"Move Your Body and Your Mind Will Follow."
Whether through leadership, parenthood, philanthropy, lifestyle choices or championing for a cause like gender diversity, living a purpose first requires one to stand for something.
That means, to be centered and self aware - to know yourself, your values, then identifying your purpose, and following through with action.
Through a mindful movement & journalling session, the #teambusywoman community explored the word "centered" by bringing awareness to their minds & bodies - using their physical awareness to find their center - fighting to remain still even under external forces.
Translating it to our lives; how do we ground ourselves in who we are and our values? How do we use that to deal with the pressures we face daily - especially when they can become significant hurdles and distractions on our journeys to living more purposeful lives?
AWARENESS. ACTION. IMPACT.
Encouraging individuals to take the little steps to discover and live their purpose, as well as to bring this mindset to their workplaces and communities.
We had the privilege of hearing from our inspiring panelists, all thoughts leaders in their own right.
- Ada Cheung ("The Kindness Advocate"), Pursuing her Masters in Social Work, HKU; Spin Instructor at XYZ; Program Director of Social Enterprise One Ten; The Busy Woman Project Ambassador
- Diana David ("The Corporate Guru"), Holds board positions at American Chamber of Commerce, DaVinci Innovation Labs; Regional Director at Financial Times, Executive Education; The Busy Woman Project Advisor
- Ed Haynes ("The Coach"), Founder & Head Trainer at Coastal Fitness; Former HK International Rugby Player; The Busy Woman Project Expert
- James JJ Acuna ("The Artist"), Founder & Creative Director of JJA / Bespoke Architecture (Recent projects: Elephant Grounds, Nha Trang and Little Bao)
- Moderated by: Jaslyn Koh, Founder of The Busy Woman Project and BrocnBells.com; Former Investment Banker
Takeaways - Knowledge for Keeps
AWARENESS - What is purpose and why should you care?
Purpose may seem daunting to some - but all it actually means is perhaps, what is it you can do with your time that is important?
- By understanding your “why”, you can work your way around circumstances and/or bounce back from challenges that will present itself along the way - to ultimately design your life the way you want it and live life on your own terms. Being able to identify your purpose or the things that are important to you is a key stepping stone to pursuing meaningful work that best fits you.
Read more: "When you’re going through hardship, something that is ultimately temporary and fleeting, can you place your focus and fire on your timeless “why” to help you get through that obstacle and continue to work towards fulfilling a meaningful vision and goal?"
- Go deeper and embrace the various facets of yourself. Take for example, the Personal Iceberg - a technique by Virginia Satir for introspection. The tip of the iceberg representing visible behaviors, “which is often what we focus on as we move through life because it is so easily accessible to us. But as the Iceberg metaphor illustrates, the observable is only the tip of human experiencing. Each layer under the water represents a part of personal experiencing that is unique to each individual, and if explored, gets us closer to who we each are in the world.”
ACTION - How do you find purpose?
Take moments to "just be". Hustling in a busy city usually means we’re constantly on the move and can lose sight of what’s most important to us. As such, it is essential to be present and be conscious of why you do the things you do. This can be as simple as journalling down your thoughts, or taking time to clear your heads and facilitate the introspection process with meditation, or other mindfulness activities like movement & yoga.
Trust in the process. Sometimes, you need to breakdown to breakthrough! Rather than having it served up to you on a silver platter, embrace the struggle and grow, so you can better appreciate the rewards.
IMPACT - How do you bring this purpose to the work you're doing?
Pursuing your purpose helps you find fulfilment but, doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Understanding that, allows you to appropriately define your “why” - and that allows you to make your decisions based on long term fulfilment vs. momentary happiness. Do you manage a team? Can you use this knowledge to help them perform better at work and in life?
If your why (or your job scope) is the act of serving others or helping others - know that your satisfaction cannot always be based on observable results. Instead, if you know you’ve done your best, trust that you’ve made a difference.
"Do you think you could have been doing that in your 20s?"
In the Asian cultural context, where the grown up child is expected to support his/her elders - it can be more difficult to pursue what you love at the drop of the hat. You may have to deal with financial hurdles, and/or family resistance when making big changes and taking on what seems to be not the typical route to "success", financially risky, or career suicide. As such, it is just as important to be responsible for your own finances. Treat money as a tool for you to live the life you want, not as a be-all and end-all.
Having said that, although seeking purpose can at times be viewed as a privilege, you can also find your purpose in menial work - whether it is through 'job crafting' such as expanding your scope at your corporate job by mentoring others, or taking pride in the difference you are bringing to another person's day as a coffee barista.
Viktor Frankl chronicled his experiences in an Auschwitz concentration camp in "Man's Search For Meaning". His message is this: the last freedom that can never be taken away from a man is his chosen attitude towards any given circumstance i.e. it is YOUR choice and freedom on how you react toward any given circumstance.
If you have a “why” to live, you can combat any “how”. If you have a deep-rooted “why” behind your living, you’ll find a reason to survive, to be resilient, to be gritty.
LIVE A LIFE THAT IS MEANINGFUL TO YOU. BE YOUR OWN ARTIST.
It is absolutely OK if you're not 100% sure of your purpose. Your purpose may also be changing and evolving over time, and that is completely OK too.
Stop comparing yourself to your peers or people you look up to - not against your best friends nor your bosses, A+ performers at work, nor athletes you admire - this is YOUR life.
Center yourself around what's most important to you, to be authentic to self. What do you love? Within you, not others. Let go of the “I have tos” and the “I wish I hads”.
To pursue what you really want requires a hardiness and desire to challenge stereotypes - even if the job or position has generally been deemed more masculine or something that is typically for an older, more experienced person. Be consciously aware if you are limiting yourself based on your own unconscious bias, which can hinder you from living your own authentic journey.
If you are clueless as to your purpose in life right now, think about what people appreciate you for. Perhaps, those are your strengths and your way to add value at work or in society. Regardless, don’t stress out over finding your purpose immediately - surrender yourself to the process!
Take the little steps
A simple and accessible way for all of us to begin discovering and living a purposeful life, is to develop and increase self-awareness. Give yourself space to be present, look inwards, simply question what is important to you, and make it a habit to practice self-reflection.
To read more thought pieces on Purpose, click here.