Buy Your Freedom. Breakout from the Self-Made Prison

Chained
Chained

The year is coming to an end. Some of you may receive a year-end bonus for a job well done. How are you going to spend your money? My advice is to buy your freedom. 

Most of us live in a self-made prison. The prison door is unlocked, but we cannot leave. I am a typical case of SITCOM – Single Income Two Children and Oppressive Mortage. We have volunteered to put ourselves in prison in the name of family. 

We are holding to a job that we dislike just because it pays the bill. 

It does not have to be like this. The prison door is unlocked; there is no correctional officer. We can leave anytime. The outside world is scary, but it has wonders and dangers. I know I am too afraid to leave the prison. 

Are you willing to rot in your prison cell while wondering about the world has to offer? The employer would want you to stay because you are eager to exchange five days of slavery for two days of fake freedom. When you are old and desperate, you receive your walking papers because your presence is not aligned with the company direction anymore. 

I refuse to live my life in an unlock prison. I want to buy my freedom. Do not buy things. Buy freedom.  

It is not easy. We are doing something that is outside the prevailing beliefs. Other prisoners, including your loved ones, will tell you it is a bad idea. They inform you that they love you, and you should not expose yourself to such risk. Please stay inside the prison, at least you are sheltered from the weather. 

Hold their hands. Look straight into their eyes. Tell them that you will buy your freedom and you will show them how. 

Invest in yourself. The investment that offers the best return is investing in yourself. I am a book lover. I would give up a meal or a piece of new clothing for a book that I think will change my life. Not all books are 100% useful. If one sentence inside a book can change my life, I think it is money well spent. Give yourself the gift of knowledge. Knowledge will change how you see the world and how you work. If you are feeling trapped in your work, education can help you to escape. 

Cut back on buying material goods. I am not asking you to live like a monk. Instead, I am asking you to cut back on expenses that you do not need. If you enjoy an exotic meal over other materials goods, you should aggressively cut back on other materials goods and splurge on exotic meals. You will appreciate the experience of a good meal more than other things. There is no shame in admitting you enjoy something or experience that speak to you. The important thing is, you must know what you want and cut back on what you do not need. Freedom is not about having all the options. It is about choosing what you want.

I try not to spend money on things that I do not need. If I am buying something, for example, a piece of clothing. I make a point to throw or donate one clothing to make way for the new garment. This behaviour forces me to think deeper before I make any spontaneous purchase. Materialy speaking, we are living far healthier and wealthier than our grandparents. We do not need anything more to survive. 

You buy your freedom by buying fewer things. 

Volunteer your time for a useful cause. Spent one hour a week by helping out at any religious centre or community hall. These places always need excellent talents, such as you to help out. It is a perfect opportunity to practice your skill such as communication, coordination, budgeting and even cooking. You gain credibility through volunteering. You also make friends that will last a lifetime. When the time is right, opportunities will appear by itself. Sometimes freedom is not bought with money but with time and effort.

I have volunteered in feeding the homeless. No matter how difficult or frustrated I feel about my life or at my job, after each event, I go home and sleep like a baby. I did not change the world, but I know someone is not sleeping with an empty stomach. Having the ability to sleep well is freedom. 

Manage your money wisely. When you receive a paycheck, immediately pay yourself. It is not by spending the money. It is by automatically putting the money into an account that you do not usually access. The cash is untouchable. It could be for your children education or your first house. You may think that the money you saved is insignificant. It is tempting to buy something or go on holiday. No matter how little amount, you should keep the money. Your money will grow over time.

You can use the money for investment to generate passive income. With a passive income, you will have a lower dependency on your regular paycheck. With that, you have more options with your career choices, and you may choose to walk away from a job that you dislike. 

A millionaire in the United States on average has about seven different sources of income. You have worked hard for the money. It is time for the money to work hard for you. 

The price of freedom is not low. You will encounter setbacks. It is tempting to give up and remain in prison. Stay in the job that you hate; at least it helps to pay the bill. Is this the life that you want?

You have to dig deep. Plan your escape and take action. Life is never meant to be easy. You will suffer, and you will cry. It is the journey to buy back your freedom and break out from your self-made prison is life-defining. I do not guarantee happiness when you finally escaped the self-made prison. What I can guarantee is a life that is more fulfilling than a nine to five hamster wheel grind. 

