Learning things the hard way

You got to let go.

You got to let go of things that no longer motivates you.

You got to let go of things that no longer challenges you.

You got to let go of things that no longer grows you.

It doesn’t matter what those things are – but when something in your life loses its time and place – no matter how hard it is to part with – it is time to let go.

Everything has its time and place – and everything has its purpose – however, it does not mean that the purpose is indefinite or that one could not change their minds.

Life is integral.

Life is what you make of it.

Life is learning to swim with and against the current.

Life is obstacles and rewards.

Life is moving on, moving forward, moving to the next level.

I’m writing this after two days back – it is clearer than ever the situation. I cannot stay where I am – physically, mentally and emotionally, for my head is elsewhere completely.

To be completely honest, I went back to my hometown to gear up for my next adventure and that’s about it.

I’d thought to myself, ‘wow, you’re just going to sleepwalk through the next 20 days…’

It’s a scary thought because “sleepwalking” meaning you’re simply going through the motions without much inherent purpose and that’s something I’m striving to stop altogether. Truth be told, I know it isn’t going to be easy and there were going to be setbacks but I’m more than glad to deal with them, for I don’t belong physically, mentally, emotionally.

I can sleepwalk for 20 days.

But I’d prefer it if I wasn’t asleep for the rest of my life.

You got let to go.

You got to go.

Home: things I didn’t know I’d miss until I wandered afar

Familiarity of home was one thing I didn’t think I’d miss all that much when I began to travel.

Why should I miss a familiar place when all I had for it was contempt?

Though now, I do have a different perspective. I’m going to enjoy myself no matter where I am, or how I am.

First day back was easy. I started slow, easing myself into the day, surprisingly though, I’m not experiencing any jet lag after flying for 14 hours and not catching a wink on the plane.

I decided to treat myself today – and treat myself I mean, picking up some fresh fish and cooking it – I’ve been traveling and eating on the go and admittedly, the stuff you’d usually eat might not be available at the destination – or it might be exorbitantly expensive, or ill-fitted for your tastebuds.

For example, I challenge you to try and find fresh seafood in Vienna (possibly difficult feat.)

And of course my diet has been a little atrocious as of late…

Read: Schnitzel, schnitzel, schnitzel, sausage, cake, apfelstrudel, cake schnitzel sandwich, beer, beer, wine, wine…wine…and more wine…

I went a little all out there and ended up missing vegetables and home cooking.

So today, first day back, I decided to cook for myself and the result is – healthy, delicious, home cooked food that I didn’t think I would miss, but really really did miss.

 

How to achieve the results you seek

If someone asked me this question before my trip, I’d give them the reflexive answer:

“Work hard! And don’t stop until you get there!”

Well – yes, hard work is required, there’s no doubt about that, but to facilitate the outmost productivity in one’s day (ex: think about an orange juicer – cheap with many parts that don’t work well together and a more expensive and sleek looking one that can be calibrated to give the most output and overtime equates to less cleanup time and headache on your part) which one would you prefer?

In other words, you don’t want to wake up everyday without a plan – not knowing how to use your precious 24 hours. It’s easy to get lazy and not want to do things – it’s also easy to lay in bed until 1pm, ‘thinking’ about what you’re going to do, and only do them when you realize it’s 3pm in the afternoon already. Clearly, this route about things is not productive at all.

So, how do you achieve the result you seek?

I say work backwards.

Look at the results you want and work backwards from there.

It is always better to give yourself plenty of time by over-estimating than under-estimating how much hours you need to put in to get something done.

Say you estimate something will take 100 hours to complete and you have 2 weeks to do it.

Depending on your preferences, you could divide that 100 hours up to neat 8 hour days, or alternatively you could work 10 hours or even 12 hours straight to get it finished in less time, so, in the case of 10 hours / day you could take 4 days off to do as you please, knowing that the project is finished and submitted.

