Why are you here?

Why are you here?

on this special day?

But, while you are here, I suppose we have something in common,

and so I think this post,

how to NOT lose your love,

would benefit the two of us.

My qualification?

Speaking from the experience of someone, who lost his love.

I. Whatever Happens, STAY!

A reporter asked the couple, “How did you manage to stay together for 65 years?” The woman replied, “We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away.” (From someone wise)

Keeping your love alive has to start with YOU.

Whenever the fight starts,

whosever fault it is,

whoever else involves,

whatever happens,

and however crazy things go,

you stay.

And I’m amazed at how many of us are guilty of this one simple mistake. Too often things aren’t that bad, 

if we survive the storm, of course.

I was guilty of this, too. Looking back, I regret having let go of her hand during the dark time of my life (my infamous story here), because of my low self-esteem,

my tendency to resort to negative thinking;

because I thought that it wouldn’t work out,

that since I brought her nothing but misery, I’d better let her go with someone else who could make her happy.

Ah! Well! What a great self-sacrifice!

My friend, learn from my mistake.

If you care at all, you need to stay.

If you care enough, at least you get to stay until the end, whatever end the two of you end up with.

Wanna hear something wise?

Simple, but wise?

“Till death do us part…”

You see, keeping that vow requires either a strong faith in God, or a strong commitment in the relationship.

Sadly, our high divorce rate (37% in 2016 (1)) must give some grim insights into our perception toward religion and marriage.

But,

It’s easy to say than do, right?

Well, it helps, if we adopt this attitude:

Realize that We’re on the Same Side

It’s too bad that I learned this from Zig Ziglar long after she’d gone.

We need to remember that,

if the boat sinks,

nobody wins here.

Both are losers.

Too often we become so obsessed with winning the fight that we forget why we started that fight in the first place.

Each of us would look to imitate the other’s behavior.

Likewise, we all prefer to be the second to apologize. Nobody wants to take the initiative.

Thus, being on the same side means we need to give up our own pride, presumption, and the desire to be right, to get even.

Also, because we’re on the same side, the rule to communicate is this:

Question our partner’s Action, NOT Intent.

Questioning one’s action means studying the impact of the act, whereas questioning one’s intent implies looking at the doer’s character.

Why not intent?

Well, from a logical perspective, questioning your partner’s intent gives you limited and subjective answers,

either yes/no,

whether good/bad,

commit/not,

in/out, etc.

Such information is only useful to help us decide whether it’s worthwhile to hang on, or let go

NOT

how to fix the “broken thing” here.

Besides, you wouldn’t believe your partner’s response, if what he/she said doesn’t match your own presumption answer,

would you?

I don’t know why people, me also, seem to have an endless desire to hear the words “I love you” repeatedly from their darlings.

Maybe to reassure themselves that they are, in fact, “still” in love,

Or,

to use the mantra as a kind of affirmation, in a vain attempt to counter their own negative thinking mode, that is constantly on inside their heads.

Moreover, questioning one’s act allows the doer a chance to defend his/her case. Now, whether we believe the explanation or not, that depends on many factors.

But, at least we give our partner the benefit of the doubt,

if our love is strong enough to make us open our heart,

to trust,

and become vulnerable.

Besides, focusing on the action gives us a chance to express our concerns, thoughts, and feelings regarding how the act affects each person and the relationship.

Sometimes people act like a jerk simply because they aren’t aware of how their actions impact others.  

Now, I’m not promoting the “I would do anything for love” ideality here, nor am I suggesting that you must never question your lover’s intent.

All I’m saying is that once you’ve determined to stay, you need to gather objective information to assess and resolve the problem.

Let your heart decide your destination, and your head show you the way, not the other way around.

Ok, and how do we fix it? 

First, you must be willing to communicate and share the information, so that you two understand what’s going on. Second, you need to develop your skills, and that requires self-education.

1. Happy relationships start with Sharing

You can assess how close two people are by measuring

How much communication take place,

How many activities are done together,

How many thoughts, emotions, feelings, and

how much experience are shared.

If you’re going through hell,

I mean,

You plan to get THROUGH, not staying there,

then by all means, let your partner tackle the challenge with you.

And there is one scene that I’ve seen it played out over and over in movies, in which the couple, after surviving a horrendous journey, kiss each other intensely.

In fact, research (2) suggested that sharing painful experience promotes trust and acts as a social glue that strengthens relationship bonds.

My speculation is that, not only painful, but sharing any kind of strong emotional experience still does the trick.

You guys might think that it’s noble to endure the struggle by yourselves,

that you don’t want to see your lovers suffer (I don’t know why I feel mostly men think this way…well, it’s just my opinion),

But that is truly an opportunity to make the two of you stick together.

Plus, two people working together, will have a much higher chance to successfully get through the hell,

or stay there, sanely, a little longer.

After my husband Tom died, I had friends who were kind, but life was very empty. You can watch rubbish on the telly if there are two of you, but it’s so difficult to watch rubbish on your own (Judith Kerr (wiki) on The Guardian (3))

And the last point is exactly what I’d like to tell you next.

Sharing is great for problem-solving. But sharing is also one way people use to feel being loved, to seek support and affection.

And men, like me, are so wise to know this. We know what women want when they tell us about issues at work, at play.

They’re in pain and need our support, so we’re on a mission to solve those problems,

as a way to show them that we care.

Wrong!

Women aren’t that fragile like those lost little princesses that we are bombarded with in fairy tales and movies.

No, they are grown-ups, who no longer want babysitting, and can take care of their problems.

They just need a shoulder to lean on from someone, whom they trust.

So, mate, all you need to do is to shut up and listen to the whining, 

and occasionally show your empathy,

if you can.  

Please don’t pass judgement, or offer suggestion, without being specifically asked.

This was my regret, too. I don’t mind listening to someone’s problem. But, my experience of working as a teacher has made me become more solution-oriented.

Also, offering advice in an intimate relationship is risky, because my enthusiasm (and frustration) to help might be taken to imply that, there’s something wrong with her that needs to be fixed;

Or even worse,

“Who you’re right now is no good for me, so please hurry and grow the f!*k up!”.

My friend, learn from my mistake. Otherwise, soon or later,

your partner will have to find a therapist,

or a emotional tampon friend,

for emotional support.

2. Building happy relationships requires Self-education 

Sharing enables the give and take of information and emotional support. To build and keep a happy relationship, however, you need self-education.

If you double your communication skills,

listening skills,

stress-management skills,

goal-setting skills,

Think how much they will benefit your beloveds.

If you care enough to communicate, you can share information about what’s happening; and if you learn to communicate skillfully, you will be able to resolve the conflict;

If you care enough to listen, you can understand what’s troubling your partner; and if you learn to listen skillfully, you will gain insight into how to make him/her happy;

If you care enough to manage stress at work and at home, you can achieve a better work/life balance; and if you learn to manage stress skillfully, you will become a calmer, more playful, and patient partner;

And if you care enough to set goals in all major areas of your life, not just your relationship, you can avoid pursuing one goal at the expense of the others; and if you learn to set goals that are not only powerful and inspiring, but also achievable, you will become a more attentive professional and partner, by being able to work when you work, and play when you play.

See how personal growth affects your relationship?

The best gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones is self-investment,

To become Better,

Stronger,

and Wiser.

Had I done that, I would have had better options, other than self-sacrifice, choosing to let loose of her hand, because I could have got a much stronger, and farther reach.

II. Whatever Happens, Accept it

And this is a secret of every happy couple.

It’s a secret, well, because nobody is willing to tell the public about problems that they are having in their relationships.

We tend to assume that we broke up because such and such matters couldn’t be resolved, that everyone else is ok except the two of us (the two of you, actually).

But if we look closely, every couple does have a problem. The difference is, for them, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Whereas for us,

There must be something wrong with us

(my translation: either

i. I’m wrong (poor me!), or

ii. You’re wrong (honey, admit it, but don’t despair, because i’m gonna fix you up, even if it kills me!).)

They realize that no one is perfect,

that it’s perfectly normal to have problems in a relationship,

that there’s no perfect couple living happily ever after, only couple that are happy with their imperfections.

So, don’t say that “I’m in a relationship, and I have a problem…so there must be something wrong!”;

Instead, like Wayne Dyer, say this

“I’m in a relationship, and I have a problem…and there’s nothing wrong with that”.

~o~

To sum up, to NOT lose our loves, we need to learn to stay and work together to fix the conflict, by

  • realizing that “We’re on the same size”,
  • questioning the performance, not the performer,
  • communicating and sharing information,
  • and focusing on self-education, not self-sacrifice;

And remember that no one is perfect, and that’s perfectly fine.

