This blog post is to share some of memos I wrote through my doctoral research on leisure and ikigai, using grounded theory (Corbin & Strauss, 2015). Doing this, I hope, would make my analysis process more transparent, and potentially inspire other researchers who are interested in grounded theory.
I would appreciate any feedback, too!
==== Copies of memos from here ====
Title: Fear of "nothing" among students Entry: June 20th, 2015 Thematic memo 6
I am writing this because I wanted to think about something I has sensed throughout the past 3 interviews--fear of "nothing." I think I would think of socio-economic, cultural, and political contexts of ikigai among Tokai students. I think this observation of fear of "nothing" is not only based on the interviews, but also based on my own college experiences and interactions with other Tokai students. In Japan, most students go to high shool. And many of them come to university. I think we are still in the zennyuu (or "all in") time when the number of available seats in all universities and colleges in Japan outnumber the number of students in a given academic year. So, if you really don't care about what you want to study or which university you want to go to, you can be a university student (of course, there are financial issues or so). Under such circumstances, being a university student and a graduate is not special; it doesn't add anything (any value) to you. On the contrary, the job market in Japan has been tough over the last few decades (there were some ups and downs). The job hunting system in Japan was (in)famous gobally. It started from the third year. If you include internship, it started even in the second or first year. It was bizzre. So, the government and major corporations made it a rule that major companies would not stary hiring until the fourth year. But still, the market is tough and students need to differentiate themselves from other candidatesto get a job they want. Here comes experience. Even in my college days, there were many students who wanted to "have experiences." Something that sounds good. Like studying abroad, internship, participating in some projects or so, volunteering, entreprenuership, varsity team... you name it. It was, and I believe it still is, almost like a "stamp rally" to collect all these experiences so that at the end of this rally called "college life," one can win by getting a desired job. In terms of experiences, I think Tokai is unique (maybe not that much). I have many friends who attended different "more prestigeous" universities, like Keio, Waseda, U of Tokyo, U of Kyoto, ICU, Meiji, etc. They are running in the top group of this rally. These universities appear to provide much information about experiences and support their students so that they can win chances to experience. Tokai is not too bad. You can experience things if you want. But, only if you want and seek. You have to be involved and connected to people who know opportunities. Masaomi and Sayaka both said that they felt they made a mistake in their earlier years. I think what they meant was partially that they did not seek out. I was one of those, too. Tokai is a good university with nice profs, nice staffs, nice friends, and nice environments. You can live a college life without doing anything. But, if you do so, you won't have any experience at the end. At least nothing you can tell to interviewers from companies. This is why I put a double quotation mark to "nothing" in the title. Of couse, students experience something; every single one of them. But, most of them turn into "nothing" once they face the job hunting or even when they think about it. Students would have a feel of "what have I done (or haven't done)?" Tokai is an interesting mixture of students who have experiences and who don't. So, you can come across with those who have and realize that you need to do something. Just like Masaomi did. Also, in Japan, till universities, the education system is highly structured. You don't really have many room to reach out and seek out. Every student receives almost same number of chances; the point is whether you can win it or not. But, at a university at least at Tokai, you have to be proactive. So, there is fear of "nothing," of not experiencing anything worthy. It appears that fear is prevalent among the interviewees so far and drives them to live a college life with experiences. I wonder, though, if this is limited to those who have been exposed to students who have "worthy" experiences such as study abroad or so. What about those who haven't really exposed to those stories? Or those who heard about them but could not relate to it (e.g., "well, that's good for him, but I can't study abroad.")? These could be a potentially theoretical sampling points.
Title: Ikigai and hito (or people) Entry: June 22nd, 2015 Thematic Memo 13
I am writing this memo after I read through Yoku's transcript. A keyword that underlies his account of ikigai is hito or people. The other 2 interviewees, Masaomi and Sayaka, also talked about the relationship bewteen their ikigai and people. It is clearly a key concept. I wanted to think of how Yoku talked about it. I felt that Yoku's account on the relationship between ikigai and people is a bit different from those of Masaomi and Sayaka. The latter interviewees emphasized their intimate relationships with significant others. On the contrary, Yoku underscored the importace of showing his ikigai (or work--whether works from his hobbies or literally "job" work) to other people, sharing the moment with others (e.g., coworkers), and getting feedback from others. There a couple of reasons for this. First, Yoku emphasized that he wanted to "go up" or ueni-ikitai. Here, "up" or ue can mean many things--better skill and ability, better performance, better position, job, and status... Getting feedback from others on his work is a way to improve his skill and ability so that he can move up. Second, Yoku said he felt a sense of "superiority" or satisfaction from showing his work to others and getting positive (or at least constructive) feedback. He was wondering if the term he used yuuetsu-kan, or a sense of superiority, is right or not though. I suspect this is not much about feeling superior to others, but feeling satisfied with what he has achieved (with his colleagues). It's more about "better him" than who he was yesterday. A sense of accomplishment and moving forward. He also used manzoku-kan (satisfaction) and yatta-kan (a sense of accomplishment). Anyways, he said he can experience kandou, or feel moved, by showing his work and getting feedback. Kandou is interesting; it is written in Chinese characters as "moved emotions." I see a link between kando and emotional overdrive in the other memoi. Positive emotions he experienced in this process keeps a given work or activity interesting and exciting to him and generates "energy" or "engine" for the next step. This resonates with Masaomi's account on motivation. Also, I want to bring in the notion of "push" and "pull" again. This process may be somehow "pull" for Yoku because he knows what he can accomplish and how he can feel at the end. But, the consequence from the process--positive emotions--is a "push" for the next step in his life. Ikigai, as in pushes and pulls, continues; it keeps students' lives move forward. It may begin with a push or pull. To be pushed, you have to have an opportunity. You have to face with a difficult situation and try to overcome it. To be pulled, you need to remain "interested" and "engaged" in life. Masaomi said, "if I lost my interest, I think it would be over." I think he is right. Staying interested is an important way to keep one's life going. Push and pull, they may be a core concept in this study...