To Learn You have to Fail

Fail
Fail

I dislike failure porn. When I fail, I feel horrible. Whenever I fail, I get upset. I become ineffective with the task that I am supposed to do. Failure is everywhere. Life is about failing. However, failure is also the best way to learn. 

“When things are going bad, don’t get all bummed out. Don’t get startled, don’t get frustrated. If you can say the word good, guess what? It means you’re still alive. It means you’re still breathing. And if you’re still breathing, well then hell, you’ve still got some fight left in you. So get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, reengage, and go out on the attack.”

Jocko Willink

To learn a new skill, we have to go through a series of failure. There is no escape from it. We first learn to walk by stumbling and falling on our bottom. As we grow up, we forgot about the lesson of stumbling and falling.  

When I first starting to Data Analytics. I love it. I see that it is my future. I can do simple presentation through Tableau. I think I can make a career out of data analytics. 

After two weeks of fun, I start to hit a wall. I spend hours watching videos that I do not understand. I could not get Tableau to present charts that I want. I compare my dashboard against others in the public domain. My work is like kindergarten work. 

I need to understand the theory behind Data Analytics and functions of Tableau. I feel overwhelmed by its depth. 

I have hit the “Dip”. 

“At the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun. Over the next few days and weeks, the rapid learning you experience keeps you going. Whatever your new thing is, it’s easy to stay engaged in it. And then the Dip happens. The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. A long slog that’s a shortcut, because it gets you where you want to go faster than any other path.”

Seth Godin. 

I spend the whole weekend trying to load data into Tableau and to find that I have misunderstood how Tableau load data. The whole weekend is gone and I have nothing to show.  

Such failure is common and there will be more to come. Are you ready for more of the same? I need to be ready to spend hours on something that may yield little or no results. 

I could have taken the easier path. Maybe I should just stay with something that I already know. It feels safer. I have more confidence.

It is through the dip that separates superstars and the rest. Why superstars are rare? It is because they go through the “dip” but also create extraordinary work while the rest has quit. 

How do I survive failure? I choose the next smallest logical step. I focus on that step and do it with my best effort. To focus like a Roman. 

 “Concentrate every minute like a Roman-like a man— on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can— if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centred, irritable. Do you see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life? If you can manage this, that’s all even the gods can ask of you.”

Marcus Aurelius

I share stories of my failure. I let my audience know that I am like everyone else. I cannot escape failures and mistakes. I have to learn from it. If I fail to learn the lesson, I will keep repeating the failure until I learned or I quit. Quitting is not an option. 

The world is getting competitive by the day, regular job opportunities are getting fewer but opportunities for interesting jobs remain abundant. To stay competitive, I rather face the failure in learning rather than failure in miss opportunities. 

To move forward, we have to accept failure. It is the only way for us to learn. Let the scars on your heart and soul be the signs of victory. Without trying, there is no failure. Without failure, we do not know the taste of victory.  

I am not afraid to fail. I am afraid of quitting when I should have continued in the path. 

How to Find Time and Ways to Study While Working

I get nervous whenever there is an announcement on company restructuring. Someone is going to lose their job. Loyalty is underrated. The company only assess our skill and its alignment with the business strategy. Any misalignment will be deal with swiftly.  We have to find time to improve and stay relevant in the job market.

Anyone who draws a paycheck is at risk of losing their jobs. Many of us may feel trapped in our jobs. We put up with it because we need it to put food on the table. The only solution is to skill up and grow beyond the job. 

As a full-time employee and a full-time dad, to find time to study is not easy. I have signed up to many online courses but I never got around completing any of the courses. 

My excuse is I could not find time to study.  

I have decided to challenge my excuse. I will find time to study. In about two weeks, I have completed multiple short courses in LinkedIn Learning

Some find my method and dedication extreme. It is to the point of obsession. There is a worry of burning out. Yet, the more I studied. The more engaged I get into the act of studying. 

No alt text provided for this image

In any journey, you must know why you are doing it? By having the correct mindset, you will find time to do the necessary work. 

