Personal Life Vision Component #6: Interests

I’m excited to explore interests, which is one of my favorite aspects of the Personal Life Vision. Interests are the people, places, things and activities that you’re drawn towards. There are varying degrees of interests, from passing interests or fascinations, to what you’re most passionate about. Your interests may be in a subject matter such as the racial equity or climate change, or an activity, like baking or playing soccer. 

Over the years, people develop their own unique interests. However, we often neglect this factor because we tend to compartmentalize our interests and passions as something that we do outside of work. We think of work as something we need to do to earn a living, but have a hard time combining our passions and work. When our passions are identified and recognized, they can be combined with abilities and skills to achieve a fuller use of all throughout one’s career development.

Ikigai – Finding Your Sweet Spot

In Japanese, there is the term called Ikigai. It means ‘a reason for being.’ It is the cross section of your values, your interests, and your talents. You can find your Ikigai by asking the following questions: 

  1. What do I love? (your passion)
  2. What am I good at? (your vocation)
  3. What can I get paid for? (your profession)
  4. What does the world need? (your mission)

 It’s a beautiful thing when these things come together to create your unique Ikigai. 

 The first step to discovering your interests and finding your passions is to start writing them down. 

Answer the following questions: 

  1. What are your subject matters and activities that are interesting from your current and previous jobs?
  2. What are interesting subject matters that you know about outside work?
  3. What fields, careers, or industries sound interesting to you?
  4. What subjects were most interesting at school?
  5. Who are the people who interest you?
  6. What places, ideas, and topics interest you?
  7. What activities satisfy you?
  8. What do you do in your spare time? What do you wish you did more?

Once you’ve gathered these interests, whether activities, people, fields, topics, or knowledge, you can review. Is there a common theme or pattern on your list of interests?

How to Determine Which Interests to Pursue as Careers

Not all interests should become careers. How do you decide which ones are worth exploring?

Separate your list of interests into four categories or quadrants. Following are the quadrants based on your level of interest and expertise, and important questions to answer to make your decision on your next steps.  

  1. High interest and high expertise: These are subjects in which you have lots of interest and expertise. This is the golden standard! If you don’t already, how can you begin to add them to your career? 
  1. High interest and low expertise: These are subjects in which you have lots of interest but little expertise. What information must you have to understand the viability of pursuing a career in this category? Does the world need this and could you get paid for doing this? If not, can they become your hobby? If so, how can you find time to make them a part of your routine?
  1. Low interest and high expertise: These are subjects in which you have little interest but lots of expertise. Could this be something you do as you plan to ramp up a side-hustle into a full-time? How can you leverage your expertise so that you can continue to explore your passions to see if it’s a viable career?
  1. Low interest and low expertise: These are subjects in which you have little interest and little expertise. This list may be just what you needed to start moving away from spending time on this category. If you are still lingering here, ask yourself, why. Perhaps it was something that you somehow landed on, but have not had the courage to get out of. Perhaps you can begin your journey to explore the other three categories as a way to get out of your comfort zone. 

I hope you would consider exploring this important component of the Personal Life Vision and developing better understanding of your interests and passions, which will fuel your work. As the Japanese word Ikigai denotes, what is your reason for getting up in the morning?

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