“Purpose is important to me because we have one life to live and I want to make my life count,” said Mr Goh Mui Pong, Deputy Director and Head of the MAS Academy under the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He is constantly reminded of his own mortality as his wife is a palliative care doctor who cares for people who are terminally ill. She often challenges him to view life backwards - to think about what he’ll find greatest satisfaction in and what he’ll not want to regret when he’s at the end of his life. 

His purpose? To help others find their purpose. “I want to be the pen to help people write their stories,” he quipped. 

Although this may not seem directly related to his work in the area of learning and development, it has helped him find meaning in his work and to view learning and development from a different perspective.

“What I really do is help people learn. Not just technical skills, which is what my job directly entails, but it’s also in helping people learn about themselves, which often translates into how they can learn better.”

Finding one’s purpose may seem like a daunting task, but Mui Pong offers three tips on where to begin.

Keep a journal for self-reflection 

Mui Pong believes that self-reflection is a very important part of the self-discovery journey. Keeping a journal has helped him to discover more about himself over time. Three questions that he asks himself weekly are:

- What have I learnt? 
- What is something new that I’ve tried to do? 
- Who have I helped? 

“You can just start small and write in point form. It doesn’t take very long but it can go a long way.”

Seek other people’s opinions

Sometimes the people around us can provide better insight about ourselves. “For instance, I might think that I really enjoy organising events, but when I am actually doing it, the people around me can tell that I do not really enjoy it.”

Being intentional in talking to people from different fields and organisations can also help you discover your interests. 

“The Career Coaches in the Public Service are of great help too. They provide you with a safe space to explore your interests, passions and purpose,” he said. 

Trust the process of discovery

Purpose is not something that is usually found overnight, but over time through different experiences. 

“My wife would say that I question my purpose every two weeks. I have learnt that discovering one’s purpose is a gradual process of discovering what truly motivates you and what it is that you’re interested in. It is a process that you go through not just by yourself, but with those around you too,” said Mui Pong. 

To Mui Pong, purpose is what keeps one going even through the boring and mundane tasks. 

“I suspect that if we are clear about our purpose, we are usually able to better endure challenging times. It’s like climbing a mountain. Not every aspect of mountain climbing is pleasant. But if we can hold on to our purpose, our ‘why’, it makes the unpleasant parts slightly easier to bear,” he said.
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