And suppose you’ve done all these, yet things didn’t work out, what then?

Well, keeping your love has to start with you, but that won’t necessarily ensure a happy ending.

Don’t press me why on this. Call it whatever you want, whether it’s fate, destiny, or bad luck.

But NEVER ever let it become an obsession of your life,

to seek an answer for why the other left.

(The bad news is that you can’t control fate, but the good news is you can make fate work in your favor instead of against you, let me show you how)

Again, I’m talking from my own experience here. And, my experience also tells me that, despite what I said, you wouldn’t listen anyway.

So to save you the time and frustration, here’s my best answer: As time goes by, our stories might change, because there will be changes.

Let’s forget the cuts and bruises that we’d inflicted on one another, so that whoever stay or leave, can look back the journey past with a chuckle: “We’d given each other best moments in life, farewell”.

If you do this, you can let your past rest in peace,  become grateful and make the best use of the experience.

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. Everybody wins, when somebody shares!

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

 

Reference

(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2016). Provisional number of marriages and marriage rate: United States, 2000-2016. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/national_marriage_divorce_rates_00-16.pdf

(2) Bastian, B., Jetten, J., Ferris, L. (2014). Pain as Social Glue – Shared Pain Increases Cooperation.  Psychological Science, 25(11), 2079-2085. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614545886

(3) Cook, E. (Jan, 2018). How to live well: Judith Kerr’s reasons to be cheerful. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jan/28/how-to-live-well-judith-kerr-reasons-to-be-cheerful

Eugene the Poet – the Hero of My Life

Last Updated: May.10.18

Transcript for Eugene the librarian’s performance (copied from Librarians on YouTube (1)):

[scene opens with a gangly looking man (with buck teeth and thick glasses) sitting backstage]

STEPHEN MULHERN: [in voice over] And someone hoping they have what it takes to get them through to the next round is … Eugene.

[cut to Eugene speaking directly to the camera]

EUGENE: My name’s Eugene, I’m thirty-seven, I’m a librarian.

[cut to Stephen and Eugene backstage]

STEPHEN MULHERN: Eugene … 

EUGENE: [shakes his hand] Pleased to meet you.

[cut back to Eugene speaking directly to the camera]

EUGENE: I’ve come here today to share my passion for poetry with all who want to listen. I understand that the judges aren’t great fans of poetry, but I feel I have the personality and the charisma to win them round.

[cut to Stephen and Eugene backstage]

STEPHEN MULHERN: What about the “girl” side of things?

EUGENE: I’ve always been a magnet to the ladies.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Yeah? You got a girlfriend?

EUGENE: Not yet.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Right. What sort of girl would you look for?

EUGENE: One that says “yes.”

STEPHEN MULHERN: Nice.

[cut back to Eugene speaking directly to the camera]

EUGENE: I’m gonna go out there, on that stage, and I’m going to be a white knight on the stallion of poetry.

[cut to Eugene on stage in front of the three judges and the studio audience]

EUGENE: Good evening.

SIMON COWELL: Hello, what’s your name?

EUGENE: My name’s Eugene.

SIMON COWELL: Alright, do you wanna get on with it?

EUGENE: I’m here tonight to share with you my passion. Poetry.

[Piers Morgan immediately presses his buzzer, but Eugene provides no reaction and simply continues his act]

EUGENE: May I present to you my ode to “Britain’s Got Talent” …

“You’ll never make it through,” they said

“They’re bound to choose another.

“You are a loser, always were.”

So I said, “Thank you mother.”

But I am no contortionist

I can’t juggle with a ball.

I haven’t got a friendly pet

I’ve got no friends at all.

Or I could do some magic.

Oh, that much is clear

For when I enter a crowded room

The girls just disappear.

It doesn’t really matter, though

‘Cause I’ll try any trick

Just to get me on the show

To tell Piers he’s a … A genius with his finger on the pulse of popular culture.

I may go through tonight, or not

Of that I do not know.

But at least I can say to my girls

That Daddy’s given it a go.

[the audience applauds wildly]

EUGENE: Thank you very much.

SIMON COWELL: I’m gonna hand over to someone who may wanna start with a little apology … Piers.

PIERS MORGAN: [laughs] I’m sorry, for buzzing you. Uh, because actually, that was a very funny act.

AMANDA HOLDEN: I thought it was very well-written, and you made me laugh.

SIMON COWELL: It’s the first time that anyone like you’s ever had a standing ovation, so that was pretty remarkable.

EUGENE: Thank you very much.

SIMON COWELL: Piers, yes or no?

PIERS MORGAN: Uh, I’m going to say yes, Eugene.

AMANDA HOLDEN: I’m gonna say yes.

SIMON COWELL: Eugene, you got three yeses. Congratulations.

[cut to Stephen and Eugene backstage]

STEPHEN MULHERN: Congratulations.

EUGENE: Thank you very much.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Yeah.

EUGENE: Can’t believe I managed to turn Piers around.

STEPHEN MULHERN: I know.

EUGENE: And he apologized.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Says a lot.

EUGENE: No one’s ever apologized to me …

STEPHEN MULHERN: Have they … have they not?

EUGENE: For anything they’ve ever said. And they’ve said some things.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Have they? Well, like what?

EUGENE: Not nice things.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Give me an example.

EUGENE: I’d not like to go into it right now.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Okay, sorry. Do you reckon you’ll get to the semi?

EUGENE: I’ve already had a standing ovation from two thousand people. I can die happy now.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Nice to meet you.

EUGENE: And you.

I’ve always got a burning desire to become a poet. The first time that desire was ignited was the day I met the first love of my life. And the first time I discovered my talent and potential for poetry was when I sat down to write a love poem for her. Turned out, it was a bit shorter than I’d expected. Let me recite it to you:

“I love ?, but she isn’t”

(note that I only edit 1 word in it)

So, you now know how I knew, that poetry will forever remain a distant dream of my life!

Yet I still enjoy a fine line or well-written verse once in a while. Now, it makes no difference to me, whether this guy is real or fake (someone reported (2) that Eugene is an alter-ego of a wannabe poet), this poet has been a source of inspiration to me.

Every time I watch the clip, it relives my enthusiasm, strengthens the courage to pursue my passion. He, in many ways, is different from me; and yet, in some ways, I find myself reflected upon him, in his endeavor to pursue his dream.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a passion for poetry. The art of juggling the lyrics, the meaning of the words, and the rhyme, it’s a mystery to me.

However, and this is where the adventure began, he dreamed of sharing his passion by delivering a standing ovation, in front of thousands of people in Britain’s Got Talent audience, and millions more watching the show around the world. So, in this regard, he’s my hero.

Below are the lessons I’ve learned from him:

  • Eugene wanted to share his love for poetry with all who want to listen. What a clever way to share your passion! Share it, only to those who want to listen. He didn’t wish to win everyone’s affection, he just wanted to share with those who appreciate what he had to offer.
  • This point is further validated by the way Eugene responded to Piers’ pressing the buzzer. He simply ignored it, and started reciting his poem. You can see that he showed no facial expression for the attack (and yes, I’d call it attack, had anyone done the same thing with regard to my passion), he didn’t bother to defend himself, he just moved on.

It’s quite entertaining to watch two parties arguing back and forth about something that matters dearly to them, but we would easily become hypersensitive when someone raises a negative opinion against our own thing. We immediately turn on the defensive mode, go into a rage trying to talk that fellow out of it.

I’ve already passed that class! I mean, I wouldn’t do it anymore, because I’ve learned that’s unwise. There’s nothing to win or lose, right or wrong here. It’s just a matter of different experience, different beliefs.

It’s hard to make me right, and it’s even harder to make the other person wrong. The best way is learning to respond like Eugene, you ignore, and thus evade the attack. Note that you do NOT deflect the attack, because, after all, it’s merely a psychological attack. Then keep doing what you do best.

  • That’s a proper response to attacks by those who hold different opinions than ours. The same also holds true with regard to the “good” advice, given by our negative, cynical, and mediocre friends and relatives, who often pretend to want the best for us.

“You’ll never make it through,” they said

“They’re bound to choose another.”

“You are a loser, always were.”

So I said, “Thank you mother.”

I have to admit, this guy has invented a wonderful use for this phrase, apart from its “traditional” application. “Thank you mom!”, learn to say this kind and sarcastic “thank you” to those who keep pulling your strings with unwanted advice.

 

“…But I am no contortionist

I can’t juggle with a ball.

