At the outset of my doctoral studies, it was important to me to produce a research-intensive project that would lead me to applied work in the arts and health, after I finish my program. Thus, I started a process of intentional concept mapping, to plan and revise my interest areas and approaches to research, so I could confidently talk about, and share my learning process with colleagues for their input and feedback along the way.
After a few iterations of the map, I created a fortune teller game with all of my interests mapped onto it, and then stumbled upon the concept of “Ikigai”, which is the Japanese way of being, and connected my interests and skills with the four areas of this diagram. As this exercise was very helpful for me to do at an early stage, I created a blank template of the diagram, which you can read about and download on this blog post: https://medium.com/@CreativAge/what-is-your-ikigai-a-project-planning-worksheet-for-phd-students-7de3fcf1ed42 .
Approaching my dissertation from a more pragmatic lens, with the aims to produce research that has an impact on a macro scale has been rewarding, and at the same time, challenging to problem-solve how the micro stages of a dissertation (courses, exams, proposal, research etc.) fit into my bigger picture goals. There is no one right way to do a map like this; however, I felt that the idea that working towards everything in life with one’s purpose in-mind is more meaningful to me, rather than only focusing on a couple specific areas of professional and creative interests. Life is short and though doctoral studies can feel daunting, the time passes by quickly.