Thursday, March 30, 2017

ikigai 生き甲斐

Last night I curled up on the sofa with a cashmere blanket and glass of wine, and then settled in to enjoy Rob Bell's recent book, How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living. As I was reading I got really excited when I learned about ikigai—a Japanese concept meaning "a reason for being." This isn't a new concept, just new to me, and it fits my work on retirement perfectly!

In my speaking and writing, I encourage people to know what they want to make themselves available to, before they retire. It's important to know what you're going to, more than what you're leaving behind. In other words, it's important to know your ikigai.

I encourage people to bring their own value to their work and activities, that their worth is no longer tied to their economic status or place in society. Your ikigai doesn't care about who you were, or how impressive your accomplishments. In retirement you can connect to your ikigai, your reason for being, without being concerned that you're too educated or too professional or too anything to do it.

According to Bell, "Your ikigai may involve a paycheck and it may not." Don't let not being paid keep you from experiencing your ikigai. Do what you love, whether you're paid or not. If you wait until someone else places a dollar value on your work, you might never get to do the work.

Bell states, "Your ikigai is exhausting and exhilarating, draining and invigorating, all at the same time." In other words, your ikigai is not always pleasant; it's not always easy. But you do it anyway because it brings you great satisfaction. Your goal isn't to make retirement easy; it's to make something that you want to get up to each morning.

I'm experiencing my ikigai right now as I write from a local coffee shop's window seat. I arrived early, ordered café mocha in a real mug, and set up my "office"— computer, phone, glasses, and notebook. And then the real work begins as I face a blank page. As hard as this work is, it's the most natural thing to do. Thinking about people who are planning for and transitioning into retirement, brings me joy. Offering direction for this next stage of life is what I like to think about, whether I'm paid or not. It's the reason I got up early this morning.

That's how your ikigai works; you do the things you do, not because you're forced to do them, but because they are natural and spontaneous actions.

What will be your ikigai and how do you find it? This question is too big for me to answer.  A good starting point to learn more about the concept of ikigai is to read Bell's book. You might discover that you already have an ikigai; you just didn't have a name for it. That's what happened to me. And now that I have a name for it, I'm even more committed to this work. 

Your ikigai is a gift, and retirement may be the best time to open and cherish this gift.

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Patty Newbold said...

Thanks for such a great picture of retirement and a wonderful word to describe it, Patrice!