The Best Word You Can Use to Describe Your Work
In a previous article, I shared practical steps in getting unstuck on the journey to identify your vision. Once you're unstuck, it's time to hone in on your vision and the viability it has in your life. Almost a decade ago, I came across an article about ikigai (don't worry, I'll explain) while I was searching for new and different ways to help a few startup founders align the disruption they were bringing to the world and to their lives with their vision for their lives. It might sound hokey; I assure you it is not. It is easy to run out of steam when you are trying to achieve the impossible.
Prior to building out a first-stage business plan, I always like to do a few litmus tests on the human component of starting a business and/or creating the next big product or service. High-growth startups (businesses that solve big problems and/or result in big opportunities that impact masses of people) are not for the faint-of-heart. Being a founder of this type of business requires grit, commitment and resilience. There are pivots and people pulling you in multiple directions. The work becomes your life, filled with very high-highs and very low-lows.
This type of commitment can come at a cost, but it doesn't have to. When you work at what you love and view the work as an experience of living what fuels you personally, emotionally, financially, instead of the business working you, your conviction to fulfill your vision only becomes stronger, regardless of the many obstacles that will come along the way. Ikigai helps you move beyond the distinction between balancing work and life and instead forces a mindset whereby you view your life as integrated. The why, what, how, were, when and with whom weaves all parts of your life together and keeps you grounded in what is important to you.
Ikigai pronounced, "ee-key-GUY," is a Japanese concept that offers a structured approach to identify your reason for being or why you get out of bed in the morning. Ikigai draws the commonality between what you love, what the world needs, what people value enough to pay for, and your unique capabilities and talent. I have witnessed first-hand in myself and in the leaders whom I assist that living your ikigai is the optimal way to living a better and longer life. If you are missing or lacking one of the circles, then you move farther away from your ikigai. Your fuel and motivation deplete and so does everything around you.
Ikigai applied to your next big thing
Ikigai can and should be used to refine your vision for yourself, your relationships with loved ones and your role in making the world a better place for your customers. While there is no one way to create and use ikigai in the context of refining your next big thing, years of applying a x step approach has proved successful. The steps are:
- Treat this exercise separate from all others. Before you begin populating your ikigai vin diagram, put aside the work you did in the visioning exercise from last week's post. You will use the visioning input after you feel confident that you have created a "good enough" ikigai that represents you.
- Take a walk. There's something about a change of scenery, particularly when it includes movement, such as a walk, run, roll or cycle helps open your mind. As you consider each your answers, remember that these answers reflect what you want for your life, not someone else's version of what your life should be. Return to your ikigai immediately and write with abandon. No editing allowed.
- Bring it all together. Your final step in this process is to compare the vision for your next big thing with your reason for being. Look for areas of natural convergence and divergence. At times, your ikigai will inform how you will fulfill your vision's desired experiences, outcomes and relationships while other times, the reverse is true. The point of this last step is to ensure that your three to five-year vision moves you toward your ikigai and that every step you take is a living example of what fuels your life.
Once you know your ikigai, then you know your direction and purpose in life. Self-imposed and externally placed barriers begin to lose their power while enablers for your vision being to appear, even at the darkest of times. Next week, marks the final piece to this three-part series. The final piece is aimed to assist you in developing the mindset you need to get your from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.