As many young professional and entrepreneurs aspire to enjoy fulfillment and satisfaction, it is heartening to know that there are people who have achieved those goals, living life to the fullest, whether on the job or on a personal level. Their secret?
Lee Keng Leong (BBA Hons 2004):
When I think about personal fulfillment, I think it’s a matter of looking at a half glass of water and believing it is half filled rather than half empty. I am fortunate to be who I am grateful for what I have. Even if you set targets and do not achieve them, there will always be next year to set them as new resolutions again. If you are a movie buff like I am, you will remember Alfred telling the young Bruce Wayne in “Batman” that “we fall so that we can learn how to pick ourselves up“.
Darren Thomas (MBA 2007):
My professional dreams are being fulfilled. They key step was figuring out what I really wanted to do; it was actually a very difficult process. You need to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, and spend more quality time thinking. There was an excellent book that guided me; it’s “What color is your parachute?” by Richard Bolles. My advice is to do every single exercise in the book, no matter how difficult.
Staying fulfilled is about continuously asking oneself what is really important and taking action towards achieving it. It’s a habit. If you fall out of habit, you could lose that sense of fulfillment. I was in such a situation before my MBA. I decided to quit my job, joined the MBA, but still didn’t know what I wanted to do after that. However, once I did, I just told everyone what I wanted to do, When people see your passion about something, they want to help. After that, it all falls into place.
Kevin Neo (BBA 2006):
Fulfillment is not just about achieving your goals. Enjoying the process is equally, if not more, important. I am on track to realize my dreams with an interesting job and the opportunities to travel widely for leisure and work. However, all these did not happen immediately. I worked for a couple of years in another industry where I was given many opportunities to develop myself. Unfortunately, I did not have a strong interest in the industry. I made the conscious decision to give up a stable and attractive job to move into unchartered waters and restart my career. It was a decision I have not regretted. Many people do not know what they want and, hence, spend a lot of time wandering without a goal. This is akin to a ship sailing aimlessly in the vast ocean. The very first step to fulfilling your dreams is to understand yourself and what you hope to achieve, and then plot out your goals. Trying and failing to achieve your goals is not the worst. Not bothering to even try is.
William Dull (MBA 2008):
I am fulfilling my personal dreams right now serving as a submarine officer in the US Navy. It will stay that way because I enjoy the challenge of my work. It is certainly not easy, but the best things in life are not easy to obtain. No matter how well you plan, you will run into hurdles. The trick is figuring out how to overcome them and continue towards your objective. Not losing sight of your long term goals is key. For me, fear of failure is a tremendous motivator. I will not fail, no matter what the cost. Hard work and effort will prevail every time. That knowledge helps me through the toughest times. My best advice is to wake up every morning with a smile on your face and do your best to keep it there all day. A positive attitude, outlook, and a smile can go a long way to making those around you better as well!
A sense of fulfillment doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve achieved your dreams. Dreams should be wild, colorful, and truly fantastic. They may not be achievable. Even if you don’t achieve your dreams, you should garner a sense of fulfillment along the road towards your dreams. Sometimes it’s the process and not the end result that is enjoyable.
Davina Lai (BBA 2003):
Yes, I would certainly say that I am fulfilling some of my dreams currently! When I was an undergraduate, one of my dreams was to work closely with a large community of people from around the world. I started looking at multinational companies, and secured a position locally, working between the Singapore and Asia Pacific office. However, it did not give me the exposure that I desired. I decided to explore other opportunities, rationalizing that if I wanted to try out different things at a lower opportunity cost, now would be the time. I was offered a job at the Singapore International Foundation (SOF). With its mission then, to nurture global citizens for Singapore, it gave me the opportunities to network and opened the door to the world. From thought leaders to budding art practitioners, and even community leaders in villages, my world grew and so did the extent of my network. Fulfillment can come from simply being able to do what you enjoy doing, and not having to feel like you owe an explanation to everyone else for what you are pursuing.
Mia Susanto (MBA 2007):
I have always wanted to pursue a career in Marketing, and now I am working in Branding. So, in a way, I am fulfilling my personal dreams. I had to make a career switch earlier on from Life Sciences to Business, and then start over in a different industry which I had no experience in. But then, challenges are important to keep me driven; the sense of achievement after overcoming challenges makes me happy and feel fulfilled. My sense of fulfillment lies in doing what I want to do and being successful at it, as well as having people I love around me. Always give your best in what you do, and avoid any regrets.
Celeste Chong (BBA Hons 2006):
Being where I am right now places me in a dynamic environment with new challenges everyday. I’ve always wanted a role which will not only ensure constant interaction with external clients, but also enable me to work closely with internal counterparts, but also enable me to work closely with internal counterparts. Previously a Management Associate with various job rotations, the challenge of identifying an area which will help me fulfill my personal dream was not easy. I’ve come across countless crossroads, and made a couple of U-turns, overcoming various trails and errors before reaching this stage. Now the challenge will be to climb up the steep learning curve as fast as I can in order to maximize my time here and add value to my role. Never remain status quo whereby you’ll get totally jaded and unmotivated by your work. Always find new ways to add value to your job and excite you to work. To me, a sense of fulfillment stems from the ability to wake up not regretting your past decisions, and not wondering if you could be doing anything better elsewhere.
Andrew Graham (MBA 2009):
I changed jobs recently and am now working in media. It took many, many months convincing people that, despite having no background in it, I was a good person for the industry. Also, I had to take a pay cut. I selected the job on gut feel, without thinking about the hours or the pay. Despite often having to be in the office at 4 am, I am working in a really exciting industry with great people. I actually enjoy getting out of bed in the morning. Having had jobs where I dreaded going to the office each day, the pay cut and everything else is worth it to actually enjoy going to work. I believe I am fulfilling my dreams.
I took a lot of time to think about what I liked and didn’t like doing, and had to block out all comments from friends and family. You have to forget about what is right for other people, and focus on what is right for yourself and what fits your personality. For example, if you are a person who likes to be outdoors, you are probably never going to be fulfilled doing an office job, no matter how hard you try. Chasing a paycheck is never going to fulfill anyone in the long run. If you love what you do, all the other benefits will follow. In my current company, the people who are promoted the fastest aren’t the ones seeking promotion, but simply those seeking to enjoy what they do on a day-to-day basis.
Elean Chin (BBA Hons 2001):
My personal raison d’etre in life is to be happy and to bring happiness to those around me. In line with this purpose, I seek to fulfill my dreams in the professional context by joining the public service. Having served for 10 years, I feel good that I am contributing directly to the greater public good by generating economic growth and jobs for fellow countrymen. It is definitely more meaningful and impactful than if I were to contribute to a company’s bottom line. Pursuing your personal dreams is a lifelong journey, because once you have fulfilled your personal goals, you should be chasing after the next set of achievable goals. All of us will find fulfillment if we never give up. Every failure is a step closer to the end-goal; fulfillment is when you can truly say that you can die without regrets.