The Three Ps: A Valuable Roadmap To Discover What You’re Truly Here To Do

AS an English teacher in Japan, when I ask my high school and middle school level students, how are you? I usually get the reply, tired, so so, okay. There’s always another test on the horizon.

Ah, I say, you’re going to do great, don’t worry! 

But inside I’m thinking, damn, poor kid.

Life gets much better after school; yet that’s challenging to grasp when school is all you know. It’s something one must live to understand.

I remember being in high school, and everything felt sooo important. In college the feeling intensified.

Then one day, we see that the grades, the worry, the stress — it really didn’t matter. School is just the tip of the iceberg in this grand human experience. Once we graduate, our real education begins.

The only test we have to pass is finding our way in this school of life. That journey is sustained by uncovering our purpose.

Life isn’t a test

Taking tests and progressing through school gives us direction when we’re young; yet we mostly study to remember, not to understand.

Then on a bright and hopeful day donning a cap and gown, we’re released into the world, lucky if we know which next step to take, fortunate if we can recognize our innate capabilities that much better.

Many of us don’t. We leave school with perhaps a social experience to look back on fondly when we’re old and grey and rocking on our porch; maybe even with an [insert prestigious college here] alumni license plate — but not with a particularly greater understanding of what we’re on this earth to do.

Once I graduated, funny enough, I become obsessed with learning. I no longer hungered for a grade; I craved the understanding of this life force within, bereft of genuine purpose.

I started reading like I never had. I dove into philosophy, literature, history and personal development to better understand myself and the greater world.

Without the pressure to study, these topics became infinitely more captivating. I was learning to stoke my curiosity, nothing more.


Now there are no more tests, but there’s work. The thing about work is that there are endless opportunities with no right or wrong way to do it — unless you’re the ringleader of a Ponzi scheme or the consigliere of a mafia organization. Don’t do that. Be a good person.

Many of us opt for the 9–5, the most straightforward solution to this conundrum of survival. I currently work a 9–5 teaching English, although it’s not the end goal. It’s a means to an end, and that end is living in a foreign country.

For many of us, however, the 9–5 leaves us wanting more. If your job aligns with who you are and gets you psyched to get out of bed in the morning, keep at it. Especially if you’re learning something.

Continue to push the boundaries of what you can do.

Many of us believe we don’t have the time and room to consider a passion, a purpose, a dream, when you’re simply working to put food on the table. I get that. But does it mean you’ll never transcend that stage to embrace a new season?

It’s no simple feat finding and pursuing what lights you up inside.

It’ll take a drive and it’ll take work, but it is possible and worth it, no matter who you are.

This story is for those who feel you’re made for something more. There’s a fire in your soul which you never learned how to channel towards something meaningful; but it’s there.

You’re not alone

It’s discouraging working at something that doesn’t feel like your true path.

That feeling is also the impetus for the adventure of our lives. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, nor anything to fear. Trust me, you’re not alone.

That was me; it’s not like I’ve completely solved the riddle, either.

There’s a very long way to go. But I’m here in Japan, imbued with the spirit of genuine excitement and purpose more often than not.

The three Ps roadmap by author, business coach and entrepreneur, Lewis Howes — the three Ps being passion, power and problem — is the best thing I’ve heard to get you headed toward the life you’re born to live.

Without realizing it, it’s the roadmap that brought me to where I am today.


It’s not so much that we discover our passion. I think we uncover, or rediscover it, as it’s likely been buried in a mountain of expectations we’ve taken on while growing up.

When I graduated I wanted to travel. That was and is my passion. I wanted to see the world, as I’d grown up influenced by explorers like Anthony Bourdain.

Could traveling and telling meaningful stories be my life, too? 

This was the question that both scared and excited me. Maybe that’s why, deep down, I chose journalism as a major. I wanted to learn how to tell stories.

The only thing I thought my journalism degree gave me, however, was an aversion to news reporting.

That’s why Howes’s solution resonated so strongly when I heard it on the Modern Wisdom Podcast: the three Ps work together like planets orbiting around the sun — purpose.

My power, I realized, was that while I was discovering how little of an interest I had in news reporting, I was learning to write.

What do you find so interesting, that if you had all the time in the world you’d pursue endlessly? The answer is a solid step toward finding your passion.


I graduated from college and began working in business type roles, although deep down I had no great interest in them.

I wrote stories when I traveled and that’s what lit me up inside — waking up early on a cold and misty morning in a foreign land and taking to the streets with my camera and notebook.

I also wrote about finding my lane. The more I wrote, the more clearly I recognized who I could be.

I wrote about travel but I also about what I was learning, melding my interests of history and philosophy, literature and personal development into a unifying theme: what does it mean to be alive?

Through my innate passion for travel and by exploring my circumstance by putting my thoughts on the page, I was honing my skill as a writer.

What do you do easily that is difficult for most people? The answer is your power.


I could sense that I had a passion for travel and a love for learning and writing, yet I didn’t know how to turn that into my vocation, something that I could pursue and potentially turn into a career.

That was and is my problem — lifeline.

How to pursue an alternative story, one that I feel in my heart and soul is truly mine.

So that’s where I am. It took several years for me to put the pieces together and commit to the writing life wholeheartedly. It took believing in myself and accepting the life force inside of me that had now found its purpose, one that was there, inspiring me all along.

Consider these questions — they may lead to your passion and your power:

What’s a problem in the world, big or small, that weighs on you? 

What problem have you solved in your life which you could help others overcome?

It’s time to commit, but know, you don’t have to do the thing forever.

The seasons of our lives

Like the earth, our lives move forth through seasons.

Howes poses the question:

What is my mission in this current season?

Honestly, I grapple with the notion that writing is my thing for the rest of my life. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.

In this season of my life, I’m giving everything I have to be a writer. I moved to Japan through teaching English to put myself in an environment where I can write every day about what I experience.

Things may change. This might not be my thing, my place, my purpose forever. That’s okay.

Take the pressure off. Take a chance and see what happens, and if it doesn’t work out, change. We mustn’t be afraid of change, but if anything, be afraid of stagnation.

Cherish the journey

This is our life, and we’re no longer here to pass a test. We’re here to understand, enjoy, and get the absolute most from this ride.

When you find that thing you’re here to do, you’ll work harder than ever, because now, it matters. It won’t feel like work. It’ll feel like your purpose.

More often than not I push myself to write, to get better, to think deeply; but most importantly, I’m striving to just enjoy this.

It’s daunting to travel into the unknown with a pack full of existential questions. That’s an opportunity to be grateful for — it means you care.

If you care enough and never let that fire wane, you’ll get to where you’re meant to go. I have my questions. I have my worries.

But damn, what a gift it is to be alive, with the opportunity before us to truly live. It all means nothing if we can’t cherish the journey, every step of the way.

Check out Citoyens du Monde to follow my travels from Japan and much more.

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