Why you should consider routine

December 19th – my day off, I woke up at a reasonably late time to my phone flashing. Upon unlocking my phone I found a series of messages waiting – messages from work, emails, messages from friends sharing the latest headline that’d just came out from Ankara and Berlin.

Bad news, VERY bad news.

For the next few hours, I was immersed in the story.

Even though it had been my day off and I had other things I’d wanted to do. More friends message me to talk to me about issues – some I cared about – others I absolutely did not.

But this is necessary – or is it?

The thing is, the world, your life, is unpredictable.

In fact, things are never predictable and that’s why you wake up every morning not knowing how your day was gonna go.

The other day, I saw a guy I knew from a few years back. This guy had cheated me out of money before – but when I saw him I was unprepared and surprisingly, I didn’t care anymore. Since so much has changed for me in the short amount of time – however, for him it seemed like he was still the same.

I pitied him.

One day you’re working for one company the next day you don’t.

That’s just how things are nowadays – or so I’d come to observe.

Same with relationships – one day you’re in, another you’re out.

One day you’re madly infatuated – and the next you find out about the other person’s political affiliation and suddenly everything is toppled like a house of cards.

I guess you could say I’m stoic.

Or at least trying my hardest to have a consistent inner narrative in a world that’s just filled with noise upon more noise.

The more I experience, the less I am truly affected ultra highs and ultra lows – but to be not affected takes effort and practice.

I still worry and think about stupid things like how the next two weeks of work will be hell – but that’s my desperately needed tuition money – I want to sleep, but I don’t want to wake up just to goto work (which feels like a robbery of my time).

There has to be a balance – a compromise – what if I can schedule in a couple of hours where I’m just consciously doing nothing but what I want to do – then I’ll go to work? Would that work? What if I made a habit of 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening to not rush through things but just do what I wanted – would that work? I have no idea – but maybe that’s what I can tell myself now so I can go to bed and finally fall asleep.

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We are what we repeatedly do – Aristotle

2000 something years later, this statement still holds true.

I’m used to going to bed late at night, then feeling completely plastered in the morning.

I’m used to doing things last minute, because of poor planning.

I’m used to misuse of my imagination over worrying for worst case scenarios.

I’m used to being cynical and stopping myself from doing what I really want to do out of several types of fear.

I’m used to misusing my energy, because of inner chaos.

And I realized, all of these unnecessary fretting really doesn’t help at all.

The older I get, the more I know myself – through experiences and retrospective observations – the outlines of what I ultimately want are getting clearer.

 

I know that what I’ve been repeatedly doing is detrimental, but when you’re caught in a never ending loop without much hope for change – because everything is the same – you’re in the same city, doing the same job, seeing the same people, thinking the same thoughts – it’s hard to break out of a rut – truly.

We are what we repeatedly do – Aristotle

So I rebelled.

I said “no” to all that bothered me.

I did something different.

I went somewhere different.

I met new people.

I tried new things, had successes and failures in various aspects of my life – the highs and lows – I didn’t shy away from either – but the thing is – things weren’t perfect, yet I made them work – I realized, I could handle so much more in my life than what I had thought to be possible.

Namely:

  1. Being uncomfortable: Ever been to a party where you knew practically no one? Check.
  2. Swallowing pride: Starting a conversation with someone whom you thought was ignoring you, but it turns out they’re just busy. The old me would never do this…the old me would’ve let those worries run amok and shrivelled up in my shell of self doubt.
  3. Making things happens: Surprising your friend and yourself by your party planning skills.
  4. Bounce back from fatal mistakes: Having a little too much fun in club and being helped home by a friend. Opps. Don’t ask me to party for the next 3 months…
  5. Stand up for what I believe is right: Helping someone out even though it makes little sense to other people, but for you its the righteous thing to do.
  6. Letting things go that doesn’t serve the bigger picture: Realizing fully that I’m only behind the wheels of my own life, and not anyone else’s. Therefore, I am completely detached from anything that doesn’t concern me and my attention directly.
  7. Spending time with people who matter: because these are the moments and the memories you will cherish and remember.
  8. Turn thoughts into action a priority: but all in all, taking all of this experiences and recognize that if you didn’t take the initiative to be creative, or put your thoughts into action in time, then none of the wonderful and not so wonderful things would’ve happened – for better for worse, you should continue this adventurous streak even when you’re back in the other city.

The past month was about experiences. It was about doing things I would never do normally and breaking through barriers, regaining confidence, and a sense of balance despite all the chaos.

And that’s exactly the most invaluable thing about the trip, the experiences that I’m taking home with me and knowing that across from the ocean I have not only promises to fulfill, but bigger and better projects, and magical moments waiting for me for when I get back.

Back To Square One, or is it?

 

After my friend left, I felt sapped of energy.

It was another one of those “what to do with myself” moments.

I was again at a loss – because that nice build up of a week worth’s of routine has been disrupted, even in the simple, small things, like having dinner – cooking was no longer fun, because, you’re only doing it for yourself – therefore, it needs to be meticulous and calculated – there’s no one to finish the extras if you’ve made too much – no one to share dessert with.

There’s also no different ringtones to wake you up in the morning – no one to drag you out of bed for that ridiculously early morning run – etc. etc.

But then, you realize.

You’re at a high.

Now, you’re at a low.

Or, you’re back at the baseline, but that’s it.

So what?

You’ve been here many times before, and time after time, you got over the hurdle.

You get up and you go for that run alone.

You do what you have to do.

This is another lesson.

