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A two step process to find your perfect career using Ikigai

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

‘Do what you love, are good at, can get paid for and what the world needs’

This article explores the four Ikigai questions - What am I good at? What do I love? What does the world need? and What can I get paid for? You can check out our other blogs about Ikigai here and find out about our career coaching offers here

We all want to be happy, but we often have no idea what it is that we want to do, our purpose, or how to find it. Being happy means not only fulfilling your own desires but what the world needs as well. If it is something you love you will want to do it every day.

This article is about how to apply the principles of Ikigai to the problem of finding a career or purpose that really fits you and the world around you. It pays attention to what is ultimately important to you and aligns that to the kind of career that will provide you with a feeling of satisfaction and harmony.

The Japanese word ‘Ikigai’ is derived from ‘Iki’, meaning ‘life’ and ‘kai’ meaning the realisation of hopes and expectations

And because how we earn a living is a core need for most people, the angle that we will take is how to navigate the four areas of the Ikigai, using it to find that career or purpose that really fits you.

So, lets analyse the Ikigai diagram and break it down.

Looking at the Ikigai diagram there are four circles overlapping each other which intersect at a number of points.

The four circles relate to the four themes - What you are good at, what you love, what the world needs and what you can be paid for.

This short video helps to explain the process so feel free to watch it now or after you have read the article

Step 1

The first step to using the Ikigai diagram as a template, and to help find your Ikigai, is to list all of the things that relate to each of the 4 points – asking yourself the questions of ‘What am I good at?’ ‘What do I love?’ ‘What does the world need?’ and ‘What can I get paid for?’

'What am I good at?’

This are not just skills but also behaviours. You could be really good at knitting, listening, growing plants, being calm – Think in this way - What have you never gotten bored of? That you get drawn back to time and again. What gets you in flow that you may forget to eat or drink? list all of them

'What do I love?’

This list is all about what you really enjoy - it could be singing, playing video games, travelling, cooking, meeting people – Think in this way - What skills have you spent time practicing, what do people ask you to help with and is there anything you want to gain as a skill? list them all

‘What can I be paid for?’

This is where you will list the possible types of work that you could be paid for if you already have or were to have the skill – Think like this - What have you been paid for, what do you want to get paid for and what would you be doing if you were not already in a job? list them all

‘What does the world need?’

This can be a tricky question and you may have on your list things like ‘compassion’ or ‘for people to have help reaching their potential’ – Think about it this way - what do the people around you need and how can you contribute to create a positive effect? list them all

All of these questions are personal to you and how you experience yourself and the world around you. There is no right or wrong way to do this, your lists are personal to you.

Step 2

Now that you have your lists it’s time to look at the parts of the diagram that intersect and find the common themes that connect circle and the intersection.

1. Where ‘What I love’ intersects’ What I am good at’

= Your Passion

Passion – There are things we engage with, do, experience that we really enjoy. And when that thing is something you will jump out of bed for, will put at the top of your to do list, will at always make time for, then that can be called a passion. It excites you, gets your motor running, is always a source of enjoyment and curiosity.

What things on the ‘What I love’ list are similar to the’ What I am good at’ list? These things are your passions so note them down.

2. Where ‘What I love’ intersects ‘What the World needs’

= Your Mission or Purpose

Mission or Purpose – This is something you want to achieve; it has an important place for you as a necessary thing to happen, an important goal. Nothing can get in the way of achieving it and you are determined that failure is not an option. It doesn’t have to be world changing, it just has to be a solid worthwhile goal.

What things on the ‘What I love’ list are similar to the’ What the world needs’ list? These things are your mission so note them down.

3. Where ‘What the world needs’ intersects ‘What I can be paid for’ = Your Vocation

Vocation – For the purposes of Ikigai, the definition of vocation is to do what the world needs. If the world needs more fun, and what you do is primarily fun for yourself and others, then it can be said to be a vocation – you are providing fun that the world needs more of.

What things on the ‘What the world needs’ list are similar to the’ What I can be paid for’ list? These things are your vocation, so note them down.

4. Where ‘What I can be paid for’ intersects with ‘What I am good at’ = Your Profession

Profession – The work you do is essentially your profession. It doesn’t matter what it is or that it pays - as a concept it is whatever you spend your time doing in the service of others. Employed, self-employed, volunteer, master or novice - in whatever guise it may come, the work you do is your profession.

What things on the ‘What the world needs’ list are similar to the’ What I can be paid for’ list? These things are your profession, so note them down.

Considering these foundational questions helps you to focus on finding the career choice that really fits and links to your Passion, Mission, Profession and Vocation.

So, you now have four refined lists and it is time to make the final refinement.

What things in those lists are similar? What themes are shining out now that are common in all four lists?

There may be just one thing, or a few. It is here that you have found you Ikigai career. This is now the thing that is common across all of what is important to you.

The example below gives you an idea of how this can work for you.

It may be a quick exercise, or it may take some time, but whatever the process is for you it is most definitely a worthwhile one.

Finding your Ikigai is a constant process so:

  1. Ask yourself tough questions

  2. Answer honestly

  3. Take your time

  4. Be open to trying new things

Don’t delay – Use the Ikigai to find your perfect career

And to help you on that journey - Book a free coaching session with a Shared Inspiration Coach who believes in you.


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