In past blogs, webinars, and conferences, I have shared stories about my adventures in business school back when I was in NYC. The truth is, I left out a few details when telling those stories that I believe may be important to highlight. I didn’t tell you how hard it was to get my CPA certificate. I clawed my way through that program. It took me four attempts to pass the exam. Four! This should have been a sign. Thank goodness I diligently meditated with Nakamura, revealing my warrior archetype and unique calling, which led me to the SEALs. It was the right way for me to serve the world at that point in my life. Once at SEAL training, all my limitations fell away. Life felt easy. In truth, I’d rather go back and do SEAL training all over again than sit through another CPA exam. It never felt right, and it never got easier because it wasn’t my path. At no point did I intuitively feel in sync with accounting.
It’s important to understand that your call of duty will most likely change throughout your life. Circumstances change constantly. You could be on a very clear path in your twenties that shifts in your mid-thirties. It may feel like it doesn’t fit anymore, and you won’t understand why. If you don’t recognize that change in your calling or that the target has shifted, you could stay in something for too long, which moves you away from your unique calling again. Or, now that you’ve committed to mastering the five levels of consciousness, maybe you feel confused again. This makes sense! Developing awareness does this.
I began to get hits about a different calling, a new direction, about the warrior calling my archetype was yearning for. And I had to take another leap of faith to figure out my next duty station in the world. As I mentioned, I’ve begun to get a new hit about a more spiritual path, and I’m currently taking those steps.
As long as you’re living, you have a duty to fulfill. It will be different in your twenties than your thirties, forties, fifties, and so on. It will continue changing into your eighties and nineties. It changes because it’s meant to be an intersection between your personal ethos, what the world wants and needs, and the vocation that’s right for you, given all the circumstances.
The Japanese use the concept of ikigai chart to map their life path. Loosely translated as a “reason for being,” the concept narrows in on your calling. Back in the mental mountain section, we reduced the search by discovering our archetype(s) and creating a Likes List and a Dislikes List. This chart will take that exploration to the next level.
When studying the ikigai chart, there are four areas of interest to consider when embarking on your purpose: what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. Where those intersect, you can narrow in on a mission, vocation, and profession, which converge to a center point. Your target is what the world needs and what you can be paid for—but it must align with your passion, purpose, and principles. Getting this right is critical because you’ll feel discontent if you’re not on the bullseye. And I want you happy as a clam at high water as you fulfill your mission! When doing this exercise and getting clear on your one thing, you want to hit the bullseye. This is not as easy as it sounds.
Here are some ways you could miss your path:
- Poor aim. You do something inspiring that doesn’t align with your stand. Or you do something you stand for that doesn’t pay the bills. You could aspire to be the best diaper changer in the world, but you can’t make any money doing that (not that I’m aware of). When I was thirty, I thought that maybe I could be an astronaut because I had some SEAL friends that went in that direction. Protocol was ten more years of education and experience. It wasn’t my calling, even though it inspired me. It didn’t fit. My aim would have been off.
- Deny it. You know your path but deny it to please others (usually your parents). You love playing the cello. Maybe you’re even a prodigy. But your parents say, “Be serious and be practical. Do something that will earn a living.”
- Quit due to grandiosity or low self-esteem. You choose the right target, but your path exceeds your actual capacity. You want to be an entrepreneur and serve the world. You tell yourself, “I’m supposed to start the next Uber and make billions.” So, you try it, it flops, and you retreat. You missed by overshooting or not getting the right schooling. Start by striving to become a GM at a local company. Conversely, you could have the skills but lack confidence and have a negative inner dialogue. This is where meditation, positive self-talk, recapitulation, rewriting your story, and mindfulness meditation with an intention can serve you like nothing else.
- Close yourself off to your true path. This is where human inertia comes into play. You stay planted in your current career because of benefits, even though you’re neither happy nor fulfilled. You become the walking dead, just marking time. You stay in the military for the last ten years just to get the retirement package. You could be a financial service professional earning $600k annually, afraid to chase your dream of being an artist. Sometimes, age plays a role in inhibiting forward motion. There are so many examples of people in their sixties, seventies, and eighties who changed their state. Nelson Mandela was seventy-two when he was released from prison and seventy-six when he became president. Colonel Sanders first started franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was sixty-five. If you’re not dead, doing something new is not impossible. And if you’re not near dead, what are you waiting for?
This week, google an ikigai chart and find your bullseye! Explore this as a practice as well. Notice your breathing while you are writing out each section and how your overall physiology is responding. Most importantly, play and have fun with it. Our lives passion and purpose are rooted in play!