Finding your Ikigai

8 questions to explore the reason that gets you out of bed

Step 1 of 6 in finding a career that makes you happy


You’re ready to make a change in your career. You want to find a job that will make you happy. But where do you start? Here is step 1 of my six-step process to help you find a career that makes you happy.


What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese word that translates as a reason for being, a reason to get up in the morning, a ‘raison d’être’ as the French would say. 

It’s the combination of IKI, meaning life, and KAI, meaning the realisation of hope and expectations.

Ikigai combines the joy from doing something and a sense of purpose, meaning and well-being. It’s feeling that your life is valuable, that you have an impact. It’s not linked to your status in society, or the money you earn. 

National Geographic reporter Dan Buettner identified five communities across the world where people live longer and are healthier than the average. These Blue Zones® have common factors, one of them being that the inhabitants have a strong sense of purpose. 

This concept comes from the island of Okinawa in Japan, where inhabitants seem to be living longer than the national average. One of the cornerstones of the Okinawans' lifestyle is that they have found their Ikigai.

Everyone’s Ikigai is unique: it’s based on your personal history, your values, your beliefs and your personality. It’s a personal journey that may take time. If you are committed to making a change in your life, I assure you that you will get there.

find your ikigai

How do you find your Ikigai?

Luckily, there’s a handy map to get you started. The first step in our process is to sit down with a blank version of the map [downlowd button] and this handy list of questions to think about.  

My advice

Take each section at a time, and dive deep into your thoughts. You might find some are easier to answer than others.

Take your time and talk it through with supportive friends and family members to brainstorm ideas.


Do what you love

This section is about exploring what you love doing, what brings you joy.

When we choose a field of study and a job, we go for the convenient, the known, the recognised. We do it to please someone else. But that makes us overlook what we truly love doing in life.

What did you love doing or thinking about when you were a child?

What activities do you do in your spare time that make you happy?

Do what you’re good at

This bit of the map covers what you have learned to do thanks to your training or experience. Your skills are what you CAN do whereas your strengths are what you ENJOY doing. They might be the same, they might be different. If you’re stuck, have a look at this list of skills and this list of strengths.

What are your skills and strengths?

What do people ask you help for?


Do something the world needs

This aspect of Ikigai is quite an important one. It makes you think about the impact you want to have on your community. Have a read at Tara Mohr’s definition of a 'calling', and answer these questions.

What / who inspires you?

What makes you angry, frustrated?

Do something you can be paid for

This last part of the Ikigai map is about securing an income - yes, we need one of these. Think broadly and don’t limit your possibilities when answering these questions. Who knows, one of these ideas could be your future job!

What product or service could you sell?

What job could you do?

Over to you!

Download the handout, grab a pen and free-up at least one hour to think about these questions. Once you’re finished, discuss your ideas and thoughts with a supportive friend or family member. Find someone that will fully listen to you, challenge you and add value to your thinking.

You could also start the conversation with a career coach. A coach will ask you the right questions to make you think about what you truly want to do, and help figure out the next steps in your career change journey.

In next week’s blog, we will explore your vision of the future that you want. Don’t miss it! Follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

I’ve created an online programme packed with insights and great exercises to help you find a career that makes you happy.