By Dee Allan

Have you ever felt like you are stuck in a career that is not your calling? Or have you ever felt that you are not passionate about the work you are doing?

Indeed, with 85% of people unhappy with their career, according to a Gallop poll, these are common questions that we need to address at some point in time when thinking about our chosen vocation.

You may well have just arrived in Singapore with your spouse so this could be the perfect time for you to explore and exploit your talents during your time here.

Gaining some clarity, or at least having some curiosity, on your overall purpose may give you clues on how and where to show up in your career. It all starts with some deep soul-reflection work.

What Are Your Gifts?

We all have certain gifts that are inherently built within us. The question is, do you know what your gift is? A great way to hone in on your gifts is to look at four key areas: foundational identity, interests, passions and job functions.

1) Foundational identity

Your foundational identity is essentially your core way of being. It is in your nature and part of your makeup. Examples of these characteristics could be: creating, problem solving, teaching, communicating, persuading, crafting, working independently, helping others, researching, analyzing, being physical, adventure seeker, artistic.

Can you think of any obvious ‘ways of being’ that you display consistently?

2) Interests

Next up is to list your interests. While you may have several interests, ask yourself what your top two interests are to help narrow it down. These could be: medicine, spirituality, science, food, travel, sports, politics, writing, law, entrepreneurship, art, theater.

3) Passions

In order to align our career with our passions, a useful method is to ‘deep-dive’ into our interests. For this exercise, this means you really need to complete the above steps first before you can narrow into your passions.

Note that interests and passions are not the same thing. Just because I’m interested in making desserts, it doesn’t mean I’m passionate enough to become a pastry chef.

The trick is to continue deep diving into your interests, until you reach a natural point of closure that resonates with you.

Let’s take a ‘designer’, for example. They may have an interest in fashion. When they deep-dive to figure out what they are passionate about, they may discover they love women’s accessories and, furthermore, they are passionate specifically about handbags. So, in this example, this designer should focus their efforts on targeting jobs as a handbag designer.

4) Job Functions

The final stage to discovering your gifts is to narrow down one or two job functions you’re good at. The trick is to keep in mind your foundational identity while you do this, and look for patterns and pairs.

Some examples of pairing your foundational identity with job functions may be:

  • Organizing (foundational identity) and project management (job function)
  • Listening (foundational identity) and coaching (job function)
  • Writing (foundational identity) and copywriting (job function)
  • Communicating (foundational identity) and teaching (job function)
  • Persuading (foundational identity) and business development (job function)
  • Drawing (foundational identity) and graphic design (job function)

Using myself as an example; since I enjoy creating and writing, I could target job functions as an author or copywriter to ensure I’m staying true to my gifts. If I end up becoming a political correspondent writer when I’m actually passionate about writing fantasy books for children, it’s likely I will get bored and quit the job.


The key with the above exercise is to be honest and dig deep until you reach a natural closure. Then you should craft your job search strategy. While conducting your job search, or setting up your own business, always ask yourself if you are staying true to your gifts, otherwise you may find yourself doing a job that isn’t sustainable for you in the long run.

If after doing this exercise you are no clearer on where you want to be, try asking yourself this question:

“If money was not an issue and if failure was not possible, what would I be doing?”

It’s often the tasks and projects we would do for free that also ignite our soul and speak to our being.