Write down what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what maybe you could be rewarded for.
I heard a new word the other day, a word that I had never heard before, but that describes a way of life that I have found myself living for several years.
The word is ‘Ikigai’ and it is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being’. ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life’, and ‘gai’ describes ‘value’ or ‘worth’. Your ikigai is your life purpose or your bliss. It’s what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day.
The French use phrases like ‘raison d’être’ or ‘joie de vivre’ to help describe this. There are even suggestions that ‘ikigai’ might be good for our hearts!
Ikigai is at the centre of what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and maybe even what you can be rewarded for.
Another way of describing your ‘ikigai’ could be to use the word ‘calling’.
A few years ago, I had two work roles, one that I was primarily employed for, as Chief Operating Officer for a national children’s and youth organisation, the other was a part-time add-on to that role that had grown and grown to become almost a full-time role in itself, heading up the additional needs work for the same organisation.
One role was an essential role that needed to be done and that I think I performed quite well, the other was a calling that got me excitedly out of bed every morning. Doing both roles nearly broke me (see the link to ‘When God Speaks’), but in the end the call to the role that was growing in its reach and feeding my soul became irresistible and I put down my operations role to focus full time on the additional needs work that I do to this day; my calling, my Ikigai.
It was a hard decision, but the right decision to make. As a Christian, my faith is important to me, and I really experienced God’s guidance in the decision that was made. I didn’t look back and have seen the fruit of that decision grow and grow over the last few years. God remains faithful.
What is your calling? Your Ikigai? Have you found it, and if so, are you following it? Or do you know what it is, but haven’t found that place where it all comes together for you yet? Perhaps you don’t know what your calling is? If so, don’t let time slip away; take time to think through what your calling, your Ikigai might be. If, like me, you have a faith, then pray about it.
Use the template provided here to help you think about this. Write down what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what maybe you could be rewarded for. Where do these things overlap? Some of this will show you your passion, your profession and vocation, and some will help to reveal your mission. Together, your passion, profession, vocation, and mission will help to show you your ikigai or calling. Again, if you have a faith, where do you see God leading you in this?
For me, as I look at this, I can not only see the answers to those questions, but I can see how God has been preparing me for many years so that I can follow my calling now. Maybe you are still being prepared, but pray that you will be shown a glimpse of what the exciting future that God has planned for you will look like if you follow it.
Whether you are reading this as a children’s, youth or families worker, a church leader, a parent/carer, a professional, something else, or several of these, finding what our sweet spot is and doing all we can to be operating in that place is important. We are here for a purpose.
I don’t really think about what I do as ‘work’ anymore. It’s what I’m ‘meant’ to do, it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. If a distant relative that I had never known happened to leave me a million pounds, I would still do what I do, I can’t not do it, it’s my calling, my Ikigai…
What is yours?
Mark Arnold, Director of Additional Needs Ministry at Urban Saints. Arnold blogs at The Additional Needs Blogfather. This article was re-published with permission.
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