By Navin Muruga
As featured in MensHealth's Feb 2014 Issue!
Just over a year ago I was a senior consultant at a global recruitment firm in KL. In the conventional sense, it was a dream job. I was doing really well and getting paid more than I could have hoped for. The only problem was the fact that I wasn’t happy. I had become jaded by the rat race and one question kept popping up in my head “If I was 50 and looked back at my life, what would I want to see?” I realized I wanted to make a difference in the world but at that point I had no idea how. I just knew I needed to start somewhere. So I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to the war torn villages of North East Sri Lanka. I started by volunteering for a small NGO there. That short experience was a crash course on poverty. I quickly learnt about the global water crisis and decided to get involved. So I started a campaign to raise funds for a water well in Sri Lanka. I told my friends about the campaign. They then told their friends who then told their friends. It snowballed. The next thing I knew, I had quite unintentionally started a small social enterprise that raises money for water and sanitation projects.
Since boarding that flight to North East Sri Lanka 12 months ago, the social enterprise I started has helped over 6,000 people across Sri Lanka, Kenya, Cambodia and Philippines gain access to clean water and sanitation. Looking back, I realize it was all possible simply because I decided to just start! Mind you, I didn’t start with a grand plan. I just quit and volunteered. I also focused on learning the ropes as quickly as I could. Fundraising and drilling wells isn’t something they teach you at school. I invested in studying what other non-profits were doing and learnt through trial and error. I forced myself to make as many mistakes as possible, as quickly as possible.
In the end, it all boiled down to the fact that I got off my butt and just started.
You’ve got to be passionate! However, when looking for your passion says Navin “Forget about finding your passion. Instead, look for a purpose you truly believe in”
Give yourself a time-out and invest some time into thinking about what you want in life. Ask yourself simple questions like “What makes you happy and what is your definition of success?”
Invest time in trying different things. Find your purpose is like dating. You just have to get out there! Intern, volunteer and network in communities that share the interests that you do.
Once you have an idea or business you’d like to pursue, don’t go all in! Instead, test your idea first. If you would like to start a business, create a prototype of your product and get your friends to try it. Their feedback will be priceless.