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Why Knowing Your Ikigai Is So Important in Retirement

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By Susan Williams

Do you know what your ikigai is?

Ikigai is a Japanese term used to refer to reason for being or another interpretation is “the reason to get out of bed in the morning”.

Back in 2009, a team of researchers from Japan released the results of a study on the affect that ikigai had on aging.

In their research of over 73,000 people, what they discovered is that those that answered “yes” to whether they had ikigai or not had a lower mortality rate years later than those without it.

It makes sense.

If you feel your life has no meaning or purpose or you don’t have a reason to get out of bed in the morning you could see how this could affect you.

Especially in retirement.

Once we retire, if our identity or purpose to get up in the morning and go to work is no longer there then what are we to do?

Dan Buettner conducted a very interesting interview with Richard Leider on the importance of purpose – especially when aging. Here is his interview…

These are some of the highlights from his interview;

  • Having a purpose is a fundamental need
  • It’s fundamental to longevity, health, healing happiness and also creativity and productivity
  • When you have a purpose, it helps you live longer because of the physiological effects on both your brain and your body. It also allows you to develop relationships, a sense of community and in turn safety and security
  • With a purpose, not only does it give us a reason to get out of bed in the morning but it also affects our overall mindset and mood
  • When we retire, there is a risk to us if work is all that we believe we had as our purpose. Here’s a great quote from the interview;
    • “If you are what you do, when you don’t you aren’t”
  • In retirement, if you have no time structure or relationships outside of your work this can be a significant problem

So, how do you find your purpose? Richard Leider suggested the following;

  • Recognize that your purpose is not a goal – it’s a mindset.
  • Realize that your purpose is a need in life that is outside of yourself
  • He suggested that to get started in discovering your purpose – start with two words – GROW and GIVE
  • Put these two words on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror. Every morning ask yourself what will you grow and give that day. And each night ask yourself what you grew and gave that day. This action will help you explore and find your purpose.

May you find and live your ikigai….


This blog post originally appeared on and was reprinted with permission.

Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore – a website and social media network dedicated to providing information and inspiration to help Baby Boomers create and live their very best encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and personally tries to embrace Booming Encore’s philosophy of making sure every day matters. For daily updates to help you live your best encore, be sure to follow Booming Encore on Twitter and join them on Facebook.

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