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From the moment we’re born, we begin to make choices and determine our priorities.

At first, it’s relatively simple. As a baby, most of my life decisions are made by my parents – otherwise, my priorities are determined by my biological needs. So I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired, and so on. Life’s pretty dandy.

When we transit to primary school, we move out from under the protective wings of our parents and into the vast world of shiny and loud things that demand our attention. While previously we trusted wholly in the direction our parents gave, now we have friends who whisper in our ears, media that tells you what’s what in the world, and personal interactions with life outside the four walls of our homes.

Our priorities begin to shift. They spawn beyond simple biological needs. Now I need to prove my worth to others (and myself, though it’ll be a while before I admit it). I need to capture the attention of people I admire. At this stage, my priorities are relatively selfish. I want to be the best so people will acknowledge and befriend me, and so that I’ll have a bright future ahead of me. Nothing else really matters.

In no time at all, school is over. Out into the working world – the real world, as many would put it. Then comes the realization that being an adult is tough. I could afford to be selfish while I was younger only because my parents bore the brunt of everyday problems. Their priority was me.

Then I start to notice how old they’ve become. How, one day, they’ll need me to take care of them instead. How they need (and deserve) to be my priority.

Then my childhood friends begin disappearing, seemingly by magic. Adult life consumed them as well, one priority at a time.

The friends that are left come and go, by chance or by season. But never again will they be a priority.

Then I fall in love. Head over heels. She’s the bright light in my life that I never want to see go off. She becomes family, together with her family, and family is now a priority.

The problem now is that the well-paying job I worked so hard my entire life to achieve is getting in the way of that priority. Work will always be a priority, because it offers meaning and purpose and money and providence. But never above family.

Then I realize that work can never offer enough meaning to life as I want it to. Work is a man-made construct after all, with all the limits that human beings have. God’s Word is the logical place to turn to. What once were simply facts and truths, become life itself. In God I find ultimate meaning to life. He becomes priority uno numero.

And then age sets in. Pains, ailments, sores – the physical body starts to break down as it is meant to. And without a healthy body, I cannot provide for my family nor pursue the purpose I have in life. I start to watch my diet, execise when I can. Health is a pre-requisite to performance, and is a foundation I need to maintain for as long as I can.

I’ve reached an age where I’ve done some stuff, experienced some of the good and bad things in life, and start to understand the limits that life has.

I’ve come to a realization that there’s no such thing as “having it all.” It’s a myth, something young people tell themselves to justify whatever they have in actuality given up.

Life is about priorities.

Ever since leaving Tech in Asia, I’ve thought long and hard about priorities. I’ve always chased after what I consider to be a dream career. Simply by virtue of taking up so much of my waking hours, I had deemed it to be my number one priority.

Now, I see that there are more important things in life. Yes, work is necessary for survival, and can be a key source of satisfaction. But it is nothing if there isn’t anyone around to share it with. It becomes a temporary blip in an otherwise meaningless life.

There’s gotta be a greater narrative tying everything together.

And as cheesy as it sounds, to me that’s love. To love my family. To love the people I work with and serve through my work. To love my body so it doesn’t give up on me prematurely. To love the earth by exploring and appreciating its sights and wonders. And loving God, the source of all these wonderful things.

What’s important to you in life? Focus on these even when everything on the periphery falls away. You won’t regret it.

Thanks to James Clear for The Four Burners Theory, from which I gained inspiration.

journalism

It’s been a roller-coaster year of sorts for me since graduation midway last year. Since then, I’ve undergone 4 (full-time) job changes within a window of 11 months. Yes, that averages to about a new job every 2.75 months – I am the very epitome of the millennial’s struggle to find purpose, passion, and autonomy in the economy today.

Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a slew of clients in my freelance writing career in the meantime that keep me afloat.

I have learnt a lot in these tumultuous months, though. I have seen the best and worst of people in the tech and marketing industries, but have emerged on the other side relatively unscathed, though perhaps with a stronger sense of skepticism. Still, there’s nothing like first-hand experience that will force you to grow up in a hurry – and that is exactly what I had to do, grow up.

Making the move into journalism with Tech in Asia will be a whole new challenge for me, and perhaps that’s exactly what I was looking for. I had previously dived head-first into the deep end of the marketing pool in 2013, specializing (maybe prematurely) in content marketing and subsequently taking up role after role, client after client. It’s been an eye-opener, and I certainly still strongly believe in the power of content marketing.

Writing for the news will be a whole new ballgame, I suspect, and  as of today I have already experienced a week of adjustment.

