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Friday, 6 February 2015

An evening with 2 environmentalists - they found their ikigai!

On Wednesday evening, I attended another one of Young NTUC Crossroads series of talks.

Yup, it's about "tree huggers".

And yes, like readers of financial blogs, it's about preaching to the choir boys....

So I won't share with you the environmental message of that evening.
Instead, I would like to share a bit of their background which I find quite inspiring!

1.  Eco warrior - Tay Lai Hock

He is the one in blue above with the beard. 

I am drawn to him as we have similar background.

Mr Tay left school at 16 with 3 GCE O' levels. Started working life at fast food outlets, signed on as a Combat soldier, then moved on to sales.

Climbed the corporate ladder and was the Regional Sales Manager earning $10,000 per month in 1999 when he gave up everything to backpack round the world.

After he came back, he found his ikigai. 

If you want to learn more about his background: Eco-warrior Tay Lai Hock .

2.  Chairperson Waterways Watch Society - Eugene Heng

Mr Heng started his career in banking near the Singapore River during 1968. 

Get ready for this:

He spent 33 years in the same bank!!! 

It's his first and last job!!! 

Now how cool and rare is that!?

Mr Heng shared that not once during his 33 years did he dread going to work.

If you like what you do, is there a need to seek financial freedom to "escape"?

And what do you do after retirement?

He turned his environmental passion while working in the bank to a calling. 

Yup, Mr Heng has found his ikigai too!

More details on his background: Chairperson of Waterways Watch Society Eugene Heng

3.  Discover your ikigai before goal setting

I know it' very fashionable to share about SMART goals and X amounts by Y years financial freedom milestones. 

I am not against goal setting or planning per se. I do that too.

But without knowing what we really want or why we get up in the morning, if you take a moment and reflect, don't you think the goals and plans can be a bit superficial?

For those who have never heard of ikigai before: What's your ikigai.

4.  Environmental choir boys and girls out there

If you are interested to participate (or volunteer) in the environmental activities organised by Mr Heng (Water boy) and Mr Tay (Earth man), below are the links to their organisations:

Waterways Watch Society

Ground-Up Initiative



  1. Hi SMOL,

    I've often question my own reason of being. But I've no answer...yet. Still waiting for the eureka moment.

    What's your ikigai?

    1. SRSI,

      It will come to you; all in good time ;)

      It's a bit like collecting stardust.

      The more we run around chasing after it, the more frustrated we become.

      The moment we stand still and stretch out our hands (like my pic), stardust will fall on us :)

      My ikigai?

      If you have to ask, I don't think you are ready for my answer ;)

  2. Hi SMOL,

    Good post! [small spelling mistake - warrior, not warrier] ;)

    I don't know about what's my ikigai...also don't need to find out. But I know I'm very filled with purpose and that usually makes me go beyond my duty. Sometimes it's to blog about something beautiful, sometimes it's to see that spark ignite when a student knows something (and that bigger spark when they go from having no confidence to more confidence and that confidence permeates everything that they do), sometimes it's just looking forward to a cup of coffee and a dash of pastries with my wife in a ulu cafe that nobody but us knows about.

    Sometimes, it's to read and see what the characters in this story are going to turn out (and you just want to turn the pages over and over and the story ends). Sometimes, it's the breathtaking sunset that I took pictures of, and eagerly waiting to show that to my wife.

    What's my ikigai again? Don't know, can't describe, it's everything that I look forward to doing. It changes all the time and I'm not ashamed to say that. I used to look up to people who know exactly what they want to do when they grow up. I'm just not like that :)

    Maybe you can say I'm still in the exploratory stage...but maybe that's my ikigai - an explorer not of geographical landscapes, but of human possibilities.

    1. LP,

      Opps! Thanks! Funny how when we are too close to a subject matter, the harder it is for us to see clearly...

      You are on the right path.

      The further we move away from the "precision" of SMART goals, and journeying beyond the "vagueness" of dreams and visions, that's where ikigai lies.

      How do we describe the taste of mango?

  3. Maybe SMOL,

    For some, they always have their ikigai but didn't bother/ notice and realised.

    For some, they always thoughts they have their ikigais until one fine day they find a ikigais version 2.0

    Some maybe it doesn't matter at all if there is ikigais or perhaps find life as itself a ikigais

    Me? Some of 2 and 3 perhaps!!

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      We are breathing all the time whether we are conscious of it or not ;)

      Only when we are gasping for breath do we comprehend the meaning of "one breath at a time".

      Life is just a series of "one breath at a time" - nothing more; nothing less.

      No, we don't have to bother/notice/realise what is our ikigai.

      Just as long we wake up smiling and looking forward to the new day!

  4. Hi SMOL,

    Good question.. How to describe the smell of ammonia? I ask my students that all the time. Some things you just know and can't be described in words!

    1. LP,

      Powerful teaching technique used by Zen teachers too ;)

    2. What is the smell of durian?

      Once my German vendor said smell like shit.

    3. CW,

      I guess its the equivalent of ang moh's Blue Cheese?


  5. hey there! i learn a new word; thanks!

    1. bb,

      You're welcome!

      You K-pop; I J-pop :)

    2. hahahaha, contrary to 'popular belief', i'm not at all into kpop ^o^ (i like some korean hip-hop and generally dont feel much for kpop ^^)

  6. My "IKIGAI is simply (i have shared many times):- to remember to live according to this Christian's prayer:-

    "No one reacts to thing as they are, but to one's own mental images. Keep me aware that it is not what happens to me in life that matters, but rather how i react to what happens."

    So the most important thing you must know is you can plan and take preventive actions, but the result is still not up to you. And if you can not stomach the result, your reactions will usually make it worse. So how you react is more important than what happens.

    1. temperament,

      We are pretty much on the same page although we wak different spiritual paths :)

      We focus on what we can control.

      The rest you leave it to your almighty.

      I? I leave it to stardust ;)

      Stardust is just a metaphor.

      It can be luck, circumstance, chance, karma, or whatever things that we can't control.

      The truth is we are all "reacting".

      To think otherwise can be blasphemous if one is religious; and hubris if one is atheist.

      Always a pleasure to talk philosophy with you temperament!


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