Setting your own hours and working flexibly changes the game completely. How I see and experience travel now is not the same as taking a ‘vacation’ anymore. I still manage to work remotely, albeit on much reduced hours, still, work is work. And in my previous post: “how much work can you expect to do while traveling?” the case becomes, how well did you pre-plan your day to day activity around this chunk of time you’ll have to sit down and ignore all distractions? And depending on the timezone you’re on, you might have to wake up at odd hours to conference. Ultimately, my goal is that I could work anywhere, just like I’m back home. Whether there is an office space, or I’m in a cafe, working away. It shouldn’t make much of a difference to me.

And since I’m currently packing to head home for a couple of weeks. I’ve set up this calendar. Since my ultimate goal is overlooking environment and being able to work anywhere – I did some preplanning of the next 3 weeks – that way, I can ensure there’s reduced chances of any last minute surprises and forge on ahead smoothly.

How much work can you expect to do while traveling?

This is my life recently. In and out of airports. Seeing friends, socializing, making new ones. I’ve been doing this little experiment while on the road. Just how much work can I do while I’m also traveling?

So far I’ve found out that, without a concrete plan, your productivity would be very low.

There will be technical difficulties.

Like calling into a conference and hearing, “we’re sorry, the number you’ve just dialed is not in service.” even though on the other side of the world, your colleagues faces no such problem.

Then there’s the tempting notion that you should be out there exploring a new city rather than sitting down and taking care of your email communications. Or you know, try not to give the answer: “I was working all day in Starbucks.” when your friend asked you what you did for the day…

Because apparently these are the two holiday sins to an European:

1. Starbucks

2. Working

Or maybe its because my friend believes that I should be trying authentic coffee houses in her city rather than something one could get anywhere and of course, ‘working’, working more than you have to is apparently a very dodgy concept – “Why would anyone work more than they have to?”

I don’t know?

Maybe that’s a part of the reason why I’m trying to do what I do.

Not because I particularly enjoy waking up at 5am to get to the airport. But, for what it is – I do enjoy switching it up more often than not. As I walked through the majestic city of Vienna the other day – I realized that I learn more in 2 weeks away, than 5 years in the same place – this intuitive notion is something I can’t scientifically prove -as at times, being in one place also provides inspirations – however, not as much.

So in the end, everything ends up looking like a production possibility frontier.

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Inspiration vs. Productivity.

 

The true meaning of: “enjoy every second”

And so today is a new day – yesterday is gone.

I expressed myself to a friend and she recommended me a short story to read. The whole thing took about an hour for me to read, switching in-between Facebook chats and the story. I’ve come to appreciate how small and insignificant we are – and how some small and insignificant things can hurt so much.

Saying get over it is easy.

But actually getting over it is a different story.

You could say a few days ago – there was a certain news that served as a wakeup call and shoved me back to face the question:

“Just what are you doing with your life?”

“Just where do you want to be?”

I still can’t tell you 100% what the end results would be, but I’m at least 100% sure that I have the tools to make it so.

So until then. I’m going to enjoy every second of it, since being anything but ‘awesome’ is a grand waste of time.

 

What am I doing here?

Life is a journey. It’s never about the place you find yourself in, if you know where you’re going to next.

I’d scribbled this down in a journal while sitting on a train. After stopping by in various European cities again, I’d began to understand this concept. It isn’t about where you are in life – as there is a common denominator in the way of life no matter which continent, which country, which city you find yourself in. However, what can be distinguished is your ambitions and desires – what can be distinguished is your desire to be somewhere, and how that plays into your personal growth.

Everyday is a journey. Everyday is a lesson.

You’ll never know how much you could handle until you’re caught in the situation.

Life is about moving forward.

Life is about managing disappointments and soldiering on.

Life is also about doing all those things that scare you and not playing it safe.

Life is about savouring the moments.

Life is about following intuitions.

Life is about being open to opportunities.

There are times where I’m scared and I doubt, times I’d rather pull the cover over my head and wish everything away – but then I tell myself – where is the fun in that?

Already on this trip, there are times I think it would be so much easier if I just stayed in North America but then, I also wouldn’t have realized things as I realize them now – or be as willing to work for things as I am now.

