I remember when I was a young kid, I switched my career ambitions at quite an absurd rate. My dream to be a scientist was replaced by the sensational feeling to become an astronaut, followed by the urge to be a doctor (although I ditched that after I realized I was afraid of blood). And not forgetting the lofty ambitions of being a rubbish collector at one point. As I grew up and marveled at the various dreams I had, I asked myself, why did I change my ambitions, my dreams, on so many occasions?
To me, it could be down to a single, powerful word : Purpose. Purpose is defined as the intrinsic reason or motivation, that pushes us to do something that means a lot to us.
I dreamt of becoming a scientist, because I loved how science worked around me. Soon after, I realize that extraterrestrial exploration seemed much cooler than that, hence my dream to be an astronaut. My dream to be a garbage collector? Well, that can be explained by the fact I hated the stench of it, and I respected anyone who could dispose it responsibly.
-Mark Twain got it spot on right there!-
Most of us know what purpose is, but we perhaps never took effort to understand what it feels to do something that is purposeful to ourselves. I believe in questioning whatever I do, because curiosity fuels the necessity for us to discover the ultimate why of what we are doing. You may be involved in many things, but if it’s aligned to your purpose, it would rarely wear you down mentally, because you look forward to doing it every single day.
My late father was to me, a figure whom believed strongly in purpose. Despite completing his major in chemistry, his love for debate and human rights propelled him to a career in law.
And throughout his life, he dedicated his energy and time to serve the impoverished. In all my curiosity, I asked my dad, “Why would you want to spend your time and money on others?”, to which he replied, “I just love doing service for the community and to bring a smile to the faces of those who have suffered previously”.
That’s when I knew, that purpose was beyond a word ; It’s an addiction that provides an individual the motivation to do something that makes him/her happy.
Today, I’m deeply immersed in my quest to be an engineer that is able to serve the needs of the community. And although it took me many years to discover that, and though I may still be young and raw, I’m happy that I found my WHY. And I am confident that it works the same with everyone, because it’s what that keeps us moving.
Pravin Nair is the National Director of Public Relations for AIESEC in Malaysia, and a 3rd Year Chemical Engineering student who has an avid interest in waste and wastewater management.