be your own guide: 22 days

Recently, I’ve been moving my workouts outdoors, with the weather warming up and the sun rising earlier in the day, running outside has become a go to of mine once more.

Not only that, but I also invested in a simple running app from the app store and synced my phone to track progress.

I’ve been running for a while now, and explored different terrains and tracks locally:

i.e: the local high school track, the professional grade track, the concrete blocks around my neighbourhood, and in nature.

What I’ve noticed is something rather peculiar.

Though what I’m doing is the same, I always perform better on the professional tracks and the nature route – and this got me thinking…is this applicable to day to day life as well?

While the two settings are wildly different, they both have something in common: they’re both ‘inspiring’ albeit in different ways.


As silly as it might sound, on the professional track I envision myself as a professional athlete, meanwhile out on a nature run, I think of myself as an explorer.

Then suddenly, it’s not the same old, ‘boring’ running routine anymore. It becomes fun and engaging.

Then I started thinking, a healthy dose of imagination goes a long way.

People achieve greatness not because it was ‘realistic’, they achieve it because they envisioned it being possible and then showed the world just that. 

don’t ignore it: 25 days

Don’t ignore it, what you really want.

Figuring out what you want in life is hard.

It is especially hard if life is pulling you in all sorts of directions and every choice you make is another choice unmade.

Of course, those dear to you want the best for you.

However that is not to say what they ‘want’ for you, their vision of a ‘prosperous life’ align with what you truly value and the life you see for yourself.

I used to think if I just told myself ‘no’ and somehow ‘shut off’ those ‘unrealistic fantasies’ then I could just be ‘productive’ member of society – a proud worker ant so to speak.

The thing is, however, I don’t think the world needs another zombie, working out of fear of what she might lose, rather than passion. This is a thing I noticed in today’s work culture. A lot of energy and talent are ‘wasted’ over arbitrary managing procedures and even more efficiency is lost due to this numbing notion that we must amass wealth to show for our success.

But wait a minute here – whoever said ‘success’ = $$$$$ in the bank account?

And does $$$$$ actually = the values you seek?

Or is it just a substitute, a pacifying representation of security and comfort.


Lately, I’ve been piecing together segments of dreams I have had since I was a teenager. Silly things I used to dream of like having a place to call home on 3 continents (North America, Europe, Asia) or escaping winter altogether by owning 2 homes, one in the Northern hemisphere and one in the south, penning a fantasy novel, or even becoming a polyglot.

The thing is, when I placed these little things together, a larger picture emerged and what I wanted began to make sense. And from that bigger picture I made a rough list of the things I actually want in life.

  1. Location Independence
  2. Knowledge, Mastery and Expertise at what I do
  3. Being challenged at what I do
  4. Liberal/progressive atmosphere
  5. Interesting people / conversations / moments
  6. Genuine connections
  7. To enjoy life.

And here, I realized, for me the goal was never three houses on three different continents. It was about creating a life where I’m constantly in motion and being so engaged in my life that I don’t think about what I’m going to do ‘on the weekend’ or ‘downtime’ or ‘on vacation’. I just want to be fully immersed in the work that I do, so much so, it becomes a lifestyle, rather than ‘just a job’.

counterintuitive rest: 28 days

On Friday, I took a break.

It might be counterintuitive to imagine, a break in the middle of a tight schedule, just who has the time for that and is that really a smart idea given the time restraints?

Most people think when they set a goal, they have to work tirelessly towards that goal and weed out unnecessary tasks, tasks that often are connected to our personal relationships and emotional wellbeing.

I don’t agree with that method, as after all, we’re human, not machine.

So on Friday, I took a break and decided to have sit down dinner with my parents, something we have not done in a long time.


I didn’t think of it as a waste of time, nor did I rush. I enjoyed the conversations and savoured the food. Surprisingly, this simple task, when made scarce gave me more appreciation about sitting down and having dinner with family than ever before. Afterwards, I felt relaxed, more prepared for everything else.

Which brings us to today, a morning run outside and a quick meet up with a friend and now this blog post before I move on to other things. Of course, there’s always a sense of urgency in completing a project, however, we should never let this sense of urgency override connection to others, a sense of happiness, as true productivity is not just about moving a project forward, but it’s about moving ‘you’ forward as well. Remember that.

deadlines: 30 days

The best way to get something done is to set a deadline.

And I have a personal deadline that must be met between now and next month (before I start my new job).

Yes, it’s by chance and luck that I stumbled across the opportunity which I am very curious about in terms of the new responsibility and challenges (more about that here). Aside from that I’m also in talks with another company – needless to say, I’m doing my best in exploring various options.

