Dinner Musings #1 — Passion & Careers ~QPSK

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1 — Passion & Careers

This week our Dinner Musings conversation topic was on Careers and Passion. It started with the premise that we as part of the millennial generation, no longer hold the same aspirations for work as our parents’ generation. Expanding on this further, in the generation before us, the narrative for a good career was mainly about stability, money and status. However as wealth and resources proliferate in much of the developing world, we are no longer satisfied with the status quo that our parents have left us; and have thus been labelled the “Me Generation“. Allison Osborn’s TEDx talk gives us some deeper context about the millennial generation. She notes that millennials are defined by an infinite array of choices available to us compared to any other people in history and the thirst for meaningful work is our hallmark. It has come to a point where monetary exchange is no longer a sufficient excuse for our time, and the work that we do needs to fit within our own paradigm and identities.

QP — From my own experiences as a late twenty something white collar worker, I feel that the millennial generation is currently caught between a bind. On one hand we are born in the Golden Age of paralysis, with the inundation of global scaled problems, an infinite array of distractions, and living in constant fear of missing out. In this context, we end up stuck and unable to progress. On the other hand however, we are also a generation that is the most aware, knowing fully the ideas of global inequities and social injustices that permeate the world. The decision really comes down to the individuals of this generation, to see how we can utilize this information. To either be stuck as a consumer and let distractions dictate our time, or to harness it, to upskill ourselves and find our place in the world that can impact change within our societies. I believe that what is calling out to us above all else is a meaningful way to spend our time.

QP — One interesting topic that came up from looking into this idea of an ideal career is the idea of unemployment versus misemployment. Right now our society is fixated on the idea of measuring the ratio between the employed and unemployed in society, but there is room to develop a deeper distinction into the idea of misemployment. According to The School of Life, “misemployment means being in work, but of a kind that fails to tackle with any real sincerity the true needs of other people”. According to a study from Gallup — “How Millennials Want to Work and Live”, it shows that we are currently facing a crisis where only 29% of millennials are engaged with their work, with the residual 71% either not engaged or actively disengaged in those hours. The School of Life proposes that the right way to reduce misemployment isn’t just stimulate demand, but to stimulate the right type of demand. To educate and promote the public on recognizing the value of what is truly important to our identities and to forgo the distractions along the way. I believe that our unique identities, skills and ideas, once channeled to the right outputs, has amazing potential to bring forward our society, and we just need to start by asking the right questions.

The second half of our Dinner Musings session helped us delve into the topic of passion. There were mixed responses on the idea that we all have innate passions that will be with us for life. Some believed that our passions can be simple, and is one which can encapsulate our deepest of interest. Whereas others were more cautious with their use of the term passion. They feel that competency, interest and sustainability have to align before they will acknowledge the activity as passion.

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SK — I agree that passion is “a feeling and feelings change over time”. Perhaps some people who are passionate about something and have been doing that happily and successfully for years may beg to differ. It is admirable that for them their passion could last the test of time and they are living off their passion. However for some, they may realise they are not happy and contented even though they follow their passion. It was once a thing they loved, but now they yearn for more. What’s lacking is the mission. In one of her Tedx videos by Celeste Headlee, she said there is no such thing as dream job. What’s important are your co-workers, your boss and your sense of purpose. She urged us to remember our core mission and forget the job title. A mission is not an ambition, it is to identify what other’s need and serve them. I believe a mission could bring us further than our passion.

Shiao Yin from The Thought Collective further interrogates that our passions hold a deep stake within us by bringing about a vulnerability in our identity. And it is through getting curious about our surface level interest that will help us frame and uncover what this deep passion is. One example is to interrogate our emotions of envy. While envy to most of us is uncomfortable, but in unpacking envy, it is by nature our minds call to action on something that we are subconsciously lacking. And in peeling it down layer by layer, we could realize that it was only a small part of the life we envy that really resonates with us, and should better inform our own goals and next steps.

We ended the night with a discussion of our own feelings of passion in our current workspace. The resounding answer is that the current situation although comfortable and sometimes challenging, does not fit our own individualities. QP — I see that at this age we are starting to develop on our identities as complex individuals, and in this generation of choices, we no longer fall into the typical mold of a singular role. In the end, success to many of us is the quest to find ourselves and to make our multiple identities work towards a meaningful cause. According to Shiao Yin, it is more important now than ever to explore your multidisciplinary self, and will bring about resilience to adapt to 21st century disruptions. SK — I believe every individual has their designated path to serve the world. Peers in my generation are starting a revolution of career. We are looking to walk outside the main road and clear our own path. I hope with a sound mind and clear direction, we could all work together to make the world a better place for our future generation.

Here are some exercises that we practiced in trying to tease out our priorities in life:

The first was on understanding our priorities as introduced by Allison Osborn. She proposes that we have to break down our priorities in life and which do we value more than others? Draw a pie representing a 100% of your waking moment, ideally where would you want to distribute your time between the following:

  • Personal Priority Pie — Friends & Family / Significant Other / Career / Personal & Spiritual Development / Health & Wellness / Leisure
  • Professional Priority Pie — Money & Power / Happiness & Fulfillment / Learning & Growth / Making a Difference

Key takeaways for us:

  • The quest for meaning — the current position of our society is that we are looking for something more than the standard narratives of money and power. Meaningful work stems from acts that either alleviates the suffering or increases the pleasure of other people
  • Finding Ourselves — we need to invest more time to interrogate the ideas of who we are. This interrogation does not come easy, but identifying it will be the precursor to giving us a life worth living.
  • Try Something — Sometimes to get past our paralysis is the fact that we just need to step out and try something. We have the option to volunteer or join an interest group while we are still in our full time jobs. This gives us real world data to understand our inclinations and interest.
  • Finding Opportunities — There is an endless source of problems in the world, and every problem in peoples lives is an opportunity waiting to be remedied.

Originally published at qpskpii.wordpress.com on February 25, 2018.

Written by

Programme Manager @ Padang & Co | Architectural Designer | Startups, Participatory Design and Social Enterprise sectors https://www.linkedin.com/in/llqingping/

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