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Navigating Your Sports Science Career with Ikigai

If you ever feel like you’re stuck in an endless loop of fitness tests, Excel spreadsheets, and protein shakes and are caught wondering why you are doing what you’re doing, I might have something for you?Here’s a touch of enlightenment for your life (seriously, I think if you lean into this concept it can change your life).

Ikigai is the ancient Japanese concept that can help you make sense of your world and give you some navigation and elusive balance between passion, profession, vocation, and mission.


1. Passion: Is It More Than Just Liking Lactic Acid?

Sure, you’re passionate about sports science, but is that where it ends? Is your love for 3 Dimensional analysis and CBT the only thing keeping you going? Well, it’s time to expand those horizons. Find what makes your heart race as much as a sprint finish. Maybe it’s watching an athlete you’ve trained achieve their dreams, or perhaps it’s the simple joy of seeing someone conquer their physical limitations. Once you’ve got that passion burning, you’re onto something.

Action: think about what you love and what you are good at – this is where your passion lies

2. Profession: Beyond Being a Human Stopwatch

Let’s face it; you’re not just a human stopwatch. You’ve got skills and knowledge that can change the game. So, don’t just be content with counting reps and timing laps. Elevate your profession by staying updated with the latest research, techniques, and technologies. Become the Sherlock Holmes of sports science, and let your profession become the playground where you apply your passion.

Action: think about what you are good at and what you can be paid for – this is your profession, get great at it!

3. Vocation: More Than Just a Day Job

Your job title might say “sports scientist,” but your vocation could be “Performance Maestro” (a bit fancy (don’t say this out loud) – but back yourself). Don’t settle for the mundane. Embrace the extraordinary. Turn your daily pursuit into a vocation that fills your soul. Add this and you’ll be putting some spring in your step each day, ready to deliver some excellence to your your athletes.

Action: think about what you can be paid for and what the world needs – this is your vocation – connect with it to add purpose to your work

4. Mission: Because Changing Lives Is Cooler Than Excel Sheets

Now, let’s get profound. Your mission isn’t just to optimise athletic performance; it’s about changing lives. It’s about helping individuals become the best versions of themselves. Remember, there’s more to life than spreadsheets and lab reports. Your mission is to inspire, to lead, and to make a lasting impact on the world.

Action: think about what the world needs and what you love – this is your mission – to make a real difference

5. The Sweet Spot: Where Magic Happens

Now, here’s the kicker – the sweet spot where passion, profession, vocation, and mission intersect. This is your Ikigai, your reason for jumping out of bed each morning. It’s where the magic happens, where you become an unstoppable force in the world of sports science.

Action: can you capture something that hits all four? The Japanese term Ikigai capture what, why and how we should be living; iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.”


Have a think about these different areas that overlap for Ikigai. And remember, while you’re busy optimising everyone else’s performance, it’s time to make sure your life is taken care of too.

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