Imagine if it wasn’t the alarm going off that got you out of bed every morning. What If you woke up and leapt out of bed because your life was full of purpose and joy?


The Japanese have a word for that – Ikigai. It is a concept that is about finding your reason for being. Ikigai comes from two Japanese words, iki meaning life, and gai meaning value or worth. In a seven-year longitudinal study of 43,0000 Japanese adults, researchers at Tohoku University in Sendai found that people who believed that their lives had ikigai lived significantly longer than those claiming not to have Ikigai.


Ikigai is more than just vaguely following your dreams, it must challenge you and inspire you and involve a serious commitment to your vision. It can be about family, people, the greater good, mastering a hobby or even success in your career. So it is not enough to be a potter, for Ikigai you need to obsess about making your perfect pot. If you are a teacher, then your Ikigai could be to ensure that each and every child you teach reaches their potential. As an entrepreneur, it could be to provide the ultimate customer service.


Have a look at the Venn diagram above. To find your Ikigai, start with three lists. The first one should be your values, the second one your strengths, and the third one, what you are good at. (If you are uncertain of your character strengths, I recommend you take the free survey at It’s brilliant.) Check out where your lists intersect, and then temper that with the question “What can I get paid for? Because most of us can’t afford the luxury of being in the little segment labelled “ delight and fullness, but no wealth”.

I am so happy that I have found my Ikigai in coaching. I do hope you will find yours.



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