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 just 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 what the answers to those questions are, how the heck can I get paid for them?” One of the big keys to even beginning to discover your Ikigai is to 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 aren’t directly related 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. Is that something you can get paid for? Maybe! That takes some research and probably a bit of courage. If nobody has successfully done 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!