Let me tell you about one of my favorite words: ikigai.
Ikigai is a Japanese word that made my head explode with inspiration and ideas for a business when I learned it. Cue my funky company name, Ikigai Place. Most people I meet steer clear of trying to pronounce it. That’s ok.
The English language gets a D- at providing a perfect translation for ikigai (pronounced ee-key-guy). We've got: "Your reason for being" as the closest substitute. When you've found your ikigai, it doesn’t take every fiber of emotional energy to get your butt to work in the morning.
You know you've found your very own ikigai when...
The demands of your work and your unique skills and talents go together. Like chocolate on strawberries.
Your soul is on fire with commitment and passion.
Life on this planet is a little better because of the work that you do
& Money is in the bank thanks to this job!
I believe the world would be a better place if the people we don't often hear from felt comfortable voicing their ideas and sharing their insight.
Have you ever been in a meeting and thought to yourself, “If this guy keeps talking and adding nothing of any remote value, I'm going to scream?" Have you then gone on to sit there silently, not sharing your thoughts even though you know deep down you have something to say that could be a game changer? This was me on more occasions than I can count.
People weren't used to hearing me talk much and for a long time it felt weird to change that. I worried the words might come out wrong or that I wouldn't sound confident when I spoke up. Or that I would look TOO confident. Staying quiet seemed less risky than speaking up.
Opportunities to show the world my stuff kept slipping away forever in an endless cycle of wanting more in life yet not doing anything differently.
I was holding back in meetings. In classes. At events. I was on isolation island when it came to my professional and social life. Connections, support and a sense of meaning in my work felt like an ocean away. The lonely, misunderstood feeling wouldn't have to be such a thing if I could just get comfortable being a part of the many conversations happening around me all the time.
Self-doubt was totally running the show. And the show was such a snooze fest that it deserved to be left at intermission.
My shyness was easy to trace back to my single digit days. I learned to clam up in my early school days (gotta love those meanie kids!) but at home it also felt like the safe choice to climb into a shell. Home was not a place for my ideas and individual opinions. My childhood experiences seemed like survivalist training for my first few jobs out of college. I had mastered how to blend in and not bring any attention to myself. Work environments seemed easier to navigate if I didn’t interrupt or dare to disrupt. Especially as a woman.
Even though I was suffocating in a box labeled “shy girl”, my habits were familiar and my brain was all about that safety.
I spent my twenties like this and got by OK. I landed in different roles and made a comfortable salary. But it all still felt off. I was ready to bust out of my limitations like a puppy in a wrapped up box on Christmas morning (oh God I love puppies - why do people put them in boxes!?).
Then guides started mysteriously appearing to help me as my determination to grow got stronger.
Not spirit animal guides and gurus, though that would have been cool...but things like books. Workshops. Classes. Counselors. Coaches. Mentors. These guides helped me with the exact things I needed step by step. The Universe (oh, I believe there's something out there!) seemed to be conspiring to help me.
Evolving became my jam and I'm now doing things that used to scare me shitless. Like giving public talks.
Inequalities in the workplace that women and other groups deal with is still very much a thing. A thing I have little or no control over. But I discovered what was in my control: my thoughts about myself. The shy road had been paved and repaved by my own thoughts. It wasn't until I got super intentional about changing and did "the work" that things changed.
Being stuck in a small place, and getting only tiny glimpses of what life could be like if you could get out is a maddening feeling. On the other side of that is freedom to make the choices you truly want to make.
You’re the woman who has big dreams but wonders if she has what it takes to do them. The woman whose voice is screaming from inside her chest. You’re the reason I do this work.
I believe the world needs you to share your big ideas and that you should be heard, seen and recognized for all you have to offer.
I'm determined to make the world a better place by giving away a portion of my resources to the causes I care most about. It feels like the right thing to do and it brings me joy! Read about my gives back efforts HERE.
Still reading? You're the best!
Now that all the important stuff is out of the way, it's useless fun fact time...
I love all animals. But especially cats. And especially dogs. I am a cat person. And I am a dog person.
I love to travel and am super nerdy because I have this goal of going to every state in the US and have been to 47 of them. But the last 3 states I haven't been to I'm really not that excited to make the effort to go to (and no, I won't tell you which states they are! What if you live there!?)
I'm a vegetarian who has no desire to eat meat and yet really like the new Impossible Burger that is totally the next best thing to meat, according to meat people. Those Impossible Burger cravings have led me to some places I would have never thought I'd eat at...like White Castle.