What if I told you that boredom was the key to discovering your dream life?
It sounds unconventional, but being bored is one of the best things that ever happened to me. It’s what allowed me to leave behind a stable corporate career and unlock the reality I always dreamed of.
Entrepreneurship has always been in my blood. My parents immigrated here from Burma before I was born and settled in Vancouver. To make ends meet, they opened a small gift shop downtown, which is essentially where I grew up. Whenever I was not in school or while other kids were going to hockey lessons, practicing the piano or simply hanging out at the mall, I was working in my parents' shop.
I always hated not being able to do the things “normal” kids my age were doing, like hanging out at the mall or playing a team sport. And I was SO bored. I spent a lot of time daydreaming about creating a different life for myself: Being the coolest girl at school (which I wasn’t), having a super cute boyfriend (I wasn’t allowed to date), having superpowers (so I could fly away from the life I had), or going on wild adventures. Needless to say, I had a great imagination!
Even though my mind was elsewhere, my hands stayed busy! Making signs (marketing), counting inventory (operations), answering customer questions (customer experience), bookkeeping (finance), and even cleaning the bathroom (business operations). Our shop is where I was first exposed to business acumen (though I didn’t know it was called that at the time), and because we didn’t have much to start with, I learned how to be scrappy and think strategically. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I fully appreciated just how much I learned working for them. With age comes wisdom, right?
When I went away to college, I resolved to quit dreaming and become an adult. But despite my best efforts, my brain wouldn’t listen. For the longest time, I thought I was simply unhappy. After all, why would my mind keep creating these alternative realities if I was settled and content with where I was at in life? At my father’s request, I studied engineering in college and then spent 15 years working for a large medical device company, launching award-winning products and applying my business acumen. On the outside, everything looked perfect.
But my heart wasn’t in it.
I wanted something different.
Looking back, I now understand that this internal struggle was my body’s attempt to make me slow down and listen to my heart - not my brain. It wasn’t because I was unhappy or didn’t like my life; it was because I knew in my gut that I wanted to do something more. I was bored and had all these big dreams about new business ideas and products…and my heart knew it.
And that’s how I came up with the idea for ELIMS. I was driving down the highway one day, listening to a podcast about Tom’s Shoes and their mission for social impact. In my usual fashion, I started daydreaming about what it would be like to do something similar with my biomedical engineering background. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I could combine my background in medical devices and my husband’s experience as a dentist to create more sustainable oral care products. At that point, a clinically backed product that actually worked AND was truly sustainable didn’t exist; it was either one or the other. Why should we have to choose? The idea wouldn’t leave me, so after 15 years, I did the leaving and left corporate America to start a new endeavor as an entrepreneur. My daydream finally became my reality.
We often equate daydreaming to frivolous, unrealistic fantasies that have no place in the real world. But to me, it’s really just about taking the time to sit with yourself and focus on what is important to you. We live in an age where we are connected, entertained, and distracted by devices that rarely leave our side. Sometimes we just need to unplug and “be bored” because that boredom - just like I experienced working as a kid in my parent’s gift shop - gave me the space to dare to dream of something different for myself.
I genuinely believe those with the entrepreneurial spirit have everything they need within themselves to find their own path. I know I did. I just needed to quiet the noise around me and listen to what my heart was telling me. If you find yourself in a similar situation - bored and daydreaming about a different life, pay attention. It might just be time to unlock your new reality.