Let me preface this explanation with this background thought:
All of us have experienced a path of our own choosing to arrive where we are currently.
Circumstances and people have helped sway and bend the shape of that route, but ultimately, we are the ones who have made decisions that led up to present circumstances.
When first starting out, there were a lot of questions in our mind.
“Do I know how to do the job?”
“Can I do the job?”
“Do others trust me to do the job?”
“Do I even want to do the job?
As we gain experience and have grown wiser, many of these questions have resolved themselves.
This is part of the “proof in the pudding” phase of our careers where we are in skill and knowledge acquisition mode; everything is new, interesting, and a bit frighteningly so, unknown.
But there is a secret second life of your career that not many people are actively conscious about.
It’s not something that suddenly flashes like dashboard warning beacon.
It kind of sneaks up on you.
And once it’s there, you know you have it.
It’s called career maturity, and is the secret second life of your career.
No longer is the question, “Can I do the job?” but rather, “How can I do it better, or do I want to be doing something else completely different using my skills?”
The Japanese use the term “Ikigai,” which means simply: a reason for being. A purpose.
At the center of this concept is your reason for being.
Surrounding this nexus point is an outer layer of your passion, mission, profession, and vocation.
The outermost circle is what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and whether you can be paid to do it.
The intersection at the heart of ikigai is transferable as people change. You may be in the center of your zone now, but in 5 years, things may change and you move on to something else.
But arriving at this career maturity point is significant because it marks a new phase in your career where you have the opportunity to not worry so much about proving yourself as much as you can gain more job satisfaction by applying what you do best in what you like to do.
Maturity doesn’t come by accident. The secret second life of your career lies in the school of hard knocks, learning by doing, experimenting, failing, succeeding, and being open to possibility.
There is no easy route to this “ikigai” aspect of your career.
But when you get there, you can, with all certainty, embrace the secret second life of your career to find rewarding work until you retire.