This article was written for The Female CEO magazine.
From the moment you are born, you are influenced and moulded by the people around you and your environment. So whether you had a good childhood or not, we can say that our parents/ guardians play a big part in our upbringing. For example, I grew up in Singapore in a conservative Chinese middle-class family. My parents wished that I would become one of the following- a doctor, lawyer or business owner.
The life path of a Singaporean child is going to Primary school, Secondary school, Junior college and University. Then, find a well-paying job and work. After that, get married, buy a house and have kids. Work till you can afford to retire. In the end, the path I chose was not the traditional route. Instead, I ended up in art college, took up photography as my major and graduated with a BA in design. I moved to London after graduating and travelled around Europe for two years before coming home and starting my career at 25.
I then went to work in advertising, marketing and branding, which became handy skills for an entrepreneur like me. The point I'm making here is that this life is not linear. You will take some detours and pauses in life, and in the end, you need to connect the dots of your past to lead you to where you are today. It may seem bizarre, but you must trust the process and develop your inner compass and intuition.
The problem is that many of us think life "should" be a certain way.
When it doesn't happen the way we want, we get disappointed. As a result, we stop pursuing what we are genuinely passionate about and slip back to the old ways of living. Or we get too comfortable with our lives and are afraid to change because we are scared to fail because of judgements from friends, family or society.
The truth is you only get one life, one chance to live. If you are not doing something you love and wake up every morning to a dead-end job, you might as well not be living. So it would be best if you change your life and start creating a life you love, driven by purpose. Here's why perspective matters, a person may have all the money in the world but is lonely and depressed, whereas a person who may not have much money may be the happiest in the world. Why? Because they have different purposes.
A rich person has all the money in the world, but she may be afraid to lose the money or can't trust anyone because she's worried that people might take advantage of her. So her purpose is to protect her money, and she lives her life in constant anxiety and fear. On the other hand, the poor person may not have much money, but she lives in a community where everyone helps each other out whenever someone needs something. So she knows her purpose is to help people, even if she is poor.
Purpose drives us, and ambition motivates us. Without a purpose in life, things will get dull, and depression will set in. Because deep inside, you know that you want to do something more meaningful in life, but you are afraid to leap and gamble with your comfort. Comfort breeds complacency-which mean you are satisfied with things and do not want to change them. It should not be confused with being content.
Complacency is the sense of security and comfort that derives from believing that your past success will continue indefinitely.
It breeds the assumption that the future will be like the present and past and that nothing will change. It stagnates our growth, deadens our vision, and stifles our creativity. It robs us of new opportunities and makes us averse to risk-taking. The only way to break ourselves free from the bonds of complacency is by challenging ourselves and finding our purpose in life.
So how do you find your true purpose?
1) Stay open and curious
After my first detox, a switch happened in my brain. I learned how food could adversely affect our health, physical bodies and emotions. I went down the rabbit hole in learning about the food-combining diet, which led me to enrol in the most prominent online nutrition school to become a holistic health coach. If I had said "No" to the detox experience, I would not be where I am today. That is why I encourage you to remain open and curious about experiences. You never know where one life decision might take you.
2) Explore your passions
Ask yourself this question, where do you spend most of your time? If you're unsure, ask the people who know you best.
For example, are you always watching cooking shows and talking about food? You might want to become a chef, but you are afraid of judgement from your family. Still, you can explore your passion for cooking by trying out different recipes weekly, enrol in cooking courses, and interning at a restaurant.
Or if you are always looking at interior design magazines or on Pinterest looking at interiors, then maybe start an Instagram account to pin your favourite designs. Take classes on how to use specific interior design software or enrol in a part-time online interior design course.
Keep experimenting, gaining experience and getting good at what you love to do. Whatever you do, don't stop exploring your passions because they can lead you to find your purpose.
3) Surround yourself with like-minded souls
"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." - Jim Rohn.
If you want to find your purpose, you need to surround yourself with people who are living their purpose. Join a community of like-minded people. Listen to their stories, and ask them lots of questions. Spending time with positive and purpose-driven people will likely inspire you to have the same mindset. You may even discover your purpose through them.
Choose carefully who you want to spend your time with. Then, evaluate those relationships and ensure you surround yourself with aspirational, positive people who lift you, not people who are afraid to fail or talk you out of it because they are scared to make the change themselves.
