I was chatting with someone at work the other day about the Corona Lockdown and how comfortable I had felt with having a socially and legally acceptable excuse for staying at home.
I said to my colleague, “I know I am not shy and I am pretty outgoing, but deep down I am really an introvert”
He said, “I know you are, you have too many self-improvement goals not to be an introvert!”
He explained further, perhaps in response to the look on my face which was somewhere between horror and amusement, “I mean you find your sense of being and energy from within you not outside of you. You set your own goals and don’t rely on others.”
That made me feel better. In the seconds between his first and second statements, I was in my usual way, dissecting what he had said and imagining that I must be presenting to the world as some crazy list driven old lady rabbiting on to anyone who’ll listen!
But hey! I am a list driven person! I need external accountability. I need apps like Habitbul to tell me how many days I haven’t eaten sugar for, or how many days I have been without alcohol. I am the sort of person who starts “eating better” on the first of the month. If it’s a Monday, that’s particularly portentous! I tell people I am having a Year of Zero. Telling anyone who has access to the internet, (via this blog), to hold me accountable. You all become my accountability partners!
Strategic planning meets ikigai.
It should not surprise you then, that I have a written plan for my future. Plan is perhaps a bit generous, as it is not a sequential step by step map, but rather a framework of intentions. A reminder to myself of what I want to do and achieve in the time I have left. It is based loosely on the model for ikigai and my school’s strategic plan!
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that translates as “your reason for getting out of bed in the morning”.
To be happy and thriving, your life pursuits need to be harmonious. Your values, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what you can make money from should combine to make an elegant and mathematical Venn diagram. Your mission, passion, vocation and profession can combine to give you a longer life.
This diagram from Thrive Global, illustrates the concept.
NSW public schools must have a three-year strategic plan with three strategic directions. These strategic plans are published and must be reported on at regular intervals. The strategic directions are then broken into activities or projects which determine what the school is going to be focusing on for the next three years. (I copied these plans from a random high school)
I like the idea of having an overarching framework and combining the elegance of ikigai, with the logic of the school plan, worked for me. The interdependence of the different aspects of projects is something not illustrated in the strategic plan.
My framework has three spheres
- Health and Wellbeing
- The day job
- Creative maker.
In each of these spheres, there are some projects which I consider to be important for this time in my life. When I retire, the “Day Job” circle will have to be adapted.
This framework gives me some direction and helps me stay focused. I re-read it every couple of months and do a mental check of how I am travelling. Do I need to reconsider or refine my Projects? Are they still relevant? On the other hand, the framework is not an ironclad promise, but a guide.
I think without it I would be lost and chasing after every shiny thing that comes my way.
I think it is helpful to sit down and take stock of what you are doing, where you have been and where you are going. This is especially important after a big change in life circumstances like divorce or even after something like this Pandemic.
What is important to you? How can you make it your focus? What do you have to start doing and importantly what do you have to stop doing to make it happen?
Yes, I do make lists. Yes, I do have self-improvement projects. They give me a map to follow but also allow me to look for new paths. I am happy for you to share my framework, but make sure you fill in your own blanks. Find you own ikigai!