Title: Two ways of using "pull" T35 Entry: June 30th, 2015 Thematic Memo 35
I am writing this memo on the next day of Jotaro's interview. Some theoretically important concepts from his interview were already written down in the previous memos. But, in this memo, I want to discuss another potentially important concept--the 2 ways of using a pull. A pull is the concept I developed to describe one of the two major ways students get motivated to engage with their lives: pull and push. Compared with push with which students are stimulated by external factors, pull motivate students by its own innate appeal--intrinsic motivation. Often something that can pull students is enjoyable or positively toned. Jotaro pulled by plans to hang out with his friends, for example. As just described, one way to use pull is to set a pull in the near future so that students get and remain motivated until they experience it. This means that they are motivated to do things other than the pull per se. For instance, when Jotaro forsees a plan to hang out with his friends over the weekend, he is motivated for studies in that week too. He and many other students know that striving amplifies their enjoyment! So, they do things they have to do and strive for when they have a pull in the future. This is the proactive way to use a pull to realize an engaged life. Another way to use a pull is more reactive. Sometimes, students get "worn out" by too much engaging especially striving. They are tired physically, mentally, and emotionally. Things are just too much. When they feel like they can't strive anymore, they often participate in something fun to take time off. Because it is sometning fun, this can be considered as another pull. Or, it is enjoying. After enjoying, students feel refreshed and can go back to what they have to do or strive. Maybe the latter is a description of disengagement. Is there any difference between enjoying and disengaging? I don't think they are the same things. Students sometimes enjoy the moment purely. It is not because they were worn out. But, disengaging appears to have enjoying elements all the time. (Unless there is such a thing like "too much of enjoying"!). So,perhaps, enjoying encompasses disengaging? Disengaging is a special form of enjoying?
I am writing this memo after I read through Violet's transcript. One phrase stood out to me was chyuuto-hanpa, or doing half-way job. This could be another important factor to discern the relationship between engaged and unengaged lives. Violet used this term when asked to identify a part of her life where she didn't have much ikigai--the first year of her college life. She thought this was because she was doing many things but doing half-way jobs. She was so into tennis in high school, but she quit it when she came to Tokai. The bukatsu was such a big part of her life back in high school. She felt void in her life. So, she tried out so many things in her first year in college--studies, saakuru (student group). She didn't like her major back then, so thought of changing into international studies or even aviation. She did "mosaku" or exploration back then. However, as she proceeded with the 2nd and 3rd years, she could take more specialized courses that were really about astronomics, not some mandatory math course. This helped her to stay in her major and focus on it. So, for her, this phase of exploration was chyuuto-hanpa or half way jobs. I am wondering whether I should situate this state as part of an unengaged life or transition from an unengaged life to engaged life. I gravitating toward the latter. This state is clearly different from darui or uninterested, dull, bored. She was actively exploring things. The issue was not fully committing enough to any of many things she tried. That's what it is half-way job. Being in the state of darui is almost "no-way" job. There is an important difference here. I certainly felt that Violet was certainly feeling more ikigai at the time of her interview. Arguably this could be because she focused on a manageable number of things. Thus, theoretically, students may need to focus on a certain number of immediate experiences, not too many. I would say 2 or 3 usually, 4 at most. Otherwise, you will be worn out too quickly or do half-way job.
