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Do What You Love, Love What You Do

Remember the days of old, when you were a fresh-faced graduate, envisioning that dream career and how close you were from achieving that. Now, look at yourself today – how close are you from that goal? Chances are, you are either tirelessly slogging in a job that you settled for or you have gotten that career but are now jaded from the grind. So here comes the question: “Do you do what you love, or love what you do?” It is an immense question we have to ask ourselves.

“Which is more important? Marry the woman you love, or love the woman you married? In today’s world, when choices abound and searching for meaning may lead to failure and disappointment, finding meaning will always be inferior to giving meaning to all that you do.” These words were the sound counsel by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Chan Chun Sing, to graduating students from Temasek Polytechnic in May 2017.

If you found that particular analogy familiar, it might be because it resembles a speech by our late MM Lee Kuan Yew in 1994 that “You either have the Western view – you marry the woman you love, or the Eastern view – you love the woman you marry.” This clash of western idealism and eastern pragmatism is even more intense in Singapore, a cosmopolitan amalgamation of contrasting ideologies.

There seems to be a constant rhetoric by our leaders to fulfill our roles and be contented with our place in society. While our first reaction is to dismiss it as propaganda for the higher purpose of keeping Singapore efficient and at full employment, upon pausing to reconsider, perhaps there is wisdom in Mr Chan’s words. The essence of humanity lies in our unrelenting pursuit of meaning, a yearning that cries out from within, quelled only through the warm embrace of purpose. Waiting for purpose is less preferable to sculpting our own; after all, it is much, much easier to mould our minds than our own actions.

And it does not help that unemployment rates have been on the rise, reaching a level unprecedented since the high of December 2009 after the Global Recession in ’08. In such times, the irony is that being kiasu and staying in a job we initially dislike may not be such a bad idea.  It was always through the journey of time, when we have experienced the test of fire that creates a better us, like the blade that has gone through hours of hot smelting.  While job satisfaction is important, few people turn to careers as their main focus or enjoyment in life; family, hobbies, personal time and even religion weighs heavier on importance for most of us. Our careers are thus more of a means to an end.

Many of us may have also noticed this by now: there is satisfaction in a job well-done. Be it a successful business deal that was clinched, or a completed project, the pleasure of a sense of achievement can be the par excellence that professionals seek. Perhaps that could be the spark to rekindle your passion for your career.

All of this, however, seems antithetical to the pursuit of happiness. But is it? Searching for the ideal job should also be a priority and, according to Steve Jobs, “If you haven’t found it, keep looking. Don’t settle.

Being a search and headhunting company, it is even more important for us here at Citadel Search to ensure that every single candidate that are put in our paths finds the job that fits their passion and skills.

Across the years, we have encountered many push-factors that drive candidates to seek new jobs. The most common reasons cited are disillusionment with the bosses, lack of empowerment, inadequate career growth opportunities and misalignment of values. We always know that the lack of monetary reward is only the most convenient reason to give. But when we delve into the real motivations why, more often than not, it is not just about money.

While it is quixotic for candidates to wish to pursue a radical new direction in their careers, a key determinant of success in this area is usually the life-stage they are in. In earlier stages, switching careers and developing new skills comes easy. But later on in mid-stages of your career when you are saddled with more responsibilities, mistakes then time becomes a luxury you can no longer afford.

In Citadel Search’s view, we advocate that it is imperative to do what you love and grow with the job in order to love what you do. When you are young and are less invested, you can seek to explore a variety of paths to learn and stretch your strengths.  Stay invested in each place to really explore your strengths. Never exploit your employers as it only reflects badly at your own personal expense.

As you mature and have grown more certain in your abilities, be in a job that plays to your strengths. Volunteer to take on a humanitarian mission, an overseas posting, a challenging project beyond your regular grind, and learn to love what you do while challenging yourself. Don’t settle, keep growing! Keep asking yourself: What do you want right now? How are you growing as a person? These questions may be difficult and uncomfortable, but once you have found your answers, they become your personal beacon that guides your path and the paths of those who will follow.

This process will be immeasurably fulfilling; a timeless voyage of loving what you do and doing what you love!

Come to our job search once you have decided to do what you love or love what you do!

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