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What Expectations Do You Have About Work And Life?

Growing up, my parents instilled in me a sense of direction and focus. However, that path was narrowly defined for me. For many Asian parents, becoming a doctor or a lawyer are often the only acceptable professions due to their societal prestige and high paying salaries.

But even with strong cultural and familial influences, I struggled for most of my twenties and early thirties because I was ultimately pursuing the wrong things. Though not a doctor or lawyer, I was in line with my parents’ expectations based on a lucrative salary in advertising sales. But my life lacked meaning. There was a greater purpose that laid dormant within me.

I lived in an expensive loft in Brooklyn, which perfectly faced the New York City skyline. I would often sit quietly and stare from my window. In the distance, the iconic Twin Towers stood tall.

View from my window, before 9/11.

brooklyn bridge, new york skyline

On one day in September, my loft view was forever changed along with my perspective on life. And within, I experienced an awakening.

After much contemplation, I chose to take a different path in life. Rather than furthering a company’s progress primarily through advertising revenue, I wanted to add value to a company in a more significant way. I decided to pursue a career where I could contribute to organizations by developing people’s unique talents and skills. With money no longer the driving factor in my life, I left the advertising world and all of its financial rewards for a new career – one in the field of people development.

I made that career decision nearly 20 years ago. But these days, I often wonder, how many of us pursue a career path defined by our expectations or by someone else’s (parents, family, or society)? And if we follow others’ expectations of us, are those expectations in line with what we ultimately want for ourselves?

You don’t need to experience a catastrophic tragedy to alter the direction of your life. What we all need is a moment of quiet; to reflect on where we are now and where we want to head next. You can use this moment to reassess and define what it is you want from life. And it doesn’t have to feel like an insurmountable task. Here are some questions I’ve asked myself to re-define my path.

Where are you now on your path? How do you feel about it? Do you feel satisfied? Do you feel fulfilled?

Imagine your life 10 or 20 years from now. What do you see? How do you feel about it?

Write down the answers. Think about what the gaps are between where you are now and how you envision your life. Write down a few actions that you can take to start bridging the gap.

Thank you for reading.