Title: Experiencing as the core of an engaged life with ikigai S1 Entry: July 6th, 2015 Summary Memo 1
This is the first summary memo I write in this study. So far, I have done 11 photo-elicitation interviews. The first 8 have been analyzed (initial-coded and/or focused-coded). I have conducted a couple queries to see how differently or similarly the two ikigai scales have worked so far in terms ofsubcategories of experiencing. I have written about 50 thematic memos so far. I thought this would be a good time to summarize what I have found so far and try to integrate them. Prior to writing this summary memo, I ran the Word Frequency query to see what words I frequently used to think of emerging categories so far (all thematic memos were submited). As expected some of the frequently used words were (excluding stop word-like terms): experience, engagement, enjoying, positive, friends, need (motivation), activities. Not surprisingly, engagement--one of the two most developed nodes--was most frequently used so far. Thus, in this first summary memo, I would like to summarize what I have found so far in light of engagement. See the Page 8 in the powerpoint file for diagramming to understand this memo better. As shown in the diagram, students' lives can be considered as a continuum of the level of engagement: unengaged, (to half-way engaged), to engaged, and to over-engaged. The state of being engaged is a life with (full or much of) ikigai. This state is characterized three components: (a) conditions, (b) experiences, and (c) consequences. (This framework is derived from Corbin's technique of the matrix.) First, conditions are antecedents of experiences (here experiences are ones "deep" enough to make students' lives engaged). There are several conditional factors for deep experiences. Two factors that emerged first were "pulled forward" and "pushed forward." When "pulled forward," students are intrinsically motivated and attracted by the appeal of possible experienecs per se. This often precedes a type of experiences--enjoying. Many of enjoyable experiences are leisure-like. When "pushed forward," students get stimulated by external factors, such as people (e.g., friends, teachers), media (e.g., music, comics), and environments (both social and physical). Often, pushed forward precedes another type of experiencing--striving, that is making efforts toward a goal, doing one's best. However, it is possible that students are both pulled and pushed forward to some extent simultaneously. Another condition for deep experiences is opportunities. They include getting into a study abroad program, being a president of a student group, and being a leader of a senior-year seminar. These opportunies, especially challenging ones, go with pushed forward, leading to striving experiences. Sometimes, students have opportunities, or "moments," for pulled forward (e.g., happen to listen to a band that one came to love; happen to join a sport team that one came to love), resulting in enjoying experiences. Whereas the opportunities are largely situational (thus out of control of students), there are several personal qualities of students who tend to engage with their lives. One of such qualities is the ability to enjoy any sitautions. Students with this quality find enjoyable elements in even seemingly unenjoyable situations. Another is susceptibility or easiness to be influenced by stimuli. This is a tendency to "move toward" experiences when one is pull or pushed. Another is the hunger for growth and changes. Students with this quality costantly seek opportunities where they can grow, learn and progress. There are a couple others identified by the earlier memo. Finally, being automous is a very important condition for deep experiences. Students need to feel autonomous (or choosing and doing by themselves) than being forced to do in order to deeply engage with experiences. I am not sure whether this condition has an equal status as the other conditions, because it seems that this one is linked to them. Maybe, something a higher-order? Next, experiences come after the conditions. These are actions and interactions of students in an engaged life (again from Corbin's matrix). The concept of experience or keiken emerged from the very early interviews. The participants have mentioned various experiences (or people with whom they had experienced,places where they had experiences, or things with which they had experiences) in relation to their ikigai. Many of their photos included these things. Their experiences included study, travel, play sports, do hobbies, hold an event, eat and drink, see something unique, listen, read, and so on. There is just a variety of experiences that the participants thought related to their ikigai. Among this diversity, I have identified several attributes and corresponding dimensions of experiencing. The first dimension emerged was, as mentioned above, enjoying (or tanoshimu) vs. striving (or ganbaru). Most of the participants' experiences can be categorized either of these binaries. Often, when asked to group their photos, the participants created (without knowing) this type of grouping. This dimenstion could be seen as "valence." Striving or ganbaru is a type of experiences in which students make much effort and do their best. It requires persistence, patience, deligence. It is not easy; it needs to be challenging and difficult. These experiences include: preparing for a study abroad, leading a seminar, leading a student group, and being part of a varsity team. On the contrary, enjoying or tanoshimu is a type of experiences in which students are attracter toward the appeal of experiences per se (thus pulled forward). It may not require much effort. It could be easy. (But, this is different from something that students do very casually, or shallow experiences. They are still deep enough.) Students could enjoy the process of striving as well. Typical enjoying experiences include: going to a live concert, having good time with friends, having fun moments in a study abroad, traveling, playing sports or music, and eating. Another important attribute of experiences is the continuum of new and old experiences. I am not being able to pinpoint what this dimension is about. But, it is certainly related to ikigai's contributions to a sense of self among students. Experiencing something new is related to another emerged concept called shigeki or stimuli. Without doing anything, students' lives tend to become boring, routine, and dull; they want to have a life with stimuli by experiencing new things. (Violet, Jotaro, Sayaka, etc) These experienecs can vary from extraordinary things (e.g., going to a different country, hosting a campus-wise event) to odrinary ones (e.g., doing something strange, doing some new fun things with friends). These experiences keep providing shigeki or stimuli to students' lives that otherwise tend to be routinized. (What do I mean by "new" experience? Some participants routinely seek new experience, as part of who they are. Is it "new" to them though?) Experiencing the same or old is related to another concept that has emerged (oridginally) independently of engagement or experience--experience consisting of self. Students' sense of who they are really depend on what they have experienced so far. This could potentially include both anew and same experiences for students. But, it appears that experiences that students have engaged in for an extended perid of time (e.g., music and sports they have played since their childhood) have more profound implications to the foundation of their "who they are." While new experiences help students to explore new aspects of self, these "same ole ole" experiences help them to establish themselves, and often "retrieve" who they are when they have to do something that is not