There is only so much self-improvement you can make before you might have to admit that it’s not actually you, maybe it’s the job? If you find that you are just going through the motions at work, or even worse, it has become an unpleasant place to be, it is possibly time to look elsewhere.

Is free-time the time you spend compensating, self-medicating and treating yourself just because work is what you do to do the things you enjoy … rather than what you enjoy? If it is, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate.

As a Japanese speaker, I’ve long been familiar with the Japanese notion of Ikigai. This is a very simple self-test to establish whether you have “job compatibility”, and to discover if you might be, in fact, in completely the wrong line of work.

1. Do you love doing the actual work? Does it feel good? Being able to look forward to work makes a difference in your attitude and that of others. A positive mindset leads to positive interactions and can enthuse your colleagues and your customers.

2. Are you good at your job? Half of the challenge of enjoying something is being good at something. If you are good at what you do, you earn the accolade of your peers and developed the confidence to deal with the future. Success is exciting and addictive. Equally, don’t let failure get you down. Learn from what went wrong and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes again.

3. Does the world need what you do? Are you an essential cog in the wheel? Are you proud to tell people at Barbeques what you do? Knowing that you provide an essential difference in people’s lives is a wonderful privilege.

4. Do people pay you to do what you do? Is what you do profitable? Money isn’t everything, but it does make life easier. It is also a huge motivator.

Ikigai is the result of a positive answer to these four questions. I’m lucky enough to have Ikigai in nearly all my work. I hugely enjoy the variety of work, the people I deal with, the challenges I face and the team I am building around me. Yes, we work for profit but I genuinely believe that if I didn’t need an income, I’d happily do what I do now for free.

As a manager, how do I make Ikigai a reality for my employees? As staff who are Ikigai are the motivated and passionate staff who provide the additional 18% efficiency and post-salary positives of being in a job they are suited for and enthused by and that provides me with a happy and motivated team.

Working to achieve Ikigai, in my experience, is essential. With the team I have around me, I don’t think we are far off achieving it.