How Taking a Break from Work Helped This Hustler Rediscover Joy and Purpose

How many of us get so caught up in the hustle and grind that we forget to enjoy the simple pleasures of life? Rae knows this too well.

By Hannah Liza Tapan

May 13, 2023

Rae Fung has been a professional host for 8 years, before running her own speaking and coaching business, training top teams to elevate their communication, and guiding entrepreneurs and corporate professionals to build radical self-trust with their voice so they may speak up with authentic confidence. 

Rae is also a recovering workaholic. What started out as a passion for using her voice turned into a strict metric of success, leading to burnout and loss of joy. Every waking moment, she thought about work.

It wasn’t until she took a trip to Bali in 2022 that she realized just how much she had been missing. In the course of just 20 days, Rae discovered a sense of gratitude and excitement for life that had eluded her for years. She experienced a lot of moments when she thought “This is what life is about.” Whether it’s soaking in the sunrise, or having a vulnerable conversation with the local villa caretaker she just met. She remembered what it’s like to feel alive. 

Rae’s story is a powerful reminder that while work is important and we do love to hustle, it’s not everything.


Rae’s passion for work was undeniable, but her dedication began to take a toll on her personal life. At first, the signs of her workaholism were subtle, but they gradually intensified. Rae would skip meals to catch up on work and even during social gatherings, her mind would often drift towards work.

Rae’s first emcee gig in 2014

Rae would rationalize her behavior by telling herself “Well yeah, it’s a busy period,” but this busy period seemed to never end. It wasn’t until Rae started dreading waking up and even the work she used to enjoy that she realized she had become a workaholic. Her family members noticed a change in her behavior too, as she became easily irritable and impatient.

Recent pic of Rae emceeing Youth Co:Lab, a regional conference organised by UNDP (United Nations Development Program) and Citi Foundation

It was a wake-up call for Rae, who knew that something had to change before it damaged her personal life and relationships any further.


Rae reached a turning point in her life when she realized that she just wasn’t excited about anything anymore. It was a tough realization, but she knew she needed to make a change. One of her mentors, Mel, suggested that she take a solo staycation to rest and recover. Although Rae was initially skeptical, Mel insisted, and she finally agreed. She booked the staycation and took the time to rest and reflect. During her staycation, Rae created a vision board of her life, which helped her clarify her goals and priorities.

Rae’s vision board

But Rae’s recovery didn’t stop there. When a friend invited her to go on a trip to Bali in July 2022, Rae initially hesitated, thinking she needed to focus on work. However, she ultimately decided to take a leap of faith and follow her heart.

By taking the time to rest and prioritize her well-being, and by embracing new experiences, Rae was able to recover from burnout and find renewed joy and excitement in life.


One of the key moments was experiencing the vastness of nature and realizing how small she was compared to the universe. This helped her see a bigger picture beyond just work and narrow thinking.

She also rediscovered the joy and wonder of new foods and experiences, which reminded her of the feelings she had when she first started coaching and speaking, and how “I don’t ever want to lose the joy and wonder again,” she said.

But perhaps the most transformative moment was when Rae met Kadek, a Balinese woman with an infectious laugh and a heart full of gratitude despite the unimaginable challenges she had faced. Kadek had been in a physically and emotionally abusive marriage for years until her current employer gave her the opportunity to become financially independent and leave her toxic marriage. Rae was humbled by Kadek’s resilience and inspired by her gratitude for the simple things in life.

“Here she is, happy and exuberant, loving her life, grateful for the life she has now despite the unimaginable challenges she’s been through. I, too, want to appreciate my life and be happy. Life isn’t meant to have me dragging my feet to wake up everyday. Life is meant to be enjoyed.”


Rae started her coaching business straight out of university, which went very smoothly as she had unknowingly built an audience for herself before even starting.

During her university days, she used Instagram to share her insights on books and podcasts just for fun. She enjoyed creating content and regularly posted herself emceeing on social media since she was also emceeing often at that time. When she decided to start a coaching business and create a product after finishing university, her audience already knew her as “emcee rae” and saw her as a pro in speaking. This made complete sense for her to coach people to speak better, and there was no credibility gap.

As Rae worked with more clients, she realized that the key challenge for people to speak confidently is not only their lack of skill set but also their lack of self-trust.

“I remembered how I used to doubt myself and felt like nothing I said mattered. I compared myself with others all the time. What changed things for me was when my mentors coached me to see myself in a different light, through affirming me and helping me see my strengths. That was when I started speaking with confidence.”

This is why Rae decided to shift her focus into helping people build self-trust with their voice – so that they could radiate confidence and conviction on the outside, just like she did.

After getting burnt out and her trip to Bali, Rae continued coaching, but with a whole new outlook in life.


A lot of us get caught up in the hustle and grind and forget to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Rae’s take on this is that “We get too caught up chasing for the life we think we need, instead of designing the life that we truly want.”

Society teaches us what success looks like, and even social media gurus tell us the “right” way to build a business. Rae suggests that people need to take the time to figure out what they really want and stop chasing after what others want for them.

Success is a concept we learn from our parents, teachers, and friends, but without taking the time to discover what success looks like for us, we might fail to create the success we truly desire.

Here’s what you can do to avoid falling into this trap, according to Rae: 

  • Define how you want life to look like for you, and ask yourself: WHY do you want it? Be specific and detailed. Pen down how that life looks like to you from the moment you wake up, to the activities you want to do, the people you want to be surrounded by.
  • Ask yourself: HOW can I start living this life today? 
  • What are some systems and non-negotiable habits I want to set in place to make sure I maintain my level of joy and wonder? 


For someone like Rae who is experiencing burnout or feeling like they’ve lost their passion, it’s important to ask themselves WHY they’re working so hard and be honest with themselves about their motivations.

Often, people say they’re working hard because they love their work or want to help others, but in reality, they might be driven by fear and a desire to feel successful or good enough.

“Aligned work will always feel light and loving. Stressful work is driven by fear and lack. It can be the same work, but it is the thoughts that are driving your intentions that will lead you to either joyful work or workaholicsm.”

According to Rae, we can try to visualize and write down what our dream life looks like and think about how we can create that life with the resources we have now. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have bigger goals, but it’s knowing we can still enjoy our life today while working towards those goals.  Taking a 2-week sabbatical in a different environment can also be helpful to see things from a different perspective and rebuild a relationship with our heart, soul, and body.

Rae suggests that during this 2-week sabbatical, refrain from having a to-do list. Instead, allow your heart to tell you what it wants to do when you wake up. Notice how you gravitate towards activities that energize you. Journal any thoughts, emotions, and observations along the way.

“At the end of your life, you won’t be thinking about the extra hour you spent at work. You’ll be recalling the time spent with your loved ones and the moments you truly experienced life. Make sure that when that time comes, you’re proud of the life you’ve lived.

For all my ambitious friends out there – know this: When you do work that’s aligned and free, you’ll love your life. And when you do, more opportunities, clients, and income come naturally.”



Instagram: @raematrix

YouTube: Rae Fung