“Find Your Passion” is outdated advice – What NUS taught me

Find your passion” seems like a common phrase we hear. Especially for those of us who have been in the workforce for a while. And starting to question our “true calling”.

It feels like it has been such a long time since I graduated from NUS.

Most people can’t wait to get over school and start working. But I actually kind of like school times.

Guess in hindsight that’s because my school work and projects are aligned with my work energy.

This term, Work Energy, is inspired from this book – Work Energy, written by Jim Harmer.

It’s a very simple book to read. No technicalities at all. But I find the way the author shared his story and struggle very relatable.

Not so much of how he worked in a dollar store stocking shelves to support his study and his family. And eventually creating a successful business. Though that’s definitely inspiring.

But more importantly, I’m intrigued by the way he figured out what makes him tick. And ultimately, how he abandoned his career as a lawyer to build a business that really drives him.

So, in the book, the author defines Work Energy as the personal inner drive that makes you tick. It is the unique mechanism your mind has developed to get things done. And it is usually shaped by your life’s experience.

And this work energy is what I’m going to talk about today. Because it’s so relevant to many of us in society that we are living in today.

I hope that by sharing with you my own experience and how I come to figuring out my work energy, it can help you find yours as well.

You can purchase the book from Amazon here if you wish to read more about this book.

Find Your Passion? Identify Your Work Energy Instead

My Work Energy In NUS

“Find Your Passion” is outdated advice – What NUS taught me

Just a little background, I majored in chemical engineering. It deals with a lot of math and science as you may have guessed. We study how processes work like oil refining etc. There’s batch processes, continuous processes, involving complex reactions and flows.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was very much motivated during my NUS days. So I always have question marks when others complain about how taxing school work is. Or how boring certain modules are. Or they are vexed about how to make their projects stand out.

That’s of course true to a certain extent. It’s definitely not easy.

But more than that, there’s a number of projects, especially during our final year. That we have to do independent research, optimization and coming up with creative and effective solutions.

Being In The Flow

Ok, I shall not bore you with more of these engineering topics. What I want to say is that, I was pretty much in the flow.

Even if the schedules were hectic. Even if I have to go and give tuitions on most of the days. To earn for my living expenses and school fees. Not even saying my involvement with the co-curricular activities in school.

It was really tiring. I fell asleep on the bus, in the train, in the lecture hall. And this process repeats itself everyday.

But somehow it felt really fulfilling for me. I was always working on the problems and solutions. Researching and analyzing data. Piecing things together to come out with better ideas. My mind just can’t stop thinking about it.

Of course, I’m driven by my goals to ace the projects and exams ultimately. Looking back, it was the competition that I found stimulating as well. I guess the strive to reach these goals alongside my competitive nature is what made me thrive in my coursework.

While it didn’t occur to me back then, in hindsight, I was actually engaged with my Work Energy.

Find Your Passion? Losing My Work Energy

Don't find your passion, find your Work Energy. NUS Graduation 2015 outside University Cultural Centre

Unfortunately things changed after I graduated …

I lost my work energy. 

Again, it didn’t appear to me that whatever I’m working on were not aligned to my work energy. Because I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

I thought I was becoming lazy. I wondered why I’m not as motivated for work as before. Why I don’t have the desire to ace anymore.

All these were question marks following me for the past few years. But I just kept grinding. I used my willpower on whatever I’m working on.

Whether it’s to reply to tons of emails, doing routine planning work, or meeting up clients and doing sales. I realized that I experience burnout pretty quickly.

I became stressed and depressed every now and then.

The cycle repeats itself over and over again. Whenever I refocus back to the job, I get burned out.

So for the past 2 years, I have been pondering the mysterious loss of the energy. The energy I used to have back in the school days. So I read tons of books and watched tons of videos.

Finding my passion, my purpose. Asking myself what my strengths are. Do I have any interest in any areas or any fields?

Yes, all these are important questions to ask. And does help to shed some light as part of the process of self-discovery.

But after I read the book about this Work Energy thing, it kind of brought greater clarity. And it sums up all these elements into a simple yet profound concept.

Figuring Out My Work Energy, And “Find Your Passion” Again

I started to compare the kind of work I did in school to the work I’m doing after I graduated. Basically trying to piece the different elements together that make up my work energy. So that I can get back to the flow state again.

There’s a lot of different ways to go about doing this. For example, try to remember the time when you are in flow, forgetting how fast the time has passed. Determine what kind of work you were engrossed in.

But there’s another way of looking at it that I find incredibly helpful. It is to recall the types of work that you feel like they are eating away your soul. Or what I call, soul-sucking work.

Well there’s a lot of things that we dislike to do. And different people have different likes and dislikes. What I like to do can be what you hate to do, and vice versa.

But the keyword here is soul-sucking. The work that just makes you feel like you are draining your energy and soul away. You will not be able to find your passion by honing your crafts in such works.

If you haven’t experienced that before, good for you. But if you have experienced it before, you will know what I’m talking about.

For me, that would be doing the same thing over and over again, like a routine. And working on something that doesn’t require me to combine my analytical thinking and creativity to work, just doesn’t feel inspiring. I will feel drained after a day of work.

My Work Energy

These are just some of the things I realized in the past few years working on different jobs and businesses. When I compare them with the high energy I experienced back in my university days.

So, after some self-reflection over the past 2 years, this is the short version of what I found what ticks me:

  • Being able to learn new things constantly.
  • Have measurable goals that I can compete and benchmark myself against.
  • A good mix of work that engages my logical reasoning, analytical and creative part of the mind.

I think that’s what will keep me motivated for a sustained period of time without burning out so easily.

Conclusion

The reason for sharing this is so that I hope it can inspire you to find your Work Energy. Don’t find your passion. Especially for those of you who are currently in a job or business that doesn’t fire you up.

And imagine being able to do something that makes you jump out of the bed every morning when your alarm rings.

Or at least, don’t blame yourself for not being motivated or uninspired to do more. Especially if you have always loved your work previously.

Perhaps you are not clear about what your Work Energy is yet. Take some time to reflect. It may not be an immediate revelation. It may take awhile to figure it out.

You can check out the book “Work Energy” from Amazon here.

Find your passion? Find your Work Energy instead.

Even now that I have figured out more or less what makes me tick, it still takes time to align my work with my Work Energy. But I think I’m making progress at least.

If you have been following my blog, you would have noticed that I’m mainly talking about stocks and investments so far.

Moving forward, I would like to tap more on my work energy. So, I will be sharing with you more on the journey of building my business and investment portfolio, and any other interesting ideas and learnings that I think will benefit you as you embark on your own endeavours. Just like this post today.

As for all those stocks analyses, I will continue to put up on this site.

So, consider subscribing to our newsletter below to get notified once our next post is out.

And keep learning 🙂

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