In my 30s, I have wasted most of my life believing that I can achieve success by merely thinking about it. I hang out with bad friends. We did nothing but bad-mouthing our jobs and life. It was only a series of retrenchment that woke me up. I may lose my job and I do not have a plan B.

Time is ticking. The race is to improve is on! There is no turning back. I cannot gain back the time that I have wasted. I can only keep moving forward.

We cannot be greedy. If we aim to study as many hours as possible. We will soon burn out, frustrated and quit. The aim is just to improve 1% a day. In 72 days, we would have double our knowledge.  

Here are my methods. My methods may not work for you. I encourage you to explore and feel free to share in the comments section.

I start my Monday on a Sunday night. I plan out the work that I need to do and the study topics that I want to cover for the week. On LinkedIn Learning, the courses are broken into multiple videos. Base on each video, I know how much time I need to finish and understand the video’s content. 

I am a person who is easily distracted. I cannot study in a group or an environment is highly engaging. I choose to study alone. I prefer to lock myself in a quiet room and do the necessary study. If I have to hide in the kitchen or the toilet, I will do it! For as long as I can study. 

You may prefer to study in a group setting. The choice is yours. You have to be honest with yourself that you are finishing your studies. 

I am a morning person. I guard the first waking hour with my life. The first hour is my time. That’s the time where I find myself most engaged and feeling refresh. My first hour is always a mixture of study, exercise and meditation. By completing two or more of the task, I feel good about myself and I am set for the day. 

What is the time where you can be most effective to study? Guard it with your life and schedule that time for your studies. 

I have been practising intermittent fasting for about two years. I would only eat between 1 pm and 9 pm. I may feel hungry during late morning but I noticed I can think and concentrate better. I do not feel sleepy in the afternoon. 

While everyone in the office is away for lunch or coffee break. I would fire up my learning program. By skipping breakfast and coffee break, I found time to study. 

LinkedIn Learning has a goal tool that allows you to set the hours that you want to study for the week. Make use of the tool. Gamify the whole learning experience. Every week, I would try to match or exceed the study hours. When you have the motivation, you will find time to study.

You may not agree with this approach. I always have two topics in the pipeline. Whenever I am tired of one topic, I will switch to another. It takes twice the amount of time to master one topic. Nevertheless, I find this approach effective. If I have to force myself to study when I am bored. I am not able to retain anything that I have learned. 

There is never a perfect moment to study or to chase your dream. Therefore you should not wait for the elusive perfect moment. If I have pockets of time for as much as 10 minutes. I would take the opportunity to write or study. There are certain topics would require longer concentration. I will have to schedule a time for it. It is normally early in the morning or after the kids are all asleep.

The best way to learn is to share your knowledge. I write about what I learned through my blog and LinkedIn. Writing helps me to gather my thoughts and challenge my understanding. Without writing it down, I do not know how much I have grasped the idea. 

By sharing my ideas, I can reach out to like-minded individuals. 

These individuals are chasing the same dream as me. They offer opportunities to network and provide valuable feedback on my work. Getting feedback is not for the faint-hearted. You put your ideas and hard work for the world to see. The feedback will come back hard and fast. It may not be anything that you want to hear but necessary to take heed. You have to suspend your ego when asking for feedback. It is better to have a bruised ego than not improve at all.

These are all the methods that I have used to find time to study and improve my knowledge. It has served me well. I encourage to dig deep and explore within you. Have faith that you can learn new skills and remain relevant in this ever-changing world. Ultimately you will find the time and put in the effort if you want it bad enough. 

To create, You Have to Face the Blank Page.

Blank Page
Blank Page

I have been staring at the blank page for at least 10 minutes. I do not know what to write. My mind is blank. I procrastinate by reading more. I do not dare to face the blank page. A blank page is a perfection. There is nothing to edit.  

Before you can create, you have to face the blank page. The is a page that challenges us to dig deep. It urges us to create. To put out our work and show to the world. 

We all now living in the age of information abundance. We have no more excuse for the need to know more before we start working on a project. 

“The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.

The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.” ― J.K. Rowling

We cannot wait for inspiration to come. Every day, we have to show up to create. It does not matter how you feel, you have to show up. The process of creation is scary. You go from nothing to something. You are the creator of your world.

