This is part 2, of a two part process. For part 1 visit:
I’ve never come across a career decision framework that gave me actionable answers. Despite the majority of the population requiring a job, the process of connecting people to fulfilling work appears flawed at best.
After two years consuming enough books and courses to equal half my HECS debt I’ve put together the resource I wished I’d come across.
In part 1, we did a deep dive on our past to equip us with self-knowledge, to ‘connect our dots’ and gain clarity about the future.
In part 2, we’re going to use the concept of Ikagai, a Japanese concept that translates to: “the reason you get up in the morning”. It’s an exercise that jedi-mind tricks you into aligning:
- What you love
- What you’re good at
- What you can be paid for
- What the world needs
However, the traditional Ikagai exercise is still fairly flimsy in the answers it gives you. The first time I did it, I thought that was cool but what next? It’s like if someone tells you you’re good at math. Great, but does that mean I should be an investment banker? Mechanical engineer? An actuary?
It keeps the jedi-minding tricking ability of the original Ikagai but provides you with an answer on different careers where you will not only thrive in the role, but find fulfillment.
Most career guidance focuses only on the role you pursue. However, I’ve found your role is only one part. Equally importantly is the business you work for and the people you serve as your customers. Through this exercise you will identify:
- Tasks you’re passionate about doing
- A problem you’re passionate about fixing
- People you’re passionate about helping
- Who you’re passionate about working for
To simplify the process I’ve spent more hours on MIRO than I care to admit creating the perfect template. You are able to download it for free for a short time here: Download Template.
If not, get some sticky notes and a pen ready.
Step 1: What You’re Good At - Your Role
A job in its simplest form is a series of tasks. To identify what these tasks may be refer back to the Life Map and look at your jobs and hobbies. What activities did you thrive in?
For me, I reflected on my love of building things in pre-school, footy coaching in my teens, making funny videos for my holidays and more recently writing.
Aim to identify 5 to 10. One for each sticky.
Line them up in a row. Are any complimentary to one another? If so, cluster them and provide a role title.
From the role title, the final step is to identify relevant job titles. If you’re unsure of different job titles, I don’t blame you. I still struggle to know what different job titles actually do all day. I recommend poking around on different job sites and asking friends and family.
These will be the possible roles you identify going forward. Most people stop at this step, however two-thirds of people report feeling unsatisfied by their work, so let’s not follow what most people do.
Step 2: What The World Needs - Change You Create
The mistake I made following the advice “follow your passions” is concentrating on the skills I loved such as product development. However, I found not all product development led to fulfillment.
It was only when I aligned those skills to a change I’m passionate about like increasing people’s self-knowledge, did fulfillment come.
It made me reflect on how businesses in their simplest form are paid to create change. Architects are paid to change house ideas into homes for families. Coaches are paid to change thoughts into actions that will achieve goals. Chefs are paid to change ingredients into delicious meals.
The secret to finding fulfillment is aligning a change you believe in with the change of a business.
To begin to identify change that you’re passionate about, look back at your Life Map and ask yourself the following questions. Once again use stickies or download the template here.
- What challenges have you overcome in your life?
They may relate to your:
- Education - achieving a certain mark in a subject
- Physical Health - physical ailments or exercise related
- Mental Health - no explanation needed.
- Family - circumstances you've found yourself in
- Work - projects you've completed
- Friends - situations you've faced
- Personal - any other struggle you've overcome
- Now think about periods in your life where you helped people, what was that thing:
- In childhood?
- At work?
- With your hobby?
- Next, what are a few frequently asked questions people ask?
Don’t take this too literally. Ignore pleasantries such as ‘how are you?’. Think about interesting areas about your work, personal experiences you’ve had or quirky things about who you are as a person. It may not be a question you’ve ever been asked but you’re sure people are curious about. For me the question was “why go from someone chasing the cheap thrills of life to someone seeking fulfillment in the work they do?. For an answer read here.
- Lastly, what do you feel passionate about changing in the world?
It may be something as big as climate change, correcting an injustice such as inequality, or simple as making people happier.
A few prompts are found below:
- If you were God what things would you change in the world?
- What positive impact do you want to have on others?
- If you could be known for creating something what would that be?
- Identify trends
Once you’ve recorded all those answers, begin to cluster them based on similar themes.
Label each cluster based on the common theme underlying the type of change. The green stickies are my labels.
These labels are your criteria for the business you want to work for. For instance I want to work for a business that either:
- Increases self-knowledge
- Better matching people to jobs
- Improves business performance
- Reduces someone's suffering
By working in a business that does this, even on the days I may not feel like working, I still find purpose in the work that I do.
Step 3: What You Love - Who You Help
Ben Crowe identifies that a great truism is that life isn’t about you, it’s about the impact you can have on someone else’s life. It’s within this impact we find our sense of meaning and fulfillment.
In step 2 we identify the impact we want to make, this step is about who you make it on.
Once again use stickies or download the template here.
One of the first things you learn in business is if you’re for everyone, you’re for no one. So, referring back to the green ‘change you create’ stickies, who needs this change? Who is the target persona of the problem you're solving? Who would you enjoy helping most?
For me, a change I want to create is an increase in self-knowledge. A target persona is people experiencing a quarter/mid-life crisis. I believe these crises are often the result of a misguided understanding of what will bring them fulfillment.
Upon identifying the target audience, think about how you relate to them empathetically. The greater you understand the person experiencing the problem, not only the more supportive you will be, but the more passionate you’ll be about helping them since you can empathise with the problem.
As someone who experienced a quarter-life crisis myself, I’m highly motivated to help minimise the suffering of others who find themselves in a similar situation.
Step 4: What People Pay For - Solutions That Already Exist
Now we know our ideal role, the change we create and the people we help, lets identify who already does this. For those looking for a job this becomes your hitlist for potential employers. For those who want to start their own thing, it provides you a list of people whose roadmap you can imitate.
Once again use stickies or download the template here.
Refer back to the changes you want to create. Begin identifying at least one person and one business that already does this.
For the self-knowledge industry, a person is Ben Crowe and an organisation is Write of Passage.
Step 5: Putting It All Together
Here is where the Jedi-Mind tricking takes place.
We put it all together in the sorting table.
Firstly, copy and paste all the green stickies into the first column: change you create.
Secondly, copy and paste the pink 'who you do it for' stickies into the second column, matching them to the change created.
Thirdly, copy and paste the dark blue 'What Already Exists' stickies into the third column, matching them to the change created.
Fourthly, copy and paste the light blue 'role' stickies of the roles that excite you into every row of the fourth column.
You’ve created the criteria for anywhere between one to five ideal roles. You know the change you want to create in the world, who you want to create it for, possible employers and your role.
In a perfect world you’re able to align all four of these things. However, if you’re only starting out in your career, aim for at least two and use the two you’re missing as a roadmap for your future career.
However, the amazing thing about this two part process. It’s a living breathing guide. As you have more life experiences, add them to your life map and see how your passions and Nikigai evolve over time.
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