This is not to say that I will be offloading my current clients and assignments. Writing will always be my passion, and I will most definitely continue engaging in other forms of writing alongside news writing moving forward. And, after a process of elimination, I have successfully curated an amazing group of clients that I absolutely love to write for. It is safe to say that I will not be giving them up in the near future.

More importantly, for those who are desperately looking for the right job that they can call their own, don’t be afraid to jump in and test the waters. Sure, you might feel the water is too cold after a while, but don’t feel pressurized to hold out against your better judgment. Find warmer waters. Find purpose, passion, and autonomy wherever they may be – yes, they are out there somewhere.

As for me, I’m currently treading new waters. Let’s see where time and tide takes me to.

(Featured image credit: http://kevin.lexblog.com/)

so what are you going to do with that
taken from dailyutahchronicle.com

So I recently wrote about following your heart when pursuing education. I mentioned that we should not let the fear of practicality paralyze us, but follow our hearts where it would take us. It certainly sounds all good and ideal, but I’d bet that you read that, nodded furiously in agreement… And went back to pursuing the most practical course in your institution (or at least, two-thirds of you would).

I recently found an article that would, IMO, be far more convincing. The author’s argument goes as such: Liberal Arts degrees are useless (but not in the way most people think they are), and the people who pursue them are better off precisely because they are useless

It’s a strange statement to make, but hear him out – I think he’s on to something big. Here is the article: Liberal Arts, and the Advantages of Being Useless.

Now, I know that the title might seem very like one of those over-the-top defensive pieces that try a bit too hard to defend the Liberal Arts degree. Here are some quotes I picked out from the article that blew my mind – and hopefully they will convince you to take at least take a look, and give it some serious thought. (the bolds are mine)

This, I think, is why a Liberal Arts degree is useless: it requires some creativity and unguided exploration after you get it in order for you to figure out what you want to do with it. And it requires these things because you can’t read the name of a good paying job off of a Liberal Arts degree. If someone asks a Liberal Arts major what she is going to do with her degree, the best she can say is, “I’m not quite sure, but I’m pretty certain that I have roughly the same chance as any other major for getting a job and that by the middle of my career I’ll have an income that is just as good, if not better, than people with those other degrees.” Not the best sound bite. But it has the virtue of being true.

How can you get very far, If you don’t know Who You Are? How can you do what you ought, If you don’t know What You’ve Got? And if you don’t know Which To Do Of all the things in front of you, Then what you’ll have when you are through Is just a mess without a clue Of all the best that can come true If you know What and Which and Who. – Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh, “Cottleston Pie” (1982)

In the coming decades, success will be defined by the ability to understand the complex problems that customers face, and the ability to solve these problems elegantly. Technology development is important, as is finance, manufacturing,and distribution. But these areas are not core competencies for the industry leaders. The next billion-dollar company will be run by history majors who are skilled in wading through a massive jumble of facts and who have the ability to distill these facts down to a clear set of objectives that a global team can fulfill. – Tom Gillis, Forbes Magazine

“So let me leave you with a fairer question. This a question to which all majors, from any college, can give a decent answer. It is a question that does not stack the deck against Liberal Arts majors. And the answer to this question is an answer you might give when people ask the more conventional “What are you going to do with your degree?” question. The question is this:“What kind of person is your degree going to help you be?” If you’re a Liberal Arts major, you have a quick and ready answer: “I am going to be a more reflective and engaged individual, and an active, responsible contributor to my community capable of succeeding in leadership positions.”

What do you think – yay or nay for the Arts? Share your thoughts below!

From Daniel: Addiction is certainly one of the greatest impediments to happiness, largely because it creates an illusion of happiness, however short-lived it may be. It takes very decisive steps in the right direction in order to break out from the chain of addiction.

The writer, Gerald Blackson, writes about substance abuse, health and education. His most recent work highlights the Top 10 Best Master’s Degree Programs in Health Informatics.

 

Addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or any other possible substance, is a life-threatening and purposeless experience. Fortunately, addiction is a curable disease. Undergoing intensive rehabilitation is a tried and tested solution for addiction.

In fact, millions of people have been rehabilitated and had their lives turned around thanks to these programs. Relapse is possible, though. Somehow, former addicts begin to take illicit drugs and substances and develop addiction again. This isn’t quite a shocker nowadays since the streets are paved with drug dealers and pushers alike. To help you keep your awful past at bay, below are five tips to consider.

