Ep. 56 How to find your ikigai

how to find your ikigai

In today’s episode, Anna looks at how to find your ikigai in the fourth L, LEAD: career and impact, and helps you review where you are today and where you want to get to.

And so we come to the area that is most traditionally associated with success: your career.

We’re not talking about the prestigious job title and salary here, or even that 7-figure business, but a broader definition of success that involves finding your ‘ikigai’: doing work that you enjoy, using your particular skills and strengths, and ultimately making a meaningful difference in the world – while meeting your income goals as well.

Join us on this week’s podcast episode as we dive into the fourth ‘L’ of the Reimagining Success model, LEAD: career and impact.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside




Hello there and welcome back as we continue to reimagine success; looking back on 2019 and looking ahead to 2020.

Now if you’ve been following along, and I hope you have, and if you’ve been part of my community for a while then you will be very familiar by now with the five L’s model. But just as a recap, the idea of the five L’s model is really to help us look beyond the narrow definition, the conventional definitions of success that we tend to associate ourselves with, in terms of the career, the work domain specifically, achieving, setting goals. In fact, even within other areas like wellbeing and so on that we talk about, some of us who have that kind of achiever syndrome I guess, or achiever mindset, it would be a kinder way to put it, might be pushing ourselves; always going to the next marathon and we have to lose 10 kilos and we have to learn a new language by Thursday next week, whatever it might be.

So even if it is another area of your life, it might be that you still have that sort of manic goal setting. And what we’re trying to do here is to look more holistically at different areas of your life and in a different way in terms of, not judging, just assessing, observing, stating how it is now, what you’ve been doing so far and what you might want to do differently next year. And so we’ve looked at live, wellness and wellbeing, love, relationships and romance, learn, development and growth. And today we’re looking at lead, career and impact. And next week will be a fun one to finish off on. So we’ll be looking at laugh, fun and spontaneity.

And so today we’re looking at lead, career and impact.

And the whole idea of this five L’s model and re-imagined success is to look beyond the traditional confines again of work, career and so on. However, even though I’m very against the idea of the sort of artificial dichotomy of work and life; work should not be equal to life, work is a part of life; one of many parts, right? Even though I say that and I’m moving away from just looking at that, of course we do need to and want to look at it as part of this holistic view because ignoring work and career altogether would be missing the point as well.

So that’s why we’re looking at career. But we’re looking at career and work and business, not from that traditional prestigious job title, the salary increases or even in fact, if maybe you have left the nine to five as some of you are in the process of or have already done, even that sort of six-figure, seven-figure whatever business that you’re striving for, right? So whether it’s your traditional conveyor belt that you have and the outward superficial, I guess, definition of success that’s associated with a traditional career, or if you have left that and you’ve embraced a new definition, it’s still very easy to get caught up in the hustle of the business and being that successful entrepreneur and so on.

So in either case, we’re not looking at that, but looking at that broader definition of success; something that for me involves finding your ikigai. And I’ve talked about this before. It’s the Okinawan concept of the reason why you get out of bed in the morning. It’s the Venn diagram of doing work that you enjoy, that uses your particular skills and strengths and ultimately, makes a meaningful difference in the world; while of course, also bringing in money. So achieving your income goals as well. So really reflecting again in the more holistic way on work. So thinking about work that you really love doing, that you’re passionate about, that you’re really good at, that really makes a difference, that the world needs, and also, that brings in money and not just sort of a minimum income, but really what you want to meet your needs, your family’s sort of needs, and I want to say desires, and really gives you the quality of life that you’re after.

So again, as ever, before I even go into the detail of this, I’d love for you to think about where are you today in terms of career and impact? So impact is a word I’m using there because again, we’re not talking about just career in terms of progression up that linear path, the ladder and so on, that’s the sort of 1980s power suit, kind of a visual of career, we’re looking at the opportunity in our work to make a difference in the world, to do work that’s in our zone of genius, to really serve other people, to make a contribution and to make an impact. And that’s for me, fundamentally, what this is about. Now that impact may be in your small community, it may be in your family. In fact, if you want to think in those terms, of course, it will be among your clients and it may even be on a grander scale as well. But whatever impact means for you, where are you in this area today? How do you feel in terms of your work, in terms of career?

