Looking For Ikigai?

What’s the Japanese secret to a joyful life?


Have you found your ikigai? It’s probably not a question you’ve been asked very often. But whether you’re retired, or still consumed by the pressures of working life, it’s worth taking the time and effort to identify it.


‘Ikigai’ is a Japanese concept that refers to what gives someone a sense of purpose. In other words, it’s your reason to jump out of bed in the morning.


Most of us will identify with the struggle of trying to unlock what we really want in life. The idea of ikigai can help in understanding what fulfilment looks like. It brings together and sits at the intersection of four dimensions:


  • What you love – what brings us the most joy in life. It could be sailing, singing or spending leisure time with family and friends.
  • What you are good at – it could be talents, skills or hobbies, such as playing musical instruments, sports or painting.
  • What the world needs – doing good for other people in the community, for example, volunteering for a cause you care about.
  • What you can be paid for – what you can do that someone else is willing to pay you for. Can you turn your ikigai into a source of income?

But depending on its interpretation, ikigai doesn’t have to be concerned with professional success and lofty ambition. What about when you’ve finished work?


Retirement is a big change, and it can be scary to think about what comes next. Identifying your ikigai once you’ve retired can bring much needed meaning and purpose, and help you feel content. That contentment can also improve your physical health and mental wellbeing.


So, take some time to reflect on what brings you joy, what you’re good at, and how you can make a difference in the world. Who knows – you might just discover your ikigai!


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