I haven’t got a friendly pet

I’ve got no friends at all”

  • At this point, the audience laughed. I don’t think they laughed because the lyrics sound funny. I saw a different kind of laugh. It’s an encouraging laugh that comes from empathy, experience things from his perspective, from a common understanding, because perhaps all of us, at sometime or other, used to be like him. So, we know what it feels like, to be a no-body, with nothing to play, and no one to share (any lone wolf around here?).

“How does it feel, how does it feel?

To be on your own, with no direction home

A complete unknown, like a rolling stone”

(Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone)

If YOU were a stranger to such a scenario, I must say that, you’ve missed a great deal in life, my friend. Maybe the wheel of fortune has cast lots of blessings upon you, or you’ve played it too safe. Either way, one day, things may turn in reverse. The wheel could take you down just as swiftly as when it lifted you up.

What’s more, without having been through that scenario, no matter what you do, there would be some souls you can’t ever connect, because you never see what they saw, nor hear what they heard, nor feel what they felt.

Imagine how fun it is to enjoy a wonderful movie, NOT by watching it, but by listening to someone, who watched it, and retell the story back to you.

Thus, I sincerely urge you to start the journey you’ve been putting off, charging your own path. True, it’s a lonely adventure, taking the road less traveled, paving your own path. Yet, taking such a journey is the only way that life could grant us meaning and wisdom.

And yet, have I ever told you, that after all, we’re forever alone, during our most struggling moments in life, our trials between the black and white, the good and bad, and our battles at birth and death?

  • And what do we, the ordinary folks, who appear thriving outside, yet rotten inside, call a man who turns misfortune into fortune?

A genius? A miracle worker? A magician?

Sadly, no. We call him a clown!

We don’t say out loud though, we treat him that way. And if you look carefully, most famous clowns of our times are those who managed to turn the tragedies of their lives and others’ into great comedies (Research (3) did show that comedians tend to use comedies as a form of self-medication). The ones immediately come to my mind are Charlie Chaplin, Richard Pryor, and Robin Williams.

Deep despairs often give birth to great triumphs

“…Or I could do some magic.

Oh, that much is clear

For when I enter a crowded room

The girls just disappear”

Learn to laugh at yourself, to bring more laughter into your life and others’.

 

“I may go through tonight, or not

Of that I do not know.

But at least I can say to my girls

That Daddy’s given it a go.”

  • A lot of us assume success must be achieving something dear, larger-than-life, some big accomplishments that get broadcast on the news. Although this guy didn’t make it to final round, but to him, what he did was pure success, in realizing his dream of performing a standing ovation to share his passion for poetry. He can die happy now, as he said in later interview.

Likewise, out there, many people are silently working to pursue their dreams. It might take them 1 year, 3 years, or 10 years. It doesn’t matter how long. The only thing that matters is that, what they have been doing yesterday, today, and tomorrow matter to them, and that makes all the difference.

Life, however short, is still too long to bear the dullness from doing the meaningless work day by day, merely because that’s what we did yesterday.

What about you? What is your dream? What wakes you up tomorrow, yearning to do? What are you waiting for?

My friend, I wasted 10 years of my life working on things that promise success and prosperity in the future, things that I have little interest. I wasted 10 years being afraid of fighting for something that I really give a damn. I wasted 10 years to learn that, unlike investment, happiness postponed today, won’t bear dividend tomorrow.

Happiness is the juice, that we must squeeze, from the everyday things we do.  

So, if you’re like me, learn my lesson, gather the courage to become a dream-walker, go after your dream. Perhaps you’ve been hesitated because of fear of failure. You’re right. Mistakes and failures are inevitable on any journey to pursue what we want. 

But fear not! For I’ve a comprehensive guide to deal with this issue. I call it the Art of becoming an Awakened Dream-walker. The art shows you how to take advantage of all the challenges and obstacles on your journey, so that failure no longer frustrates, but inspires and enlightens you on your path.

Head here for the guide.

 

It’s a shame that this clip hasn’t attracted that many views, I think it deserves more attention than what it’s currently is. So if you enjoy his performance, hit the like button on the video*, or share it via your network.

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!

and until I see you again, good luck on the path!

 

* Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, otherwise I am not associated with any of the recommended products/services/websites on EnjoyYrJourney.com

 

References

(1) Librarians on YouTube (2012). Case Study No. 0304: Eugene the Librarian. Retrieved from http://librarians-on-youtube.blogspot.com/2012/05/case-study-no-0304-eugene-librarian.html

(2) Candice Krieger (2009). Adam Gitlin storms YouTube with his nerd alter-ego, Eugene. The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.thejc.com/news/people/adam-gitlin-storms-youtube-with-his-nerd-alter-ego-eugene-1.10083

(3) Ando, V., Claridge, G., Clark, K. (2014). Psychotic traits in comedians. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 204, 341-345. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.113.134569

(Text retrieved from http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/bjprcpsych/204/5/341.full.pdf)

How To Set Powerful Goals That Are Inspiring & Achievable (Part II)

Last Updated: May.02.18

II. Figure out the How

A goal serves as the inspiration that gets us start; whereas daily actions are what get us finish. Follow these steps to set a plan for each of your goal.

1. Write it down on paper. Make a statement to describe your goal in a clear, specific and measurable manner 

Use this sentence format “I + now + verb…”. Make your statement positive, assertive, and in present time. For example, if your goal is to quit smoking by Jun.30.2018, write “I now enjoy my life without cigarette”.

2. Set a definite start date, and, if possible, a flexible due date (if it’s a character or improvement goal, no due date)  

Don’t say “Ok,  I’m so exciting, let’s start tomorrow right away”. No. That won’t do. You must take time to physically, mentally, and spiritually get yourself ready. A long journey, however inspiring, needs preparation. So, set a start date, say a few days from now.

But why “flexible” due date? Because by giving it a fixed/absolute/rigid due date, you invariably defeat the other major purpose of embarking on a journey, which is to enjoy the trip.

Remember the last time you were rushing to finish that report for your boss? It’s stressful, it’s physically, mentally, and spiritually drained, not mentioning that you might cut corners and make lots of mistakes. Anyway, you met the deadline. But you abhor the process. The good (I’m not that sure) thing is that because it’s our job, it’s pretty close to a do-or-die situation, and so under that circumstance, we’ll find a way to make it happen.

Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of pressure on most of our personal goals. Without joy, it’s hard to stay motivated day after day, no matter how much wonderful the finish end is.

Besides, if you set a deadline for your goal, beware. Beware that, on your journey, you might treat everything you do and everyone you meet to be nothing more than a means to achieve your goal. Beware that, from that day going forward, the only value that is worth considering in all things you encounter, might be whether it will take you closer to your goal, everything else is secondary.

So, treat the due date as a rough estimate, and if you can’t make it, you’d simply create another due date.

3. Break your goal down into milestones

On your mind map, from the final destination, work backward, find out the major milestones that must be achieved to reach that end. Identify potential obstacles, what stand between you and your goal. Again, be flexible on these deadlines.

4. Brainstorm doable action-oriented steps to complete each milestone

You can do some research to help you brainstorm the necessary steps to reach each milestone, overcome the obstacles. In fact, if you have no idea what are required, research is the first step you can take.

However, research so that you know just enough to get started.  Don’t waste time learning everything about the subject. And for those who love to seek advice/suggestions/words of wisdom (you know the term, “the best way to…”), beware.

Beware that, on your search for the best line of thought/philosophy of life, you yourself become a philosopher. Becoming a philosopher is fine, if giving advice (I wouldn’t say wisdom) is your day job. But becoming an idle philosopher will also guarantee you never reach your goal.

Make sure the steps you lay out here are doable. Depending on your confidence, you can stretch yourself a bit. By the way, confidence, in my definition, includes two elements: 1. You THINK you can do it. 2. You KNOW you can do it.

5. Perform what-if analysis for each of the above steps

Now, come back to the plan you’ve just completed. For each of the above steps, brainstorm at least 2 extra actions that you can take, in case something goes wrong.  

Basically, you’re projecting 3 scenarios here: best, normal, and worst. The action you planned during the first brainstorm is the step that you’ll take if the best scenario occurs, where most things go right. Under the normal scenario, in which you make a few mistakes, or there’re some wrong assumptions, you then take the next planned action. And so on for the worst scenario. Depending on each situation, a worst-case scenario might mean a failure or a major lost occurred. Be specific here by setting parameters and providing details for each scenario.   

Whatever scenario you come up with, remember to treat it like that – a projection – and no more. You project different scenarios and plan proper responses for each scenario. Please don’t confuse such prediction, about what might happen, to be a statement of truth.

