Ikigai – what is your purpose?

I read a blog recently from the World Economic Forum on the Japanese concept of Ikigai & it made me think a lot about myself as a person, my career choices & why I set up my business.


Originating from a country with one of the world’s oldest populations, the idea is becoming popular outside of Japan as a way to live longer and better. Ikigai is thought to combine the Japanese words ikiru (meaning “to live”) and kai (“the realisation of what one hopes for”). Together these create the concept of “a reason to live”. I suppose the closest English word could be “purpose”.


Image: Toronto Star

To find this reason or purpose, consider these four questions: What do you love? What are you good at? What does the world need from you? What can you get paid for?


Finding the answers and a balance between these four areas could be a route to ikigai. However it’s not about finding a quick fix. In Japan, ikigai is a slower process and usually has nothing to do with work or income. It is more likely that acknowledging & adapting to the concept will lead to a better life “because you will have something to live for”, rather than it, in itself, being a lifestyle choice.


I’ve been reading a lot of business books recently and one, particularly, resonated with me about finding your purpose – why do you do the things you do, what is your choice of career or lifestyle, what do you hope to contribute.


Rather than changing my direction, it more re-affirmed my love for my work and helped me put into words my mission station – to make environmental management the business norm. See my blog: My Why – Why I am an Environmental Consultant


I don’t have all the answers & I haven’t truly reached my ikigai, but it’s a very good way to start looking at yourself, what you want out of my life & what you can contribute to the world.




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