hat is Ikigai
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that refers to one's reason for being or the intersection of one's passion, mission, vocation, and profession. Helping your child move towards their ikigai can be a fulfilling and rewarding process that can lead to a sense of purpose and happiness in their life.
What makes the concept of Ikigai important is that it provides individuals with a sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in life. When a person discovers their ikigai, they can align their passions, mission, vocation, and profession, which can lead to a sense of contentment and happiness.
Having a clear sense of purpose can also help individuals to make better decisions and prioritize their time and energy towards things that matter most to them. It can also help to boost motivation and productivity, as individuals are more likely to be invested in and committed to the work they are doing.
For children, discovering their ikigai early in life can provide them with a strong foundation for their future and help to guide them towards a fulfilling and meaningful career or vocation. It can also help to build resilience and a positive mindset, which are important qualities for success in all areas of life.
When I read the book Ikigai, I was quite fascinated with the idea of finding purpose in life. It made me think “Is my passion? What is my mission?” and so on, which was something I had never actually asked myself before.
I started asking questions like “What am I good at? What do I enjoy doing? What makes me feel fulfilled and motivated?” and began to create a route that could lead me toward my ikigai.
It also made me think that if we let our kids explore the same questions, and find their ikigai, it would be immensely beneficial for them.
It can first start with observing kids, and understanding what they naturally gravitate towards. It can be something like sports, music, art, writing, or any other activity that your child enjoys.
While parents need to be open to the idea that kids might change their minds and passions over time, it is important to encourage them to explore different areas that interest them.
Here are some steps you can take to support your child in discovering and pursuing their ikigai:
1. Encourage your child to explore their interests and passions: Help your child to discover their interests and passions by exposing them to various activities, hobbies, and experiences. This will allow them to explore what they enjoy doing and what they are good at.
For this kids need to be given enough space and freedom to experiment with different things, for some time.
2. Support your child in finding their strengths: Help your child to identify their strengths and natural abilities by encouraging them to try new things and providing positive feedback.
Like I help my son pursue his interest in creating by providing him with materials and tools to express his creativity.
3. Create a positive environment: Encourage your child to set goals, experiment, take risks and learn from mistakes. Provide them with resources and guidance so they can pursue their interests in a safe and supportive environment.
When a child is trying something, I make sure to be there as a supportive person rather than a judgemental one.
4. Help your child to develop skills: Encourage your child to develop their skills by providing them with opportunities to learn and practice new things.
I try to provide my son with the right guidance when he is trying new things and be supportive of his efforts.
5. Encourage your child to set goals: Encourage your child to set achievable goals that align with their interests and passions. This will help them to develop a sense of direction and purpose.
I asked Adi to plan and set goals like if he is planning to learn a language, I help him break it down into smaller achievable goals and also motivate him to achieve those.
6. Provide guidance and support: As your child explores their interests and passions, provide guidance and support by offering advice, encouragement, and resources that can help them achieve their goals.
Sometimes when children are keen to explore something in specialized fields like music, sports, or art, we need to find the right people who can provide them with the right guidance and support.
7. Foster a growth mindset: Encourage your child to adopt a growth mindset by emphasizing the importance of hard work, persistence, and learning from failure. This will help them to develop resilience and a positive attitude towards challenges.
when children try projects there can be mistakes and failures and in such times, it is important to foster a growth mindset and view errors as an opportunity for learning
8. Model a fulfilling life: Finally, model a fulfilling life by pursuing your passions and interests. This will show your child that it is possible to find meaning and purpose in their own life.
When children see parents finding their way to success by pursuing their passions, they tend to get motivated and become more passionate about finding meaning in their own life.
But I understand every family is different and it is important for parents to find what works best for their own family. This made me think of the challenges parents might have in finding their child’s ikigai and what they can do to help their child find it.
Helping kids find their passion can be a rewarding and fulfilling process for parents, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. Here are some potential problems that parents may face when helping their kids find their passion:
- Pressure to succeed: Parents may feel pressure to help their kids find their passion and to ensure that they excel in it. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and put undue stress on both the parent and child.
- Lack of exposure: Children may not have had enough exposure to different activities or experiences to discover what they are passionate about. Parents may need to provide more opportunities for exploration and experimentation.
- Fear of failure: Children may be afraid to try new things or pursue their passions due to a fear of failure or rejection. Parents can help to encourage a growth mindset and provide a safe and supportive environment for their children to take risks and make mistakes.
- Limited resources: Pursuing certain passions may require financial resources or access to specialized equipment or facilities that may not be available to all families. Parents may need to get creative in finding ways to support their children's interests.
- Competing priorities: Parents may have competing priorities, such as work or other family obligations, that can make it challenging to provide the time and attention needed to help their children discover and pursue their passions.
- Resistance to change: Children may be resistant to change and may not be open to exploring new activities or experiences. Parents may need to find ways to gently encourage and motivate their children without pushing them too hard.
But when you are open to learning, sharing, exploring, and discovering with your child, you will be able to help them find their ikigai and give them the support they need to pursue it. There are examples of these kids who have pursued what they love and have achieved greatness in their field - and these stories can be a great source of motivation for other kids.
Here are a few examples of children who have discovered and pursued their ikigai early in life:
- Gitanjali Rao: At the age of 15, Gitanjali Rao became Time magazine's first-ever Kid of the Year in 2020. She is an inventor, scientist, and activist who uses her passions to create innovative solutions to global problems, such as water contamination and cyberbullying. https://www.instagram.com/gitanjaliarao/
- Ryan Hickman: Ryan Hickman started his recycling business at the age of three, inspired by a visit to a local recycling center. He has since turned his passion for recycling into a successful business, Ryan's Recycling, which has recycled over one million cans and bottles and has raised thousands of dollars for environmental organizations. https://www.instagram.com/ryans_recycling/
- Moziah Bridges: Moziah Bridges started his bow tie business, Mo's Bows, at the age of nine. He used his passion for fashion and design to create unique, handmade bow ties that have been worn by celebrities and sold in major department stores.
- Mikaila Ulmer: Mikaila Ulmer started her lemonade business, Me & the Bees Lemonade, at the age of four. She uses her passion for entrepreneurship and her love of bees to create a sustainable, socially responsible business that donates a portion of its profits to bee conservation efforts.
- Jordan Casey: Jordan Casey started coding at the age of nine and has since developed several successful mobile games and apps. He has also founded his own gaming company, Casey Games, and has given talks on entrepreneurship and coding around the world.
It's not about finding pushing kids for finding their passion but it's about having a curious and open mind to explore and try different things. Parents can help children by walking them toward their ikigai slowly and gently by pursuing their interests, helping them develop the skills they need, and encouraging them to take risks.
The ultimate goal is for children to find something that makes them happy and gives them a sense of purpose. By allowing our children the opportunity to explore and discover their ikigai, we can equip them with the tools they need to develop into successful, fulfilled adults.
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