To face down the blank page, you have to sit down and do the work. What happens if you are not inspired or do not feel like doing the work? You still sit down and face that page. You are allowed not to do any work but you are not allowed to do other things. It is boredom or creation. The choice is yours. 

“…she (the artist, the writer) doesn’t wait for inspiration, she acts in the anticipation of its apparition.”

― Steven Pressfield

Start small. We dream of big dreams. Each journey starts with a small first step. Start putting one word on the page. Repeat the process until the page is filled with your words. 

Know your energy. When do you feel best and most creative? The hour belongs to you. It the hour is in the morning. You have to protect it with your life. The world can have the rest of the 23 hours but the hour of creativity is yours. 

It is not the tool it is you. My dream pen is the Pilot 823. I have never tried that pen but I want to own it. It is recommended by Neil Gaiman as his workhorse pen. I know I will not buy it. Having that pen does not make me a better writer. That pen will not give me the courage to face the blank page. I have to face the empty page. Do not blame the tools. It is never the tools. It is us who has to find the courage to start writing down the words. 

The journey is lonely. You can sign up for the mastermind group. A group of people who will encourage you to start work and keep going until you are done. They can lead you to the blank page but they cannot write it for you. You have to pick up the pen and start writing on the blank page. The journey of creativity can be lonely. The people around you can only be your cheerleader. Let the solitude help you to know yourself better. 

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” ― Audrey Hepburn

It is all on you. The blank page, the work and the results, it is all on you. You have to be responsible for your work. It is scary. There is no one to blame but yourself. Take ownership of your work. Give your best effort. Most importantly, sign off with your name. 

Everything starts with facing the blank page. 

Start Small to Chase Your Dream

Start Small
Start Small to Chase Your Dream

I have big dreams. Many of us have big dreams. The dream of living the life that we want. The dream of quitting a dead-end job and start a business. 

We are encouraged to dream big. We are encouraged to aim for the moon. When we miss, we can be among the stars. Well said. 

For myself, aiming for the moon is scary. I am never fully prepared for it. I want to know more. There is always one more book to read. One more detail to plan out. 

I did not take any action. I want to chase that dream but I am overwhelmed by it. I did not wake up from that dream to make it into reality. 

 “Stop thinking about it. Stop Dreaming about it. Stop researching every aspect of it…Start doing it. Take that first step and make it happen. GET AFTER IT.” – Jocko Willink

We just need to start small. 

“A thousand miles starts with a single step.” – Tao Te Ching

Stop the research. Do not use the excuse of needing to know more to start. We are in a world of information overload. If perfect knowledge is what need, we all would be billionaires. The need to get collect more information is just an excuse.

Sketch it out. Get a piece of paper and sketch your dream. Let your finger do the talking. Do not edit your dream. There is no thinking here. Nothing is too big or unrealistic. When you finish, look at the paper, ask yourself if this is what you want? Is this your dream? 

Chances are that it is not what you want. You have to start over. 

Do not feel deflated when you have to start over. At least, you know you will not be chasing the wrong dream. You have to dream the right dream; wake up and do the right things. 

Start without being told. The Internet has even out the playing field. There are no more gatekeepers. If you want to publish your book. You can publish without engaging any publishers. 

If you want to sing and perform. You can perform in front of a camera and publish onto the internet. You do not need to speak to any record label. Start now. You have my permission. Now, you must permit yourself to chase your dream.

 “Reject the tyranny of being picked: pick yourself” – Seth Godin. 

Do the simplest task. Did I skip a step on breaking down the dream into a list of tasks? No. I did not skip that step. Instead of planning your dream to death. I want you to start with the simplest task. 

If you dream of writing the novel, start by writing a blog. Andy Weir published his work – The Martian on his blog for free. It was due to the reader’s request for an e-book where he self-publishes the book through Amazon. Andy started small. He started with one blog post followed by another and another.

Do you have a business idea that might make you millions? Start small by having only one paying customer. Use the simplest tools. Do it manually and get as much feedback as possible. When you are ready, start to acquire your second customer. Invest the money back into your idea when you confirm your second customer. 

