Returning home from our year-long family sabbatical to Spain in 2018 I knew I wanted to dedicate the next phase of my life to a career I loved and that felt purposeful, but I didn’t know what that was. I had taken the traditional path out of college, I had worked in corporate, gone to business school, dipped my toe in a variety of other careers, stayed home with my kids, become very involved in charitable causes.
I was determined that my next career step was to be a true fit to who I am so I embarked on a journey to figure out what that was.
It felt like it took a long time, but in retrospect it was actually only nine months. It was months of intentionally finding comfort in what I called “the messy middle” – being open to everything but in the beginning knowing little of my direction.
I worked with a career coach from my business school.
I joined a team of alumni from my school to explore ideas and keep each other accountable for our tactical actions.
I read books.
I talked to A LOT of people.
I interviewed for a “real” job in higher education.
At one point I started drawing Venn diagrams (a holdover from my days of loving math as a student).
My idea was that I wanted to find something that fit perfectly for me right in the middle of those overlapping circles. It took nine months but I found it.
Fast forward another 1 ½ years and I came across an article that stopped me cold and made my eyes light up.
It talked about:
A Japanese word I never had heard of before.
And I learned this word defined that very spot in the middle of a Venn diagram!
The definition of ikigai is one’s reason for being, which in principle is the convergence of one’s personal passions, beliefs, values, and vocation: those who follow the concept of ikigai undertake the activities of their life with willingness and a satisfying sense of meaning.
I found my ikigai.
You can find yours too.
It takes effort.
But it’s so worth it.