At this point in my life it’s not about stability, nor about salary. I’m specific about my expectations. I want to learn, I want to grow. I’m interested in trying out new things, taking risks and that means changing up frequently in order to be inspired.

Of course, this extends to my personal life as well.

30 Days is the time I have in between, and though I already set monthly goals and follow – I feel that I can really use this time-frame to push myself and come up with a new course of action. Stay tuned. 

Thankful Tuesday: Mistakes

Mistakes.

Who likes making mistakes?

Getting told off, and/or punished for it?

The answer is more than likely, no one.

And I’m not an exception to the rule.

Growing up, I was absolutely terrified of making mistakes. It was something you typically avoided to not to get ‘disciplined’ by your parents – my parents were more than vocal about ‘mistakes’ and ‘consequences’ and I grew up to be the considerate kid who was always the very conscious of herself, a kid who did her best to make them proud.

Yes. I was that people pleaser who avoided mistakes at all cost. And in a way, it’s only natural to strive for rewards and avoid punishment.


I was taught mistakes are ‘shameful’ and you’d do well to avoid them at all cost, ‘keep yourself out of trouble’ so to speak. So, when I made mistakes – there’s shame associated with it – everything from making too many mistakes on a test, or acting in ways my parents disapproved of (or just did not understand from their generational point of view) I always played it ‘safe’ in order to avoid the negatives associated with doing the ‘wrong’ things, ‘the undesirable’ which is also often associated with ‘failure’ and ‘shame’.

Yes. Now I look back, so much of my identity has been tied and shaped by avoidance of mistakes – living by the rules unquestioned – that when I did make mistakes, I saw it as an irreversible and that my life could not possibly go on.

It was a very straight and narrow road I used to be on, lacking of a plan B and also no roadmap to where/what I actually wanted. In fact, now thinking back I always knew what I’d wanted – ‘more’ than my present circumstances, people who were into similar things and things that fringed on unacceptable by my parents.

But then I ‘truly’ learned.

That life isn’t about avoiding mistakes – it’s about learning from your mistakes.

Owning up to them.

It isn’t about having the perfect record of the best student, best employee, best kid who did everything she is told.

Nor is it by age ‘x’ you should have your ‘stuff’ figured out.

Life is so much more than what most people think.

It’s not a destination with pitstops or milestones – but it’s a continuous road, continuous journey, until one day it ceases to be.

Once I’ve realized this, I’ve been more accepting and forgiving. I’ve also been more energized to go after what I really want in life. Even though ‘life’ itself still doesn’t make much sense, and I’m still nowhere close to where I want to be. I’m working hard on it everyday. And for that, I’m very thankful on this Tuesday.

no time to waste

“An overview of my year?”

This came to me as a shock, though it shouldn’t. We’re ‘almost’ halfway through 2015 and in my mind, it’s been 4 months since I’ve returned.

What have I learned in these 4 months?

1. There isn’t time to waste.

2. I miss the other side of the world, constantly.

3. I need to make a solid plan to go back.

Hence these daily reminder / hacks:

I need to figure out a way to make #3 happen within reasons and without giving up being in the ‘present’ – because my present circumstances – well, it’s not the worst, but it’s not ideal either – perhaps there’s things I need to learn to live with (like my parents would always say) but I’m young and I refuse to give up on dreams because other people thinks it’s ‘unrealistic’ or that I can’t…

Why?

Because it’s my life.


I’m in full control.

If I don’t, i’td be my regret and not theirs.

Remember that and live out each day in purpose and direction of your goal.

Always remember the goal.

2.

It’s not guarantee, nor much to go on, other than a ‘if you’re here next time’ wow…why do I remember that so much…it’s not even a promise, but somehow knowing that there’s potential, an open ended invitation, drives me.

Without getting all teary eyed over it, I dissected the emotion and figured this longing is fuel…this ‘potential’, I just do not want to give up on and let it die (like the first time…honestly, I still think about that too…the one that got away, how perfect it could’ve been if I got one thing out of the way.)

‘If I actually lived there’.

How many adventures we could’ve went on ‘together’.

I just know this time it has to be different. This time, I have to make an effort. Like in a quick conversation to my friend, ‘long distance relationships’ just don’t work. No. I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t no matter what other people say otherwise – also I don’t think long distance is healthy either, why would you want to be glued to some electronic device and wait up on odd hours just to receive a call when you should be out there exploring / living life.

So this potential, will never be explored unless I make an effort to be there – my personal, impossible love story. Neat.

