Last week, I was invited to give a talk about money management to College of Arts and Letters students in UP Diliman.
My initial plan was to speak about financial strategies for teenagers, but later on decided to instead, share stories from my life.
I told them that I was a licensed civil engineer, who later on shifted to freelance software development. I then narrated how being self-employed helped me discover entrepreneurship, which eventually turned me into an investor, years after.
I shared stories about my travels, my unique hobbies, my advocacies, and despite the many years that have passed, why I still consider myself an engineer – that I may not be an engineer by profession anymore, but I am still an engineer of my own life design.
The talk was meant to inspire them and at the same time, make them realize the important role that financial education plays in helping them achieve their goals.
Afterwards, I opened myself for questions. And among those which was asked, one question stood out for me.
A sophomore raised his hand and bravely inquired, “Did you know back in college that you’ll be where you are now? Was it planned? If not, then how do you find what you’re meant to do in life?”
Below is the expounded version of the answer I gave.
Try as many things as you can
Back in college, I did not know that I’ll be where I am today. All I knew back then was that I wanted to be an engineer, and that’s what I planned for.
However, when I felt that it’s not really working out for me anymore, I began to try new things. I did not let my college education limit my choices and dabbled into whatever I can get my hands on.
It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do in life. No one is really ever sure of their life’s purpose, until they experience it.
And thus, the first step to finding out what you’re meant to do in life is to try as many things as you can. Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.
When you discover a passion, pursue it
Truth be told, I never really expected that I’ll be an entrepreneur.
My first business was only born out of necessity because I needed a more constant source of income than my freelance job. But the experience fanned a flame that I never knew existed within me.
As you try new things, you’ll fail in some and you’ll do good in others. Sometimes, you’ll feel out of place, but there will be those that’ll genuinely excite you.
When you discover something that makes you feel alive, give it a chance and commit to pursuing it further. It is the next step to finding out what you’re meant to do in life.
Learn to be great at what you do
When you’re doing something that you love, it’s easy to be good at it. But it will require extra effort, sometimes to the point of giving up, to be great at it.
In his book, Malcolm Gladwell wrote that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve greatness. So, if you spend 4 hours everyday at practicing a skill, then mastery will come in around seven years.
It will require enormous discipline and dedication, but if you’re pursuing something that you’re meant to do, then it won’t feel that long, and it will always be worth it, in the end.
Don’t stop at being above average and continuously learn how to become better at whatever you’ve chosen to do.
Serve others through your skills
I discovered my passion for writing during high school, and I did my best to improve this skill over the years, which has served me well personally, and professionally.
I fell in love with telling stories, and I knew it was one of the things that I’m meant to do in life.
That’s why after almost eight years, when most of my blogger friends have moved on to other things, I’m still here writing my stories in this blog.
The world is full of problems, pick one and provide a solution. Learn to serve others because there are only a few things in life as satisfying as helping other people through your skills.
Manage the income that will surely flow
You’ve discovered what you’re meant to do in life, you’ve worked hard to be good at it, and when you’ve learned how to use it to serve others, money will surely come.
Because value begets value – and when you offer something of great value that solves a problem, people will pay for it.
However, remember that it’s not really how much you make, but how much you save and invest that makes the difference in the long-term.
You are not meant to work for money all your life, so learn to manage your wealth properly as it comes.
Repeat as many times as you want
I am a writer, and a book author. I am a financial literacy advocate, and a Registered Financial Planner. I am a small business owner, and a tech startup cofounder. I am these and many others, because I chose to be all of them.
There’s a dreadful myth that most people believe about their life, which is thinking that you’re only meant to do one thing throughout your lifetime.
It only takes 7 years to master a skill, which means if you start at age 14, you have 8 opportunities to be great at something before you reach 70.
So don’t worry if you really don’t know what you want to do in life, and just do what’s within your reach for now. But don’t waste your life doing only one thing.
Be a great writer, a great cook, a great painter, a great teacher, a great singer, and a great whatever-your-heart-desires.
Choose to make the most out of your time on Earth because the truth is – that’s really what you’re meant to do in life.
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