can lead to a more meaningful life.

In this article, we will introduce you to the six categories of ikigai, as identified by TerraYou. We’ll use some well-known celebrities as examples, so reflect on your own experiences and let their stories inspire you to learn more about which ikigai category you identify with most.

The six categories of ikigai you need to know

1. Connection

Let’s start with Connection. If your ikigai revolves around connection, you recognize the profound significance of the meaningful relationships in your life. Every interaction holds potential for you — it's not just about the joy of companionship, but also the transformative power of shared experiences. When your ikigai category is Connection, you learn more about yourself and the world around you by contributing positively to others' lives and relating to those around you.

Celebrity examples:

Oprah Winfrey: Oprah's ikigai could be deeply rooted in her ability to connect with people. Her empathetic approach toward and genuine interest in others' stories have made her a beacon of hope and inspiration for millions of people worldwide. Through her talk show, she created a platform where people could share their experiences, creating a sense of community and understanding.

Michelle Obama: Her ikigai may also fall under the Connection category. Throughout her public life and beyond, she has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to building meaningful relationships and empowering communities. Her projects as First Lady, such as the Reach Higher initiative, aim to connect with and positively impact people's lives through education.

2. Artistic Expression

This category reveals a world where creativity and innovation reign supreme. You might find enjoyment in pushing boundaries, crafting narratives, or expressing yourself in unique ways.

Celebrity examples:

Lady Gaga: A perfect example of a celebrity who may truly embody the Artistic Expression category is Lady Gaga. Through her boundary-pushing music and performances, she uses her creativity to challenge norms and inspire others to embrace their true selves.

Quentin Tarantino: His passion for cinema and his distinctive narrative style allows him to craft compelling films that leave a lasting impact on audiences worldwide. Taking this into account, Tarantino’s ikigai could be found through artistic expression.

3. Personal Development

If the pursuit of growth is your driving force, the ikigai category that aligns with you may be Personal Development. Channeling determination, you may see yourself on a continuous journey of self-improvement, and always strive to become the best version of yourself.

Celebrity examples:

Tony Robbins:  As a motivational speaker and life coach, Tony Robbins has dedicated his career to helping people achieve personal and professional success. His teachings often center around building strong relationships and connecting deeply with others to achieve fulfillment. Therefore, Robbins’ ikigai could take the shape of Personal Development.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: From bodybuilding champion to Hollywood icon to political leader, Schwarzenegger’s ikigai could fall under the category of Personal Development. His story inspires countless individuals to strive for their own versions of success, demonstrating that through passion, discipline, and a relentless pursuit of improvement, anything is possible.

4. Social Responsibility

Do you find yourself constantly searching for ways to make a difference in the world? When Social Responsibility resonates as your ikigai, it means you are the kind of person who values empathy and contributions to the greater good. Embracing this ikigai category means understanding that every action, no matter how small, contributes to positive change. It's about recognizing the profound interconnectedness of humanity and finding fulfillment in uplifting others through your actions.

Celebrity examples:

Emma Watson: Emma Watson’s passion for gender equality and her role as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador could mean that the ikigai category she is most suited to is Social Responsibility. She uses her platform to fight for important causes and inspires others to join her in creating a more inclusive world. She may remind you that even small actions can have a big impact.

Matt Damon: His ikigai shines through in his work with, an organization he co-founded to provide safe water and sanitation to communities in need. His dedication to social responsibility and his drive to make a lasting difference may inspire you to support the causes you care about.

5. Independence

Perhaps you feel drawn to the thrilling mission of personal freedom and exploration? This could be because you identify with the Independence ikigai category the most. When you find yourself resonating with this ikigai category, this means that you find joy in charting your own course and making decisions independently.

Celebrity examples

Paulo Coelho: Coelho's ikigai may lie in his mastery of storytelling and his deep exploration of the human experience. His works, such as "The Alchemist," reflect his insights into personal growth and spiritual journeys. Coelho's life and writings could be seen to represent the impact of following your passion and finding a deeper understanding and meaning in life.

Amelia Earhart:Earhart’s fearless passion for aviation may have been fueled by her ikigai. Her determination to push the boundaries of what was possible inspired generations to venture into uncharted territories, both in the skies and beyond.

6. Professional Success

The last ikigai category is Professional Success. When you find yourself identifying with Professional Success, you are driven by a commitment to personal achievement and a passion for your career. If you embody this ikigai category, you dedicate yourself to continuous improvement and strive to reach new heights of success in your life.

Celebrity examples:

Serena Williams: Williams' ikigai is evident in her illustrious tennis career. Her relentless drive for success combined with her passion for the sport has made her one of the greatest athletes of all time. Her journey inspires countless others to pursue their own professional dreams, demonstrating that dedication and hard work can lead to unparalleled achievements.

Mark Zuckerberg: Zuckerberg’s ikigai is found in his innovative approach to technology and his commitment to connecting people through social media. His work with Facebook has revolutionized the way we communicate, showcasing the fulfillment that comes from professional achievement and the impact of visionary thinking in the tech industry.

Now that we have introduced you to each of the ikigai categories, take a moment to reflect. Do you find yourself resonating particularly strongly with one?

Discover your ikigai category

To help you learn more about your ikigai, we have created two tests. Ikigai Part One will help you discover the level of ikigai in your life.

If you already know the levels of ikigai in your life, you can take Part Two of our ikigai test series to identify the unique form that your ikigai takes.

The adventure begins now, and your ikigai awaits.