I learned about something called IKIGAI yesterday, through the planner/journal I was given as a gift. It comes with daily short podcast style chats and IKIGAI was a TED Talk it recommended in one of those episodes. I really enjoyed learning about it and it was one of those things that made me stop and think. Literally. I stopped and wrote it down to meditate on the concepts for a while. The core ideas are in the images and definitions below, as well as a link to the Ted Talk.
a reason for being
Ikigai (生き甲斐, “a reason for being”) is a Japanese concept referring to having a direction or purpose in life, providing a sense of fulfillment and towards which they the person may take actions, giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning.
I have a love/hate relationship with my career path. Nursing had a slogan in the 1980’s in a recruitment commercial “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” It’s true. It’s hard, it’s maddening, it’s heartbreaking and rewarding. It is physically demanding, it’s really mentally draining and yet very fulfilling. Some days I really hate it and other days I love it. I think many people can say the same about our jobs or careers but maybe that’s just me.
This week is nurses week and it is usually lumped in with Mother’s Day, boo stop making it a female thing that can lump everything in together as one and not give full acknowledgement or specialness that each day deserves. Now Non Profit worker week and teacher week are all lumped in together, too. More careers where women are in high numbers but I digress.
It has become a time when I get a few really heart felt wishes from my family and fellow nurses for Nurses Day. I got an email about something else where I work and a nurses day wish was tagged on. There was a time when my career path was really celebrated. I hope it was for other nurses and not just a free pizza and a coffee. Covid nurses deserve extra pay, days off and some therapy for all the things they have seen. Nurses see way too much. It’s not too late to really thank a nurse for all they do, the sacrifices they make and difference they really do make in so many people’s lives. I had a patient tell me this recently probably the most meaningful thing anyone has said about my career. But I often wondered, is this really what I should be doing because it doesn’t always “feel” good everyday. Most days actually are draining, super hard, tears shed, difficult moments with anger and grief weaved through it. It is hard work.
I didn’t get this saying in my life: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Took me a long time to realize that is a bunch of garbage.
But the Ted Talk and understanding IKIGAI made me realize that I should quit looking for the path of “what should I do when I grow up” search. I am doing what I need to be doing and have been for 28 years. I have taken the path that has lead me to where I am able to use skills that I am good at , with the things I love to do, what the world needs and make a living doing it. I have resisted the urge to say that for a long time but I am right where I am supposed to be. Doesn’t mean everyday is sunshine and roses. Nurses will tell you it is usually full of blood, sweat and tears. Why do we keep showing up everyday? Because we want to help our patients live their lives to the best of their abilities and we facilitate that by doing everything we can to help them.
Happy Nurses day to all my fellow Nurses. You aren’t thanked enough. For everyone else, watch the Ted Talk and distill out what ikigai means for you. I was surprised that I am already doing it and I don’t need to look any further, just keep on doing what I do but meditate on it’s purpose. It’s ok to have passions, missions and other things you love outside your 9 to 5. In fact, they are necessary for balance and our mental health in this life. They don’t have to be your ikigai.