Searching for Ikigai

Read Elisa Zhang's fascinating report on her "search for Ikigai" during quarantine

I left school a week before the School closed as Italy was already in lockdown and it was proving very difficult to find a flight home. I ended up having to take a flight from London to Zurich and then take the train to Milan! As I had spent a full day on public transport, my family and I decided that I should spend two weeks in quarantine when I arrived. At first I felt lonely and upset by the situation, but once I settled into a routine, I became really productive which improved my mood considerably. 

My family’s ready-meal business was initially very badly affected by lockdown. That was until they decided to start selling their products online. As they were unable to hire anyone new, I offered to help in any way that I could. My sister gave me the role of customer care which I initially thought would be easy. I soon realised that I was very much mistaken and how much responsibility I was going to have to shoulder dealing with clients and all of their questions and complaints!  

I was also tasked with looking after logistics, so had to deal with all the complications of trying to ship products during a global pandemic. Even big businesses like Amazon were struggling to meet delivery deadlines in Italy so this was quite a challenge!  In managing all of this however I have really built my confidence and have learnt that, if you never try the things you are scared of doing, you will never go forward or improve yourself.

During my quarantine I read a book about Ikigai. As you can see from the diagram at the top of this article, Ikigai takes what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for and what the world needs and attempts to balance them all together so you have the perfect 'reason to get out of bed in the morning’. Reading this book, I realised that whilst I was really enjoying my new role and responsibilities, I was missing the element of ‘what the world needs’.  So I came up with the idea of donating one ready meal to the red cross and the hospital in my city for each customer that made a purchase from our online website.

In the picture above, you can see all the smiles of happy doctors after receiving our products. It feels really good being able to help the community and especially the doctors who are fighting for other people’s lives every day. The idea has proved to be a success all round as it has also helped boost order numbers for my family's business. 

Thank you Ikigai! 

Elisa talking about Ikigai from Charterhouse School on Vimeo.