top of page

Ikigai - Finding your true purpose


The Japanese call it Ikigai - the intersection of personal and professional life, the spot we need to get right to be truly fulfilled.

Through this blog you will learn how to unlock your purpose and work in an environment or organisation that is most fulfilling to you, which in turn will lead to your greatest potential being realised.

To deny yourself is to diminish. To embrace yourself is to expand.

Oftentimes you may want to create impact and get meaning from your job, but it is not always possible. Your job may not allow you to express yourself fully, or allow you to make your impact or realise your full potential. Because it may not be fully aligned with your values.

Certain aspects of who you are may be repressed e.g. through lack of empowerment or autonomy, or the type of cultural behaviour required may not be aligned with who you really are.

The antidote to fear is action.

We are often afraid to make a change, with fear of losing status or money, but when you are in a job that leaves you feeling drained, depleted, undervalued and not respected, then you know that change is required.

But hope is not a strategy. You cannot jump without a parachute, in other words a specific goal and a detailed plan is needed to reach that goal.

Can you change your attitude, or your work environment, and start to enjoy more what you’ve already got? Or is a stronger level of change required for you to live in peace with your values and beliefs?

But what if you don't know what your life purpose is? Not everybody is fit to be a saint, a genius or some other type of super hero. Most of us simply aspire to be a good parent, spouse, boss and colleague. But most of us could also aim higher, raise our own standards and aspirations, or at the very least align our life and avoid the feeling of incongruency that appears when something’s “not just right”.

So, how do you begin to unlock it? How do you ensure your work aligns closer to your purpose? And how do you know when you have found it?

To help you on your reflection, begin to understand your life purpose by contemplating three questions:

1. What would you do if you had all the money in the world? What would be the

motivating force for you?

2. What legacy or impact would you want to make on the world?

3. What do you feel most proud about?

Once you have a good self-understanding of your personal values, think also about your needs

Our feelings are driven by whether or not our key human needs are being met.

Do you need to feel loved or connected to be happy? Do you need to be recognised, feel important and significant? Do you need a high level of certainty or conversely a lot of variety in life? Do you need to contribute to other people? Or do you need to feel you are growing as a person, changing for the best?

We all have these needs, but each of us has them in a different order of priority and different “rules” regarding how to meet these needs, with the top 2 usually driving most of our behaviour.

It's important to take the time to deeply understand and uncover your strengths or gifts. Knowing yourself will be your greatest strength. And it will help you change any behaviour pattern that is holding you back in your quest for greater fulfilment.

Uncover these like peeling an onion, layer by layer to get deeper and more meaningful. The right job that is aligned to your purpose will be one that allows you to express these fully, leading to deep fulfillment. And sometimes, most of the time actually, it can be as simple as tweaking an existing job to meet a top need better.

Know your values, what is important to you and know what you will not compromise

A job that respects or aligns with your values will be most fulfilling.

''You will know whether you are on your life purpose when you are not in a position to betray yourself. You don't have to negotiate your sense of integrity. You don't have to compromise who you are. It feels right''. - Caroline Myer.

Finding your life purpose and aligning your work to your purpose is not easy. It's a journey that takes time. You are never on the wrong path. You may just not be managing it well, making choices that are harming you. When your life path begins to harm you, you know you have taken a detour. But the learning experience is always valuable if you take it for what it is, always contributing to your growth and the growth of others.

Be brave, be bold and enjoy the quest for Ikigai!


References: Wikipedia Ikigai. Tony Robbins 6 human needs

#lifepurpose #lifecoaching #worklifebalance

bottom of page