Everybody wants to be successful. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to get on the deans list, make lots of money, fall in love and have amazing relationships, to be well-respected and admired and travel the world so many times that they ride Scoot more than their bikes.
Everyone would like that — it’s easy to like that.
If I ask you, “What do you want out of your career?” and you say something like, “I want to have a good job in the industry I’m interested in” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.
A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what do I want my life to stand for? Where do your strengths, passions and values point toward? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our careers turn out.
Everybody wants to have an amazing job and experience fulfilment — but not everyone knows what makes them intrinsically happy, inspires them to take action, their core values and identity, and how life would look like if they could jump out of bed everyday in excitement. People want to have satisfying careers without knowing themselves, without living true to their values, without the self-awareness necessary to live on purpose.
Because fulfilment requires self-actualisation. The outward experience is the side effect of your inner peace. Pleasure is cyclical, fulfilment lasts forever.
At the core of all human behavior, our needs are more or less similar. A career that helps us grow, keep us engaged and creates impact, is what we crave. It’s self-definition most of us struggle with. Therefore, what we get out of our careers is not determined by the ‘benefits’ we think we’ll get but how aligned it is to who you are as a person.
People want to be successful. But you don’t end up being wealthy on the outside unless you first experience abundance on the inside and that means to legitimately pen down your passions, talents, inspirations, and values, and take massive action everyday to live life around what matters most.
People want to work at amazing companies like Google or Microsoft, but you don’t end up impressing the interviewers without being able to articulate how you intend to contribute to the world and why the values of the organization are aligned to yours.
What makes your career fulfilling isn’t “Which industry are you interested in?” The question is, “Which career will be aligned to who you are as a person?” The quality of your career is not determined by the quality of your material experiences but the quality of your inner experiences. And to get good at thriving with your inner experiences is to get good at living life to its fullest.
So today, I want you to drop the idea of which industry you ‘think’ has the most prospects and re-examine who you want to be instead . Before we proceed, I want to make it clear that as much as we all hate it, grades ARE still important to land a job, just perhaps not as important as you might think. From my experiences, employers love to hire people like themselves – who have the same interests and belief system. So while your grades might not be stellar, you’ll be able to resonate with him at a far deeper level than some other cocky scholar.
Here are some actionable steps to aid your self-discovery process, live life on your own terms and make full use of the opportunities around you:
1.Know Thy Self
Make a list of your Strengths, Interests and Top 5 Values you stand for. Continue to grow that list everyday by testing them out with new activities. As much as most of us do not like to admit, we don’t really know ourselves very well – the things that bring us fulfilment, our underlying motivations , how to maximise our character strengths and more. The first step to building your self identity is to accept you for who you are. You might not be good at speaking in front of 1000 people, but you never know you might have a knack for building the most awesome websites. You might think science is cool but you’d probably die of boredom as a researcher because you simply don’t have the passion for it. You might put health as your top value, but can you really keep up with the discipline of hitting the gym 3 times a week? Yes, I’m challenging you to question what you think you know about yourself, because your current actions, speak louder than words. This is the first step to living an authentic life – realising that you’re not.
2.Create Your Own Curriculum
Develop a habit to constantly be learning by creating your own systems for your growth and exploration. Become conscious and learn from life rather than only paying attention during classes. Put it simply, school provides us with a lot of unseen opportunities. Are you then making the most out of it? Always wanted to improve your public speaking skills? Join the debate team. Always wanted to try research? Request for a lab assistant stint from your professor. Now I know this sounds like common sense, but the problem is that most people stop trying after awhile.
Creating your own curriculum means to be on constant exploration. It means to value learning and self-discovery over short term money or pleasure. The true power about exploration is that big decisions like career or even relationships, become easier because you know what you are looking for. And you won’t settle for anything less.
3.Discover your Medium for Contribution
Answer the question: What unique value do I bring to others? Being able to answer this question means you probably know yourself quite well and are living one step closer to a more fulfilling life. As you continue exploring, look beyond the surface level of things like making people laugh or being good at your studies. Look at deeper things such as being able to bring a team together or being able to coach or mentor people to reach their goals. These are true talents that have massive value not only to the people you are trying to help, but also the marketplace in general.
4.Live In Alignment
Determine what is worth in your life, then live life around them. This means setting side time weekly or ideally daily, to review the list you created (1) and plan your day around them. Most people live unconsciously and let the events that happen shape their lives. Most people waste hours on youtube and Facebook, and then wonder where all their time went to. Spending the day doing things that leverage on your strengths, develop your interests and resonate with your top values means living life in alignment, like reading a book about building relationships. When you live up to who you say you are, it makes life a lot more meaningful and your self-confidence skyrockets as well.
About the Writer of this article
Pang Sheng Wei, the Passion Coach and Founder of Pursue Your Passion, is passionate about passion. To him, it is everything-drive and discipline; fortitude and motivation; and inspiration and epiphanies. Passion distinguishes the convicted from the apathetic; the living from the living dead; as well as the great from those great at dreaming. Some have called him delusional while others acclaimed that they have never been more inspired. Sheng Wei invites you to join him in the pursuit of passion and decide for yourself.