Your Ikigai – Know It, Align With It, Succeed


by Brent Haydey



Know Your IkigaiDo you know your ikigai? It’s a Japanese term meaning “reason for being”. It’s all about having a direction or purpose in life and in business, that makes living it worthwhile.

You know, that thing that gets you up every morning.

To put it into perspective I’d like to share an excerpt from Neil Pasricha’s book, The Happiness Equation.

“You could tell Mr. Wilson loved his job by the way his eyes twinkled as he bounced through the halls, spouting hellos and high-fiving students, calling everybody by name. He was always smiling, and our school was his home.

Back when I was in high school, the government had mandatory retirement. You turned sixty-five and poof! The government yanked you out of the workforce in a cloud of smoke and moved you straight on to old age pension. You have no choice. And let’s face it – almost everybody wanted to retire way before sixty five, anyway. TV ads preached “Freedom 55” with grey-haired couples skipping town into the sunset.
Retirement is a good thing. A great thing! What everybody wants, dreams about, wishes for, over and over and over and over… until it finally comes.

Do whatever, whenever, wherever… forever?

Sounds like a good deal!

The funny thing is that when Mr. Wilson retired… he didn’t look happy. None of us did. We had a big celebration with cake, music from the band, teary speeches from former students. It was like the final scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus. Mr. Wilson said he was excited to be retiring, but his thin smile and wet eyes said the opposite.

But mandatory retirement came at age sixty-five… and so he retired.

The next week he had a heart attack and died.”

Mr. Wilson’s Ikigai

Mr. Wilson’s Ikigai was his connection with his students. It was his work. When taken away he had no reason for being, for living.

I have heard countless stories very similar to that of Mr. Wilson.

For business owners and career minded people the message of work harder, work longer, that is the path to success (meaning financial success) is drilled into us from very early on.

Some go with this and create massive wealth and are in their element in doing so.

Most, however, struggle! They struggle on the back and forth pendulum typical of business ownership. Make money or self care. Make money or maintain relationships at home. Seldom all three.

We rationalize that there will be time for health, relationships, happiness, or our ikigai… later!

Once I get my business to a certain point, once I earn a certain income, once I get to retirement… THEN I can regain my health, focus on family, and be happy.

I’ve lived this. I’ve seen it end tragically in people I know. I continue to see it all the time.

But what if you found your Ikigai?

To discover your Ikigai, you must first find what you’re most passionate about. Then, you find the medium through which you can express that passion.

What if you create a way to express that passion through the medium of your business, then begin doing what you love and are great at, while eliminating most everything else from your plate?

Would your business thrive even more as a result?

What if you found a way to express your ikigai through your chosen career or job?

Would you love going to work a whole lot more?

What if you really connected with your Ikigai and began to see it in your mission in life and begin to explore other areas it could manifest for you?

Think about family connection, community involvement, charitable volunteering, or philanthropic involvement.

What if you essentially began preparing for “retirement” all your career and living in such a way that “retirement” never really happened… at least not in the traditional sense.

How would your experience of business or work and life be every step along the way?

When To Align

Early on in your business or career is often characterized by excitement, energy, dreams, dollar signs, and invincibility syndrome!

Knowing your ikigai will help set the right path so you can both thrive and fully live right from the start.

The middle phase of your business or career may be characterized by overwork, overwhelm, stress, burnout, and imbalance.

If this is your experience it’s critically important to finding and re-align with your ikigai. Using it and a tool like my Entrepreneurial Compass will help you to overcome the barriers standing on your path. It’s how to begin to get unstuck, back on track, and then stay on track.

Nearing “retirement” is characterized by… well it depends.

Maybe it’s excitement and readiness. But maybe it’s fear, dread, and uncertainty like Mr. Wilson.

Having an ikigai makes it easier to make the transition beyond full time work or owning a business. It means there is already a lifelong path they really want be on and never really have to “retire” in the traditional sense.

WHY wait for one day that might never come… especially if you are on an unsustainable, stressful, and unhappy path of burnout, declining health, or distancing relationships with those that matter most.

Having an ikigai and fully living it every day from here on out means living success, embracing life, and thriving in your business or career.

If you don’t know your ikigai or are not living in alignment with it then contact me.

One way that I currently express my ikigai is through the medium of my business and part of the support I give is to help you create a path in business and in life that matters most to you.


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About the Author

Brent Haydey Profile PhotoBeginning with a degree in exercise science and kinesiology, Brent Haydey has evolved over thirty years as an entrepreneur; building four businesses, and as a health, executive, and life coach.
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