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Finding Work and Life Balance with Ikigai?

Nicholas Noble | April 19, 2020

An explosion of at-home bread baking is a surprising reminder that there may yet be balance to be found in the pandemic’s upheaval. One source recently highlighted a bread business’s quick pivot to create value in a time where regular operations have otherwise paused. 

 Arguably, their adapted model – ‘at home bread making kits’ – represents an incidence beyond smart business. Shifting gears not only steadied income, here it also has meant inspiration for the case of work and life balance.

The bakers kept on with what they’re good at, all while helping more people than ever. Those with extra time on their hands are now learning a new (delicious) skill during lockdown. And even some proceeds of the bread-kitting success are reportedly heading towards charity. 

As an expedient example, workers are happy and customers are joyous. That’s a lot of good to come out of a dire situation, wouldn’t you agree?

Ikigai – New Work and Life Balance from COVID-19? 

With the ‘work-from-home’ movement and a humbled sense of priorities, this is an opportunity that countless others will have as a result of the pandemic – each in their own way, of course.  

To do more of what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and what’s of value to others. An essential balance contributing to our very own sense of fulfillment.

A goal we can agree on? At least the Japanese concept of ‘Ikigai’ would say so. 

Ikigai represents a cross-section of our work, responsibilities, and interests. It loosely translates to a ‘reason for being.’ To have ikigai is to be balanced in life, calibrated in all that you do and healthy because of it. It means to not be burdened by any one part of living.

What is Ikigai?

In fact, alongside matcha and healthy eating, ikigai is considered to be one secret behind the Japanese’s record breaking longevity. It’s like a tool behind each day, to ensure just the right blend of purpose and happiness.

Those who practice towards ikigai experience higher levels of joy, fulfillment, and a sense of meaning. So how exactly does it work?

One definition has it as equal value between these parts of a person:

  • What you love (passion)
  • What the world needs (mission)
  • What you are good at (vocation)
  • What you can get paid for (profession)

Ikigai drives a sense of questioning. To seek a balanced, fulfilling lifestyle means to recognize the ways each area overlaps. For example, a person’s life might rely on work, but it shouldn’t be limited to it.

The word comes from two words, ‘iki’ or life, and ‘gai’ or value. Together, although similar to the word for happiness, the subtle difference allows ikigai to look to the future, especially during a time of duress.

A Collective Time of Contemplation

Ongoing pandemic means unprecedented numbers now forced to question ‘what it’s really all about.’ Many’s sense of purpose (and security) has been swept away, if not pulled out of sight.

It’s been a natural time to ask what’s truly valued, relevant, and where our role really ought to lie. Maybe more important, we ponder what the hard lessons to be learned are, before the economy again starts to turn.

These considerations fall most on our individual responsibility. So, as we best craft our way through ongoing hardship, it’s sensible to consider how ikigai fits into the future return to ‘normal.’

“Do I really want to work the same way as before?”

“Am I willing to return to that 60 minute commute?”

Questions during a Time of Chaos

As global closures require us to stay away, it’s inside our own homes where we have to face ourselves. Our thoughts, worries, and any disequilibrium in life that had gone previously unnoticed. Ikigai gives bearing to the future and allows us to recapture our values and plan accordingly.

It has also been called “purpose in action,” how what we do can make a difference to those around us. It’s a tangible sense of our place within the community. Similar to those thousands of people now thanking those star bakers, people ought to feel grateful for the work that you do, too. 

The Bottom Line

Other realtime examples of newfound ikigai, think of those 3D-printer enthusiasts joining the call to produce medical equipment. Or how about those hobby seamstresses, stuck at home yet working hard to produce masks for friends and family – and feeling more fulfilled because of it. 

One silver lining behind COVID-19 is that there is now an abundance of problem-solving opportunities; more chances to volunteer or pick up a passionate side project. One which fills the needs of yourself, and those around you.

If only a final example, this chance to spend extra time at home might allow us to better recognize, when things do return to normal, the point where work life might creep out of line.

So, as you sit with your daily bowl of matcha, enlivening your own thoughts of ikigai, we all can strive towards healthier balance from here on out. 

-Team Matcha Kari

 

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