Photo by Killian Pham on Unsplash
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve embarked on a conscious journey of self-discovery. It means that I have intentionally made certain choices to help me facilitate this quest while trying to discover more about my strengths, where my passions lie and what is my greater purpose in this life.
Quite often, when I meet with challenges in life, I will unconsciously react to a situation, sometimes it results in favourable outcomes, sometimes not. It’s just another instance of me being unconscious about what I do and all I want is to check that box on the to-do list and move on. So back to the humdrum of life, do the same thing over and over and after a year, 3 years or 5 years, I wonder why my life hasn’t progressed.
So when circumstances at home changed and required my attention, I knew things had to change, including how I viewed life and what was important to me. Hence I made a conscious decision to commit to my own personal growth. This means that in order to facilitate my journey, I had to make some intentional choices.
Be Clear On Priorities
We all have so much to do each day. There’s work, family, health and personal commitments all calling for our attention. Going on this journey of self-discovery means making a commitment to oneself. Some folks say it is selfish but I beg to disagree.
We all have 24 hours a day, and self-care is important. If we are not physically, mentally rested, or emotionally well, how are we to serve others positively? A simple example is I know that I need 7 or 8 hours of sleep every day without becoming short-tempered or to have the ability to function with a ‘clear’ head. With the commitments I have, I realised that it was in my best interest to prioritise what is important for me apart from my own wellbeing, i.e. my family.
This involved primarily my parents. They are both getting on in age; in addition, my mother has Parkinson’s and she required more care, attention and emotional support. The care of a Parkinson’s patient is a full time one and while my father is the primary care-giver, I support by relieving him from some of the daily routine plus handle the management of the house like organising our meals, the marketing and so on. Mum’s wellbeing is a top priority and as such, I plan my time round my Dad’s. Should he need to go out, I make sure I am home and I try not to leave them both at home alone for too long in case Dad needs a break from caring for Mum. In short, we make sure Mum is never left “home alone” and I make sure that there is always someone around to support my Dad.
Another important decision I made was to set personal boundaries. I wanted to spend more time in quiet solitude to reflect or just to get things done. It meant saying “No” to social gatherings or meet-ups, requests for favours and the occasional work project.
Act With Intention
As a result of getting clear on my priorities, I began to make conscious decisions. Time is precious so it’s all about focusing on the task at hand.
So when at work: I set aside some time for planning my week, my daily actions include turning off all my messaging apps except for Slack, which I use for communicating with project team members. Emails are not responded to immediately and only after I am done with whatever needs to be completed. As a result, I find that I am more effective at work and get more done.
Time spent with Mum is about “being 100% present” and creating happy, positive conversations that help boost her mood. Laughter is so important in our lives, don’t you think?
Also, since this is a journey of self-discovery, I set aside time for reflection, for exercise, and attending retreats.
What all this means is that I no longer go out several times a week to trendy restaurants and cafes to have dinner, drinks or coffees. Indeed, previously, I would do these things as it was nice to try out the latest hotspots in town and I think it was also fueled by FOMO*. I see my friends less often but thankfully, I have been blessed with a super bunch of close friends who understand what I am going through and who are always there for me with a listening ear.
Don’t Be Distracted By ‘Dazzling Distractions’
As the months progressed, some interesting things have happened. Where in the past I have been plagued by insecurity and fear for my future, inspiration for creating a life that can accommodate my responsibilities and desires have popped up. Clarity surrounding what area of expertise I’d like to focus on for work, productive conversations with business partners and ease of executing technical matters, all serve to make this period a smooth one.
I know I am slowly reaching my goal in attaining a better understanding of who I am as a person and what to do next in my career. Why? Because all of a sudden, I am being thrown some ‘dazzling distractions’** such as calls from headhunters with job prospects to rejoin the old industry I was from. These are coming in now when there were none earlier in the year.
So, to consciously embark on a journey of self-discovery does require some effort and possibly even sacrifice. But I have to say that it is also a most rewarding experience as we become more grounded and self-assured of what we stand for and what our purpose is.
* FOMO – in case you didn’t know, it’s an acronym for fear of missing out. 🙂
** Dazzling distractions are what Jan H. Stringer and Alan Hickman describe as “Any activity or project that takes you off your path and away from what makes you tick”. Reference: BEE-ing Attraction, What Love Has to Do With Business and Marketing, Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2009.