Finding my purpose has been a companion for a good part of my life. What does it mean? What does it feel like? Does it mean I’ll be happy? What if my purpose was to live in poverty to serve others? What if my purpose is to be a nun? These questions have crossed my mind in more ways than one. And quite honestly, these questions have scared me and I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to find out, if indeed I were to live in poverty and be a nun…
I have tried a few methods – visualisation, reading ‘self help’ books, working with coaches and mentors, vision boards, asking my inner voice ad nauseum and then hoping my purpose miraculously appears in a dream. Unfortunately none of these methods really landed.
I have always felt that part of my life’s purpose is to help others. An altruistic-feel-good thing to say when people asked. Yet, I really didn’t know what it meant. How can I help others when I am a banker? How can I help others when I’m not sure if the volunteers I’m sending to developing countries are truly contributing to an impactful solution? How can I help others when I’m dancing at 3am in Buenos Aires on my sabbatical? How can I help others if I’m brokering partnerships across sectors?
How can I?
How can I?
At 38, I now feel that I am closer to connecting with my purpose. I don’t feel I have completely landed completely within the helicopter pad, but I’m at least on the building, even if it’s just standing on one landing skid.
The shape of my purpose looks like this: to support and mentor Asian-Australian women in their 20s and 30s to align their life and career paths with their values, desires and strengths. To support women to embrace and embody their feminine energy and power to contribute to society with their unique qualities and capabilities. To show that they can charter their own path without necessarily following traditional and expected pathways imposed by family and society.
How did I get here?
Here are some of the things that I did:
- I tried different activities and sat with how my body reacted to them
- I travelled
- I tried different careers
- I quit 2 different jobs
- I dived into 2 sabbaticals, without full knowledge of what I was doing
- I worked harder (and not necessarily smarter)
- I tried different hobbies such as dance, writing, meditating, yoga and painting
- I started to explore my identity with other Asian-Australians
- I started my healing process, which helped me realise that I had disconnected from my feminine self
- I even tried watching footy (to be part of the boys’ banking club)
How am I approaching it?
- With a sense of curiosity
- By taking small steps to increase my courage to try different things
- By following my instincts (which didn’t always agree with my head)
- By taking measured risks
- By seeking out visionaries and out-of-the-box thinkers and feelers
- By keeping an open eye for opportunities to connect with different groups of people
- By having fun
The lightbulb moment came when when I realised that my hunger to discover and connect with my Asian-Australian identity aligned with the fire that was lit in me when I was invited to the Inaugural Asian-Australian Leadership Summit sponsored by PwC, AsiaLink and the Australian National University. This Summit brought together like-minded individuals to discuss ways in which we can address the lack of senior leadership representation across all sectors of Australia. When I started connecting with 20-something-year-old Asian-Australians who expressed their frustrations and disappointment around the lack of career progression, family expectations and complexities, I realised that we have much to go as a collective group.
A fire has since ignited within me to share the insights and lessons that I have learnt over the past few decades with the next generation. The realisation that I too, must step up and help to forge paths for future Asian-Australians to come.
This is how I am connecting with my purpose.
How are you connecting with yours?
Image by Jean Sum