necessarily consistent with themselves (e.g., those who enjoy things have to strive for a while). The third and fourth attributes of experiences both fall into interpersonal realms of engagement--(a) experiencing alone and together, and (b) giving and receiving. Some of students' experiences are done alone, such as their hobbies, studies, and travel. Although these experiences may not, compared to group experiences, give many consequences or strong influences onto students, they are often self-comleting (students can do by themselves without being affected by others' work), convenient (they can do when they have time), and self-rewarding (all is their own work). On the contrary, other experiences are done with others, especially other students. (These students with whom students engage in immediate experiences together can be considered as "comrades.") Often, sharing experiences with others intensifies the influences of those experiences on students themselves (e.g., more memorable, more to learn). Sometimes, the interpersonal aspect itself consists of the core of enjoying and/or striving experience (i.e., being with others is enjoyable, or working with others is challenging). Experiencing together is one way to create and maintain one's ibashyo or the place where one belongs. Another interpersonal dimension is giving vs. receiving. (I may move this to consequences of experiences, though.) Students give to others in some experiences, including throwing a surprise party to significant others, mentoring their juniors (or kouhai), and caring for and spending time with family. So far, it feels that most students are receiving from their experiences--stimuli (shigeki), information, precious memories, skills, and so on (now, I really think that this belongs to the consequences). These various expriences bring consequences to students. So far, I have identified two axes--(a) social (personal vs. interpersonal) and (b) temporal (memories vs. future possibilities). The personal consequences are most developed so far; they include: moved emotions (e.g., happy, surprised, elated), cognitive appraisals (e.g., a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, feelings of healed), stress coping, gained confidence, learning and growing, and worldviews. Interpersonal consequences of experiences have been drawn toward the notion of ibashyo, or the place where students belong. Sometimes, it is direct consequences like students who shared the same experiences bond together and creat a relationship within which they can show all aspects of who they are--both good and bad. Sometimes, the consequences are indirect in that students can feel they are living up to others' (e.g., family, friends) expectations or trust. Thus, they feel they "can be" part of a given ibashyo without feeling guilty. The temporal axis may be deemed as subgroups within the personal (but, some memories are shared with others... I want to think of these 2 axes as orthogonal for now). Many experiences are deep enough to leave many memories in students' minds. Often enjoying experiences leave positive and pleasant experiences. Students recall both positive and negative aspects of striving experiences; but overall, they remember these experiences are positive in that the experiences made them grow. Interestingly, the question regarding the contrast between ikigai and shiawase (or Japanese happiness) revealed that students deem their shiawase experiences more solely positively. Finally, I would like to add that many participants so far descrived the consequences of their experiences as conditions for their new (or future at the moment of their interviews) experiences. Thus, there should be actually feedback loop from the consequences to the conditions in Figure. Therefore, once students get into this loop of experiences, they can shift toward an engaged life. This memo has become long..., so I will leave the other parts, such as unengaged, half-way engaged, and over-engaged, and links among them to another summary memo.
Title: Time and experience alone T51 Entry: July 12th, 2015 Thematic Memo 15
I am writing this memo based on the notes from the interview with Ayane. She has been the interviewee most vocal about the importance of time or experience alone. This may have been a relatively underdeveloped category, compared to its experience together counterpart that has been enriched thanks to the notion of ibashyo. Thus, in this memo I think of the importance of solitude in the process of ikigai. Whereas she noted the importance of having close friends and family, Ayane emphasized the importance of her own time. (cf. Also, Yu called himself as an intraverted person.) During this time, she enjoys taking photos with her camera, helping her grandma on a vegetable field, and playing some instruments. She said this alone time and experience is necessary for her to engage with social time where she expresses who she is truly. Without her private time, there is no her; ergo, nothing to show in social time. She doesn't want to share many things from her private time with others. She takes many photos, but she just erase them at the end of a day. Ayane wants to be alone when she spends too much time with her friends, the same ones, especially those who are driven to study English and all. She feels that they judge others solely based on study performances. Or, they want to know exchange students because they are from foreign countries. These are very different values from what Ayane has--she tried to see people in a more holistic way beyond what smart they are or how they look and where they are from. Ayane sometimes feels that those friends impose their values onto her (not sure this is really imposing, but it could be more of spending too much time and her being "tainted" by their values). She feels "it's enough!" and just take off and have some time alone. When she looked back at her elementary and junior high school days, she also said that she was having much time alone, especially making some her own days off from schools. Back then, she felt she was't doing many things she wanted. In the primary school, she wanted do ballet she loved; but she was told to focus on study for junior high school entrance exams toward the end. Once she got into a private junior high school, she knew she was there just be cause it would be easy to get into a college. It was not something she wanted to do; it was not the place she wanted to be. In such sitautions, she also needed to take some time off and alone. She went for a walk, helped her grandma in nature. This continued until she learned the importance of being in charge of her own life in the student camp. I think what Ayane has experienced, and many other interviewees for that matter, is "frictions" between who one really is (e.g., belief, wants, needs, desire, dream, hope, personality, etc.) and others (e.g., people, eonvironments, reality, etc.). We can't really live as who we are; well, we could but we get worn out because of the frictions. They are not necessarily major frictions like an identity crisis. But more of some little moments when you feel you are different from people around you. Things like this. We could adapt to others by repressing who we are, but we can't do that for long. Then, we need to be alone. Or, we need to go back to people with who we can be ourselves. We can show all aspects of us. This is where we are "healed." We can retrieve who we are by these experiences. Now, through this memo, I have connected two concepts I have developed so far--experiencing alone and iyashi or healed. Also, I suspect that the solitary aspect and interpersonal aspect may not be that far away from each other in that both time alone and ibashyo may provide place and time where students can retrieve who they really are and get healed.
