Offbeat | Finding my Ikigai with the Five Minute Journal

Offbeat is a bi-weekly blog offering new and meaningful takes on all things media.

By Jillian Rowan, Staff Writer

My dad taught me to live by the Ikigai Model. In Japanese, “iki” means “life,” and “gai” describes importance or worth.

When you do what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for and what the world needs, you meld passion, mission, vocation and profession together to achieve ikigai — a reason for being.

I had lost sight of my ikigai for a while. What am I good at? What are my passions and goals? What am I grateful for?

I know that creativity is my reason for being — my brain unravels in novels and illustrations, not zeros and ones. But that creative spark or fire in my mind occasionally dims. Sometimes, my head is a puttering heap of smoking ashes, especially when navigating mental and physical health issues.

I felt out of options. I was determined to choose a softer life — to raise the white flag in a war I was losing with myself. Deep within the fibers of my being, somewhere between purposeful and purposeless, I wanted peace and was determined to find it. 

So I picked up a book, “The Five Minute Journal.”

Five minutes.

Not long, is it?” I thought to myself. At the time, it still felt like a commitment — one I wasn’t sure I was ready to make. I opened the first page — it read, “The simplest thing you can do to start and end your day happier in just five minutes a day.”

Following that statement are pages of material detailing psychological, emotional, relationship, and job-related benefits, with citations from various studies and proponents of the five-minute method. In its simplest form, “The Five Minute Journalis a daily practice of gratitude, one that has ignited the journaling movement on the wellness side of social media.

“The Five Minute Journal” comes in a plethora of colors. Mine is a baby-blue and white checker print. Further, the book is undated and lasts for six months, so you aren’t confined to the schedule of a typical calendar year.

Jillian Rowan’s Five Minute Journal.
(Image via Jillian Rowan. )

There’s a day portion and a night portion, all comprising five daily prompts concentrated on gratitude and self-growth. In the morning, you write three things you’re grateful for, three things that would make today great and a daily affirmation. Before bed, you write three highlights of the day, and something you learned.

At the top of every page is an inspirational quote or weekly challenge to build confidence. For example, my page today read, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”

For me, “The Five Minute Journalhas morphed from a hopeful distraction to a welcome pleasure every day and night. I’ve developed discipline and respect for myself and my well-being that I didn’t have before I started using the journal, most certainly benefiting my ikigai.

I feel like I’ve rediscovered myself, what my sights are set on and all the things I am so lucky for in my life.

I realized my reason for being, in just five minutes.