Profession: Free Yourself and Get Paid to Do What You Love

Profession: Free Yourself and Get Paid to Do What You Love

As we wrap up our examination of the facets surrounding the concept of Ikigai, we come to the fourth and final element: Profession. This word is a bit loaded these days, and thinking about it kind of makes my head hurt, but this concept is important to examine. According to the article I have repeatedly cited, Profession sits at the intersection of “what you are good at” and “what you can be paid for.” Now, those two often do not intersect for many people. Lots of folks work jobs they despise or otherwise feel “meh” about because they either feel they cannot get paid to do what they enjoy or they have yet to land such an opportunity.

I want to touch again on personal awareness. Without an understanding of ourselves, it is impossible to know where to begin when pursuing one’s Ikigai. All sorts of questions pop up: “What am I good at? What do I love? Does the world actually need this?” followed by “If I have no clue how to answer those questions, how the heck can I get paid for it?” To even begin to discover your Ikigai, you must learn more about yourself. I’m not talking about online pop-culture quizzes that tell you about your personality based on what kind of potato you are. I’m talking about introspection.

Who are you? Why are you the way you are? What experiences have shaped you over the course of your life?

Of course, those questions don’t directly relate to either “what you’re good at” or “what you can be paid for,” but stay with me here. The more you understand yourself and why you are the way you are, the easier it becomes to understand your strengths. Say you’re actually really good at underwater basket weaving. Can get paid for that? Maybe! That takes some research and probably a bit of courage. If nobody has successfully made a profession of it yet, then maybe you can be the first! Long story short, you see the world differently than pretty much everyone, and can apply the talents and skills you have in ways that make sense to you—whenever you decide to apply them.

That decision is totally up to you.

Let it be terrifying. Let it be freeing. It’s your call. At the end of the day, Ikigai is a path you can choose to take, or not. But remember, the journey of a thousand miles can only begin with the first step.

Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post, where I detail my own personal exploration of Ikigai. I have decided to take my usual analytical approach, and will attempt to break it down into something understandable while (hopefully) gaining some personal insight of my own. And remember, until next time—stay curious, my friends!

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Vocation: Get Paid to Give the World What It Needs

Vocation: Get Paid to Give the World What It Needs

So far we have discussed three elements within the concept of Ikigai: what you are good at, what you love, and what the world needs. This time around, let’s take a look into the intersection of what you can be paid for and what the world needs: vocation.

What does the word vocation mean to you? For me, the word vocation conjures thoughts of long-term professional choices—in some ways, a career. If you take the time to look up the word you may find a definition like this:


  1. A summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action; especially a divine call to the religious life
  2. An entry into the priesthood or a religious order
  3. The work in which a person is employed : occupation
  4. The persons engaged in a particular occupation
  5. The special function of an individual or group

So, in some respects, my definition is not far off. In past posts I have mentioned the balance that must exist in order to realize one’s Ikigai. Just like the last two, this is part of the balance. Think of the balance here as less of a two-ended scale and more of a gyroscope. There are layers here that all play off of each other to keep your Ikigai stable and standing.

How, then, does one find a vocation that meets the definition sought by Ikigai—something you can be paid for that the world really and truly needs? Again, it is a case by case situation. The world needs lots of things, and many of them are subtle. I want to reiterate that as grand as the phrase “what the world needs” sounds, it only has to be as grand as you desire to make it. Some people have the gumption to do something on a large scale, while many others only have the ability and desire to do small, specific things. How we do those things long term is the key when it comes to the vocation element.

A quick story about my thoughts on vocation. Lately I have been spending time and effort to simplify my life. I’ve done away with all sorts of not only excess possessions, but also excess actions. Each week I have been paying attention to the things I like in my day to day life and job and each week I learn something small. Things about myself, mostly, that I feel are getting me closer to a vocation that I truly want to do. Oddly enough, signs continue to point me in the direction of the coaching and consulting that I am building Protagonist to provide. For example, I really enjoy working with people to solve problems. Speculating and making informed suggestions is something I enjoy and can provide as a service.

Long story short, finding your Ikigai is not an overnight deal. It is very much a long-term investment and certainly one that will pay huge dividends. How would you go about finding your Ikigai? What methods would you employ? How close do you think you are?

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Mission: the Intersection of What You Love and What the World Needs

Mission: the Intersection of What You Love and What the World Needs

The word mission can hold a variety of different meanings depending on its context. It can have personal, political, or business connotations, to name a few. Within the context of Ikigai, however, it means the intersection of what you love and what the world needs. Keep in mind that mission is only the second of the four elements that make up one’s Ikigai—one’s reason for being. And this element is what I will explore here.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/life/relationships/2016/09/06/why-north-americans-should-consider-dumping-age-old-retirement-pasricha.html

Source: Toronto Star

One part of the Ikigai meaning of mission is “love.” The things we love say a lot about us as individuals. Personally, I revel in process, good stories, and various types of improvement. If left to my own devices, I can be found working on finding a better way to do something, reading a good fantasy book, or playing a game with a good storyline. Obviously, there are other things I enjoy, but for the sake of this post we will keep it simple! The activities and experiences that we love give us energy and fulfill us. They help make life on this spinning rock more enjoyable and worthwhile, regardless of whether they better the rest of the world or not. In and of themselves, they are good.

Now, how does love factor into mission? Love provides fuel for the other half of mission: “what the world needs.” Before you feel tempted to get all up in arms about service and “but what has the world done for me lately?” let’s take a look at the meaning behind the idea. What the world needs can be just about anything: a product, a service, or even a simple kindness. It doesn’t have to be servitude or the grand things we always hear about on the news. A phrase comes to mind: “to the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” When we talk about what the world needs, it does not need to be earth-shattering; it can be as simple as helping a single person.

Combining love and “what the world needs” to create a mission is an important facet to the jewel of Ikigai. In the diagram and article linked above, the intersection of mission and passion is noted with the phrase “delight and fullness, but no wealth.” Obviously, wealth plays a big part in most people’s happiness and fulfillment because it allows us to afford to do more, with less effort. We will cover the monetary piece in later posts, along with the other half of the diagram. As you may realize, each of these parts have their own balance of elements that in turn balance the other pieces of the Ikigai puzzle.

What do you love? What do you think the world needs? What thoughts do you have on the concept of mission? We here at Protagonist would love to hear your thoughts. Drop us a line at hello@protagonist.life!

Posted by Curious in Reflections, 0 comments