In the last few decades the world has opened up to most of us living and working in western countries. We face a lot of possibilities out there when it comes to lifestyle, relationships and of course, professional careers. This may sound like the freedom we always wished for: Free to choose a job, to study what we are interested in or even having the possibility to study.
But a wide pool of possibilities brings along even more decisions. They may leave us anxious about the future. What if a certain decision was not the right one? What if we lose one or even more years studying the wrong subject? Or what if we choose the wrong career and have a job that does not fulfill us?
Well, that is why it is so vital to find a job that you are passionate about. In other words: Find your personal Ikigai.
Ikigai? Never heard of it?
Ikigai is the Japanese word for “the reason for being”. That does not mean you should be living for your job. But still your profession is an essential part of your life. A full-time job of at least 40 hours a week means you work a third of each day’s time. And this for 35 or even more years of your life. A huge part of your lifetime, don’t you think?
Ikigai in a professional context could mean finding your dream job: the place where your interests match with your talents, which makes you happy and pays your bills.
In the diagramm above you can see the four major sections, that intersect with each other: Your interests, talents, the meaning of your profession to the world and the need on the job market. Where they exactly intersect depends on your personality. For instance, if you have a broad range of interests and talents, then these sections will overlap more.
How to find your personal Ikigai
Here are four simple steps everybody can easily follow at home. No matter how old you are or which rung of the job ladder you find yourself at right now, it is always worth finding out more about your passion in a job. Just take some time to be as comprehensive as possible.
1. Explore your interests
List all your hobbies and whatever you like to do in your free time. The things on your list must not be relevant to your career. Just list what is important in your life. Maybe it is easier for you to use some aids of memory, like: what would you bring to an island if you could just bring 5 items or what were you passionate about when you were a child? This could be spending time with your dog as well as lying in the sun or playing video games.
Look at your list and find patterns. If your dog is important to you, of course you like animals. But the point is that you may also like caring for others or going for long walks, which e.g. caring for a dog implies.
2. Find matching talents and skills
Make a second list with all your talents. What are you extraordinarily good at? Or what do other people ask you for help with? List all the skills you gained during your (professional) life as well as things you like doing in your free time. For example, if you are good at sewing or have a knack for children.
Then compare your list of interests to your list of talents and skills. For sure there will be a pattern. Consider that not all of them must fit. I e.g. like singing, but I am really bad at it. That’s why I just sing while driving a car alone. I do not need it for my career. It stays my hobby, and that’s good.
3. Match with different jobs
You have now compared all your interests and talents and detected some coincidences? Perfect! Then move on to the next step: Match your profile with job profiles, that fit with some of your talents and interests.
If you are at the beginning of your career, you can read some job posts or talk to friends who work in a field you are interested in. We developed a Matching Tool especially for this step. By answering 14 questions we match your personality with all the people who have a video interview on whatchado.com.
Besides that you can take the chance and watch more than 5.000 videos from people in different industries – from Startup founders to CEOs of big corporations, from trainees to freelancers – or find out about over 100 different professions. Then ask yourself whether the job profiles that catch your attention match with your interests and talents.
Hint: Make sure that you also look at job profiles that do not interest you right away. Often they might be more attractive when you have more detailed information.
4. Check the relevance on the job market
Now evaluate which of the job profiles on your list also enables you to make a living. One of the fastest and easiest ways is a quite successful method: Just go to any job search engine and find out how many results you get when searching for a specific profession. You may also assign a filter to find out what is special in your city or your country.
Note that this does not necessarily provide any statistically correct information of the job market but gives a quick overview in which direction you may want to head. When having finished the fourth step, look for more detailed information about the profession of your choice by e.g. talking to people who work in this profession.
The most important thing: Do what you really love
With the findings of those four steps in mind, you may rethink the career you planned for yourself. But in the end of the day the most important thing is and always will be: Do what you really love.
Judith Massar is Content Creator and Textninja at whatchado. She writes about everything from career to lifestyle and literature.
Photo credit: Cover image by Pixabay