4) Take a sabbatical
Sometimes, you need to take a long break from your current life. Go travel and have some space to think. If you can afford it, go on a retreat somewhere in the jungle or mountains, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Take time to sleep, exercise, read, meditate, reflect and think outside the constraints of what you think you should do and challenge the voice in your head to discover what you want to do in life.
Keep a journal with you and write your thoughts down and any inspirational things that excite you. You might even want to create a vision board while on a sabbatical to clarify your purpose. Then write down your goals and small steps on how you want to get there.
5) Go on a spiritual retreat
Have you gone to a spiritual retreat or ceremony? If you have no idea, let me share some examples. In recent years, many people have sought answers through spiritual retreats and ceremonies to clarify their purpose. So many choices are available now, and I can only share the ones I have experienced.
Traditionally Cacao Ceremonies have been conducted by the Maya and Ancient Aztec civilizations. Cacao Ceremonies are a ritual that opens the heart through cacao, where you drink a warm cacao drink made of raw cacao, water and some spices. In addition, other meditation modalities are used together in a ceremony, such as sound baths. Cacao Ceremonies help facilitate self-reflection and spiritual awakening, allowing one to consider who one is. It will enable you to analyze your hopes, wishes, and dreams, let go of the past, grow in the present, and build a better future for yourself and others.
Have you ever tried a sauna? Well, imagine being in a large tent made with sticks and blankets, with ten other people in the dark, singing songs and sweating like crazy for hours. Native Americans have used sweat lodges as a spiritual ceremony for prayer and healing. The shaman generates intense heat by pouring water on heated rocks to encourage sweating out negative energy. You get into a trance-like state where you face your thoughts and question your beliefs. The accompanying songs, prayers, and healing ceremonies purifies and balances the body, mind, spirit, and emotions.
Ayahuasca ceremony. It is a unique brew traditionally used socially and as ceremonial, spiritual medicine among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin. The brew causes you to have altered states of consciousness, including visual hallucinations and altered perceptions of reality. In addition, the indigenous people believe it cures the soul, offering a profoundly introspective journey that allows the user to examine their emotions and ways of thinking.
Many people who have consumed ayahuasca report having mystical experiences and spiritual revelations regarding their purpose on earth, the true nature of the Universe, and gaining deep insight into how to be the best person they possibly are. Also, they report having therapeutic effects, especially around depression and personal traumas, that can heal the way they think and the limitations they have about themselves.
San Pedro Ceremony
San Pedro is a cactus used as a sacred plant medicine for 3,000 years in the Andes of Peru. It has been used for generations by shamans and other spiritual seekers as a vehicle for divination. It is a plant medicine that enables personal transformation and supports the path to healing. San Pedro is a medicinal mirror that can help us see where we hold onto self-limiting beliefs and old life patterns. It gently guides us toward releasing opinions and thoughts that no longer serve us.
Each of these spiritual retreats gave me a profound sense of connectedness to the Universe and nature. They helped me explore the inner work I needed to heal from past traumas.
As a result, I can see how my mission and purpose are to truly open people's hearts and minds to different healing modalities that can transform their lives and bring them closer to their life purpose.
I would highly advise anyone who wants to go on spiritual retreats to do their research, educate themselves, do due diligence, get recommendations and ensure they understand the risk before committing to this transformational process. It is certainly not for everyone. Be ready to do the inner work after the retreats. It is not an answer but more like opening a door that alters your heart and mind to receive.
Behind every successful person is clarity of purpose. Unless you find yours, you will continue to cruise through life on autopilot. As a result, you may find yourself on a hamster wheel. In the matrix, to work and pay bills, only to wake up doing it all over again. You feel stagnant because you are just going about your life without meaning or purpose.
Identifying, acknowledging, and honouring your purpose is the foundation of a life lived well. It requires some courage because it opens up questions and ideas that might not be comfortable. Yet it's worth it.
Purpose provides an inner compass that guides every decision and leads you to experiences that will light up your soul.
Finding your purpose and connecting your drive to meaningful work can be challenging. You can find a coach to help you if you want more clarity and meaning. It may speed up the process, and you can start living a more aligned purposeful life.