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  • Alvin Ong

Unlearning "Follow Your Passion"

Filip Mroz, Unsplash

Alvin serves at St. Andrew’s Autism Centre where he raises awareness and funds so that persons with autism receive the interventions they need. In this season, he enjoys helping millennials discover their core values to clarify their purpose in life.

We live in a society that often romanticises the idea of following your passion as the ultimate key to success and fulfilment in life. But as I reflect on my journey, I find that this pursuit has not always been helpful.

Over the span of nearly 20 years, I've wrestled with the challenges of finding my true "calling", while simultaneously facing personal setbacks and an array of interests that seemed to pull me in different directions. The work that ignited the most fire within me often didn't provide the financial stability I desired. Through it all, I came to understand that relying solely on my passions may not lead me to the fulfillment I seek.

Instead, I embarked on a path of discovering my values and allowing them to serve as my compass.

Life has a way of throwing unexpected curveballs. Along the way, I encountered personal setbacks that demanded my attention and energy.

In my early 30s, a severe illness to my mom took a toll on both my emotional and physical well-being. As a new parent, I faced the struggles and joys of nurturing a family, knowing that my choices had a profound impact on their lives. These experiences taught me that the pursuit of passion is not a separate entity from the rest of life—it is deeply intertwined with the ebb and flow of life itself.

One thing I've discovered along this convoluted journey is that I have several passions. Rather than having a singular focus, I found myself drawn to multiple areas of interest, each vying for my attention and devotion. This realisation brought both excitement and a sense of overwhelm. How could I possibly choose just one passion to follow? It was during this introspection that I began to explore a different approach—discovering my values.

Instead of being solely driven by my passions, I delved into a deeper exploration of my core values.

What truly matters to me?

What principles guide my decision-making?

As I uncovered my values, I found a more solid foundation to navigate the complexities of life and career. I found that my values provide a compass, guiding me towards work that align with what I held dear. This shift liberated me, allowing me to see beyond the transient nature of passions and focus on building a life that resonated with my values.

In this exploration, I also came to understand that the work I felt most passionate about didn't necessarily equate to financial provision. It was a hard pill to swallow, but it pushed me to question the conventional wisdom surrounding passion-driven careers. Instead of chasing the elusive dream of financial abundance through passion alone, I began to seek ways to align my passions with my values in a way that could create meaningful work.

This newfound perspective opened up a world of possibilities.

It helped me embrace the idea that career fulfillment is not a linear path with a singular destination.

Success isn't measured solely by external markers; it's about the impact we create, the lives we touch, and the alignment with our values. It's about finding fulfillment in work that speaks to our core beliefs and creates positive change in the world.

Through embracing my values, I've learned to appreciate the beauty of the journey itself. It's not just about reaching a specific destination; it's about cherishing each step along the way. It's about recognizing the growth, the connections, and the lessons learned in every twist and turn. By aligning my choices with my values, I've discovered a sense of purpose and authenticity that transcends the fleeting nature of passion.

Unfollow your passion. Instead, find your values.

In the journey of discovering them, cherish the richness of each step, the beauty of each twist and turn. In doing so, we can arrive at the end of our long and winding journey and confidently say it has been a life well lived.


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