Title: Integrating ikigai theories into dimensions of ikigai T54 Entry: July 13th, 2015 Thematic Memo 54
This is so cool! So far, I have had several "mini theoretical break-throughs." But this one was huge! I have thought that "dimensions of ikigai" is coasely developed as in there is just this generic overarching category and some random subcategories under it. I engaged in sort of diagramming (see the note) like cross-tabulating the dimensions and ikigai theories (i.e., Kamiya and Kumano)--the notions of sources of, processes to, and perceptions of ikigai. This is clearly what all grounded theorists advocate for--the use of the literature to compare to what a researcher is finding in his GT study. I really appreciate that I did the thorough initial litertaure review, because now I can retrieve important and relevant information from the literature (already in my Chapter 2) without reading books and papers again. Anyways, what one thing I realized from this analytic activity was that subcategories that I situated under the dimensions are not necessarily about sources of ikigai; some are more about processes to ikigai. And THIS was confusing me! Thus, theoretically speaking, they are not on the same level. First, I think there are several (sub)categories that are related to "development of sources of ikigai." This is the notion Kumano (2012) proposed in her two dimensional model. But, apparently her theory was so inadequate about this aspect of ikigai. She just posited that people would choose their sources of ikigai from life events (positive and negative) based on their value systems. Her model is, to me, essentially flawed in that it only captures life events; students clearly somehow intentionally developed or nurtued their sources of ikigai. Another flaw of Kumano's model is that it only capture the process of "gaining" sources of ikigai. It became crystalclear that students have gained and lost their sources of ikigai as they lived. The development process of sources of ikigai includes both gain and loss. In addition to this dimension of gaining and losing sources of ikigai, I would also add how soon one gain or lose sources of ikigai. There are some sources of ikigai students have, say, gained over a long period of time (e.g., Kakeru got his piano over 10+ years, some sports, friendships, and above all family). Sometimes, students just fade away from their sources of ikigai. For example, Hiroshi faded away from his cycling passion as he became a university student and uses train more often. Also, he felt that he was wasting his time when biking because he can't study while biking (but you can when in a train!). Often students lose their sources of ikigai suddenly. For instance, Masaomi lost his part-time job (the job itself was gone) and was dumped by his ex-girlfriend. Mizuki got injured and had to stop playing lacrosse (though she switched to a new source of ikigai being a staff member). Kosuke quit his track and field career when he graduated from high school. Sometimes, students gain a source of ikigai suddenly, and this is a phenomenon of "hamaru" (or get into it). Mizuki got hamaru into K-pops (Korean popular music), Korean language, history, culture and all, although she hated learning anything related to humanities! Makoto started to go to a gym, though he has been a "culture-type" guy so far doing a lot of music. He found exercising as a good to get refreshed. Another important dimension of development of sources of ikigai is the repertoire of sources of ikigai. Some students have developed and maintained many sources of ikigai (thus diversified) while other students have focused on a few sources of ikigai (sometimes only one!). When you have various sources of ikigai, you can live a life with many stimuli that prevent your life being routinized and you being bored. Also, you can still have many sources of ikigai when you lose a few. Thus, diversification prevents you from losing all sources of ikigai at once and falling into an unegaged state. However, it is difficult to invest on each source and engage with each domain fully, because you have a limited amount of resources (e.g., time, energy, money). In that sense, students who focused on a few can extract a high level of ikigai from a few sources, because they can develp each fully. If you have a few sources of ikigai and spend much time in each, you have many "mini" experiences within each source (e.g., Mizuki) that maintains a level of stimuli high. However, this focus increase risk: when you lose these sources of ikigai at once (e.g., graduation, retirement, injury), you can fall into an unengaged state. In terms of sources of ikigai, my list of the dimensions of ikigai indicate there are several "characteristics of sources of ikigai" per se. First, there is this thing I would call "familiarity" for now. Some sources of ikigai are very familiar to, or old to, students. It's good to have those familiar sources of ikigai, because they are stable, repliable, predictable sources of ikigai. Often these sources are deeply linked to the core of students' sense of self. The opposite end of the continuum is anew, unfamiliar sources of ikigai. It is also good to have some of these, because they provide stimuli to students' lives and they let students to explore new aspects of self. Second, some sources of ikigai are by their nature enjoyable or "strivable." Of course, this attribute is clearly related to actual experiences of enjoying and striving. I am not sure if I should add this attribute or separate enjoying and striving as a process to ikigai or so. However, there are clearly "strivable" sources of ikigai like varsity team and study. Of course students can have enjoying experiences in these sources. On the contrary, close friends and family would be more of enjoyable sources of ikigai. Third, there are some sources of ikigai that are inherently