Career counseling has always been a sort of side-hobby of mine. Why? Because I am passionate about helping people reach their fullest potential; to achieve the highest potentiality of their nature; to fulfill their destiny. Very Maslow, I know.
I believe everybody has a niche, an ideal God-designed hand-in-glove fit, although many may fail to find it in this life. Ambitious, I encourage everybody to seek to become the very best in the entire world at one particular thing.
It baffles me when people are unsure of what they want to do with their lives because I can’t relate. However, over time I developed a “Three Question Test” to help people gain clarity on their academic or vocational pursuits:
- What are your skills and talents? What are you naturally good at?
- What are your interests and passions? If you see something on TV or read something in a book or newspaper that makes you stop and pay attention, what is it?
- What unique experiences, opportunities, or open doors have you had so far in your life, career, or schooling?
Usually, when a person is able to think through and articulate responses to those three questions, an obvious pattern begins to emerge and a path forward can be sought. However, I recently came across a Japanese concept that made me realize my “Three Questions” are lacking. That concept is Ikigai.
Ikigai means “a reason for being” or “a reason to get up in the morning,” and a popular diagram to help one find their Ikigai caught my attention:
In all my ambition and idealism, I hadn’t really included the very practical concept of earning a living! Rather, I believed that pursuing one’s true life passion would be its own ultimate reward. But bills don’t pay themselves! And, with changing technologies and economies, passion may need to adapt to fit the zeitgeist.
I see that a fourth question needs to be added to my repertoire, one that addresses how one’s skills, interests, and unique experiences can be put to use in a manner that society will reward. And, to really highlight my personal philosophy of finding one’s niche, a fifth question should be added. Finally, to acknowledge the ultimately sovereign role of God’s design in our individual makeup and life experience, I need to slightly rephrase the questions.
So, my new and improved “Five Question Test” for finding your niche:
- What are your God-given skills and talents? What are you naturally good at?
- What are your God-given interests and passions? If you see something on TV or read something in a book or newspaper that makes you stop and pay attention, what is it?
- What unique experiences, opportunities, or open doors has God allowed you to have so far in your life, career, or schooling?
- If you could be the absolute best at one particular thing or the foremost expert on one particular subject, what would it be?
- What are the unmet, under-met, or ongoing needs of your community, society, or the world that your combination of skills, interests, unique experiences, and potential expertise can address?