And let’s say again on a scale of one to 10. So as ever, we’re not judging, we’re not criticising, we’re just reflecting on, “Okay, you know what? This is an area that I’ve been focusing a lot on and I’ve really achieved a lot of goals this year. My business is up and running. I’ve got the income beginning to come in and I’m really excited about doing work I love and so on. So I might be an eight actually at the moment,” which is fantastic. Or it might be actually, “I’m almost burning out. I’ve got this toxic work culture in the office. My boss hates me. I don’t feel like I’m making a meaningful contribution in the work I’m doing, and I’m just not sure what’s going on in my career.” And then you might be a three or four. And doesn’t matter if it’s a nine or a two, just reflect on where you are today and importantly, see how you feel about that.

So it doesn’t have to be a negative thing necessarily. It might be an intentional focus. So you’ve single-mindedly focused on career this year and that’s why you’re a nine out of 10. Or perhaps actually, this year you’ve been really working on your relationships because you’ve had a tough time with your partner, you’ve been going through a divorce perhaps, or you might have been focusing on your health, your wellbeing, you’ve had some kind of illness and been in hospital this year or you’ve been focusing on running marathons or who knows what. So as long as it’s an intentional focus, then that’s actually not necessarily a bad thing and you might still choose to do something differently next year. However, of course, if you’re feeling unhappy, unsatisfied with the number that you arrive at, then of course this is an opportunity to change things up for the new year.

So I want to ask you again a few different questions and these are thought starters.

They’re in no way all-encompassing. There may be other aspects you want to consider, but first of all, do you have a vision for your business and how it fits into the rest of your life? This is really the core pillar of re-imagining success in your business. Understanding, in terms of the priorities in your life, where that fits and really designing a career and business that works for your values, for your family situation, for what’s important to you rather than the usual approach, which is do the other way around.

Do you enjoy the work that you do? Are you using your core skills and strengths in your work? So do you feel like, “Yes,” every day? You’re really challenging yourself and doing your best work? You’re being used to your full potential? Are your values aligned with your work and your clients? So are the values of the company where you’re working aligned with your personal values? Are you working with clients who you really feel, “Yes, I’m aligned with their purpose. They get what I’m trying to do and I’m really contributing to their bigger mission and purpose”? Do you feel that you’re making a meaningful impact? And meaning, by the way, is such a core piece again of work, it’s that impact. It is making a difference. It’s doing work that you really feel is ultimately important.

Are you achieving your financial goals, your income targets? And that of course is important too. So we can talk about maybe rethinking how we feel about money and addressing our limiting beliefs and perhaps we can live on less than we think and so on and so on; however, nonetheless, there is always a financial goal. There is always the imperative of paying for the bills and putting food on the table and so on. That’s really important. So do you feel like you’re making ends meet in a comfortable way? Do you feel secure in your income?

Are you making progress as fast as you’d like?

So whether it’s in terms of that internal career progression as if that’s where you are and that’s where you want it to be or more likely, if you’re starting maybe your side hustle or you’re getting a business up and running, are you seeing results as quickly as you’d like? And to be honest, probably the answer is no for most of us there because the reality is it takes much longer than we think.

Are you clear on what your priorities are in your business? So again, whether you’re just beginning to think about setting up a business or you have something up and running already, or perhaps you have a functioning business and you’ve just been kind of prodding away on the goals you set yourself a few years ago, are you now clear on what the next step is? Maybe you’ve been really hustling away to get your website up and you’re like, “Okay, now I’ve got my website up. What on earth do I do now?” Or you’ve got your first clients, you’ve got that started, your one-on-one coaching that say, “What am I now going to do? Do I look at group coaching? Do I write a book? Do I launch a podcast? What are the priorities for 2020?”

Are you creating something that you’re proud of? Now that is something that’s so important. I think that’s a really meaningful way to look at this and you want to perhaps make your children proud of you. You want them to see you as a role model, in terms of going after your dreams and creating something that really makes a difference. Again, that has integrity, that is aligned with your personal values and your family values. And you feel also that you’re leaving sort of a legacy. You’re not just going into the office every day and doing some stuff on Excel and sending some emails and going to meetings. You’re actually creating something substantial, something tangible. Perhaps a book, perhaps a course, perhaps really seeing the results among your clients and having those testimonials and feedback afterwards.

And finally, are you happy with your work life balance? If that’s the term you want to use. Or more likely, work/life integration, which is what I talk about in one of my five pillars of the sustainable escape plan. So are you happy with the balance between hustling and working [inaudible 00:10:06] your business and your personal priorities; being with your family, and in fact, all the other four L’s, right? So those are some questions to think about. The vision, the priorities for your business, enjoyment, skills, values. So really, your ikigai is well here, making a meaningful impact, earning the money you want and need, making progress, creating that legacy and ultimately as well, considering the work/life balance and integration.

