Ikigai-yay: My gap year adventure

I quit my job to find my ikigai!

A couple of weeks ago, I finished up corporate work and started my ikigai-yay gap year (as I like to call it). For some, this seemed like an out of the blue decision but for me, it was something which had been building for a while. I knew I was extremely lucky in loving the company and the people I worked with, but over time I felt like something was missing. The complete freedom and opportunity to explore my creativity, something I don’t believe I have ever done in an intentional and personal way before. So, supported by my wonderful husband, I took the plunge and decided to have a gap year to find my Ikigai.

What is ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese word that translates to “the reason for being” or “a reason to wake up each morning.” In Japan, the word is widely used to describe a healthy passion for something that makes us feel as though life is worth living to the fullest because it is lived with purpose.

Your ikigai does not need to be perceived as grand or impact thousands but it does need, to be honest, and true. It does need to impact you.

My next steps

In Japan, it is believed that everyone has an ikigai, although not everyone has yet understood, discovered or developed it.

So, over the next year or so, I look forward to challenging myself to make the most of this special time to explore what gets me up in the morning. I also look forward to sharing it with you, our lovely readers.

To help me capitalise on this opportunity, I know I need some structure and routine, so I have put together a guiding Ikigai-yay Gap Year Manifesto to help me stay true to my vision.

My personal Ikigai-yay Gap Year Manifesto

1. Get creative and be fearless.

Fearless in sharing that creativity with the world. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Or even up to the standards you expect or desire, but it does need to make you happy and sometimes, happiness can only be reached through adversity. Adversity from the outside world but most likely, adversity in your own head. This means you will need patience. Patience to learn, to make mistakes, to experiment.

2. Broaden horizons and be inspired.

Through searching, exploring reflecting and questioning, you will begin to find your own source of inspiration. Finding it, however, is only part of the equation. Make sure to document your discoveries and insights because, without this, it will be harder to objectively reflect and learn. You know this, so make a habit of collecting and journaling. Over time, you will have built a library of memories, thoughts, lessons, feelings, achievements and challenges, just to name a few. And over time, you too will discover that this collection lives and breathes because it is a part of you, informing who you were, are and will be if you’re honest with yourself. Allow this library to inspire your stories. Remember, this too will take time, so be patient and be fearless.

3. Strive to be my best version.

Identify what you want and go forth and seek it. Once you’ve done this, put in the effort and enjoy the outcome. It’s okay if this changes over time, that’s part of life. And it’s also okay if you never reach ‘that goal’ as long as you are okay with it. Sometimes goals change. Sometimes the journey is more important.

What’s your ikigai?

For some, knowing what their ikigai is, comes easy and might be as simple as creating and growing a garden, baking for your children or sharing stories with your friends. For others, it will be a journey of self-discovery. Whatever it is and however you get there, I hope that by sharing my personal thoughts and vision on where I will be focusing my time will help you discover what it is that gets you up in the morning. If you know or even if you’re only guessing what it might be, we would love to hear from you. Let us know what your ikigai is in the comments or on social #ikigaiyay.

Photo credits: Madina Script by Sam Parret / Skater image by Shannon Kelley / Travel image by Sylwia Bartyzel / Surfing image by Teddy Kelley / Photographer image by Luke Pamer

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  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Yei Steph 🙂 I hope you find your Ikigai.

    I think it is an amazing idea to keep a journal of your life. I like to write in my diary when I have a delicious meal or the name of a song that I liked, and sometimes a really good experience.

    I love your website 🙂

    • Reply
      November 15, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Life is full of memory making moments. It’s good to take some time to keep a record. Thanks for your support Paula!

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