With the UK coming to terms that 2021 will be similar to 2020, there seems to be an air of melancholy sweeping through our hearts. Tragically, the new restrictions have come so soon after the New Year fireworks that heralded a sense of hope that we would soon recover from this dreadful pandemic.

The World Health Organisation have now predicted that the next pandemic will be a mental health pandemic. The Office for National Statistics has already found that one in five adults are already experiencing symptoms of depression such as anxiety or low moods.

To help us cope , we should use the lockdown as an opportunity for reflection to find our purpose. The Japanese call this ‘Ikigai’ which translates into ‘living a worthwhile life; heading into battle in a beautiful, elegant way’. Everyone has an Ikigai. Do you know what yours is?

The concept is personified by the island of Okinawa where the population is noted for its longevity. Apart from eating small plates of food and drinking tea, these remarkable people maintain their vitality by being content and having a sense of purpose or Ikigai. The Japanese concept is metaphysical and hard to define.

Marc Winn adapted this concept into something more tangible for a Western world through the creation of a Venn diagram or the 4Ps :

( Passion, Problems, Profit and Purpose)  

Passion : This is what you love doing . When you are engaged in this activity you feel a sense of contentment and do not notice the passage of time. Think about what you love doing , it could be something creative such as designing a new project or planning a celebration.

Profit : This is a term we accountants are comfortable with. Here , we are refering to what you can get paid for . As accountants, most of use are paid for our contribution to a finance function. However , the skills that earn us money will change over time . We need to adapt to an enviroment where change is accelerating. Try something new and see if you can earn some money from it.

Purpose : These are the individual skills you have and what you are naturally good at. This requires self evaluation. It’s a good idea to speak with people who have interacted with you in your career . This will reveal your strengths and weaknesses to help you triangulate the truth -your real purpose. This is also called ‘comfort with ambiguity’. In the future , it is predicted that skills such as building, storytelling, human interaction and leadership will be even more important than in the current work enviroment.

Your ‘Ikigai’ is where your passion, problems, profit and purpose intersect. By finding your Ikigai and optimising yourself to embrace change , rather that the instinctive fight or flight response, you will be much happier.

My Ikigai is helping students understand tax and pass their professional exams.  In so doing, they can build a better, more rewarding life for themselves and their families. I hope I get the chance to help you on your academic journey.