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A framework to define your career (and life) purpose. Template included.

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.

  1. Ikigai as a holistic philosophy of life — Japanese mindset.

  2. 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?

Mine include:

  • 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?

Mine are:

  • 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.

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