If you’ve ever asked someone for career advice, you were probably told to “follow your passion”. On paper, this is great advice. Who wouldn’t want to do what they are passionate about every day?
The reality is that what you are passionate about may not exactly be a viable career. After all, I’m passionate about the game of golf, but I was a long ways from being able to make it my career if I didn’t want to live out of my car for years on end.
There have been plenty of times over the course of my career where I thought I needed to change directions. I thought I needed to find a new “passion” and go do that for my work every day. Fortunately, through a few minor changes in my work environment and business structure, I have been able to create the ideal work setup for myself.
Since that time, I have come to learn of the term “Ikigai” which according to Wikipedia “...is a Japanese concept that means ‘a reason for being.’ The word ikigai is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile.”
Here are the four main areas of Ikigai:
What You Love
When searching for your next career, or simply a new work environment to thrive in, you want to make sure you are doing what you love to do. There are all sorts of things you probably love to do. Make a list of these things, regardless of how silly they may seem in the terms of a career. As you go through each day, when something really strikes you as something you love, write it down! This could end up being an endless list that continues to evolve over the course of your life.
What You Are Good At
Now that you know a few of the things you love - what are you good at? You may love a lot of different things, I know I sure do. But that doesn’t mean you are good at them, or maybe just not good enough to make a career out of it. We all have special talents that we may not think twice about, but in the eyes of someone else can be quite amazing. Are there things you get complimented on on a regular basis? You can also ask your friends and family to tell you what they think your talents are. You will probably be surprised by their answers.
What The World Needs
After listing out things you love and filtering down to what you are also good at, you need to make sure the world actually needs what you are offering. There are inventors across the world that come up with the most amazing new tools and gadgets that go unnoticed. I wish it weren’t true, but if the world doesn’t need what you are offering it, your service or product will likely fall short of your goals. It is good to be ahead of the times by innovating, but innovating too much too soon is often a killer for even the best of ideas. Companies large and small face this problem on a daily basis.
What You Can Be Paid For
The final step in the process is figuring out what you can be paid for. You’ve determined what you love, what you are good at, and what the world needs, but can you also be paid for the service you’re offering? This is the most difficult step, as determining what you can be paid for often requires the most trial and error. You have to put yourself out there and most likely fail a few times before you can really bring it all together. If you can get at least 3 individuals to buy your product or service before you launch, you are likely onto something.
How I Found My Ikigai
As you may know, I have spent my entire career in financial services. I started out at a life insurance company before taking a job offer at an independent fee-only financial planning firm a few years later. Almost two years ago now I opened Lyndale Financial and feel I have really found my ikigai. In starting my own business and being responsible for my own successes and failures, I truly feel I am where I need to be.
Lyndale Financial is a business where I get to do something I love by helping others, do something I’m good at by understanding personal finance, do something the world needs by educating others about their financial situation, and do something that can be paid for by providing a quality service.
There were times in my previous work environments where I questioned whether or not this was the career for me. Little did I know, I just needed to craft the right environment for myself to thrive in. As a golfer, I was responsible for the effort I put into becoming a great golfer. As a business owner, I have the same responsibilities, which I absolutely love.
I hope you too can find your ikigai.