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The things you take for granted, someone else is wishing for

I didn’t know what I expected when I found myself back in Amsterdam.

Though there were things on my to-do list, I had very little expectations in the process of crossing them off – in the beginning, there wasn’t all that much motivation. Not really, for one reason or another, I was hoping my love for this city would wane over time (wouldn’t that be easier? If I had nothing to try for? ).

However, Amsterdam, a city I’ve had the pleasure of visiting for almost half a dozen time now, looks as gorgeous as ever.

I’m lucky, it didn’t stop being sunny since I got here, my friend tells me. And I reply that I have great timing. Every single time.

Between chic cafe visits and photography, I had time to squeeze in a date on the patio. It was one of the most memorable dates I’ve had, not just as of late, but kind of in the Top 3 category, though I know I shouldn’t really give it too much weight or meaning, even though I just did.

Yes.

And it’s more than just that.

It’s kind of the bits and pieces of everything that comes into the peripheral and into my consciousness. It’s the bits and pieces of everything that remind me how life could be, if not a blurry outline of what I already know I want…

Yes.

It all then became a reaffirmation.

That I was standing in my own way, dithering away, telling myself I shouldn’t, even though everything else points to I should.

I tell myself it’s not a big deal.

I tell myself I don’t want to see you again.

I tell myself a lot of things.

Then in a crowd, I always look for you.

And when my mind’s blank, it always drifts back to you.

Even though I tell myself that’s not what I want.

And it loops.

Amsterdam.

 

How long should you travel for?

“Travel as much as you can, as far as you can, as long as you can. Life`s not meant to be lived in one place.” – Unknown

As I sit in a cafe in Hamburg, Germany I’m wondering, just how long in a city is optimal. It all feels like a whirlwind to me, landing back on this continent on the 14th from Los Angeles, then flying to Hamburg on the 15th from Oslo, Norway. I’ve been here a total of three days and two nights and now I’m waiting next to the ZOB Hamburg (Bus Port Hamburg) ready to move on to my next destination.

But just how far should you travel for, or linger in a city?

I used to think I have a clear idea how long that would be.

A week. 7 days. It’s neither too long nor too short in a city if you want to travel slow and appreciate the city and leave room for more experiences than just marching to all the sights, take two hundred selfies and get out before sundown. For some, that might be the type of travel they prefer, quick and intense, but for me, I prefer slowly exploring a city, often aimless and without much expectations, because often, you’ll never know what you’ll see, you’ll never know who you’ll meet that inspires you in some way.

Nowadays, I find that a couple of days or even a week is insufficient. I’d love to be in a city for a lot longer like a couple of weeks instead of just one, in order to capture the vibe and essence of the city. Or better yet, as I travel I’ve become bolder and more spontaneous in my decision making. So really, in time this question becomes – “How well do you want to know the city? On how many different levels?”

Why you should never do anything that you don’t believe in.

Recently, I wrapped up on a project I can’t say I did a good job on. Yes. It was riddled with discomfort from the beginning. Why? I should’ve never felt that ‘I had to’ because of XYZ and most of all, because I thought it’d be ‘easy picking’, get it done and then I get to go on vacation.

It turned out, my gut instinct was right.

I should’ve never picked something just because it was ‘easy’.

Not even midway through the project, I was absolutely bored by it, and cannot wait to be done with everything. Not only that, the boredom only reaffirms that my working on the project had no bigger contribution to the grander scheme of meaning. It wasn’t adding meaning, nor enjoyment to my life. Though one could argue, the compensation I received for the work should be enough incentive. Yes. It was enough incentive to pickup the project. To enjoy the process was another thing entirely.

Nitpick-y micromanaging superiors and people who self rank themselves higher than everyone else were just a few of the obstacles I had to deal with. I was told to ‘behave’ accordingly to their strict set of standards or else. Yeah…

At the end of the day, was it worth it?

Absolutely not.

I should’ve went with my initial gut instinct and turned down the offer at the first meeting. Alas. Let this be another lesson learned.

Never do anything you don’t believe in 100%.