 

Continue Attending Sessions

You may think it is impossible or unnecessary to continue attending meetings and simply go ahead with your fresh clean life. On the contrary, it is imperative to remain active and participate with these gatherings and events. By planning ahead, you can still make room for such occasions.

An hour or two a week should suffice. Not only will this aid you in sticking to your daily lifestyle, but also give you time away from stress sources of your natural environment.

 

Vent Out Feelings

Do not keep things bottled up inside you. Instead, let it out by telling a friend, family member, or anyone you trust, even if that means an anonymous chat room.

By expressing your feelings, you’ll be able to let off pressure and get immediate help and advice from peers who understand the situation.

 

Get Supporters

Assigning yourself a supporter or attending a support group is a great way to keep addiction at bay. This group of people understand you well as they are experiencing the same thing you are in.

At the same time, avoid people who do not support or even care about your recovery and your undertakings away from drugs and alcohol. Replace them with friends and family who love and support you. This positive environment is conducive for a long-term addiction-free lifestyle.

 

Keep Yourself Busy

It makes sense, right? If you don’t have time to spare, there is a strong likelihood that you won’t be thinking of using drugs or drinking alcohol.

Start a new TV show, join a club or re-connect with loved ones. The days go by much more quickly and easily when you’re invested in something new and enjoying your time.

 

Proper Diet

Dieting is an underrated factor when it comes to staying off addictive substances. Most people think that the food they eat doesn’t have any link to a potential relapse. However, diet is connected to how you feel.

If you eat well, you feel happy and healthy. This goes the other way around. Eating fast food and junk food will only lead to depression and stress, which is a shortcut for recurrence of addiction problems.

 

If you do fail, always perceive it as something you can learn from and improve yourself for the better. Seek immediate advice and support to prevent the problem from escalating.

Here is a post I recently posted on Job Hatch Singapore. It really is a topic that is close to my heart – the renewing of the mind, the changing of paradigms. Find the original article here. Enjoy!

 

so what are you going to do with that

It’s hard to be an undergraduate studying in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) in the National University of Singapore (NUS). Not because of the tremendous workload, nor the fact that we literally travel uphill for every single class we have to take. It is because we have to face this question from quizzical but well-meaning friends and relatives: “What are you studying at NUS now?” – and more importantly, the infamous follow-ups. Here’s a typical scenario I face:

 

Relative 1: “So you’re studying in the Faculty of Arts ah? Doing drawing is it? I thought your arts and craft in secondary school always fail one!”

Me: “Uh no, I study Political Science lah, I don’t do drawing. You also know I cannot draw!”

Relative 1: “WAH, that means you’re going to be a politician is it? Join PAP (People’s Action Party) right! Good, will earn a lot of money. Must remember us when you strike it rich leh!”

Relative 2: “Ya, and must tell the gahmen to drop the COE and close some ERP gantries also lah!”

Me: “Yeah…………….”

 

A well-meaning sentiment, but in my opinion, far removed from reality. This exchange might seem amusing, but the idea that what you study is what you become in the future is still paramount in the minds of students and parents alike today. Such a paradigm governs the tortured thoughts of O level students who are choosing which course to go in the respective Polytechnics, or which subjects to take in Junior College. Similarly, recently graduated A level students work backwards – they think of their desired career pathways, and from there, determine which course they want to take in University. After all, this approach is the “tried-and-tested” and therefore safe and reliable – or is it?

 

This idea might be true in certain cases – but in today’s world, a mere minority. Today, we have Science majors becoming human resource managers, and Arts majors becoming social entrepreneurs. Gone are the days where a Psychology major becomes a counsellor. Today, a Psychology major could become a user experience researcher at Google, or go into market research. No longer do employers look out for the name of your major and take it at face value – they look at the adaptable skills behind it. Most undergraduates would have developed excellent analytical, communicational and administrative skills in the course of their studies. These skills are the key that can open many doors, and not just one.

 

Of course, such an approach requires a drastic paradigm change. Perhaps, students should start to choose courses on the basis of interest instead of practicality. Because of their sustained interest and engagement in the subject, they would be able to develop their soft skills far more than another student who grinds through a technical course because it seems relevant for them in the long-run, but fails to interest in the short-run.

 

This is not to say that one should avoid taking technical and difficult courses. Certain courses are the fundamental building blocks that are necessary in some professions. What I am trying to point out is that the flexibility afforded by this new paradigm opens up a massive variety of opportunities and pathways for students. Try new things, delve into what you are passionate about. Do not let the fear of practicality paralyze you, but follow your heart.