Now, why didn’t I tell you to brainstorm 3 actions in the last step? Because I wanted to let our imagination run freely! You’re dreaming your dream, so don’t wake yourself up with the “but what if…”. Dream lofty dreams, yearn for the faraway lands, “look (up) at the stars”, like Oscar Wilde said.

And then come back to your plan, but this time you shift gear, to be pragmatic.

6. Set a specific time and duration on your calendar to tackle each of the above steps

I can’t stress this enough, a goal with a deadline without a list of daily actions is as good as a dead dream. A goal serves as the inspiration that gets us start; whereas daily actions are what get us finish. Ideally, I prefer to work on my goals every day including weekend. If not possible, I’d schedule the activity as often as I can.

A note on the duration – think about your journey as a marathon, not a series of interrupted 100m sprints. Do not try too hard too soon. In fact, I would recommend that you deliberately perform at only 65% (or 2/3) of your ability. Reserve willpower only for challenges and obstacles, and for the late part of the journey, when the going gets tough.

So, suppose in the mid of excitement to build your dream body, you plan to exercise 30 minutes daily (by the way, that’s another sub-goal, isn’t it?). If so, set a goal of exercising 10’ daily starting next week. That’s right, just 10 minutes.

If after you reach the 10 minutes goal, and you’re positive you can go much further, then continue until you reach 20 minutes (20 over 30 is 2/3 of your plan). Otherwise, feel free to stop. Then, increase the duration up by 2 minutes weekly, if you exercise consistently for at least 5 days (~ 80%) that week.

7. Keep a daily detailed accountability

Use a note app with a calendar to record the day you miss (I use Way Of Life app*). You know, we sow the seed to bring our dream into reality by planning daily actions, but shits happen. That’s life. Some days, because of my laziness, procrastination, negative friends, cynical relatives, unexpected events, or whatever reasons I couldn’t understand why…without such record, there’s no way I can track my performance and progress.

8. Make a daily commitment to yourself and others

Every day, after waking up and before going to bed, write the statement that you made for your goal in your notebook. Write in a slow, clear, and deliberate manner. Write, as if you were writing to your sweetheart. It is my conviction that “We become what we think about”, as Earl Nightingale said. The act of rewriting the statement daily serves 2 purposes:

1. Remind, and make a promise to ourselves of our goal. If someone suddenly asks you what your goals are, you must be able to respond quickly and clearly without a second of hesitation.

2. Make an impression on our subconscious mind. The stronger the impression, the greater its impact on changing our self-image, beliefs, thought patterns, actions, and finally, our reality.

With regard to sharing goals, do share your give-up goals to everyone. Sharing your progress on these goals hold yourself accountable. However, be selective in sharing your dreams, or goals of similar nature. Make sure to tell only people whom you know will inspire and encourage you to achieve them.

III. Execution

You know what you want, you’ve already scheduled daily actions for it, now is the time to execute your plan. Remember the rule we’ve agreed upon at the beginning? Don’t expect to create a perfect game plan. And because your plan isn’t perfect, what you do during the execution phase is equally important in reaching your goal.

1. Turn your goal into an obsession

Over the course of our lives, we have many ambitions, but we turn very few of them into reality. It’s because daily busy-ness has consumed most of our attention, leaving no room for us to nourish our interests. Without attention, those desires vanish quickly. And after a year or two, they can’t be found. Jim Rohn called this “The Law of Diminishing Intent”.

I’ve learned that once I’d turned an initial interest into an obsession, like in the case of quitting cigarette, I could almost always guarantee success.

To do this, you need to invest time, energy, and emotion. If the topic of interest is new to you, you can study, research, discuss with others more about it. Build up the interest over time, make it become your obsession.

2. Start

When the alarm goes off, start your planned action. Well, I said “start”, not “finish”, didn’t I? And I mean that, literally. You start your scheduled activity. Don’t worry about how far you can go. Even if you just take the first step, consider that as one step progress toward your goal.

Although I wouldn’t say it’s an achievement, I still aim for consistent starts during the beginning of any venture. I learned this from Zig Ziglar. Many people don’t do something because they don’t feel motivated enough to do it. Zig got it backward, he said that you do the something, and then motivation will set in, motivation creates energy to carry you forward.

So, at the beginning, aim to develop a habit to start your planned activity as soon as its time arrives. Increase the weekly duration over time, until you reach the desired outcome.

Now, there’re situations, where it’s not appropriate to use duration. For example, the activity involves many steps. Modify your plan accordingly. You might aim to begin just the first step, but if you get inspired, don’t stop there please, continue the process until you complete the planned activity. Basically, we want to build a habit of starting the planned activity initially. Make this process easy, no pressure. Motivation and momentum will carry us forward.

3. Deliberately perform at 65% (or 2/3) of your ability

Again, do not get too pumped up and stretch yourself too much. Life is not a series of nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets you know. I find that the mantra “Do your best!” rarely works for me. Consistent performance over a long period has carried me much further than uninterrupted bursts of hyper energy.

Even if you’re confident you can do more, stop yourself when you’re just above comfortable. Now, how do you know when you’re just above comfortable level? It’s a subjective question that involves trials-and-errors.

Let me give you my example. I always wear an iWatch to measure my heart-rate whenever I go running (any runner here? Greeting!). My maximum age-related heart rate is 186. My comfortable level is around 145. On those days when I don’t shoot for a personal record, I would aim to maintain my rate around this level.

4. Shape up physically, mentally & spiritually   

Physically – Having enough fuel makes your cruise smoother. Some people don’t work well simply because they don’t feel well.

Mentally – Be sure to set time to take a break. But use your break strategically, not habitually. Select the kind of break that is in different (opposite, I’d rather say) nature from the preceding activity. If you’ve just finished working 8 hours, your mental energy would be depleted. And if your job involves hugging a computer just like me, your eyes, your brain would also be exhausted; your body would love a stretch. So, heading to the gym after work is a great idea.

Spiritually – Take time,  even if only 5 minutes, to meditate (if you belong to a religion); or, if meditation sounds so New Age to you, practice deep-breathing (look forward to my next post). Meditation cultivates our mindfulness, reduces stress, and neutralizes our mood, so that we can focus on the next activity without being bothered by what’d happened previously.

Now it’s easy to cite countless benefits of meditating. But how to grasp such benefits? It’s simple. If you meditate, direct your attention to perform each step in your meditation. If you practice deep-breathing, concentrate your thought on inhaling slowly, then hold for a while (you can silently count 1-2), then exhale slowly.

The mind can only hold one thought at a time, and yes, even if it never seems to stand still. So, whatever you’re thinking about, you can direct your thought toward your meditation. Of course, very soon, another thought will pop up. That’s expected. Your goal is NOT to hold your mind constantly fixated upon the meditation. That’s impossible. Your goal is to gently direct your attention to go back to the meditation as soon as another thought pops up.

If you do that, your mind will temporarily take a break during your meditation, rather than continuing to busy itself with calculating/thinking/wondering/analyzing/worrying/projecting/remembering past/present/future events.

5. Nourish positive thinking 

Beware of negative thinking. Why positive thinking? Because our lives are already full of problems, worries, crises (don’t believe me? Just confer with newswriters), and positive thinking is one way we can balance that. Positive thinking doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand and affirming “No problem! No problem!”. No, that’s ignorant. Positive thinking means that although we acknowledge the problem, we also keep an eye out for the gem(s) hidden inside of each problem.

A positive thinker is a diligent student of life, he knows that everything he encounters, whether good or bad, carries a lesson. Each bad deed serves as a warning. Each good deed sets an example to follow. Each defeat trains him to become stronger, better, and wiser. Each triumph teaches him to be content with what he has, and warns against giving in to greed.

Such attitude will give you a whole new way of seeing, a new way of being. You will become serene and at ease with whatever outcome your trial turns out to be. You will stop hurrying yourself up to speed up the process in the pursuit of your goal. Instead, you will enjoy the journey, enjoy taking the required actions, become less resistant to the idea that “you have to do whatever it takes to reach your goal”, and become less attached to the destination.

There is more to life than increasing its speed. – Mahatma Gandhi

6. Have many reminders

Besides of rewriting the goals morning and night, during the day, create lots of reminders:

  • Timed reminder on your phone repeated at specific interval (I use “Alarmed ~ Reminders + Timers” app for iPhone. The beauty of this app is that I can make the reminder to run at whatever interval, and for however long as I please).
  • Post-it note, like a slogan, to post it anywhere in your room, or in front of your computer.

7. Journal at night about your progress

Every night, after you’ve rewritten the statement, spend 5’ to record your progress.

