How to Build a Successful Personal Brand with Your Ikigai

At a certain point, many of us hit a personal or professional plateau and have a nagging feeling we’re made for more. It’s not uncommon to feel stuck, complacent, and frustrated knowing we’re called to do something else other than what’s staring us in the face right now.

  • What do I even want to do?
  • Who am I anymore?
  • What do I really want to be?
  • How do I put myself out there?

These are all typical and critical questions that need answering to decide where your new direction will lead you.

Personal Branding Starts Here

When I work with clients who’ve left corporate roles for solopreneurship or entrepreneurship, they often struggle with a disconnect from where they’ve been to where they want to go. They’re ready to start building their personal brands, but not sure how or where to begin. They need deeper clarity and the confidence that comes from within.

The first step I take them through is this two-part framework to help unearth themselves and “rediscover” who they are and what they’re all about. This is the blueprint they need before their foundational personal branding can begin.

First Step: A Personal Brand Inventory

I know this first hand—we go through life being reactive vs proactive — and lose sight of our core values, mission, beliefs as well as our unique background, interests, and skills. It can be as early as our 20s or as late as our 60s and beyond. Know this: it’s never too early or too late to need a “reset” to learn more about who we are and what we stand for.

Taking this “personal brand inventory” — a deep-dive list of everything about you—skills, knowledge, passions, “superpowers” and even your challenges, can help “uncover” your personal brand.            

1) Define the Professional You

This area documents your work experience, education, skill sets, talents, awards, and more. Detailing your professional accomplishments (which is more than a resume) gives a birds-eye view of your career credentials. Here you’ll see where you’re well-versed and experienced to uncover many commonalities and patterns.

2) Define the Personal You

Personal brands are personal for a reason and help round out the real you. It’s important to define the areas that make you happy, joyful or can spend hours without noticing the time. What do you “geek out” in your “passion” areas — family, hobbies, clubs, interests/group affiliations, including school, church, community, sports, and more.

Your personal side can also include any challenges you’ve overcome. Any specific challenges (career, health, or job-related) will give even more insight into your personal story.

By defining both the professional + personal side, your Personal Brand Assessment can unearth themes and experiences that are recurring and “speak” to you.

Second Step: Find Your Ikigai

Now that you’ve dug deep into the areas of your professional and personal past, let’s find your “ikigai” — a Japanese term for your reason for being — which can be helpful in defining your personal brand.

While the original concept of ikigai isn’t specifically about career, business, or money, understanding “your reason for being” is crucial for your personal brand — who you are — what you are known for, and what you want to commit your time to.

Your ikigai (pronounced “E-Key-Guy”) is based on these four areas:

1) What you love: What aspects of your life make you come alive? (passion)

2) What the world needs: What changes would you most love to create in the world? (mission)

3) What you can be paid for: What service, value or offering do you bring, or could you bring, that brings real value to others? (vocation)

4) What you are good at: What unique skills or talents do you have that come naturally to you or what do you excel at even when you aren’t trying? (profession)

Step Three: Put Them All Together

It’s time to detail both your personal brand inventory + ikigai in my free (and ungated) guidebook, Uncover Your Personal Brand by Finding Your Ikigai.

Here, you’ll have the time and deeper questions and resources to help you uncover what makes you, well, you! Documentation is powerful so don’t discount taking action and writing these down on paper — print out and complete each section. There’s a powerful connection to our brains when we write and detail on paper vs. typing on a digital screen. 

Step Four: The Beginning of Your New Beginning

After going through the guidebook with your assessment and ikigai, be patient. Taking action to process and connect the dots (or in this case the quadrants), requires deeper thought than we give ourselves credit and time for. Figuring out ourselves is a worthwhile investment that’s so critical for our next steps and for an impactful personal brand.

What About You?

Are you at that crossroads, ready to put yourself out there, but not sure how? Let me know below. I can relate and would love to follow your journey as you discover your personal brand by finding your ikigai.

Michelle B. Griffin

Michelle B Griffin aka The Brand Therapist℠ is a certified personal brand strategist & PR coach for industry experts and entrepreneurs

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