The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Self-Discovery

Last week I discussed what is Ikigai and why it’s important to find your purpose.   This week I will help you find your Ikigai.

How to find your ikigai through self-discovery?

It’s easier to feel when we aren’t aligned with our Ikigai then to figure out how to find it.   If you feel like you aren't doing what you should be doing, you probably aren't. It's just that simple.

The difficulty in finding our Ikigai comes from our inability to be mindful and present.  In an age of constant stimulus, we want fast answers to complex problems. We would rather have an app tell us what to do with our lives.  But finding your purpose, your Ikigai, is not that simple. It takes time to reflect and think.

Taking the time to figure out both what you are good at and what you are passionate about takes time.  And it also takes patience. You will need the patience to explore, experiment, and test along the way.

Finding a practical way to apply your introspection can be even more complicated.

So How Do You Start?

To find your Ikigai ask yourself the following questions:

1. What do I love?

2. What am I good at?

3. What can I be paid for?

4. What does the world need?

As these simple questions bounce around in your head, you will find the answers aren't quite as simple.  Write the questions down on individual sticky notes and let them sit where you can see them for awhile.

Start With Self Discovery

Self-Awareness is the key to discovery and strategic planning. Being self-aware means that one is clinical in their approach to their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. It is compassionate, but the nonjudgmental brutal honesty of who you are and what drives you.

When I work with my clients on their self-discovery I focus on 4 areas:

  • What Are You Good At? (Strengths)

  • What Are Your Motivations and Drivers

  • Who Are You?(Character qualities)

  • What Are Your Values?

The goal is to get a solid understanding of yourself and how you view the world around you.

What are you good at?

When I ask this question to most of my clients it is their biggest source of struggle.  Most of them find it incredibly difficult to answer or articulate.

Here are some ways to find your strengths.

  • Conduct your own SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)

  • Conduct a skills inventory

  • Gather objective data using an assessment tool such as Strengthfinders or DISC assessments.

By combining the subjective analysis of your strengths with the assessment data you will have the information needed to begin to ask yourself, “what am I good at?”

What gets drives you out of bed in the morning?

Having things you’re good at isn’t enough, you need to feel driven to do it.  This question looks at your drivers. Before we start a few words about money.   Yes, money is a driver. Most of us have the need for money so let’s assume its a given.  What else drives you? Why do you get out of bed? Why do you go to work? Why do you do what you do?

These drivers can be within us from the beginning (intrinsic) or become important to us as we evolve along the way (extrinsic).

  • Keep in mind:

    • If you are good at it but have no motivations to do it – it is essentially a job

    • If you aren’t good at it but have lots of motivation to do it – it is essentially a hobby

So…what gets you out of bed in the morning?

  1. Come up with a list of at least 10 that you get out of bed in the morning

  2. Write these motivators down, do not filter yourself

  3. Stack rank them in order of priority

  4. If you like (and after you have your list) review them with friends and family

You should now be well on your way to being able to answer the “what get’s you out of bed?” question.

Who Are You?

Our qualities shape our personalities.  Qualities that we are born with or we develop over time through experience have equal impact. They help shape our decision making, behaviors, and worldview.

What are your qualities?

  1. Find a list of common personality traits

  2. Circle any qualities that you feel you have

  3. Share the list with family or friends and ask them to circle the qualities they think you have

  4. After reviewing the feedback from your friends and family were there any surprises? Does there list complement or contradict your own list?

Document your qualities list next to your running list of strengths and drivers.

What values do you have?

Values are our principles or standards of behavior. They are the filters through which we judge what is important in our lives.

Your values are unique to you. They tell the world who you are and what you stand for.  They guide your behavior and provide a personal code of conduct in times of uncertainty. When our work or behaviors are aligned with our values, we are complete.  When they are out of alignment, bad things can happen.

To begin to find your values ask yourself:

What is most important in your life? What must you have to feel fulfilled? Which personal values must you honor, or risk feeling like you are slowly dying?

Find your 5 core values –

Which values in your list are absolutely essential to your life, your career?

  • Which values represent your true being or the way you do what you do?

  • Which values are essential to your true self?

Elaborate on your core values by developing a values statement for each one.  Use inspiring words that speak to you. Neutral words won’t help you remember them when you need to.   Use words that evoke your own emotions.

The more emotionally connected you feel, the better.  

Let your personality shine through!

Remember: meaning matters here.  Don’t mail these in; if they don’t matter to you now, they won’t matter to you when you need them.

Putting It All Together

You have now completed your discovery process. Write down on the same sheet of paper what you feel are your key strengths, drivers, qualities, and values.  I like to put these in mind maps so my clients can see all the variables in one view. This way they can look for insights and make connections between the categories.

Introspecting on your strengths, drivers, personality qualities, and values will  give you the needed insight will give you the information you need to answer

  • What am I good at?

  • What do I love?

You should document your answers to these questions on the same paper or mind map.

Your completing this self-discovery will set you on a path to finding your Ikigai.  Next, we will discuss how to use the results from your discovery to begin to look at designing your own Ikigai.