So what I want you to do, as we did in the last few weeks on the other areas, really think about, “Okay, where I am today and how does that show how I’ve been working on this in the past year? So how is that a reflection on the efforts I’ve been putting in, the actions I’ve been taking?” Is it that you didn’t have a clear plan last year and that’s why you haven’t made progress? Is it that you had a clear vision and plan but you didn’t execute it? So really understanding what’s worked this year in this area and then what hasn’t worked so well.

Then thinking about, “Okay, this time next year, do I want to be in a different place?”

And probably yes, because we all want to have movement and feel like we’re moving forwards and progressing and learning and growing and making a bigger impact. So where do you want to be this time next year in this area? Do you want to have changed career into something completely different? Do you want to just sort of evolve to the next step where you are? Do you want to make sure that you’re really stepping things up and bringing in more clients more consistently so you have that income coming in? What are the priorities for you in this area?

And then get super specific, in terms of, okay, how are you going to get there? What are the specific actions you’re going to take? So is it that you know exactly what you need to do, you just haven’t done it yet? In which case, you need to buckle down. Yes, there’s the aspect of discipline and accountability, but also sitting down and really planning this, blocking it into your calendar and showing up every day; making it a habit, as I always say, almost like brushing your teeth. You don’t question it, you don’t try to persuade yourself that you should do this. But every Monday morning you get up, “This is what I’ve got to do. Send my 10 emails, do my three pitches, call XYZ. And so on.”

So get super clear on your actions. Is it that actually, you don’t even know where you want to be next year? In which case you might want to spend some time re-imagining success. So reflect on what does the ideal business setup look like for you or what is the next step for you in terms of your career? How do you want to think about this? In which direction are you trying to move? And really spend the time painting a vivid picture of where you’re trying to get to. Because of course, if you don’t know where you’re trying to get to, you have very little chance of ever getting there. And if you do, you won’t know that you’re there, if that makes sense, in a very convoluted way. So really understanding what success looks like for you in this area; a year from now, three years from now. You can goes far into the distance as you want to, but really, primarily of course, now we’re talking over the next year.

Or maybe you have the vision, you have the self motivation, you just don’t know where to start.

You don’t know how now to bring this to life, you don’t know the steps you need to take and you need that support, that mentorship; in which case you might want to work with a coach or find somebody who’s a few steps ahead of you who can guide you there as well.

Okay, so that’s the area of lead, career and impact. A really cool area and an interesting one and exciting one. Again, I hope this helps you to rethink how you’re reflecting on this particular area; not in terms of the linear career path and the promotion and, “Should I take this role in Dubai, and should I do this and should I apply to that and so on,” but really big picture. Again, as a holistic; really reflecting on your ikigai, on your skills, on the values, on the meaningful impact you’re making, and yes, of course, the bigger, sort of financial goals as well. Making progress, really working on those priorities and importantly, balancing it with other areas of your life. And especially if you’re in the early days of a business, perhaps launching a business alongside a full time job, then of course, that might be then a little bit imbalanced in the short term, but still having that awareness, knowing it’s temporary, knowing it’s just now that you need to get it up and running, but at the same time also putting in place boundaries and making sure that you are taking care of yourself.

So again, nurturing the other L’s as well. Now that is almost it for the five L’s.

We’ve got through the first four. Next week is love, fun and spontaneity. And this is a little bit of a strange one because it does sound odd to sort of set goals in the area of being spontaneous. It sounds almost, counter-intuitive there and it makes no sense. Now what I’m trying to get at with this area, as we’ll dig into next week and have a bit of fun with it, is to create some space, to leave some space in all this goal setting, all this career, and health goals, and serious stuff; and even relationships and so on, and learning and all these things we’re working on, to still leave space in your diary, in your life, for just enjoying things, for saying yes to random opportunities, for having fun, for laughing, for playing, and just enjoying yourself.

So that’s hopefully, a fun way to end the year. Looking obviously to roundup now, not just this series on the five L’s, but in fact, the whole year 2019, and then getting ready for 2020. So thank you so much for listening today. Thanks for following along in this series. I know this is a busy time of year. If you’re listening live now at the end of 2019, with Christmas and holidays and everything going on. So thank you for joining me and I promise that next week will be a fun one. So next week we’re looking at laugh, fun and spontaneity, and it will be the last episode of 2019. So I’ll be thanking you all for sticking with me so far and wishing the best for 2020. But I’ll leave that full gratitude and well wishes for next week. So thanks so much for joining me this week and I’ll see you back next week. Bye for now.

Connect with Anna:




If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate


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