This week I was introduced to the concept of “ikigai.”
Ikigai is the Japanese term for “a reason for being,” similar to the French expression “raison d’etre.” Ikigai is the first in our hearts, what gets us out of bed each morning, gives us the strength to see each day, because we have and know our purpose clearly.
Ikigai lies at the intersection of passion, mission, profession, and vocation. It asks us to ponder over four simple questions, in order to find our center:
- What do I love?
- What am I good at?
- What cause do I believe in?
- What do people value and pay me for?
(I do believe that one can find their ikigai without money playing into the equation, however for me, my ikigai is definitely tied into creating a sustainable and fulfilling life for my family and myself).
Four simple questions that I found quite tricky to answer! After a few hours of journaling (and doodling), here’s what I’ve discovered, or mostly, what I’ve been able to reaffirm.
1. What do I love?
I love knitting and designing. I love the process of transforming my yarn into something beautiful and functional. I also love running a business/brand—I find learning about marketing, branding, and everything that goes into creating a sustainable brand to be really engaging and interesting. It’s also extremely satisfying to be your own boss—to experience both the setbacks and the triumphs.
I love giving and spoiling my tribe with knowledge, support, and gifts. Since they’ve given so much to me, I try to do as much as I can to give back.
2. What am I good at?
To be blunt, I’m good at getting s**t done. I may not have the most creative mind, but once I have a plan, I know I have the work ethic to get it done. I’ve discovered that I’m good at motivating and inspiring people to take action and step outside their comfort zone, while providing a safe and low-stress environment. I’m good at helping people understand things they didn’t know before, and at setting the foundation work, and being clear, concise and complete (or at least making sure I am!).
Oh and I like to think I’m good at designing knitwear ;-)
3. What causes do I believe in?
I believe in spreading aroha; that the rising tide lifts all boats; that there is space for everyone; that all makers and creators deserve to be paid their worth; and that we shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for our worth. I believe in transforming and shifting mindsets from one of competition to one of collaboration.
4. What do people value and pay me for?
When someone purchases an Aroha Knits pattern, they are paying for not only a well-written pattern, but also an experience. They want to feel inspired by the design, get excited as they see their project take shape, and learn something new in the process. They also pay me to lay the foundation to knitwear design, in easy to understand steps and structure—to help them learn how they can also transform yarn into designs of their own creation and making.
As I look over my answers to these questions, again, I find that it all comes down to that one magical word: transformation. I transform my yarn to create pieces of fibre art; I help others find the confidence to transform theirs; I aim to transform the fiber industry by showing that we can make a sustainable income doing what we love, and that there is space for everyone, new and old talent alike.
My purpose, my why, is to make transformations happen. This is what helps me get out of bed every day and work towards fulfilling my purpose, and making it real.
What is your ikigai? I know this is quite a deep subject, the topic of discovering one’s purpose, but I don’t think it has to be as daunting and as deep as it seems to be. Take some time to sit down and journal over these four questions. Don’t overthink it (super important as that’s what I did and I found myself stumped). Simple is better than complex.
If anything, I would love to hear your answers to question 1) What do you LOVE? I find discovering that to be the key to discovering your ikigai.