In case you have no idea what statement I’m talking about, please stop reading, go back the beginning and perform the steps. I’ve already told you upfront, I’m a shameless copier. I merely repeat the teachings of the wises who came before me. So, don’t expect to “scan“ this blog for anything new, nor any “best-kept secret to [enter whatever you’re searching here]”.

So, what to journal, then? 4 things only:

1. What I did today that move me forward toward my goals;

2. What went wrong (don’t write excuses or try to rationalize, you’d feel bad when you review it later; simply what went wrong);

3. How I can fix/improve the situation;

4. What I am grateful for (why? Review step 5).

8. Don’t skip two days in a row 

This wise advice I learn from Leo Babauta’s book (his blog is also great). Skip a day if you must, but not two, because this will break the habit chain that you’re developing.

9. See the reaching 

See what it’s like to reach the finish line. After all, the reward after attaining your goal is what inspires you to start this quest, right? So, keep that desire burning. You get to see, touch, smell, feel it vividly, even if only through your mind’s eye, so that your desire has the power to pull you through unavoidable letdowns and detours.

See the finish line, but don’t glue your eyes on it. Otherwise, the huge gap between reality and your dream might make you impatient, thus it’s tough to enjoy the journey. The impatient are among the first people who abandon the pursuit of their dreams.

10. Review your plan regularly

A fixed plan is a dead plan. Nobody knows what’s behind the corner. There’re gonna be lots of course corrections and detours. That’s a fact. Don’t be discouraged. Instead, let that fact be your best friend. Maybe the journey isn’t that challenging. Maybe taking the path invites many unseen opportunities. Maybe you are much more capable than what you thought. Maybe you will find out a way, when there seems to be no way.

So, review your plan regularly. It could be daily, weekly, but NEVER let a month goes by without reviewing your plan. Be prepared to make many changes. However, resolve that, whatever happen, do not change the decision to reach your goal.

~o~

What a long post! Goal-setting is indeed time-consuming. But for me, the time spent to design my life, to make my dreams come true, is totally worth it, because:

1. As a gamer, there’s nothing more exciting than projecting how my current self will turn into my ideal hero in the game of life.

2. It’s much more exciting to work hard on my own plan than someone else’s plan for me; or even worse, working to fulfill goals that belong to others.

Final notes: 

Don’t expect your plan to be perfect, leading you all the way from beginning till the end. Do expect to have goals/plans that:

1. Inspire you to get moving

2. Are good enough so you have sufficient day-to-day guidance to work on

The best plan isn’t the perfect plan. No. The best plan is the plan you execute and stick with it till the end. Mike Tyson said: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. I’d say that, if you lack the courage to “get punched in the face”, your dreams will never see a gleam of daylight.

I want to close with my favorite line by Earl Nightingale: “Start today. You have nothing to lose but you have your whole life to win”.

Above all, I wish you a turbulent and exciting journey 😉!

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

* Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, otherwise I am not associated with any of the recommended products/services/websites on EnjoyYrJourney.com

How To Set Powerful Goals That Are Inspiring & Achievable (Part I)

Last Updated: May.02.18

How to set goals that turn nothing into something?

How to set powerful goals that inspire us?

How to set goals that are achievable?

How to set goals that produce the best outcomes?

Whether we buy into personal development, we all get inspired whenever we think about goal-setting, don’t we? I’m not familiar with your personalities and circumstances, so I talk from my own experience. Even during the dark time of my life, I’ve always been fascinated by goal-setting, planning for the future, fascinated to imagine how my life’s gonna be tomorrow, in 1 year, 3 years, 10 years. Imagination kept me trying one more time, trying another way, trying until. Some say I’m a dreamer, perhaps because on the surface they see nothing accomplished, yet here this guy always talks about things that are unrealistic, impractical.

What’s the major difference between a child’s dream vs a matured man’s? A child dreams of nonexistent things during daytime, and then continues dreaming at night. A man dreams the same things at night, but wakes and goes to work to make his dreams come true. T. E. Lawrence says it best:

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

I’m a dreamer. I don’t doubt there’s a lot of truth in that. But all those years, I’ve left the kindergarten. I’ve been planning, trying, and failing.

Who can guarantee you that the next lotto ticket you buy will win? Likewise, no matter how great our plan is, there’s no guarantee we will achieve our goals the next time we try. But this I will guarantee you, even if you fail to reach your goal, you’d win the experience instead. And that, I solemnly believe, 100 times more valuable than achieving your goals.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

First, let’s set a goal. This goal requires you to sit still, remain quiet, and demands 100% of your attention.

The goal is this:

For the next 2 hours, you will sit on your chair, open the TV, and watch your favorite show. Or, if you play computer game like me (any gamer here?), play your favorite game for the next 2 hours.

I suppose that would cover 80% of the population of readers of EnjoyYrJourney.com, but if it’s YOU that I miss, please make yourself comfortable by selecting your favorite activity in this goal (Ex: surfing web, Face, online shopping, reading novel, etc.).

Remember, the rule is that for the next 2 hours, do something that is both entertaining and consuming 100% of your attention.

So are you done? Common, just bookmark this page, stop reading and do the damn thing. If it’s inconvenient for you to do that right now, then set a reminder to perform the activity later, and we’ll continue after you finish. I’m not intending to make this guide enjoyable to read. I’m not in entertainment business you know. If you want success, and seek to follow others’ guidance, you must trust the advice, do the steps.

Now that you’re done. Did you achieve your goal? I imagine you’d say “Stupid!”, and because I’m a positive guy, I’d interpret that to be a positive “Yes”. Of course! It’s a dumb question whether we can do that. In fact, we’ve done that every. single. day. for the past ___ years (feel free to fill in the void). Wanna play Witcher 3 during the next 2 hours? Sure, I can go ahead and do it now. Actually, I can play 16/7, 365 days. And what’s best? No need for me to plan at all.

And here goes your “Aha” moment. So if this one is the goal we set for ourselves, we’re 90% guaranteed to succeed, even before we set up any plan right? But why is that the case? It’s because:

1. It’s enjoyable and fun to do

2. We’ve been doing it every day so far, so no problem to continue

3. Whether intentional or not, we’ve already reserved 2 hours daily specifically for this activity (Admit it, I did)

4. It’s simple and easy. We can do it.

Do that every day for 1 year, and we would accomplish an even bigger “goal” – Wasting 2/16 or 1/8 of our waking life. Assuming we live till 80, that would be 10 years devoted to a meaningless hobby.

That’s what I did the last 10 years, messed up my life for 10 years. So, you never know a failure like me could give you such an inspiring lecture on success, right?!

Don’t you see it, there’re some major principles of effective goal-setting up there. Let’s recap. For any goal to be achievable, it must be:

1. Enjoyable & Fun to do

2. Simple & Easy. I can do it

3. Scheduled a specific time to work on it, and

4. Worked on, on a daily basis.

Inspiration is what gets us started, but Momentum is what gets us finish. 

And those 4 principles are the essentials of my philosophy – To reach a destination, we must enjoy our journey.

Rules for the Game

Before getting into the goal-setting process, let’s have some rules for the game:

1. Remember the wise saying: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” 

That’s the promise that the Saints and the Sages gave us. The problem is that these seers didn’t tell us “when”. So keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.

2. Don’t trust your memory 

Use a notebook, note app, or whatever that you always keep by your side, to dump all ideas/thoughts/inspiration relating to your goal in there.

3. Write your goal down on paper

Do NOT type it out. Write your goal down on paper. Write it, as if it’s the first time you wrote a love-letter to your high primary school’s sweetheart (yes, I’m THAT romantic and naive, in case you’re wondering). Write it, not in a rush to get it done because Rumi told you so; but in a slow, conscious, and deliberate way, so that your mind has enough time to absorb the idea, so that, in case if you “feel” inside any unease and rebellious thought, you might spend time to think your goal over, whether it’s what you really want.

4. Don’t trust your willpower

Your willpower is limited. Your self-discipline is not everything. How do I know? The day when you graduate from this class and no longer need to read this stuff you will have the answer.

5. Have goals in all major aspects of life

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth to repeat here. It’s critical to set goals in all major areas of life, which are:

Career

Finance

Health

Personal development

Social

Spiritual

Each of these aspects stands like a column supporting a building; and if neglected, would wreak havoc on the rest of the structure. And that’s exactly what happened to me in the past (read my story here).

6. Have 1 goal only for each major aspect of life

This helps us prioritize our time/energy to work on those goals that bring the most impact on our lives.

7. Break it down

A goal serves as the inspiration that gets us started; whereas daily actions are what get us finish. How do you finish a journey of 1,000 steps? By taking one step at a time. Without a daily action plan, it’s much less intimidating, while more titillating, to drift along in our dream, rather than stepping outside to realize it.