Do you have an app idea that you might change the world? Sketch out your ideas and post in on a bidding site. You will receive feedback and questions from bidders. You will know whether you should continue to pursue your idea. 

Use the 80/20 rule. This is the Pareto principle. 20% of your task will determine 80% of your results. An aspiring writer should just focus on writing and publishing quality work. Activities such as marketing and SEO is important, but it is not as important as writing. 

If you are developing an app. Focus on 20% of the functions that are most important to your users. 

When I started this blog I kept the design simple. I used the standard template. I did not spend too much time thinking about its design. To me, I just want to write. I want my writing to engage the readers and have them to come back regularly. 

“Ninety-nine per cent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time-and energy-consuming.”

Timothy Ferriss

Learn what you need to know. I get it, there are many things that you need to know to make your dream into reality. Instead of learning it all in one sitting. You should learn as and when the need arises. There are many free contents available on the Internet. If you prefer to learn through visual and audio. You can try YouTube. YouTube is the second-largest search engine. If you require something more structured, there are many online courses available. The online courses can be either free or paid. The important thing is not to overspend in pursuing your dreams. For every dollar that you put in, the dollar has to give you the maximum return. Be it knowledge or profitability.

Publish it. Start small. It is a fact, your first release is not going to good. You have given it your best. Time to push the publish button. Publish first your first blog. Release your first piece of music. Deploy the first version of your application. By putting yourself out there you will find immediate feedback. It is through feedback you know what you need to improve.  

 “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” –Reid Hoffman

Today, take the first step to reach out for your dream. Start small. It should not cost you a lot of time and money. The journey to realise your dream may be still far away. At least, you are one step closer. 

Never Outsource Your Self-esteem

Self-esteem
Self-esteem

I have been programmed to outsource my self-esteem. I can create the ugliest drawing, the kindergarten teacher would shower me with praises. I get praises by doing household choirs without being told. As long as I do what I have been told, I will not get into trouble and I will get recognition. I have outsourced my self-esteem down to an art form. 

Since childhood, we yearn for recognition and praises. I know I still do. 

I turn to Facebook likes and Instagram likes for perk up my self-esteem. 

Put up a beautiful picture and get some likes. Boom, I already feel better about myself. Put up a smart quote and have someone share it. I feel even better about myself. If the post did not have the likes and shares that I expect, I get uneasy and nervous. Was I not good enough? I look at my feed every 10 minutes, are there any more likes and any more shares?

I am addicted to the numbers. A set of numbers that has no real meaning. Some people call it gamification. It is all a game. I win by having people to tell me that I am good even though deep down I know I am a fraud. If the numbers are low, I feel sad even though I have given it all I could. I am chained to the numbers. My happiness depends on the numbers. 

To get more likes. I have to create content that resonates with many people. Yet. Do I resonate with those content? I do not know. I just want more likes! Where is my self-esteem? I need my self-esteem. Give me more likes. 

Those likes and shares are nothing but plaster over deep knife wound. Likes and shares give me temporarily relieve. Deep down, I am never full filled and satisfied. 

Take back your self-esteem. Never outsource your self-esteem. You do not earn your self-esteem from other’s recognition. As it is, other’s are already having difficulty managing theirs. 

Do hard work. Self-esteem comes from hard work. We may want to avoid hard work. It is through hard work that you feel good about yourself. Do something different. Do something that you have never done but always wanted to do. Today, make your life slightly harder. 

From the Daily Stoic.

Confragosa in fastigium dignitatis via est. “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness,” – Seneca 

Self-awareness. Take time to reflect your day. Take 10 minutes to ponder over your day. What have you done well? What can you do better? 

“I will keep constant watch over myself and – most usefully – will put each day up for review… Let us balance life’s books each day…” – Seneca

It is only through reflection, you will know how far you have come. Balance life’s books each day. 

Express gratitude. You may have a tough day. There are still many things that you can be grateful. Write down three things that went well from the past 24 hours. You learn to see the positive side of life by being grateful. Things are just not as bad as you imagined.

Hate your job? Someone just lost their job and wonders how to put food on the table. 

