To most, finding a job that you truly love seems an idealistic thought at best. As I’ve grown up, I’ve never known where my career path might take me – how is it possible to combine something you would love to do every day, with something that pays well and that you’re good at?

I’ve recently discovered the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’; a term which embodies trying to find the meaning of life. The word itself has no direct translation but in Japanese culture it represents the concept of longevity and indicates the process in which each individual strives to find their own true purpose in life. By looking to the future even if the present might be miserable, ikigai gives a whole new meaning to Confucius’ wise words: “Choose a job that you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”.

Dan Buettner’s TED Talk suggests that ikigai might even be the way to live to 100 years old, and to do so happily. As ever, it’s easier said than done – I’d like to think that this is the beginning of my own journey. Practicing ikigai requires a great deal of mindfulness to find satisfaction and meaning to one’s life.  Maybe the answer is not in what a successful career path might be; perhaps we should be looking at loving the impact your job has. Lebanese writer, poet and visual artist, Kahlil Gibran, says it brilliantly:

“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”

What’s your ikigai? – Melissa

P.S. Pictured above is my recent trip to Bergen. In Norway, it rains 240 days out of the year…yet according to the United Nation’s 2017 World Happiness Report, this is the happiest place in the world.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • I love the idea of this! I recently celebrated my grandfather’s 80th birthday with him. He told me, with complete sincerity, he had never “worked a day in his life” — and he still works every day! He sets such a shining example, but he’s smart: he spent his life getting to know himself and being honest with himself about what he wanted. That’s the real battle. Only then can one make real impact.

    Time for a serious rethink of career goals! Thank you for the post and for teaching us about ikigai!

  • […] of the first blogs we published was on work happiness.  Melissa Lim shared her thoughts on the importance of this and how it shapes career decisions.  She asked “is it possible to combine something you […]


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