A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. ~Abraham Maslow

Have You Lost Your Ikigai?

At one point in my life, my ikigai was being a stay at home mom. I loved being that warm, fuzzy hands on mom. Together we played games, made crafts, baked cookies, took regular outings to museums, parks and of course the library. I loved reading time! My youngest child, home sick on a break from college asked me to read her Harry Potter, as we did we she was much younger. Kids turn into adults, and my ikigai has changed.

Ikigai is a Japanese term, loosely translated means the reason to get up in the morning, a reason for being. From Wikipedia, “Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self-discovery and reflection.” The thought is that even if you are having a bad day, when focusing on your ikigai keeps you going, even if, at the moment you’d rather sleep in. Ikigai gives you meaning and purpose.

In the article named Ikigai — jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei (“Ikigai: the process of allowing the self’s possibilities to blossom”) Kobayashi Tsukasa says that “people can feel real ikigai only when, on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed toward self-realization. (Source Mathews, Gordon (1996). What Makes Life Worth Living?: How Japanese and Americans Make Sense of Their Worlds. University of California Press and quoted in Wikipedia article)

Ikigai has four parts.

  • Passion- What you love
  • Profession – What you do well
  • Vocation – What people are willing to pay you for
  • Mission – What the world needs.

Where these four come together is your ikigai. It is more than a profession or a career. It is a way of being in the world.

Ikigai gives you meaning and purpose

Our lives change, what gave us meaning and purpose at one point may no longer fill us or even be possible. Kids do grow up and move away. By midlife, we’ve all had life changes both wanted and unwanted, expected and unexpected.

As you explore your personal ikigai, consider:

  • What do you love to do? What puts a smile on your face? (passion)?
  • What are you good are or what would you like to be good at or what gifts and talents do you enjoy using (profession)?
  • What would people pay you for – optional – if making a living is not a necessary part of your life (vocation)
  • What do you see that the world needs? What could you do to be of service to help alleviate that need?(mission)

My kids are now grown. Being an empty nester was rough as I know it has been for many other women in midlife. My ikigai has changed, although as I think of it, it has just changed forms. My children have each said to me that I let them be themselves. I see this as one of the best compliments they could give me. They have at least for now, each found their ikigai. Now as a life coach, I inspire and empower women in midlife and beyond to find their ikigai and that is my ikigai.

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