In a recent Toronto Star article, Why North Americans should consider dumping age-old retirement, (September 6, 2016) Neil Pasricha, (author of The Happiness Equation, and The Book of Awesome) explores Canadian retirement myths and realities. Pasricha notes, “…the Institute for Economic Affairs says incidences of depression spike 40 per cent the year people retire.”
Along the same lines in a Financial Post article, Freedom 55: The whole idea is so 1980’s (Feb. 5, 2010), Gary Marr quoted a Financial Services industry expert who stated, “You are 55 and retired and you are going to live another 25 to 30 years. To do what? There are a lot of people who are miserable when they retire.”
In contrast, Pasricha relates that, “A National Geographic study shows that some of the happiest and longest living people in the world are from Okinawa, Japan. And you know what they call retirement? They don’t. Literally nothing in their language describes the concept of stopping work completely.”
Instead, they have a word called Ikigai, which roughly translates to “the reason you get out of bed in the morning.” It’s the thing that drives you the most.
Our individual “Ikigai” is the intersection of what we are good at and love to do, combined with what the world needs and what employers value and appreciate (what the will pay us to do).
As a career consultant and coach to executive leaders in some of Canada’s largest corporations, I have found that while the Ikigai model deals completely with Job Satisfaction and Fulfillment, most of us focus on only half of the equation: either “am I having fun doing what I want to do” or “will this job pay me enough, regardless of whether I am feeling fulfilled?”
However, in addition to getting satisfaction, in order to be truly fulfilled we also need to give satisfaction. I advise my clients that we all must seek the intersection between what we love and what we are good at and can thus offer society from an individual standpoint, with what others value and are willing to pay us for providing. Furthermore, as human beings we have a profound need to be socially connected to our various communities, appreciating and respecting others, while feeling appreciated and respected ourselves.
We all need to discover the sweet spot where our competencies and our passions are recognized and appreciated by our employers as they address the needs of our fellow man. Properly and effectively applied, Ikigai leads naturally to Job Satisfaction and Fulfillment.