The people of Japan believe that everyone has an ikigai - a reason to jump out of bed each morning. And according to the residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa - the world's longest-living people - finding it is the key to a longer and more fulfilled life.
Having a sense of purpose combined with strong career resilience is critically important in times of societal stress and economic hardship. At the moment, many members of our community, particularly our VCE students and young Alumni, are feeling the need to “adjust their sails” but aren’t sure where to start.
Here is how using the principles of Ikigai can help:
What you love
‘Doing what you love’ should always be a strong guiding force when deciding how to spend our time and career. If your dream job/industry is on hold due to COVID19 (theatre, music, events, sport, hospitality sectors) find a new way to keep it going for yourself each day. Make videos of you performing to share with friends and family. Create “virtual live gigs” or sporting challenges. Use this time to refine your skills, so you emerge from lockdown more proficient than ever.
What you can be paid for
Economically, this is what is changing fast. Perhaps you have lost shifts or even your job. Perhaps you don’t see job opportunities in your ideal industry. We can’t assume that things are going to return to what they were before, we need to adapt. Now is the time to broaden your thinking. The Skills Match tool provides an easy way for you to quickly identify your skills and see new jobs/ industries that value them. You may also want to consider a short course or vocational training to improve your employability further. The new government JobTrainer scheme will be one to watch - this will apply specifically to school-leavers looking to get their first jobs out of education and who are struggling to compete with more experienced job seekers.
What the world needs
Your community, country and the world is facing an enormous challenge. Our society needs you to be contributing your talents in a productive way. Perhaps this is as a volunteer? Or by providing online content? What are you seeing and hearing others needing help with? Is there an opportunity to start a business?
If you’re thinking about work or study options, it can be helpful to understand
the jobs available now and in the future
the skills needed for jobs that interest you
See details of the projected demand industries and jobs here.
What you are good at
Many of us find it difficult to articulate what we are good at. But knowing this is essential for making successful career transitions. Here are some tips to help you work this out:
What skills have helped you thrive at school or work to date?
Which activities make you feel empowered?
What comes to you naturally? What feels easy?
How do you like to spend your free time? What skills do you use in your hobbies?
What were you good at as a child?
What do other people think you are good at? Feedback from employers, parents, teachers, colleagues often provide good clues!
Ultimately, ikigai is about acknowledging the journey you’re on and making it your own. It is about change and challenges and finding purpose within the obstacles.
Even if your present doesn’t feel right, if you have a strong goal you’re striving towards, then you will have found your ikigai.
Mrs Bianca New is the Student Futures Specialist at Toorak College.
Toorak College’s heralded Student Futures program is centred around self-insight, career inspiration, and career resilience. We not only equip our students with the knowledge and skills for life beyond school, we encourage them to explore and experience the many unique pathways that await.