My future with Ikigai

This is a Japanese tool to help individuals find their vocational pathway. ‘Iki’ means life, and ‘gai’ is value or worth, so it is about making your life worthwhile. If you have found your ikigai, you can feel joyful and excited to face each day. In the context of the Earth crisis, it is harder for young people to see how they can live well in future, and the activities that bring them joy are often cut from school or informal learning, so they aren’t practising for a life of ikigai.

Using this tool can help young people to consciously imagine themselves thriving in the future.

Illustration by Bridget McKenzie

Invite participants to assess themselves now in relation to each of these four zones. What are they doing in their lives that meets each of these needs? Then, imagine themselves in a positive future. What are they doing in each of those areas, and then, what do these have in common? What activity or goal is in the centre for them?

Then, invite them to consider what would be barriers to making that happen? And what are the ways of overcoming those barriers? Encourage them to think creatively about lifting those barriers, not just by studying or working hard. What about inventing something, or collaborating with a friend, or finding a master mentor?

With ‘what you can be paid for’ this could be in things other than money. For ‘what the world needs’, consider what the planet needs, not just what the market demands.

Use this illustration, or print out any blank ikigai canvas that you can easily find online, or simply draw it on a whiteboard. Participants could work in pairs, and draw their own diagrams. Or mark out big circles on the floor and move around them as a group.