interpersonal and others that are personal (or private) to students. Interpersonal sources of ikigai include: people per se (e.g., family, friends) and interpersonal experiences (e.g., study abroad, varsity, special events). The latter often lead to creation of comraderies--those who share immediate experiences. The former are often retired comraderies with whom students once shared experiences and built close relationships, but are not pressured to strive (or enjoy) together now. Personal sources of ikigai is time alone and some activities that students prefer to do in their solitary time: taking photos, doing some sports and exercising, reading, studying, cooking, listening to music, watching TV and movies. Often what's important is not necessarily being alone, but to be oneself. As to processes to ikigai, my analysis so far suggests that there are several important socio-cognitive processes in which students need to engage to perceive ikigai. One of such processes is cumulating experiences and establishing self. This is often done by engaging in the same experinences frequently or over long time. It is bettern if one has an opportunity to review her past experiences (and their consequences) occastionally (sort of reflective moments). These cumulated experiences consist the very core of students' sense of self. Related to a sense of self, another important process is expanding and trying the boudaries of self. Often, this occurs with new experiences. Sometimes, students find a whole new aspect of self (e.g., liking culture, language, and history though Mizuki thought of her as a purely science and math-driven person). Although students may feel uncomfortable at first, they can gain a renewed sense of self, hidden potentialities, and widened perspectives. Clearly these experiences are sources of stimuli in students' lives. Another important process is to connect with others through their expeirences. One is to share experiences directly with comrades and feel connected (including, respected/respecting, supported/supporting, needed/needing, encouraged/encouraging, stimulated/stimulating, seeing all aspects/showing all aspects). This nurtues a comraderie among them. Students can also connect to people with whom they don't share experiences directly, such as old friends, family members, and teachers. Although these people are not present in immediate experiences, students feel the existence of their expectations, support, trust, evaluation, and all. By fully engaging with their experiences and hopefully getting targeted results, students can live up to these indirect connections. Sometimes, students want to be alone. What is at stake here is not really being alone, but being true self. If one can be self among others (thus, having quality ibashyo), that's lucky for him and he may not feel that he needs to be alone. Otherwise, students may need to feel shut off themselves from others, having alone time (e.g., playing instruments, playing with pets). Either way, it is important to have time and place (both social and physical) where they can be self, because their lives are tough. They have many frictions with others when they try to live with maintaing self (e.g., their own values, perspectives, motoos). Or, if they try to "hide" real self or force different self (e.g., Makoto, Jotaro, Chika, Kosuke, Kanon), they feel again tired of doing so. In such situations, students need to be "healed" to retain their real selves. It is also important to draw a link among their past, present, and future, to gain a sense of directionality in their lives. Past experiences should make some sense to students; they shouldn't be too random. Students should be able to connect what they do now and what they want to do in the future. Details about directionality can be found in another memo. I also think that students need to moving (toward). (The latter "toward" part is more connected to directionality). This I would call "momentum." It is great if you can see where you came from and where you are going to (directionality). But, then you need to be able to feel "how far you came" and "how fast you are moving toward the goal." In terms of the past, students review their past (e.g., using photos, something tangible from past experiences, just memories). They feel that they couldn't do what they can do now. Also, students can feel momentum by passing some milestones. I think Kakeru's comparison between his difficult times and training program is a great example. In the training, he felt he is moving forward by passing each stage. However, say, when he couldn't go to the training programs with students in his year because of his English ability, that was all "get your TOEFL score or English ability to this level." Not many clear milestones before that. Finally, students need to maintain a balance between different types of experiences, such as enjoying vs. striving; familiar vs. unfamiliar; and together vs. alone. The most evident is switching between enjoying and striving. If you only enjoy things, that won't give you a sense of moving toward. But, most students cannot just strive, because it wears out students (over-engaging). You need to switch between enjoying and striving so that you feel refreshed and re-engage. Also, students can do a quick and dirty disengagement from their striving experiences. These disengaging experiences, in contrast to switching to enjoying experiences, don't have to be deep enough. As long as they can divorces students from their immediate striving experiences, that's okay. If it's enjoyable, it's better. If students only pursue familiar experiences, their lives are in danger of being routinized. But, if students only have unfamiliar experiences, it is also tiring. The same for a balance between being with others and being alone. As to perceptions of ikigai, see the consequenses of ikigai, especially personal ones.