8. Be extra cautious about relying on external help to assist you reaching the finish line, if it’s a character goal, or a personal growth goal 

When I struggled to quit smoking, I knew deep inside that the challenge wasn’t solely overcoming nicotine addiction. It’s easy to remove nicotine from my body. Research (1) show that it takes around 4 days to clear the body of nicotine. The challenge was changing my self-image, my self-beliefs, my habits, my lifestyle, etc. Thus, no matter how many times I failed, I stubbornly refused (and I’m 100% honest on this) to use outside help (ex: nicotine gum/cessation drugs/chewing gum/nicotine-free cigarette/vaporizer). After all, smoking is just one kind of emotional bandages that I, and others, use. Unless I could get my shit together, there’s no way I would quit smoking for good, without falling in love with another addictive type of emotional bandage.

9. Don’t expect to create a perfect game plan 

Are you in search of a perfect plan/strategy/time? Good luck on your quest! You’ll be forever searching/waiting, and never arriving. There’s no perfect game plan. My humble (and stumble, if you will) experience tell me that the only time I could use the word “perfect” is while looking backward, rarely forward. You update/refine your plan along the way.

Ok, you know the rules, let’s start. Goal-setting is time-consuming. Don’t expect to finish setting your goals in one session. Give yourself several days to complete all the steps below.

There are 3 phases of the process:

I. Figure out the What & Why

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Basically, you find out:

1. What do you really want to achieve this year, next 3, 5, 10 years?

2. Why do you want to achieve this? 

This first question involves a lot of dreaming, reflecting, imagination, and what-if scenarios. Let your imagination run free. Don’t let your past limits what you think you’re capable of. Don’t worry about the “how”. Brainstorm your answers on a mind map. Below are some questions to help you get started:

  • Looking forward, what do you want to achieve long-term regarding your Career? Finance? Health? Personal development? Social? Spiritual?
  • Looking backward, what did you do that make you regret? Which of these do you want to see change?
  • What change do you want to see in the next 6 months? 1 year? 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?
  • What was your childhood dream/s? Which one do you want to turn into reality?
  • What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What can you do that help make this world a better place?

After you’ve brainstormed, now we need to be certain that the goals are what you really want, by filtering them through this question:

3. If you failed to reach this goal, on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being no more trying and 5 being keep trying until you succeed, to what extent would you be willing to try again?

Get rid of anything less than 5, because you don’t want to waste your limited time on trivial matters. Keep asking this question frequently, so that you can notice any change on the journey of working toward your goal.

But, if you ignore this advice, it doesn’t matter anyway. Because you will fail a few times before reaching your goal. Failure and setback are inevitable on any dream-walker’s journey. And I believe that: 

Failure is a great way of testing to see whether the goal that we’re after, after all, is what we really want. A windy day will make any smoke vanish without a trace, but can enkindle a real fire, turn it into an inferno.

Right, after you’ve done that, go back to your list, for each goal, ask yourself:

4. Does achieving this goal cause harm to others?

If yes, cross it out. My mantra is “Do no harm”. If I can’t bring happiness to others, then I at least try not to cause them misery. Although we have the right to pursue the lives we want, we must be responsible for our actions in this civilized society. My philosophy is that the best way to achieve our goal is to enjoy our journey. And we won’t enjoy the trip, if our accomplishment causes pain to others. It might be a pleasure to taste our success, but at the back of our minds, and for the rest of our lives, we’d be secretly disgusted with ourselves for what we have done.

5. Now, review your list, select only 1 goal for Career, Finance, Health, Personal development, Social, and Spiritual. Be sure that the 6 goals you select must be congruent with each other.

II. Figure out the How

(To be continued here)

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

 

Reference

(1) Raja, M., Garg, A., Yadav, P., Jha, K., & Handa, S. (2016). Diagnostic Methods for Detection of Cotinine Level in Tobacco Users: A Review. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 10(3), ZE04–ZE06. http://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2016/17360.7423

2017 Best Year Ever – New Year Resolutions for 2018

Year-end is a great time to review what we have done during the whole period. It’s time to reflect, ponder about what we have/have not accomplished so far, so that we can see whether we’re on the right track, or off track, whether there should be some course correction; or, better or worse, depending on how you look at it, we need to tear off and re-write the whole script completely, like what I did 6 months ago.

How often do you think a company should review its plan?

Every week?

Every month?

Every quarter?

Semi-annually?

Annually?

And how often an employee gets performance evaluation? Too bad we rarely see the need to review our own plan. I believe that if we all treat ourselves, and our lives, as if they were Fortune 500 companies, our lives would be much better on Earth.

Anyway, too much rambling, 2017 is a strange year for me. If someone had told me how my life would turn out like this after one year, I would have laughed in their face. See, I used to live with broken dreams and promises. Each day in life floated away the same way. Each night I laid down trying to sleep at night…feeling disappointed and unhappy with myself. You know what’s the worst kind of unhappiness? It’s self-unhappiness. I was in constant depression, because of knowing that so far I’d just wasted another day accomplishing nothing, and so tomorrow would continue to be dark & confusing for me. Then I would soothe myself by happy pills promising that tomorrow I will try quitting cigarette another time, and this time I will succeed…Below are two of the many depressing entries I wrote in DayOne app during that period. Forgive me for the broken English. (If you’re currently in bad mood, then consider jumping to the next section)

Journal Jan/25/17

“Reflection on the difficulty of quitting cigarette:

You want to get rid of it, and the moment you decide to leave it for good, you feel relieved, you feel good to be free at last. Yet, the next days finding yourself yearning for it, depending on it, seeking it, and yet you feel secretly disappointed when you smoke it. Such is the feeling, on the one hand, you want to be free, you know it’s harmful; on the other hand, you can’t break free completely. Imagine having a wife with the same situation. You want to leave, yet you can’t, for one reason or another. It’d be miserable if that’s the case.

That’s why i vow not to ever let myself into such situation, getting married with such a lady. I’d rather be alone, than to be with somebody, whom I later regret to get married, who would never let me go.”

Journal Jan/26/17

“Reflection on the day before New Year Eve:

Another boring day goes by and I’m feeling more boring. I dont know what to do during the day, except reading PS Tinh Khong, sitting idly in coffee shop, and doing shows. I must find something meaningful to do. How can I fall into such a life? Because of my cowardice, my impatience, my lack of discipline, my laziness, my timidity.

I wonder when will I finally change, since I don’t even know to what I would change into? I don’t want to repeat ky days like this nothing to do, always failure and disappointment. What the f.c.u.k!

Ok so if I can’t quit by going cold turkey, then I’ll try the gradual way. Currently I don’t often smoke during daytime, only after sunset.

So, I’ll try from tomorrow until Sunday, to only smoke after sunset, max 3 cigarette daily, unless I have a party or something big happening.

Then, during the next week, I’ll smoke max 2 cigarette after sunset.

And the week after, I’ll smoke only 1 cigarette after sunset.

And then the week after that, I’ll smoke 1 cigarette every 2 days.

And then afterward, I’ll smoke 1 cigarette every 3 days.

Then, 1 cigarette every 4 days.

And so on, until I complete the week during week I only smoke 1 cigarette during those 7 days. Finally, I will break free from smoking.

A week considered to be successful, if I only blunder 1 time. For example, next week, during which I’m supposed to smoke only 2 cigarette after sunset, it would be successful if I fail only 1 time, meaning I can smoke more than 2 cigarette in any one given day, but no more days other than that particular day.”

So, a year went by, and things changed swiftly, so fast that I still think I am dreaming right now. I made 3 big achievements:

1. Quit smoking;

2. Become a vegetarian;

3. Start this blog.

Below is a full list of things I’m proud of:

1. Quit smoking since Jun 10, 2017 – This is not simply a goal, it’s my obsession. Every daytime I thought about it, planned for it, struggled with it; every night I dreamed about it. Even now, after 6 months going smoke-free, I still have nightmares about it sometimes, that I deliberately smoke back, and secretly enjoy the taste!

