What should I do with my life: Ikigai

Monday, October 14, 2019

Ikigai
This is a topic I've been passionate about for a long time. Around three years ago I found an amazing tool to help answer this huge question. 

Ikigai

Ikigai is a Japanese term that means: Reason for being.

Sounds simple right? It is. Let's dig in.

There are four sections of the Ikigai venn diagram (see image below).
  1.  What you love
  2. What the world needs
  3. What you can be paid for
  4. What you are good at
These seem straight forward  enough right? The coolest part of the Ikigai venn diagram is actually what lies where the circles intersect. 
  • Your mission is what you love and what the world needs.
  • Your passion is what you love and what you are good at.
  • Your profession is what you are good at and what you can be paid for.
  • Your vocation is what you can be paid for and what the world needs.
Digging deeper the pockets where three circles intersect tell us what happens if we have acquired three of the circles but lack the fourth one. These include:
  • Delight and fullness, but not wealth
  • Satisfaction but feelings of uselessness
  • Excitement and complacency but sense of uncertainty
  • Comfortable but feeling of emptiness
What should I do with my life

When I first came across Ikigai a few years ago it blew my mind. I was like: they should teach this in high school. I'm sure you can look at this chart and see how your career or life path is either totally in line with the diagram or how it is way off. 

What is my purpose in life?

Do you find yourself driving home from a long day at work or in the shower before work thinking what is my purpose in life? I feel you! I have had several jobs that I love. I've even had jobs that I was excited to get up and go in to. The problem is when you only meet three of the four circles you are lacking in one area... usually a big area. You find yourself feeling useless, uncertain, empty, or lacking the funds you need to live the life you want.

You can take your collective experiences in life, lay them over this chart, and do nothing or you could start planning how to change your career to fulfill your life's purpose.

Ikigai

How to figure out what you want to do. 

It may seem scary but I'm sure you know at least a handful of people who have figured it out. Even if they have never heard of Ikigai. You can have that life too. No matter how long you have worked at a job, or how much time you have invested into your career you can change. I have spent a lot of time over the last few years listening to and observing people all across the country. I have a friend who graduated college and decided she needed to travel the globe. She wasn't exactly sure what she was meant to do but she went for it and she is now working in multiple countries at a job she is good at. Doing what she loves while helping the planet. I also have friends of retirement age who were so close to a pension they could taste it. They got a wild hair of an idea after a health scare and went for it. Downsized their home, bought an RV and now work and live full time in their motorhome tending to national parks and lighthouses all over the country. The view from their kitchen window now ranges from a misty Oregon coast view to herds of buffalo. I now want to help you figure out what you want to do using Ikigai.
  1. Take out a blank piece of paper.
  2. Take the list from the top of this post and write: What do I love? 
  3. List as many things as you can think of. Then start on the next topic: What does the world need?
  4. Then complete the list.
  5. Now take a highlighter or use your pen to circle items that you think you would like to have in a career. Here's an example: if you love fitness and you believe the world needs people to help each other maybe you should look into teaching fitness classes at retirement homes. 
  6. On the bottom of the page list careers that come to mind that meet all four circles.
Now here's the hard part. Putting your foot down and finding your dream job. 
  • While you are still working your current job
    • use breaks to sign up for job alerts on LinkedIn or Indeed (any job board that will send notifications.
    • join groups/forums online where professionals in this job category would hang out. (ex: senior citizen fitness instructors group) 
    • network with people in person or online
    • volunteer at organizations where you can either meet people who may know of opportunities or organizations that you want to work for and get to know the staff. When an opening occurs you will have references within the organization for your resume and these people will become your coworkers.
    • obtain certificates/degrees/or general training on nights and weekends (or mornings if you work the graveyard shift). 
    • get out of your own way. Don't let fear hold you back. This will not be an overnight change. It will take time. I am still working on this myself. You will notice a shift in your mindset. You will obtain clarity around your purpose. You will succeed if you just keep moving forward.
Get out of your own way and live the life you were meant to live.

I hope this post was insightful. I love the topic of Ikigai and I could write about it all day. Connect with me and let me know if this post helped you or how you plan to ease into a transition where your career is your reason for being.

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