March 1, 2010

I was reading a business book and I thought I’d pause and write for a while because something interesting made me think. (here’s where you go “Oh no, she’s thinking…”)

The author said that to be successful, you have to find something you’re passionate about, only then you can succeed. Most people find jobs their parents like that earn good income and level of prestige. Yes, they’re good at it, but they are miserable inside because they know they can be great doing something else. After a while, life gets sucked out of them and you can see the dissatisfaction in their eyes.

He also said everyone thinks they want financial security, but they don’t realise that the really happy people are the ones doing what they love.

I think most of my friends and I are at that stage where we’re trying to find careers that make money, not something that make our eyes bright up. Most of us probably don’t even know what our passions are yet.

I think when we want to start a business out of passion, we have to use our heads. Life is about happiness but also about survival; to survive in this world you need money.  So we can’t be happy creating a passion business that doesn’t make money. It’s like falling in love. Yes, love is dandy but it alone won’t pay the bills or feed the family.

So, I guess the challenge is to find something we are passionate about and making it into a business THAT SELLS. And sells well, since we should really excel at things we love.

For me, construction was just thrown to me at a young age. I saw my dad build and sell and renovate and buy and whatnot. And when you’re a little girl who thinks her dad is the most amazing, most intelligent person in the world (I still do!), that becomes your world too.

Now that I’m immersing myself in the construction world, I am so thankful and grateful that what was thrown to me is extremely interesting in my eyes. I’m curious about it, I want to learn more about it, I love learning it. Sometimes I get frustrated that I’m not learning fast enough or I feel under-utilised, but that’s just my impatient side talking. Coming from a non-engineering background, of course I need to realise my limitations at this current moment.

I’m lucky that I love something that my family business is all about. Some people don’t and this can put quite a strain in the family, even though it’s completely understandable that everyone has different interests.

Another one of my passions is my creative side; blogging and writing. I’m keeping up with blogging quite well. You know you love something when you’re typing this at 2 am out of your own will. I’ve always thought I would write a book, but given my full-time job (and doctor’s order to sleep!!) I’m finding it quite tough to pursue this passion. But hey, as a 22-year old, I’m in no rush just yet.

The problem is when you are just passionate about EVERYTHING and you want to do everything!! I’ve had these moments before and it’s really frustrating. This is when to know you’re not Superman. Many wise people have told me that in order to excel, pick your niche and really really focus. You can’t be in 2 places at once. I’m still a bit sceptical with this advice because I’m really stubborn. I’ll have to work on that.

But I KNOW things that I’m NOT passionate about.


  • Investment banking. In uni, the most popular work prospect is investment banking. I never quite understood why so many of my peers wanted to be on the same wagon! I’ve interned at banks and met many bankers in my line of work (in fact, even my friends are new bankers!) and I have the utmost respect for them. It’s not easy, I know. But just listening to them talk about banking tunes me out so fast. I would love to learn for my knowledge but to do it as a fulltime job, I know I wouldn’t excel at it.
  • Law. Believe me, 3 years of it + internship = more than enough for poor old me. Even without interest, I completed a degree (shows how easy law really is! Hehe) so it shows that you CAN do it. But I didn’t get first class honours, and that just proves my point. Without passion, you won’t be the best.
  • Sports. As a girl who covered her face when a teammate wanted to pass the ball during PE lesson, I won’t even bother to elaborate.

I think it’s good to list out things we’re passionate about and the things we’re less passionate about. And most importantly, to actually reason out why. That way, we’ll all be one step closer to success, whatever our definition of it is.

p/s: Having said all this, school is still school. Everyone goes through it and that’s when you discover which subjects you like and you don’t. I took Physics in Form 4, but dropped it in Form 5 after A LOT of thought. But I made sure I got an A before I dropped it. Give every subject a chance and try to do well in all of them. You can’t be complacent in a subject “just because you don’t have passion for it”, because unfortunately in qualification, every little subject counts.