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus 

Watch your own words. Negative self-talk is not a form of motivation. It will never motivate yourself to do better. It is a negative growth mindset. Made a mistake? Screwed up? Good. You can find ways to perform better. You learn from it and keep going. Blaming yourself without any constructive criticism brings you to nowhere. 

Cut back on social media. Social media has its usefulness. Trying to gain likes and shares so that you feel good about yourself is not one of it. Limit your time on social media. What you see is only the highlight reels of others, but never their struggle. So what is there to feel jealous about other people’s post? What other sees in you is only your highlight reels. They do not know the real you. Never measure your self-esteem through likes and shares. 

Embrace winning and losing. In life, you win some and lose some. Neither state of winning and losing is permanent. Your self-esteem should not be measured by your wins. You should not deduct your self-esteem for losing. Life is a game. It is a game of effort and hard work. Winning and losing is merely a side effect and feedback. 

Your self-esteem is for yours to keep. As you move through life. You have to embrace hard work and accept things that you cannot change or influence. Be ready to get defeated by life. It is not a question of if but a question of when. Never outsource your self-esteem. 

I try to Kick My Phone Addiction And This Happened

I am suffering from phone addiction. I use my phone to do most of my communications, listening to podcast, banking, note-taking and readings. I sleep with the phone and it follows me wherever I go.

A colleague once remarked that I would be fidgeting with my phone even though the screen is off. She called me I am suffering from handphone sick.

I never knew how much time I spent on screen. Or how much time I spent on the phone.

To fix a problem. I must acknowledge that I have a problem. To check my handphone usage, I installed the app Stay Focused.

As soon as I installed the app, I immediately become very mindful of my usage. There are a timer and a clicker to track both screen time and numbers of time I switch on the screen.

With that knowledge in the back of my head, I only switch on my phone screen when it is necessary. Here is what happened.

Time Spend on Phone
Time Spent on Phone

I have more time. For every hour I spent five minutes mindlessly scrolling through news portal or Instagram, I would have wasted 60 minutes after 12 hours.

I am less anxious. Every Monday, I would stay away from the news. With this app, I am consciously staying away from the news at all times. I feel better. I do not need to keep track of all the latest news. Looking back, none of the news that I have been following has been life-changing.

The phone battery last longer. I do not need to carry a battery bank with me. To keep my phone charged, I have to charge it twice a day. My bag feels lighter.

No phone at the dining table. Whether I am outside or at home, as soon as I sit down I would either busy finishing a message or reading a post. With the app tracking my usage, I made an effort not to use my phone at the dining table. I have more time talking to my dining partner and observe the crowd around me.

Limit social media usage. Every day, I allow myself 30 minutes on both Instagram and Facebook. I can only access social media between 830 pm until 830 am. Other times, the app would block my access. I do not have any withdrawal symptoms after cutting back on Social Media.

Sleeping better. I normally stay away from screens when is near bedtime. I find that I sleep better since I make a conscious effort to cut back on phone usage. It could be because of less news and Social Media.

Number of Launches
Number of Launches

From the captured data from the last 4 days, I have spent nearly six hours on the phone. Majority of the time spent on WhatsApp and reading on Google Play Books.

App usage
App usage Stay Focused

I could have used the hours to do something that is far more productive and creative.

My time sink is on WhatsApp and not Facebook or Instagram. I will have to review my time on WhatsApp and see what can I cut out.

I have only used the app for about four days. I am looking forward to seeing my stats on day 30.

As I am suffering from phone addiction. This is my story. If I cannot measure it, I cannot manage it. I cannot recommend enough of Stay Focused. Without the stats report, I would not have known how time I have wasted on the phone. I cannot gain back the time that I have lost. But I will make sure I will not waste any more time on the phone.

You may check out my reading list.

How to Prepare for Tomorrow, Today

tomorrow
tomorrow

One day gone is one day less to live. Our life is like a bus ride. The bus of life keeps moving forward and will not turn back. Everyone has a designated stop. One day, we all will reach our stop. No one can stay on the bus forever. We do not know when is our stop. We have to make every day count because it will never come back. Prepare for tomorrow, today. 

To be ready for tomorrow, you have to sleep well. Life can be cruel and uncertain. A well-rested body and mind will get you ready for anything. 

