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I don’t know what career I want

Several times in my life, I’ve been looking at my boss, and my boss’s boss, and thought: “I really don’t want to be them.”

They were good people – I just didn’t want their jobs.

At those times, I’ve needed to make a more major shift in direction, asking some more serious questions about myself and the world around me.

I came up with an ingenious way of answering those questions that I later discovered had, as with all my best ideas, been thought of already.

The boring name is Purpose Venn Diagram, and it first saw the light of day in a book by Andres Zuzunaga. I like to think of it as a super-SWOT analysis of yourself, helping you identify the sweet spot of your engagement with the world.

I’ll show you how to make one, as well as my simpler version.

You begin by answering four questions, generating a list for each:

1. What are you good at?

2. What do you like to do?

3. What does the world need?

4. What can you get paid for?

And just like the Venn diagrams you drew at school, you want to identify the areas of overlap. From this you can identify, hopefully, your:

1. Mission

2. Passion

3. Profession

4. Vocation

Find the intersection between all these, and Bingo!, you’ve found your purpose.

You may have a seen a version of this where the word “purpose” at the centre of the diagram has been replaced with the far more exotic “Ikigai.” Ikigai is a Japanese word that you could loosely translate as purpose, but ikigai aficionados scoff at the idea it is simply the intersection of these four sets of elements. It is indeed more nuanced than that.

But when I’ve been fumbling around for a new career direction, I’ve needed practical rather than nuanced. So I present here my simpler version that basically assumes the world is going to pay for whatever it needs (albeit not necessarily always in cash).

I call it the LEVi Diagram, for Like, Experience, Value and ideas. You make it like this:

- What do I like? This should include EVERYTHING, at work and play. It should also include all the enjoyable things you might not currently have time to do.

- What am I experienced in? This also includes everything, including the stuff you don’t like.

- What’s valuable? This might be the most difficult, and it may well be coloured by whatever you’ve answered in the first two questions. Try to think more broadly – maybe do a bit of research on jobs, professions or industries currently in demand. Remember it might not always be gobs of cash that convey value.

Write it all straight into the LEVi Diagram, and then concern yourself only with the intersection of the three. Spend a bit of time on this – it is the synthesis of three and you might have to think creatively about how to accommodate all of them.

The result is likely to be not so much a purpose, or even ikigai, but rather some ideas worth pursuing. Don’t look for a perfect fit – for some of the ideas you might need to brush up on some skills, or you might not be sure of their value.

But these ideas are the seeds of your future career.

At the top fo the page you can see a LEVi Diagram I made for myself a few years ago.

And although you need no skill at all to draw three circles, I’ve also provided you with a blank template you can use to make your own LEVi Diagram.

LEVi Diagram Template
Download PDF • 34KB

This is just one of many ways of reducing uncertainty about the future by clarifying what you want out of it. If you'd like to learn more, simply set up a call. There are no obligations to take things further, or to even finish the call. Our time, and our futures, are precious.

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