Michaéla Schippers



Life crafting through personal goal setting as a way to find meaning in life

Having a purpose in life is one of the most fundamental human needs. Ikigai, a Japanese concept, means “a reason for being”, and is being recognized as an important concept that helps people live longer, healthier and happier. However, for most people finding their ikigai is not obvious. Modern life has a way of distracting people from their true goals and many people find it hard to define their purpose in life. In this lecture, I will discuss evidence-based ways of finding purpose, via a process that I call “life crafting”. This process ideally starts with an intervention that entails a combination of goal-setting, best possible self, goal achievement plans and other positive psychology intervention techniques.


Important elements of such an intervention that I will discuss are: (1) Discovering values and passion (2) reflecting on current and desired competencies and habits (3) reflecting on present and future social life and (4) reflecting on a possible future career (path), (5) writing about the ideal future, (6) writing down specific goal achievement and “if-then” plans, and finally (7) public commitment to goals. Prior research has shown that personal goal setting and goal achievement plans help people gain a direction or a sense of purpose in life. In this talk, I will discuss the way in which this intervention can aid individuals to find a purpose in life, while at the same time ensuring that they make a concrete plan to work towards the personal goals they have set for themselves. The idea is that life crafting enables individuals to take control of their life in order to optimize performance and find happiness. I will conclude with future research, suggesting that goal-setting and life-crafting can also be done in a more interactive AI based way, for instance via a chatbot.