Ikigai: The Perfect Career Diagnostic

An Iterative Approach To Discovering Your True Purpose

Hamza Khan
Ideas Into Action
Published in
6 min readJun 17, 2018

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Take a wild guess: what percentage of full-time workers around the world are either not engaged at their jobs, or downright hate them? Wait for it…85%. Let that sink in—only 15% of the world’s one billion full-time workers are enthusiastic about their work. Gallup, the research-based, global performance-management consulting company that revealed this insight, has determined that we are in the middle of a full-blown Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis.

I’ve been gainfully employed for nearly a decade, primarily applying myself as a marketing professional within the education industry. How I became the Managing Director of Student Life Network wasn’t the result of induced epiphanies. I didn’t have the luxury of a gap year after high-school/during post-secondary, or a backpacking adventure upon graduation, to discover my true calling. Like most young adults, I had to treat my career as an iterative process—with every subsequent job, I sought a little more of what I liked in my previous role, and little less of what I didn’t like. From the Canadian Armed Forces to Sony Music Entertainment, from the University of Toronto to Ryerson University—my career moves were governed by this rule. It was a helpful heuristic approach, but its outlook was too near-sighted for my liking.

Then one day, I stumbled upon the Ikigai framework, a simple and elegant solution for assessing where you are in your career (in relation to your true calling) and determining what pivots to make based on a more long-term outlook.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being.” A reason to jump out of bed each morning. A reason to be excited for Monday mornings instead of dreading them. At the time of writing, I’ve been interviewing some of the top business leaders in Canada, people with deep career satisfaction. I’ve asked each of them: “What makes you jump up out of bed each morning?” And they’ve all described to me a strong emotional connection to their work. This connection makes them happy. It also gives them the motivation to persist, which…

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Hamza Khan
Ideas Into Action

Hamza Khan is a best-selling author, award-winning entrepreneur, and globally-renowned keynote speaker based out of New York.