Title: Indirect and direct conflicts in comraderies T62 Entry: July 19th, 2015 Thematic Memo 62
I am writing this memo based on my initial coding of Daisuke's transcript. He was very vocal of negative consequences of immediate interactions with comrades. Because my analysis has been focused on positive sides of them, I wanted to think of this phenomenon in this memo. So far, several interviewees mentioned one apparent negative consequences of interactions with those in their comraderies--crashing into each other. It's a phenomenon in which motivated and striving students who share immediate experiences have conflicts with each other, because of different personalities, values, views, agendas, and all. A few interviewees used the term "bachi-bachi" (or the sounds when you make sparks) to describe these situations. These are rather direct conflicts. Often, students become great friends or comrades with those with whom they once had direct conflicts. Thus, students can overcome this type of conflicts, which in turn has positive consequences to their relationships. Another phenomenon I want to add here, in addition to the main topic in this memo, is "being worn out by comrades" (I need add this node). This is a phenomenon in which students feel "too much" through interacting with their comrades and need some distance (both emotional and physical) from them. For instance, Chika felt that her comrades were really smart, motivated, and striving so hard. Spending time with them is encouraging and stimulating usually, but it is sometimes exhausting for her. When she felt that way, she avoided interacting with them. Again, this is not purely negative in that these comrades keep students pushed (and pulled) so that they engage with their lives more. This phenomenon is one way through which students could fall (albeit not completely) from the engaged state to the unengaged state. (Ayane is another example though her reason was a bit different.) Finally, the consequence Daisuke described appears to have the most negative implications to one's engagement. This phenomenon is "entanglement" within a comraderie. Daisuke used the phrase "doro-doro" that indicates a state of being "slimy, muddy, complicated" relationships. This happened to Daisuke, for example, in his Japanese tea ceremony and flow arrangement club that was female-dominated. He said relationships among female members were doro-doro. Another instance was seen in his yobikou or "preparation school" in which (sexual) relationships got really messy. His high school relationships could be described in this way in that his entire class was disliked by students in other classes, because students from his class made called others "dumb." Anyways, this is rather an indirect conflict that does not always lead to healthy outcomes. This type of negative consequences lingered in students' minds and prevented students from sharing further experiences in a genuine, honest manner. In short, there are three types of negative consequences of immediate interactions within comraderies: (a) crashing into each other, (b) being worn out by comrades, and (c) entanglement. The last is the least healthy in terms of students' long-term engagement.
Title: Academic year, job hunt, and future vision T69 Entry: July 27th, 2015 Thematic Memo 69
I am writing this memo based on the diagram 10 on the Powerpoint. I would like to address the relationship among academic year, job hunting, and future vision. My hypothesis here is that students would be exposed more opportunities to think of their future (and past for that matter) as they go through a job hunting process. The two figures in the diagram 10 capture the difference in the temporal axis of ikigai between 1st and 4th year students (for the sake of comparison). Arguably, first-year students are least exposed to these opportunities so that they don't have a clear future vision, especially long-term one. They may have some short-term ones, like studying abroad, becoming a starting member in a varsity team, and so on. Society (mostly school, parents, faculty members, and friends) also expect least out of these younger students in terms of future goals. Thus, their goals tend to be short-term, not long-term, and more importantly their lives would be present-focused, in general. The diagram also illustrates that students in their junior years would have wider options for their future, compared with their seinor counterparts. This does not necessarily mean that senior students would be specialized in their major so that they have less options in possible occupations, because this level of specialization does not usually happen among undergraduate students even in Japan (cf. Japanese undergraduate programs are generally more specialized than North American counterparts). However, senior students still face time limits and other constraints. For example, students usually start their internship in their 3rd year, so they have to finish their study abroad programs by the end of their 2nd year, in order not to be late for job hunting competition. Students in junior years would feel open to new experiences, such as student groups, trying out some recreational teams, and all. However, two exceptions should be noted. First, senior students usually have greater flexibility in taking elective courses, because they have completed their mandatory courses in junior years. Also, in senior years, students can have some week days off, by strategically taking classes on certain dates. Second, if students belong to some sort of student groups (e.g., varsity, recreational sports, cultural, etc.), senior students are usually free from errand-like works. So they may have more time. However, these increased free time would be consumed for job hunting. The diagram also shows some differences in past experiences between junior and senior students. Junior students, generally speaking, have less experiences that could strongly influence who they are. This is simply because they spend less time in college and exposed to less opportunities for such experiences. On the contrary, senior students tend to have more experiences that influenced their sense of self. Thus, the bottom pyramid parts are shown in different sizes.