When you feel that you can no longer.

Show yourself that you can.

And then look back.

You will see, how far you’ve come.

How to be Amazing

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure to have a truly inspirational person visit me for a week in the Netherlands (cue to my MIA status on here).

And in that week’s time, I’ve learned so much, not only about myself, but about life in general – you could say I was inspired to no ends.

Now, let me explain a little bit on the background story with this quote by Bill Murray:

Friendship is so weird.. you just pick a human you’ve met and you’re like “yep I like this one” and you just do stuff with them

And that’s sort of what happened in October last year.

You meet someone by chance.

They’re on your frequency.

You soon start exchanging not only words, but your hopes, fears and dreams.

This person then inspires you to no end, because they make you curious about the world again – they challenge your world views, sometimes shaking up the already established status quo – they make you do a double take on the world, a double take on yourself and a double take on the relation you have to the world.

They make you want to be a better human, not even for superficial reasons.

And yet, you then look at them and realize that they too are just human.

Flaws and all.

 

And for that reason, you are both baffled and intrigued when you glean into their day to day.

Despite your admiration.

You know what you’re seeing is not perfection, but it’s a lot closer than what other people (you included) have achieved thus far.

Still, they’re like a mirror – reflecting back that it’s possible to achieve what you want to achieve.

And of course, this led me to wonder – if I should gather all of my idols and put them on a common denominator – what is it about these great figures that I absolutely admire?  I started the exercise in my mind. Listing out all of the qualities that I truly admire from them and how much of it only took practice and perseverance.

So, in short, how to be amazing?

Know that it is possible to achieve what you want for yourself and go achieve it.

You are what you work on

Work is undoubtedly one of the most important ingredients in life. After all, whether we like it or despise it, we all have to produce something of value, or worthwhile enough to earn our keep. After all, as economists like to say, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” – nothing in this world is free – so whether you like it or not, there will be time devoted to work – and for most of us – that time is going to occupy a high percentage of your day, and overtime, that will be a large portion of your life.

So, if you have something that you’d need to spend a large amount of hours on, essentially, this “work” then becomes “you”.

Recently, I spoke with 2 friends who were both very happy with their recent accomplishments. On both occasions, it was something to definitely celebrate. One of my friend passed her Literature exam with flying colors, while the other got into Medical school.

I was happy for them, albeit, introspectively, I began to worry – because here I was and what I was doing didn’t exactly resonate with me at all – sure I’m being compensated at a rate that is better than most – still, if you asked me if I was proud of my work or if I enjoyed my work, you’d probably get static silence from me.

“I made X in 10 days, yay me.” Except, I didn’t sound enthusiastic.

“I worry about you.” Said one of my friends, out of genuine concern, not too long ago.

And I wondered if it was because I told him I disliked almost 95% of my current situation and couldn’t wait to get out – or if it was because his calling came easy for him.

He was following his parents’ footsteps, easy peasy.

Me on the other hand – though I have a vague idea what I want my day to day to look like, I still haven’t laid down the blueprint, let alone put in the work and I know that because after a long day’s work I find myself falling to excuses.

I simply don’t want to – because of ABCDEFG reasons.

Then the next morning, it’s back to what I was doing the day before and afterwards, I despise myself – because I’m nowhere closer to my ultimate goals I’d set for myself.

I’d realized that in 2 weeks that I’ve been back.

What it means to really “work” versus, staying “busy” and getting paid.

I’ve realized what it means to be back, but for better for worse that’s no reason to be “held back”.

There’s always going to be work deadlines.

Work deadlines aren’t going to stop because you have new ambitions you want to pursue.

 

I have deadlines that need to be dealt in the next couple of days.

And I have deadlines that also need to be dealt with in a couple of months.

But unlike times before, you now know that completing work deadlines is not a moment to celebrate.

If it’s anything, it’s the reward of a school bell – meaning you finally have time to devote to yourself and your own improvements.

 

Remember to use your time wisely – especially those that are free from the directions of another.

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 I unconsciously quit Instagram (for now).

It was the other day, when I was rushing through my day, I realized, something wasn’t popping up on the top of my phone. No notifications other than emails? That’s odd. Then I realized. I had logged out of Instagram that one night and haven’t gone back on since.

Then life went on.

Oh.

It’s true that social media has grown exponentially in the past ten years, and now we have all forms of it, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Vine etc. you name it – it’s like a never ending share-athon of ideas and information. There’s of course entertainment value to be had from Social Media, but increasingly, there’s a pressure for young people, or even professionals to keep up with the ‘Social Media’ game.

“Are you on SnapChat? Twitter?”

Say no and expect a look of disappointment from the person who’d just asked you the question, and feel a sense of FOMO – am I missing something out by not being on those platforms?

Cue to downloading the app and trying it out for yourself, then spending hours on it.

But the point is, I fail to keep up either way.

Instagram is one of my favourite apps – it is always highly inspirational to see what my favourite photographers are doing on that app and highly inspirational to see sights from all over the world – however, now, that I am not traveling – I have 0 new content to contribute and 0 inspirations – rather than sobbing over a case of FOMO, I logged out to focus on the present – which currently requires more time and energy than I have to expend.

Between your professional life and your personal life, there is now a third ‘life’.

Your ‘social media life’, your ‘digital footprint’, ‘virtual persona’ – does it really reflect who you are as a person? Somewhat. But that’s a topic for another time. Currently, I only have time for ‘professional life’ anything personal is kept to a minimum and anything virtual is virtually nonexistent.