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Do You Know Your Ikigai - Your “Reason for Being”?

Do What You Love and Bring Your Best Self to Work



I have a tendency (much to the chagrin of my children) of asking people I interact with about their career history. Well, not in those words, but I am curious as to how the restaurant server, store owner, entrepreneur, and yes, even the FEMA worker who was transferred from Ohio to New Jersey to dispense COVID-19 vaccines got them to do what they are doing today. What were their career paths and why did they take the routes they did? I have heard so many amazing stories - some unconventional, some inspirational - and I have learned so much from listening as they described things that are so different from what I have experienced.


While each story is so unique, they do all have something in common, Ikigai, a Japanese concept that means "a reason for being". This is a term you may or may not be familiar with - it was new to me when it came up in a conversation with a friend in Japan, Christine Brown, about her journey as a cross-cultural communications and language coach, as well as intuition coach.


Do What You Love

According to Ikigai, what makes an individual feel that their life is meaningful and fulfilled is when it is aligned with their purpose and passions - what they love to do.


To reach Ikigai, your strengths (what you are good at), marketability (what you do professionally to get paid), the world’s needs around you and what you have to offer are also critical factors.


It is what your parents may have said to you growing up - find your passion, do what you’re good at and be sure you can earn a living. It has been great fodder for commencement speeches in the Western world.


Bring Your Best Self to Work

We know that meaningful and fulfilling work leads to increased productivity, engagement and retention. You will perform at a higher level, be more committed to work, and not follow up on those telephone calls from headhunters about a new job. Where you spend the majority of your days is a place you enjoy being. And given the turmoil we have experienced over the past year, the increased challenge in balancing our professional and personal lives we currently face and the resulting rise of stress and burnout having work that allows you to utilize your skills, provides you with a community of people (as hard as it may still be remotely) and allows you to contribute in a meaningful way will only foster your well-being.


When you know your reason for being, your purpose, you are better equipped to persevere despite your current circumstances. And while the way you work has changed, your ‘why’ allows you to engage, or reengage, with your job, reminding yourself "who you are and why you do what you do", which are the keys to a meaningful and fulfilling work life.


So, bring your best self to work, even when you are not physically at work. Take this time of renewal to reflect on who you are or are becoming - your strengths, your passions, your purpose. Reclaim your life, as Delta’s CEO encouraged his employees to do in the Perfect Leadership Message for 2021’. "Let’s not recover; let’s reclaim what we lost, with a vengeance -- stronger, better, and more robustly than before."


Tips for You

There are many tips offered to help you increase the meaning and fulfillment you receive from your work.


Here are a few:

  • Reflect on what matters to you, what motivates you and what your values are.

  • Gain support from others. You are not the only one on this journey; there is no reason to go it alone. Don’t forget to support others along the way.

  • Interact with those you work with, or want to work with.

  • Focus on what matters most, what is most meaningful to your organization or client, and focus on what you can control.

  • Remember, nothing has to be forever. But, before changing jobs, make sure what you have currently isn’t a diamond in the rough.

For more tips on what you can do to make your work meaningful and fulfilling, please read my blog. If you are an individual searching for meaning and fulfillment at work, connect with me by email or on LinkedIn to see how I can help.

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