Title: Clarity of goals T81 Entry: August 4th, 2015 Thematic Memo 81
I am writing this memo based on the initial coding of Eri's transcript. Following the previous memo (80) on the span of goals, this memo concerns another attribute of goals--clarity of goals. This is not a new category. That hasn't been developed well, or more accurately was confounded with another attribute, directionality. What I have tried to discern with the latter is students' perceptions of connections among the past, the present, and the future (well, the latter two are the focus when it comes to goals). The clarity of goals is more about the nature of goals per se; clear goals are specific about the target (e.g., "want to work for an advertisement department in the professional baseball team A to do B," as opposed to "wanting to work in the sport industry"). More importantly, when goals are clear, they illuminate what students lack in and need to work on to achieve the goals. Eri mentioned clarity, or technically a lack thereof, when asked about her high school days. Back then, she was a member of a badminton team and felt that she had had engaged with her life really hard (i.e., ishyou-kenmei or betting a life for). Striving in one domain of her life (i.e., badminton team) had positive effects on other domains such as study. Compared with her high school days, Eri felt that she wasn't really engaging (especially striving) much at the moment of the interview. She wasn't doing any sports competitively. She started her bachelor degree in the Sport and Leisure Management major, but wondered what she wanted to be specialized in under this broad area. She perceived a lack of clarity of goals. Other student participants experienced the same phenomenon--a lack of clarity of goals (e.g., Violet, Sayaka). Interestingly, these two also perceived a high level of clarity of goals when they were members of sport teams. This made me realize that there are types of sources of ikigai that tend to provide clearer goals, and being a member of sport team (or bukatsu in Japanese) is the prime example of source of ikigai with clearer goals. When you work for a team, you usually have some idea of what's your goal or your team's goal (depending on individual or team sport). Based on your current level, you would set your goal at, say, winning the regional game. You know how challenging that goal is given your current level, so you sense how much you have to work. Maybe, you need more power, so weights? You need stamina, so run? Perhaps, skills so more practice. You may find a short temper is your weakness, so do some mental training? Anyways, you can specifiy your goals (or even your teammates or coach can specify a goal for you!) and have some structured ways to bring you closer to the goal. On the contrary, college days sometimes lack in the clarity of goals. Unless you belong to competitive varsity teams or so, they don't usually provide clear goals like competitions. Yeah, there are grades, but... this will be mostly for minority achievers. If you can find some special events like study abroad, you are lucky. You need to work on tests like TOEIC, which would give you exact goal, like the score of 800. If you just go to school and sit in lectures, you wouldn't sense a clarity of goals. You know, at the end of the days, you will have to jump into the infamous job hunting process. But, what industry or company do you want to work for? What is needed? Japanese companies don't have clear job descriptions, and qualifications for a position don't basically exist (university brand is more weighted). A common qualification is called "ningen-ryoku" or literally "human power or ability." It's basically some types of communication abilities. But what types? How can you develop them (clearly not in courses)? Well, popular internships would be an answer. You talk to almuni who got jobs in similar fields to learn what to do. Although I have't engaged in this job hunting process, ususally these internships and meetings with almuni provide something to do for students, and not clear ways to goals. (I recall Daisuke was told to have something "original" in college. Well, great, anything could be original; or nothing would be.)
I am writing this memo based on the initial coding of Remi's transcript. She was very vocal about "giving"-- a type of interactions. She was a rare case in that many students felt they "received" rather than gave in their interactions with significant others. So, I would like to think of how giving relates to engagement and why she was an exception to the pattern. First, types of giving Remi engaged in included throwing a surprise party, giving a present, organizing a home game event for a college basketball team, and supporting a local football club. She distinguished there "supporting" experiences from "doing" experiences, as she learned in her major (i.e., sport & leisure management). There were several other interviewees who touched on giving interactions (e.g., Tidus, Naomi, Kanon). They all engaged in the process of giving. For example, Tidus worked hard in his part-time job and reported that his photo was used in a wedding album to his parents. Or, Kanon was part of throwing a surprise gift to her teacher with her classmates. So, they "engaged in" these interactions. But, more importantly, it appears that they all experienced positive feelings through these interactions. Remi was glad that people she supported looked happy. Tidus was happy when his parents sounded happy over the phone. Kanon was moved when she was taking a photo of the moment when they gave the present to the teacher. Now that I think... Iori's future career in some job to send people to foreign countries and Ayane's volunteer work can be a type of giving. On the contrary, the majority of interviewees thought they had had more receiving experiences than giving experiences. Especially so in their relationships with base-like relationships with, say, family. Or, even in their comraderies, they are often more aware of receiving than giving. What's the difference? Iori's and Ayane's cases were easier in that they were "repaying" types. They had experiences of receiving before, so they wanted to give to others similar great experiences. Kanon could be this type too, since she received much from the teacher and wanted to give something in turn. In contrast, Tidus and Remi rather focused on the process of giving per se. Tidus strived or enjoyed (thus engaged with) experiences (e.g., studying for the entrance exams, part-time job) to make his family happy. In her job hunting process, Remi was asked which she prefers--doing by self or supporting others. She realized her experience of supporting the local football team was consistent with the latter, and decided to pursue a career to support. Tidus was once told by his parents that they would be happy when he is happy. Since then, he realized his experiences and happiness he got out of it were related to happiness of his significant others. Now I think I see... Tidus and Remi (happened to) had giving experiences. Experiences consist of who we are. They also had an opportunity to reflect upon the importance of giving in their lives (i.e., communications with family and HR). They adopted the value into their sense of self. Both were vocal about it during their interveiws.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!