2. Stop reading trashy news (Internet, Facebook, YouTube)

3. Exercise daily, including weekend

4. Practice Muay Thai 2, 3 times a week

5. Meditate at least 1 hour daily including weekend – I’m a Buddhist practitioner, and my meditation involves chanting Amitābha (pronounce [əmiˈt̪aːbʱə])

6. Run 15 kms (9.3 miles) non-stop (total time 1h34’; avg pace 10’09” per mile) – I know it’s nothing compared to YOUR record, so I’d be pleased if you will look at it from the perspective of a guy, who’s never exercised a single day during the past 10 years

(Updated on May.3.18 – Run 32 kms (19.9 miles) non-stop (total time 3h44’; avg pace 11’15” per mile)

7. Become a vegetarian – I don’t eat meat, fish, or anything involve killing animals. I do consume eggs and dairy products

8. Wake up @ 4:30 am & Go to bed @ 9:00 pm daily including weekend

9. Adopt positive thinking mindset (find out more on this blog)

10. Have a place for everything, both physically and mentally

11. Start this blog

13. Develop over 10 good habits to turn my life around

And that’s why I call 2017 the best year ever in my life, so far, I hope. Apparently, I haven’t become financially independent, nor built a successful business, nor saved the world. But I’ve kept my own promises, started doing something that I’m passionate about, headed a new direction, turned my life around, and redeemed myself in the process.

2018 Goals

Some people hold an opinion that New Year Resolutions do not work. There is a lot of truth in it. One reason is an ironic fact that very often we go great length to keep promises made to someone else, but not to ourselves. We’re all incurable failures at keeping our own promises.

Now is the time we reverse that trend. 2018 is the year that we turn our lives around.

On goal setting, I strongly believe that, a goal with a deadline without a list of daily actions is as good as a dead dream. A goal serves as the inspiration that gets us start; whereas daily actions are what get us finish.

Suppose you want to run a marathon in one year, your plan may involve daily running, controlling your diet, doing strength and cardio training NOW.

Or you dream of becoming a freelance writer by Jun 2018, your daily actions include, obviously, writing EVERY DAY FROM NOW (no? You’re kidding yourself, right?); learning what a normal life of a typical writer would be like; researching what sources of writing income are available, and which one you want to earn, and how to get that, etc.

Or you have a creative idea and want to build a successful business in 5 years, your daily action plan could be refining the product and attracting more customers.

So, I prefer goals that have: specific start date, flexible due date, and clearly-defined daily actions.

Besides, it’s critical to set goals in all major areas of life, which are: career, finance, health, personal development, social, spiritual. Each of these aspects stands like a column supporting a building; and if neglected, would wreak havoc on the rest of the structure.

And that’s exactly what happened to me in the past (read my story here). So, do not neglect any of these, one neglect leads to another. Do not pursue one goal at the expense of the others.

Moreover, having goals in all major facets of life allow us to switch our attention from one goal to another, depending on the scheduled activities of our days, so that we’re always working on our goals.

For example, at work, you’re working on your career goal. After heading home, you continue working on your social/ family/ relationship goals. Then, during your free time, you can start working on your health, personal development, finance, or spiritual goals.

Having goals in all aspects of life doesn’t mean we’re multi-tasking. It simply means we know exactly where we are heading to in life, and consciously choose the course of our life, rather than letting someone else, or the circumstance, dictates for us.

On the other hand, each area shouldn’t have more than one goal. Otherwise, we would spread our attention too thin. Focus on one thing at a time.

You will get a step-by-step guidance on setting goals that are not only inspiring, but also achievable in my next post. From my experience, whether we will achieve our goals in the next trial depend on 4 things:

1. First and foremost, we must try!

2. Outside help

3. Self help

4. Luck.

Outside help is merely auxiliary. Helping ourselves, with a bit of luck are decisive factors.

Having said that, here are the major things that I will work on in 2018:

1. Meditate 1.5 hours on Mon-Sat, and 2 hours on Sun

This is to be done in 3 sessions. 1.5 hours is the time I’m planning. Yet, due to writing commitment, I might trim it down to 1 hour every workday and 1.5 hours on Sunday.

2. Earn at least $313 weekly from blogging (or $15,000 annually before tax) from Jun.30.18

I’m working full-time building EnjoyYrJourney.com. Right now I’m living on my saving. I know that following this path is much more challenging than working for paychecks. Even worse, I have no experience in writing and blogging. So, I aim to earn this much as a minimum to support the very basic living costs, so that I can continue working full-time to develop this blog without the need to find freelance work elsewhere.

Note that, in addition to meditating, this is my main focus in 2018. In fact, this is the only major goal that I have for 2018, namely, to create a sustainable income from EnjoyYrJourney.com.

However, this doesn’t mean I focus only on work and ignore all the remaining aspects of life. Actually, I’ve set some sub-goals to ensure the accomplishment of this goal, and these sub-goals cover the other areas: health, personal development, social, and spiritual.

3. Develop good habits

Habits dictate over 90% of our behavior. Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny

Right now I’m sowing the desire to build certain habits on paper. Then day-by-day I keep the list, perform the habits daily, and I update the list often.

And the rest remains to be seen.

4. Everyday living my dream life

I’ve laid out a set of daily activities for my dream life. Every single day I try to follow the schedule faithfully. This one certainly needs clarification. A dream life I’ve been longing for comprises 4 elements: freedom, challenge, self-expression, and contribution.

  • A free life is when everything I do, I do it because it is an end in itself, not being a means to achieve the desired end. Ultimately, we all want happiness, yet not everything we do will bring us happiness. For example, we may work on a contemptible job to get money, then use the money as a means to pursue happiness. My dream is to be able to do the work that I love, no matter how much money I earn from it.
  • My dream life must be challenging enough, so that it forces me stepping out of my comfort zone, not 24/7, but often enough so that my soul won’t die from boredom and routine.

If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal ~ Paulo Coelho

  • Thirdly, I strongly believe that although everyone originates from the same life source, it’s our desire, and duty to express this sameness in a unique way. EnjoyYrJourney.com is my way of sharing this similarity. My story will be totally different from yours. Yet, you would find pieces of your own while listening to my struggles.
  • Lastly, without meaningful contribution, we won’t be happy no matter how much productive we are. In a rush to climb the success ladder, people work hard to care for themselves and nothing else. Well, all by myself it’s a lonely life. We’ve all heard countless stories, of the successful, and depressed; of the rich, and self-indulgent; of the having-too-much-to-live-by, and nothing-to-live-for.

5. Finish reading 10 books below to improve writing skill

  1. Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande
  2. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, by William Zinsser
  3. Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder
  4. Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, by Larry Brooks
  5. Naked, Drunk and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay, by Adair Lara
  6. How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling, by James N. Frey
  7. CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone, by Drew Eric Whitman
  8. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
  9. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
  10. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg

I’ve set aside 1 hour daily dedicated to study and practice writing, of which 30’ spent on reading these books.

Note that I plan to “study” them carefully, not just read for entertainment. So, that may involve re-reading several times and practicing the concepts/exercises suggested in the books.

Thus, I don’t make a big deal that I must complete the 10 books by 2019, but I will study them from now on. For how long? As long as it takes, until I’m satisfied with my writing skill.

I don’t kid myself that my writing is perfect, and I treat writing just like any other profession; no longer a hobby, where I’d been on and off whenever inspiration struck me.

6. Gain basic blogging knowledge

I’ll spend 15’ daily studying blogging’s technical aspects. Actually, 15’ is minimum. I created EnjoyYrJourney.com on Dec.26.17, following exactly this guide. Surprise, surprise! It turned out, bringing the blog live is ONLY the first step on the journey of ??? steps, because there’re numerous other things I need to do (well, you can see for yourself by looking at this blog right?).

Yet, I don’t care however longer the heck it’ll take, I will work on refining it on daily basis.

7. Build sufficient audience

It’s hard to quantify an amount here. Readers are the lifeblood of a blog.

So, dear friend, I need you!

This means networking. However, this doesn’t mean I will spam everyone on Facebook, Twitter, etc. It means I will be more active on social media, rather than passively consuming news without interacting/commenting.

I will also try doing guest posts on popular blogs/sites/magazines. Will send them at least once weekly.

Next, will join freelance/writing/blogging communities to interact with the like-minded in the field.

Likewise, I will attend social events, seminars, local meet-ups, etc.

What Kind Of 2018 Would You Like?

Now it’s your turn. What kind of year would you like 2018 to be?

You want 2018 to be the year, when everything stays the same but better? Perhaps you yearn to take a diversion? Or you are in a slump and wish to turn your life around, like I did?

Think about it. Whatever we do, 2018 will pass by anyway, and we’ll all be 1 year older, but still have nothing better to show up on our cards. How many 2018 do we have? Only one.

Are you forever waiting and never arriving? For those who say “I’ll wait until…”, time won’t wait, time flies swiftly by. And there won’t be another better time to start.

The best time to start was yesterday, the next best is now.

