Align your life and business using Ikigai

Align your life and business using Ikigai

Align your reason for being utilising Ikigai

The term Ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy”) originates from Japan and can be traced as far back as the Heian period (794 to 1185). There is no direct English translation for the word, but it loosely translates to ‘your life purpose’ or ‘your reason for being.’

Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world and in some circles Ikigai is considered a contributing factor. Studies have discovered a link between early retirement and a shorter life expectancy. In Japan, an individual’s Ikigai will evolve over time so they will continue to have an Ikigai, or reason to live and be happy well beyond retirement age and into their senior years.

Ikigai is not exclusively related to work or money. In fact, only 31% of Japanese people consider work their Ikigai. Ikigai can be derived from family, friends, a dream, a positive outlook on life, or something more spiritual. Above all else Ikigai is a lifestyle that strives to balance the spiritual with the practical.

At the centre of the Venn diagram, where all five circles overlap, is where we find our true Ikigai or reason for living, there is an art and a science to working through this method.  I use this method in support of my “Ignite Change Program – Mastering Curiosity”.

For business, this balance can be found at the intersection where your passions and talents converge with the things that the world needs and is willing to pay for. With the right attitude, you can get paid doing what you love.

The Principles of Ikigai in business

  1. What you Love
    The first step is easier for some than others. Recognise your true passions in life. List all the things you love, the simple, the complicated and anything in between. In management discover what motivates your employees, and why your clients choose you.
  2. What the world needs
    Of everything left on your list, what does the world need? Where possible, avoid anything that has a higher supply than demand, but don’t be discouraged if you can’t. If you do anything well enough you will make a profit.
  3. What you can get paid for
    Realistically, how much profit do you need to cover your cost of living? How much to live comfortably? Work back from these figures when you are working out the price for your product or service. Consider how much time will be needed per sale, and how many sales you could manage per week. With the figure in mind, do you believe people will pay that price for your product or service?
  4. What you are good at
    I don’t entirely agree with the phrase ‘do what you love, and the money will follow’. Skills and knowledge are just as important to earn an income as a passion and motivation. Out of all the things you love, list the things you are also good at. If there is something you’d really love to do as a source of income that isn’t yet within your capabilities- you may simply need to work extra hard to strengthen your skills and knowledge.
  5. Health
    Health is holistic, environment, mind and body.  What do you need to do more of, less of, start and stop AND DO IT TODAY.  Do not underestimate the impact of good quality water in your life.  Given nearly 70% of our body is made up of water!  Yes good quality foods are important, but as important is good water.


Studies have shown having a life purpose will positively impact on your health from having improved sleep, mental health and cognitive function to a longer life span. The secret is to be driven by this purpose, and not get caught up with the ‘daily grind’.

In business, purpose drives success. Without purpose businesses focus on the metrics instead of how they are helping the world. This causes employees to lose motivation and the culture to become pessimistic. A collective purpose or a shared goal and value system where everyone understands and cares about the ‘why’ is fundamental for success. A vision statement is not enough, as it is not meaningful to your employees and therefore not considered in daily practice. Employees should be given the chance to add input when developing your companies Ikigai so they all have a sense of purpose. When making decisions on any level is it necessary to check that the action aligns to the purpose.

For individuals in business having a purpose increases your focus, enjoyment, and productivity. You will have more confidence making you more likely to persevere during the challenging times.

Finding Happiness

Ikigai does not mean happiness. Someone who has found their Ikigai will usually have a positive outlook on life and will therefore find happiness in small joys each day instead of chasing the dream of a future idea of happiness. Having meaning in life will motivate you to take better care of yourself and be healthier for it and will increase productivity, motivation and efficiency in the workplace.

If you would like to know more about how Ikigai could be applied to your personal of professional life, book a call.


Ferne Eliz King

Live life, Love YOUR life

About Ferne

Ferne is globally recognised and called upon for quickly accelerating complex change to achieve business strategies.  Translating strategies to actionable plans, prioritisation of those actions, engagement from the right people, bringing business architecture to life or your life plan if individual and in many cases driving the change as a program director.  The bottom line is Ferne accelerates businesses or individuals to achieve outcomes and enabling that is her passion.

What's the consequence if you take no action?

“If you do the same thing today as yesterday, your tomorrow will be the same as today”.  Ferne Eliz King

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