I have a bad habit. I always ask people this question: What is your passion? What do you love doing?

And I’m surprised that many people tell me they don’t know. They don’t now what’s their passion. They don’t know what they are good at.

The truth is, I don’t believe them. I believe they know. Deep inside. I believe they say they don’t because they have discounted what they love and what they are good at because society doesn’t place a value on it. And so sadly, they judge it and they dismiss it as being trivial.

Yesterday, at the National Young Leader’s Day (Women’s Edition) event, I asked many of the teenage girls who came up to me that same question. Some said they haven’t found their passion yet, and some said things like, “I want to be a pilot and fly”… “I want to Tweet and be a social media reporter”… “I want to travel the world and write, like you!”


And there are other people who love jumping off planes, exploring caves, making people laugh, caring for someone, climbing trees or hiking in nature who think, “Nah… these are not real talents or passions”, simply because in the world’s eye, they don’t count. In Singapore, we say it this way, “Not counted!”

But I insist on asking this question – I have always asked this question – “What would you be doing if you didn’t have to worry about money? How will your time be spent?”

Discounting, of course, the first two weeks to a month when you probably just want to laze by the beach and do nothing but sip a Mojito and read… People always try to get off the hook by saying they want to be a professional bum!

But there will come a time even that becomes boring and you get up and start looking for things that naturally excite you and make you happy. What would that something be?

I think it’s a very important question we each need to answer. It may take a fair amount of reflection or it may come instantaneously to you. But in that answer lies the clue to what we’re created to do.

Don’t judge it. It can be anything.

I stumbled upon this Alan Watts’ video by chance last night, when searching for something totally unrelated. I see this as Serendipity. Before you do anything else, watch this 3 minute video. It says EVERYTHING I’ve been trying to say.

Believe it or not, definitions of “success” and “happiness” do differ and vary around the world. I can tell you this because I’ve travelled continuously for 9 months, across “cultural borders” like Hawaii, Paris, Morocco, Madagascar, Tibet, Bhutan etc. It’s all arbitrary.

How we define “success” and “happiness” right now has probably been indoctrinated into us by our society, by our parents, and we need to suspend all judgement for a moment, and realize that.

Because there is a BIGGER PURPOSE to our lives, that over-rides conventional wisdom.

“If you say that money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time: You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is, in order to go on doing things you don’t like doing — which is stupid!”

As mentioned in the Alan Watts’ video, don’t worry about the money. Because if you are passionate about something, you will become a master of it. And when you become a master of it, then you can start getting a decent fee for whatever it is.

I love this quote by the wise old Chinese philosopher, Confucius. It was first shared with me by my friend Zhang Tingjun, one of the founders of The Chain Reaction Project. Like me, she was a journalist with Channel NewsAsia, but she left to start a non-profit organisation that uses adventure as a vehicle for change.

I love this quote because it’s just so true. Those who have taken that leap of faith to pursue their passion will get it immediately, and they will ALL tell you the same thing.

So if it’s still conventional wisdom you subscribe to, how much more conventional than Confucius?