3. VISAs VISAs VISAs, yes I’ve been looking up VISAs and various topics regarding it in different countries. I’ve also been learning not 1…but 3 languages in my spare time and working mostly nonstop for the future. Of course, my friends are calling me ‘crazy’ – but hey, they’re not me. They’re settled, some getting engaged, other married, others having kids. We have different priorities, hence their idea of ‘normalcy’ is pretty strange to me.

But then again, as human beings we all want different things. I don’t want an easy life, I want a life that I’m proud of living.

That ten years from now I’ll look back and say I made it, through the tears, the obstacles and the pain and be somewhere that I want to be, rather than look back ten years from now and see how much my struggles amounted to nothing and I’m still in the same place (that’d be a horror story in itself) and that is supremely what I do not want.

Hence, my #1 goal for the month:

Maximize efficiency, not only hitting targets I’ve set, but demolishing them with pride.

eh, no.

Earlier today I interviewed for a job – a few startling things jumped out at me that surprised myself:

Boldness: I was never ‘bold’ as I’ve been brought up to be considerate of other people’s feelings, at times, I felt I was too ‘considerate’ and ended up being a doormat when I could’ve been more assertive. This interview today – I wasn’t nervous at all. I went in bare-faced, which for some this is a big no-no. (Of course I’d showered and put on the clothes I felt confident in, but no makeup) why? Because I felt that this job, although image is a part of it – it shouldn’t be a requirement. I am qualified enough for an interview and I was opinionated during. I spoke my mind, perhaps too candidly (this could be a good thing) if they can’t handle me as how I am – then I don’t really want to work there (of course, I also have the luxury of ‘choice’ as this job is just something I applied to on a whim, not something I’d be upset if I get it.)

Confidence:  For the most part, job interviews, I used to think are assessments I need to ‘excel’ at. Now, I see them as assessments of ‘needs’ – the potential employee’s needs and wants need to matchup with the employer’s needs and wants – I didn’t see the ‘need’ to ‘fake’ anything. So I just laid it all out on the table, quite politely so (again, this could be due to me not wanting the job that much in the first place and just wanting to see what kind of the working environment would be, and rub shoulders with people within the industry to see how I fit in.)

Connection: To be honest, I had more to ‘connect’ with the upper management who flew in from Europe than I did the local management…well, to be honest I think the poor girl looked a little lost and needed directions and I can see, that if I was hired for the position, I’d have to help her ‘lots’. Not sure if I want to be that person, but at the same time I’m a bit bummed out about this being one on one rather than ‘group’. So I have no idea who’s on the team if hired, and also the fact that I ‘connected’ with upper management more while the local manager sat in silence might not be a good sign for obvious reasons.

Negotiation: A skill I didn’t even know I had fully possessed until it was used today – how excellent.

All in all, I’m very curious to see how this company will do in the area and what will happen since my friends and I are convinced that this place will surely ‘flop’ (hah, not a great sign) either way, I’m very curious to the team assembled at the end, even if I’m ‘not’ part of the team. 

In other news, it’s officially May (for those of you who hasn’t noticed…)!!! And I’m scrambling up funds to…dundundun, you guessed it, Europe. Honestly, the more I stay here, the more I miss things over there. It’s inexplicable to others – but for me, it’s just in my heart, so I will work for it and work hard for it, cause who wouldn’t love to spend this New Year in Amsterdam and actually go catch up with my friends in Denmark over too many beers, shop end of season sales in Stockholm and just see everyone I’ve been missing since I’ve left and drink some Leffe that isn’t heavily taxed and who could forget, Maoz Vegetarian Falafels in Amsterdam with unlimited topping…just so much things to look forward to, and awesome company as opposed to the mind numbing atmosphere here…

Of course, there’s still…a good 7 months away, and if life taught me anything is that things could happen in a week, a month, let alone 7 months. While I already have an idea of how I want things to go, I’m also completely open to opportunities that might present itself along the way.

may: note to self

This is to be updated, but right now, I need to get this off my chest.

I’m due for a lunch meeting for a job that I’m on the fence about.

Why?

Because, jobs are partial what you do and partial ‘culture’.


If you don’t get along with your work culture – I firmly believe that you’d have a very miserable time bringing home the bacon. While it is essential to be respectful of others – you’d also have to draw the line somewhere.

What if your office is full of people you know you just wouldn’t mesh with?

This post serves as a reminder to stay true to myself and just say:

‘No’.

Do I really need this job?

‘No.’

Why am I going to the interview again?

‘Because, I’m curious about the cool people I might meet, and I guess the flakes I’ll learn to avoid.’

Ah, look at the time, must get ready, to be continued.