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Long days at work, sudden changes, monotonous and repetitive tasks, sometimes carried out for years without any feedback from the employer, can cause demotivation, dissatisfaction and uneasiness. All this can be compounded by the perception of doing unnecessary things or wasting precious time, and also a sense of emptiness. It is not easy to find a balance between work and “doing what we like”. Some of us are lucky and have a job they love; others, however, are forced to settle for a job that simply allows them to earn a salary.

To live in a real state of well-being, it is necessary to give meaning to your own life, find your purpose for existing, and this is also true at work. It is therefore important to be able to find the profound meaning of your work, to understand your own values and to ask yourself whether they coincide with those of the company.

In this regard, the Ikigai philosophy can be of great help.

Ikigai is an ancient Japanese philosophy widespread among that part of the population that has proven to be the most longevous in the world. It can be translated as purpose, reason for living or reason for existing (“iki”= life + “gai” = value).

Ikigai is identified in the intersection of the following areas:

  • PASSION: What you love to do. What are you passionate about and really want to do, both in your work and in your free time? Everyone has a strong motivation and maybe desires do not always correspond to the activity that generates a profit.
  • VOCATION: What you are able to do (at your best). What are you good at? What skills do you have? Everyone has a skill set, but that skill set does not always match what you would like to do or do as work.
  • MISSION: What the world needs. What is the world of work looking for in terms of skills and competencies? This is a question that enters into the sphere of one’s mission; in the work environment, it is also about the expectations that others have towards us.
  • PROFESSION: What you can be paid for. What activities or skills could you be remunerated or paid for?

It must be kept in mind that, for each person, the boundaries between the different areas are in continuous movement over time: the vicissitudes of life and several variables could affect the deviations between the areas.


  • Good mood and less stress: if we are satisfied with our work as a consequence we will inevitably feel fulfilled.
  • Greater empathy and better relationships: when you engage in what you love to do for people and feel part of your working community, the result will be better relationships and, consequently, a more pleasant work environment.
  • Better productivity and performance.
  • Increased self-confidence.

“Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.”

Japanese proverb

Article by Silvia Zoni, PhD in Occupational Medicine, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Consultant | LinkedIn