Before you go to bed. Do a brain dump. Write down everything that is bothering you. The brain dump helps you to sleep. Many of us have tons of thoughts buzzing nearing bedtime. These thoughts can affect your sleep quality. So, it is best to put it all out on a paper

Here are some guidelines.

  • What is the one must-do item? This item has to be both urgent and important. For example, putting petrol into your vehicle. The car does not negotiate with you. When he runs out of fuel it stops, no exception. What is your must-do? You cannot procrastinate, you cannot negotiate with it.
  • What are the three important items? The items may not be urgent but important enough that you need to get it done. For example, a report that is due next week or the medical check-up that you have been putting off. Put it all down on your to-do list.
  • What else is bothering you? Write down what is in your mind. The purpose is not about finding a solution. It is about putting things into perspective. Chances are the things that are bothering you are not real issues. This exercise is to help you to have better sleep.

Bonus tip — Do a check-in before meals. Before you have your lunch or dinner. Go through your list. Are you progressing as expected? If you are on the track, maintain the momentum. If you are behind schedule, did you waste time or your expectation is unreasonable? Recalibrate, reload and keep going.

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There is no Excuse. Chase Your Dream Now

I took part in the 2019 Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon run. During the event, I noticed a limbless gentleman overtook me. He was on a skateboard paddling away. In my mind, he was chasing his own dream. There is no excuse. Chase your dream now.

Chris Koch
Chris Koch

The gentleman’s name is Chris Koch. He was born without any limbs. This did not limit him from doing things that is larger than life. He is a motivational speaker, surfer, farmer and kayaker. I am ashamed to say I am nowhere close to his achievement.

Besides taking part in the full marathon, he was also giving talks at a few schools located in Kuala Lumpur.

Chris Koch
Chris Koch

From the news, he comes off as someone energetic, funny and positive. Yes! He starts his life with a great disability. And he has done far more than someone who did in a lifetime.

He grew up in a family filled with love and support. Love conquers all. Including physical disability. His family did not write him off. He was given all the encouragement that he needs to be successful.

Mr Koch is like a modern-day swordsman Musashi who is seeking to improve himself and not afraid of hardships.

Please test the lowly Musashi with hardship. Let him become the greatest swordsman in the land, or let him die.

Mr Koch may not be as extreme as Musashi. Nevertheless, the intensity is similar to the great swordsman.

Many of us are luckier and abler compared to Mr Koch. Yet, we did not reach the full potential as he did. We have far more capability within us and we have squandered away. So what is your excuse?

It is essential to go through hardship and suffering to find our true callings. By going outside of our comfort zone, we will only know our new limits.

Life is a journey that we cannot u-turn. We have to keep moving. Do not waste your life. Mr Koch has achieved greatness. You too can achieve greatness. Chase your dream now.

Can You Sacrifice for the Greater Good?

To be a hero, we have to make choices that many are not willing to make. We have to make the sacrifice that many are unwilling to do.

In the 90s, Dr Shuping Wang has sacrifice job, her marriage, her happiness and her home to expose an HIV scandal in China.

Dr Shuping_Wang
Dr Shuping Wang

The local blood bank of Henan was trying to hide the epidemic of HIV cases. She found that as high as 13% of the donated blood was HIV positive. She reported the case to the central government. Due to the crack-down by the government, her colleagues were not happy. Eventually, her marriage broke down due to her husband was also ostracised by his colleague in the Ministry of Health.

In 2001, she left for the US and never went back to China. She left everything back in China. Her action has saved thousands of lives, especially the poor and those who are at risk.

Dr Wang died on 21 September during a hike with her friends. She was 59 years of age.

The measurement of life is not through time but how we have lived life. For Dr Wang, she may have died young. Her action has helped more people than many of us do in a lifetime.

She took the most difficult path of her life. She did the right thing at the cost of her everything. Not many can do what she did. She is not famous in her home country. The people who were saved by her action will never know her. They will never know her sacrifice.

Are you willing to do the right thing and sacrifice everything? And you probably be forgotten by history.

We may not have the chance to do something as great as dr Wang. We can live a life of truth, kindness and justice. Listen to your heart and you will know what you need to do. Start today and is a life that is worth living.