Guide learners to find their own contribution to the world
Help learners develop world-changing project ideas stemming from their strengths, interests, and the causes they care about.
生き (iki) “life” and 甲斐 (gai) “worth” together form 生き甲斐 (ikigai) which best translates to “a reason for being alive.” Along the lines of this Japanese concept, educators developed different strategies to help learners combine their strengths, interests, and the causes they care about into meaningful careers and projects. Note: It is not about finding an ultimate project that falls perfectly in the center of the Ikigai diagram, often it is about doing many small projects that together lead to a balanced life. It is normal for those projects and that balance to shift throughout a lifetime.
Before looking at these strategies, here are a few examples of ikigai-inspired projects. This short video of Arshiya Kherani, created by The Center for Social Impact Strategies Studio, outlines how Kherani developed Sukoon Active to make “ it possible for women of all faiths to live active, healthy lives.” The project stemmed from her passion for running and her care for people of different faith, and she used her entrepreneurial spirit as a strength to make the project unfold. Another example is this short video of Manal Kahi who developed Eat Offbeat to make “it possible for refugees in New York City to find meaningful employment.” The project came from her love for food and her care for refugees; her resiliency brought the project to fruition.
The two previous examples are about launching new enterprises, but for some, it can be about finding a meaningful career. For instance, a friend decided to become a speech therapist, for it combined her interest for linguistics and her interpersonal skills to support youths undergoing similar struggles that she faced at a younger age.
Social entrepreneurship training sessions often walk participants through ikigai-like processes. Mohit Mukherjee, Director of the U.N.-mandated UPEACE Centre for Executive and Professional Education, trains social entrepreneurs around the world. He often starts his workshops by sharing his own story of why he wants to create a positive impact. Then, he shows Echoeing Green’s video what’s your problem where different people share the problems they care about and want to solve. Finally, he asks participants to reflect on what bothers them the most in the world and how they can mobilize their strengths to solve those issues.
Project Wayfinder's Toolkit
Incubated at Stanford d.school, Project Wayfinder produced a toolkit to guide high school students “towards lives of purpose.” Going beyond the notion of ikigai, the toolkit helps students build self-awareness through understanding their past and their values. It then helps students build world-awareness by developing empathy and exploring their purpose. Finally, it empowers students to dare take act and overcome their challenges. The toolkit can be used as part of students’ homeroom blocks, English classes, or afterschool programs. In a sample session led by Alexx Temeña who works for Project Wayfinder, she invited us to think outside the box and generate a long list of down-to-earth project ideas as well as some ambitious far-reach project ideas. She then invited us to sort out our ideas into short, medium, and long-term projects which ensured we had projects we could start working on tomorrow while also having greater long-term goals.
Ashoka's Youth Venture Sustainable Action Plan
Aiming to "cultivate an ecosystem that values and supports young people to be changemakers," Ashoka designed this Action Plan to help learners combine causes, skills, strengths, and the demographic with whom they might want to develop world-changing projects. Ashoka also also offers this 50-minute online course on the discovery framework to support learners turn their passions into actions.
World Change 2.0
Created by Scott Sherman who founded the Transformative Action Institute, World Change 2.0 is perfect for learners with a world-changing project idea.
It is a concise yet comprehensive guide that can be used as a step-by-step framework to effect personal and social change. It contains stories and anecdotes as well as project development worksheets to help learners articulate their mission, craft their story, set goals, overcome challenges, shape a team, finance their initiative, and more.