Happy 2023! I hope this year brings you health, prosperity, and clarity.
And speaking of clarity, have you ever reached that mid-point in the year where circumstances change, things get overwhelming, and suddenly you find yourself questioning everything?
I’m working so hard… why are things not going as planned?
What am I doing wrong?
Should I keep doing this?
Am I even in the right career?
And then, the big question…
“What’s my career purpose?”
If you’ve been wrestling with the existential career question, today I’ll share a great framework to help you clarify it. I’ve used it myself and with my coaching clients.
It’s called Ikigai — Japanese for “reason for being.”
Finding your ikigai takes some self-discovery, but it’s totally worth it.
Having a sense of purpose can bring joy and fulfillment to your life and make you feel more motivated and content with your career.
Let’s dive in!
Ikigai is both a philosophy and a tool.
Before we start, let me clarify a few things.
The first is that there are two versions of Ikigai.
Ikigai as a holistic philosophy of life — Japanese mindset.
Ikigai as a self-assessment framework — Western extrapolation.
This is like distinguishing between practicing Buddhism and practicing mindfulness meditation.
So, as pragmatic career-oriented Westerners, we’ll focus on the self-assessment part.
Second, Ikigai is not an exercise to find the one and only calling that will make you happy. Think of it more like a North Star that can include a variety of possible aspects that can make your life feel meaningful.
Ikigai is the sweet spot where four things come together: what you love, what the world needs, what you're good at, and what you can be paid for.
I created a template for you to use. Click HERE to download it.
So, here’s how you fill it out
1. What you love
List things that fire you up and bring the best out of you.
Here are some of mine:
Having deep conversations.
Creating new frameworks
Making sense of complexity
Helping people get unstuck
2. What the world needs
What are the problems that you are most drawn to? What issues do you pay the most attention to or think about more often? What’s broken that you’d love to fix?
Lack of empathy for overwhelmed middle managers
Even the most competent people get stuck and need clarity sometimes
Lack of actionable resources tailored to mid-careerists
The world needs more empowered people in pursuit of their dreams
Knowledge workers need actionable antidotes to cope with toxic cultures.
Limited tools for people going through mid-career crises.
3. What can you get paid for
What skills, ideas, and strengths are individuals or companies willing to purchase? What valuable services, knowledge, or support can you provide?
Here’s my list:
Creating a high-touch signature coaching program
Creating and marketing content (guides, articles, videos, etc.)
Developing in-person and online courses / DIY programs/cohorts
Offering unique consulting services to organizations
4. What are you good at
List your skills, but most importantly, focus on your traits and superpowers. What are the abilities that people approach you for? What are things that are easy for you but difficult for others?
Coaching at an individual level
Building trust and rapport quickly
Coming up with metaphors to explain complex concepts
Asking powerful questions that unlock insights
Synthesize information and connect the dots
Coming up with uncommon ideas like a machine gun
Reframing problems through different angles
5. Explore the intersection — that’s your Ikigai
What are recurring themes? What are areas that merge? What intrigues or excites you?
My Ikigai includes:
Solving existential career conundrums
Using my innovation skills to help people redesign their lives
All matters related to self-reinvention
Creating actionable tools and frameworks to help people get unstuck
Finding your ikigai is a journey, and it may change over time. Your ikigai is unique to you, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach to finding it. Trust your instincts and listen to your heart. With some exploration and self-discovery, you can find your ikigai and get clear on what brings meaning to your career.
Now it’s your turn. Click HERE to download your template.