What is your Ikigai?

The Summer months are here, and for some of you that means graduation, celebrations and the prospect of finding work. Some people may know exactly what they want to do for their next stage of life, while others have not yet decided.

Beginning your working life can be liberating, you become more independent and feel fully a part of the adult world. You may make new and wonderful friends, discover skills you never knew you had and be inspired to try different aspects of working life or even travel abroad. The opportunities are many and varied. And of course, vitally – you can earn your own money!

But what makes us happy in our work? Fortunately nowadays we are no longer trapped in the position of having to stay in one job for the rest of our lives. What you do over the next few years, may be entirely different to where you might be in 10 or 20 years’ time. We can gain skills and experience wherever we are and transfer them to other positions. So variety might be the spice of life for you, or perhaps you prefer a steadier and more secure path?

The Japanese have a word to encompass how we can find happiness in our work, it’s “Ikigai,” essentially it means ‘a reason to get up in the morning’.

Ikigai 1 (1) resized

The diagram shows us through interconnecting circles how we can achieve Ikigai, right in the centre, through finding meaning and purpose in what we do in everyday life. It is possible to feel purposeful in any role we may take on, we just have to be aware and notice it.

It may not be easy to hit upon one job that can provide us with all the Ikigai criteria, but it is possible to choose one form of work that offers us a couple of them, whilst another or even a hobby provides us with the rest. The key is to find balance and fulfilment for a healthy, mindful and creative life.

So when you say your good-byes to the University of Reading, there may be normal jitters about the unknown challenges ahead, and hopefully there will also be exhilaration for the opportunities and experiences you may seize along your way.

Giving Presentations

In spite of stress, anxiety, awkwardness …..

Recognise any of these feelings in the lead-up to giving a presentation? Even the most practised performers can experience these emotions. Think of singers like John Lennon, who performed on stage thousands of times, but who was often sick before his live performances.  Adele, and the actor and public speaker, Stephen Fry, both suffer from stage fright. Being in front of an audience is stressful. But the adrenaline of these ‘nerves’ can energise you, too!

check out the study advice guide for hints and tips on presenting in seminars

check out the study advice guide for hints and tips on presenting in seminars

If you haven’t looked at the Reading University Study Advice ‘study guides’ yet, make sure you’re well-prepared academically, by reading them through.  The guides can be downloaded at: www.reading.ac.uk/studyadvice/StudyResources

or you can download the full range of Reading University Study guides to your mobile via the Study Advice free study skills e-book.  Just check out the study advice web pages for more information.   www.reading.ac.uk/studyadvice

How often have you heard, ‘practice makes perfect’?   The main benefit of practice is to develop your familiarity with the task in hand.  As this familiarity increases and the words become almost routine, feelings of anxiety decrease, and so impact your performance less.

practice your presentation in advance so that you feel calm and confident giving it to your class

How about trying these two techniques?

  1. Recite the presentation content from start to finish at least 5 times. By the time you’ve done this, you may be bored – that’s the idea!  Once you know your material so well, you should feel confident in delivering it to others. Try another 5 times, focusing on your voice.  Slowing the speed down makes your presentation easier to understand, and betrays your anxiety less.  This creates a virtuous circle – people can’t hear the anxiety, including you!
  2. Then, find a kind friend or someone you like, to say your presentation in front of. Perhaps you could do the same for them. (If you can’t find anyone willing, at least record yourself, to replicate the effect of someone watching you.) Get the person to sit on a chair facing you, to keep silent, and to give you feedback afterwards about your body-language, eye contact, and clarity of speech. Are there parts you rushed through? Was it loud enough?

Doing this will help you feel less anxious when you get up in public, knowing that you’ve already presented your material to at least one person in a similar set-up.

…… smoothly delivering your presentation in a calm, clear voice.