In one of my consultancy projects, I was approached by one of the youngest employees on the team and asked a simple question: when did you realize what you wanted to become?
SIMPLE QUESTION? Yet, I was not able to give a quick response, rather it took me a while to digest the question and realized that I had never thought about that question, thus the answer was not readily available to me. And so I said, give me a second coz I never really thought about that… finally I said, “I really didn’t/don’t know what I wanted to become, however, at certain points in my life I discerned what I wanted to achieve and the next actions would lead me to what I was/am in order to achieve what I had set out to “conquer”.
As I think about it more, it was never one singular goal that lead me to where I am now, and yet these goals are somehow inter-connected that lead me to my “ikigai”. “Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self.” So I searched and this is what I uncovered:
- in my college days, I had one objective to finish my course within 4 years, get out of school and find a job, so that I am no longer a burden to my mom and hopefully be of some help to the family
- when my 2 sons were born, my goal was to have a good job that would allow me to provide for their education and give them some of the better things/experiences in life
- after my sons graduated from college and I was then a senior manager in a multi-national company, I asked myself, what now? Do I still need this high-paying and high-stress job? So, I decided to leave the corporate world and said to myself, if I will do something it should follow 2 criteria: I like what I will do and I like the people I will work with. And so, I got invited to and am now a part of a team of coaches, where my purpose is “to give back or pay it forward”, plus I am again involved with our family business with the primary intent of “giving back” for all of my mom’s love and sacrifices which helped us get to where we are now.
So, when did I know what I wanted to become? I am still unsure, but one thing I’ve learned is that the search for one’s purpose, ikigai, is a journey and my path is to be a blessing to others as I have been blessed by so many others in the past, by sharing what I have learned and what I have.