Work vs purpose
By JESSLYN LAI
There are two kinds of work – one that motivates us, and one that demotivates. Yet, we can never run away from our responsibilities and that work is still work. Like it or not, there will always be things that we need to do.
Because of that, we often push aside our hobbies and personal passion simply because we don’t have the time to do it. Illogical as it may seem, it is when we do something we enjoy that we become energised to do more. It becomes as if I do art for a living and work a full-time job as a ‘side career’.
When I was a young kid, I saw this quote hanging on the wall in my mom’s office:
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
I didn’t understand what it meant back then, but it was always on my mind. Since then, that quote had always inspired me; and that’s how I choose to live my life.
Growing up, I used to draw on recycled paper and often collected unwanted materials from my family to use them for crafting. Although I enjoyed the creation process, seeing my craft piece in the trash made me feel like it can be repurposed for more.
Hence, I started a blogshop where I made crafts out of recycled materials and put it up for sale. As I made sales, I was then able to buy different materials and explore new crafts.
We often give excuses that we don’t have what we need before we can do something. However, I believe that when there’s a will, you can find a way. If you can’t find a way, create your own path.
We can either take that limitation as a discouragement, or make use of that limitation to the fullest of our creativity.
Take calculated risk
At the initial stage, my parents didn’t approve the idea of doing business online due to security concerns. I was adamant.
So I did my research and found that it would be safe if I am careful. I took that risk, knowing that I’ll be responsible for my own decision, and went ahead putting a few creations up for sale.
It was only after three months that I got my first sale. During that week itself, my mom even accompanied me to the bank to open a savings account. That was when I knew my parents supported me, and it was a relief knowing that it was a risk worth taking.
Challenges are opportunities. Believe in yourself and persevere where your heart knows what is right to do. It is often during these challenging times that put our attitude and character to test, which is what will refine us to become a better person.
Every seed has a potential to become a tree
One day, I bought wires knowing that I can make something out of it. I thought to myself, if people could bend shapes, so can I ‘bend’ names.
With that, my handy dad gave me a special plier (that I still use today) and made wire name keychains for my family.
I didn’t see the value of it, but when I put it up for sale, it outsold everything else on my blogshop. That was when I moved into my next venture at Dazzlyn Wire, focusing on personalised wire names, and made sales internationally through Etsy (a handmade platform). I found that there were people making wire names as well, so I expanded my range to necklaces and rings.
Everything we do is like planting a seed. Not every seed would grow, but when planted in good soil at the right conditions, it would grow, bloom and multiply a hundredfold. But before that happens, we first have to make that effort to plant that seed, believing in its potential.
The reward in getting out of our comfort zone
Selling internationally was a big challenge because I had to figure out logistical arrangements and all the other procedures that I knew nothing about. It took me close to a year in that place of uncertainty, and a month or two to push myself out of my comfort zone to really find out how to go about it.
I remember feeling such a relief and sense of accomplishment when I managed to send out my first international package.
Before a seed turns into a tree, it first has to go through the uncomfortable process of being buried in the soil, and die as a seed before it can grow.
Likewise, we have to be willing to go through the hard process of change and move out of our comfort zone so that we could move from a seed to becoming a fruitful tree.
Being a person
I took a diploma in graphic design and created a personal branding towards my graduate exhibition in 2014. I’d explore creativity through art, design, photography, and handmade items – wherever ideas and inspirations lead me to.
I soon picked up calligraphy and hand-lettering as a personal interest and often write encouraging words that spoke to me personally and share it on my Instagram. My works eventually got noticed and was selected as one of Malaysia’s Top 10 Modern Calligrapher by Tallypress.
Having had a few business ventures in the past, I now do everything under the name The Maker Jess, focusing on being a person rather than a business.
I believe that the most important thing in every successful brand is not just how good the product is, but the ability to engage individuals through being and carrying the very heart and soul that go behind what they do.
Balancing passion and reality
In doing what we love and working to earn a living, one should not be overwhelmed by the other, but rather complement each other.
We can choose to be intentional in pursuing our passion while leveraging the fuel that comes from it to perform our best at work. That is possible because we take the effort to fulfill our desires and purpose.
So, be it baking, writing, singing, gardening, sightseeing, swimming, dancing, hiking or whatever you enjoy doing, take that time off to do what is refreshing to you, and you might just find yourself being able to head back to work with renewed strength and triple-boosted productivity.
We are given these gifts and passions for a reason, and we are our best versions when we live out who we’re created to be. Even if the road is full of ambiguity, if the heart wills, it will brave through its way to head towards its purpose, crafting its own unique journey.
Best of all, we don’t need to be a professional before we can do what we love. As Theodore Roosevelt puts it, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
What are you waiting for?