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From “Should” to “Serve”: A Singaporean Uncle Redefines Purpose

The Mindful Singaporean Uncle series 

My life has been a checklist of "shoulds": Prestigious degrees, well-paying jobs, titles that impress. This relentless drive wasn't just family pressure, it fueled my very definition of a successful life. Duty blurred with genuine ambition until that familiar ache of restlessness hit. Was there something more beyond the next corporate rung, the next pay bump?

Enter mindfulness. Initially, it seemed so disconnected from my high-faluting world. Yet, it's precisely within this practice that I'm finding a way to "nurse" my career, rather than discarding it.

Mindfulness shines a harsh light on autopilot. Did I sign on to that project for its impact or just my ego? Am I actually doing what I want, or simply repeating that competitive hustle I learned long ago? It doesn't mean I don't care about achievement, but rather asks if those goals align with genuine fulfillment.

The biggest surprise has been discovering service. My career felt driven by the need to achieve, to prove... a constant hustle for what I could earn. Mindfulness flips the question: How can my hard-won skills serve a greater need? This could be mentorship without seeking credit, choosing collaborations that make a wider impact, or exploring my work through the lens of building others up.

This transition will be subtle, yet powerful. My office won't suddenly gain incense and soothing music. The external markers of success won't diminish. But perhaps, fueled by mindfulness, some of that old striving gets replaced by the joy of being genuinely of use. I'm still "uncle" navigating the Singaporean work world, just one discovering more heart amidst the ambition.

This, truly, may be what Doing Well means.

Anyone else feel this way? How can we use mindfulness to add to our careers a richer sense of purpose and contribution?

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