Miss Abigail’s thought for the week: ikigai

Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept that means ‘a reason for being’. The word ‘ikigai’ is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The word translated to English roughly means “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.”

Every new year I, along with millions of others, reflect on life, goals, resolutions, etc.  I enjoy the cycle of the years: setting myself goals and trying to make choices and resolutions (sometimes successfully and sometimes not!) in order to be the person I strive to be and to achieve what I want to in my life, and then reflecting on how far I have come, or not!

I read recently about ‘ikigai’ and I think it a marvellous concept.  I wonder how many of us do strive to achieve this and how many of us allow ourselves to be carried along by circumstances and the status quo.  What’s your ikigai?  The new year is a good time to reflect on what we are doing to move closer to it.

Passion, vocation, calling, mission – all words for doing what you love / are good at / are called for, in short, ‘things you live for’.  The shades of meaning and interpretation vary a little according to who you talk to.  Some of us are lucky enough to have opportunities to pursue these things.  I, for my part, am lucky enough to have such an opportunity, which I am going to take, to go and live at Nayamba School in Zambia, to supervise a big project happening there over the next couple of years.  It is, therefore, with no little sadness, that I tell you that I will be leaving Nadeen School and Bahrain at the end of this school year.

Many of you already know that Nayamba School, near Chisamba in Zambia (www.nayambaschool.org), has been dear to my heart for many years now, and Nadeen has done some fantastic fundraising for it over the last couple of years, for which they (and I) are very grateful.  We plan to build a trade centre to run apprenticeships for young people who complete their schooling at Nayamba but then have nowhere to go and no available jobs.  This is a large project that will have benefits not only for the students who take on these apprenticeships, but also for their families and the local economy.  It will also help to ensure the sustainability of the school itself.  I will live there, as a volunteer, to find and train the staff to run the centre, to co-ordinate the construction and fitting out of the site itself and to establish the systems and procedures to manage the whole Nayamba Project.  It is a daunting task, involving complex skillsets – some of which I don’t yet have – and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared!  But, despite these doubts, I know that this is the right thing for me to be doing and that that is the place where my next chapter will be written.

So, this new year, if you are the sort of person who likes to reflect on such things, I ask you: what is your ikigai and how will you find it?