Why You Should Start with Purpose


Words by Bianca Oana Asanache

Hey PMWs!!!

How have you been?!

Big day for Victorians today. We made it! We’re all excited to get out and about and do more than just walks around the park.

You’ve probably already called every single member of your family, organised catchups with friends, perhaps got a new haircut. The craving for some sort of rejuvenation after weeks of hibernation, it’s almost tangible.

Who would be the first person you’ll meet up with? What will be the first place you’ll go to? Will you show off your improved iso-cooking skills and use the recipes you’ve been perfecting these past months? Whatever you do, we hope you’ll be having a safe and relaxing time. 

No doubt, 2020 has been tough, for some more than others. 

Some days it may have been hard to see the end of this. Maybe you went a bit philosophical these past few months asking yourself many questions. Is there a meaning to life? If so, what is it? What should be the goal of humanity right now? Should I still make plans and dream big? We feel you, dear Professional Migrant Woman.

Maybe you have developed some intolerance towards words such as unprecedented, navigating uncertainty, new normal, pandemic, privileged, Zoom fatigue, extraordinary times (no? anyone?)…We feel you.  

Before you leave your safe households and enjoy the well-deserved unrestricted time out, we’d like you to look back at how you lived this period, more specifically, what have you learned about you, your purpose in life and your career goals. What do you want to be known for in the world? When have you finished this life here on Earth, what do you want there to be more of?

Legacy is what we want to leave to the world when we move on to the next. It can be a bit scary and confronting to think about it. But if you were to give up your current job today, what would be the legacy you’d leave? Or maybe you don’t have a job yet and you’re still wondering what is the story you’d tell yourself and others about your purpose in life and your professional identity? These two aspects don’t have to match. However, combining them has shown a sense of happiness and fulfilment in professionals. For Americans in particular, identity is tied to work. And not surprisingly, what prompts people to think about the purpose the most is their career.

A glimpse into my personal story

– So what do you do?

Oh God, here we go again. The question I dread the most. What you are is not what you do! But it seems this is the most common way humans like to break the ice. As if your job defines who you are. Some don’t have the privilege to practice the so-called dream job or haven’t found their calling yet. And I’m one of them, that’s why I don’t like this question. Nevertheless, I answer:

– I’m in customer service.

half whispering through my lips like I’m selling drugs or doing something illegal.

– Sorry, I didn’t get that. What do you do?

– C u s t o m e r s e r v i c e.

– I say, this time louder and spacing letters like when I call dad and he asks me to speak louder because we don’t live in the same continent…

– Cool!

Yeah, cool, if you enjoy people complaining 8 hours a day for things you’re not directly responsible for. I bite my tongue and I don’t say this out loud. I should be grateful to have a job at all, like I don’t deserve any better. Because I’m a migrant. And we are only allocated to roles no one really wants to take on.

That was an abstract of a real conversation I had many times. That was also me at the beginning of March this year. That was my standard response and attitude every time people would ask me what I do for a living. Why? Because I felt I couldn’t identify with my job title. Maybe work is not supposed to represent you, who you are, or define your personality. During the pandemic, though, I found out that this is extremely important to me, that I want my job to reflect my values and what I stand for, that I don’t want to work for money or fame. Understanding this inspired me to take little steps to find my purpose, to work on self-actualisation. 

First, I stopped complaining and shut the chatterbox that filled my mind with fear, unworthiness and lies. I am a migrant AND I deserve better.

Then I started asking myself thousands of questions such as what would I like to be more of in the world because I lived? What values do I hold on to and want to bring into my professional sphere? What are my interests? What do I enjoy doing the most?

Then I read and researched as much as I could on career change and how I can make it happen. A must-have in your library is “What colour is your parachute?” by Richard Bolles. Every year, it sells millions and millions of copies across the world and for a reason. Some other life-changing books: “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth and “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. 

Then I reached out to people who work in my dream industry. I expanded my network to like-minded professionals and asked for help. I found out I am not alone, and this gave me incredible strength.

My journey is far from coming to an end, but I believe happiness is a by-product of the things we enjoy doing every day, not an ultimate goal. What I’ve learned is that I’m not willing to compromise anymore, that the why is more important than what and when things get hard is the why, the purpose that keeps me motivated.

What’s your story? 

What about you, PMWs? Have you found your purpose yet? What lessons have you learned and what are the things you’ll take into the new world and the ones you’ll leave behind? 

“The purpose of life is not to be happy — but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.”

Leo Rosten

So long,

The PMW Team