And the third best, well, is the time you wish you would have started, when you sit there tiredly, exhaustedly, boringly, and regretfully reviewing your life, and it dawns on you that you’ve just wasted a lifetime of un-productivity, or idleness, or meaningless and passionate-less pursuits.

Perhaps you would moan, “Ahh, nothing hurts as much as life!” (My favorite line in Witcher 3 game). Well, it’s better to get hurt fighting for something that you want, rather than dying from the boredom and regret of a life not lived.

So, suppose you’re turned on, suppose you buy my idea, you may be unsure of what to do after you start your journey.

Don’t worry. Start the journey boldly, stay on the path, and tune in to this blog.

Here you will find inspiration and ideas to not only reach your destination, but also enjoy your endeavor.

In fact, I will show you how to set goals that are not only inspiring, but also achievable in the next post. I will be on your side.

Together let’s do something marvelous! Let the journey begin!

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

Why Enjoy Your Journey

Last Updated: May.10.18

Life is a journey. Everything is bound by time, whatever is started, will eventually come to an end. Whether you want to reach a destination, achieve a goal, complete a project, write a book, there must be a start, and an end. That’s clear.

Now the thing that makes most of us, the journeyers, dread, is the duration of our trips. In our instant, overnight-success, fast-food world, when whatever we want, we want it yesterday, wouldn’t it be nice if we could achieve our goals, reach our destinations instantly?

Unfortunately, we can’t. The reality is that we rarely reach our goals due to disappointment, impatience, when the result fails to show up fast enough. We end our journeys, yet unable to reach the desired destinations. Most of us are starters, very few are finishers.

Dear friend, you’re reading the blog of another starter. I’m Rumi, the ultimate starter. I’ve started out to do many things, yet completed very few. In fact, starting-over is my specialty. And in the course of agonizing over my unfinished projects, I’ve had a sudden gleam of insight:

The best way to ensure reaching a destination is to enjoy the journey.

Without joy, I’ve found it hard to endure the struggles, overcome the obstacles along the way. Sure, you might have heard Nietzsche’s wise saying:

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how

But trust me. No matter how much meaning and payoff that I’ve attributed to reaching my goals, they couldn’t motivate me to stay on course long enough until the finish end.

How many cigarette smokers do you know, who quit smoking, simply because they know that their health is at stake (In fact, ALL smokers know their health is at risk, as they contemplate the horrendous images on cigarette packages while smoking)?

How many obese people do you know, who lost weight, permanently, after the Doc warns that they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and possibly some kinds of cancer?

Not that many. We all tried. Very few succeeded.

The rest of us weren’t motivated and persisted enough.

And, given a choice, would you rather have an enjoyable quest and grasp the reward of accomplishing your goal simultaneously? Kind of like shooting two birds with one stone huh?

This blog will show you how.

My Philosophy

I have a conviction that we can do almost anything we set our minds upon, if we persist long enough. The challenge is not about whether that we can do the things that we want to do, but whether that we will do them consistently.

The key to conquer this challenge is to deliberately design our game plan so that we can enjoy our journey, all the way from beginning to the end.

And I will show you how.

About Me

You’re wondering who the heck I am, and what qualification I have to offer such advice. These are fair questions that deserve fair answers.

Firstly, I’m Rumi Tran. I’m a vegetarian, a wannabe artist, a dreamer, and a psycho. And no, I do not suffer from dissociative identity disorder (wiki).

Secondly, I live in San Jose, California. I like running, practicing Muay Thai & working out in the gym, reading, playing Witcher 3, and meditating.

Next, I’m no 2,000-years-old guru. On the contrary, I’m a nothing, an ultimate failure. It’s a shame that people don’t jump up and down, get turned on, and tune in, in the presence of someone, who messed up his life for 10 years. Because if they do, I’m sure I’d be an overnight success!

Here’s my infamous story, in brief:

  1. Tried quitting cigarette since 2005, failed so many times that I lost count
  2. Stopped playing any kind of sport, nor exercising after high school
  3. After graduation from university, it took me 1.5 years to get the first accounting job
  4. Failed to earn decent income working as a self-employed teacher and doing freelance work
  5. Lived an idle life for 2 years, a life that I often muse as “eat and waiting to die”, doing no-thing meaningful, merely some freelance work, on-and-off
  6. Failed to achieve 95% of my dreams. There’s such a big gap between my goal list and the reality, that I started feeling depressed just by looking at it. And so after recuperating from the trauma, I would erase the whole thing, and redo/remake/re-create/re-list/re-design/refine my to-do list/goal list/my game plan/my life strategy. Then repeat the process again, in countless times
  7. Broke up with my girlfriend of 3 years. How do you put “noble” and “coward” in the same sentence? Actually, during this dark time of my life, I was ashamed of myself, had low self-esteem. I was so unhappy and disappointed with myself that I let her go, because I rationalized that, since I couldn’t bring her happiness anyway, I’d better let her go with someone else who could. Ah, well, what a noble excuse, and a coward one!
  8. Went outside to hide from my family and relatives. I lied to them that I had already quit smoking. And since I had not, I preferred staying out of their sight, to continue indulging in the disgusting bad habit. The result was that nobody understood me, or saw what’s going on.
  9. Since I was behind on my promises/my goals/my dreams, I lost all self-esteem and self-confidence. So, I stopped hanging out with my buddies. And over the course of the years, I’d lived as a social recluse (any lone wolf reading this? If so, you have my salute ;~)); and because living that way prevented other people from discovering the ugly truth about me, I accepted it as my normal way of life.

You see, from a personal perspective, I was bankrupt. From a career perspective, I was also bankrupt. So was I in my finance, health, love, family, and relationships. I was bankrupt in nearly all major areas of life.

Despite that, I’ve never given up trying. Like a phoenix keeps reborning from the ashes of its own, from its last defeat, over and over, until when? Until the day it can fly up high and far in the sky.

Sometimes I fall into a slump while working on something dear. Sometimes life plays cruel tricks upon me. Sometimes there is a joke flying in the air, and the joke is on me. Sometimes life is like a samsara to me, where each day ends in failure and defeat, repeatedly, with a promise that tomorrow will be different, that I will make it.

Never mind, in depression I keep working, in frustration I keep walking, in disappointment I keep hoping, in defeat I keep rising one more time. For an ultimate loser like me, I have got used to it, been familiar with that, it’s the same old shit that I no longer give a damn. All the hardships, the disappointments, the struggles, the failures, the quittings, etc. Fine. I can handle that.

And you know what, I will start over again, try another time, hold my hope high one more time, keep faith. And yes, there will be more depressions, frustrations, disappointments, unexpected twists and turns along the way. Despite those, I will keep working.

Let the depression touch me, let the frustration affect me, let the disappointment drag me low, let the defeat injure me…but they won’t keep me low for long, nor kill me; and, as long as I’m still alive, I won’t let all these sufferings go to waste, I will make my sufferings meaningful. I will let all these hardships reflected upon my work.

Why, you ask? I have another question for you.

What will you do to ensure that you will win a lottery?

Think you’re not smart enough?

Let me give you a clue. Buy lotto.

Well, I’m not saying it’s the best way to guarantee you would win the next lottery, but it’s definitely will give you a chance to win. But what if you don’t buy, and keep thinking/dreaming about winning? (Note: I want to make it clear that I NEVER think winning a lotto, nor gambling, is a good way to get rich. I just use the example to make a point)

Similarly, why tried so hard, you ask? Because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t even have a chance!

And that’s exactly what I did.

Try.

Fail.

Try again.

Fail again.

Try one more time.

Fail a second time.

Try one more.

Still fail.

Try, until.

Life, however short, is still too long to give up hope and not follow our dream.

So, to make the story short, who I am today is completely different from the previous 6 months. A period of 6 months time is short, yet still long enough to do lots of great things. You see, and I adopt from what Bill Gates said, we have a tendency to overestimate what we can do in one day, and underestimate what we can do in one year.

Here are the achievements that I’m proud of:

  1. Quit smoking since Jun 10, 2017
  2. Stop reading trashy news (Internet, Facebook, Youtube)
  3. Exercise daily, including weekend
  4. Practice Muay Thai 2, 3 times a week
  5. Meditate at least 1 hour daily including weekend – I’m a Buddhist practitioner, and my meditation involves chanting Amitābha (pronounce [əmiˈt̪aːbʱə])
  6. Run 15 kms (9.3 miles) non-stop (total time 1h34’; avg pace 10’09” per mile)
  7. Become a vegetarian
  8. Wake up @ 4:30 am & Go to bed @ 9:00 pm daily including weekend
  9. Adopt positive thinking mindset (find out more on this blog)
  10. Have a place for everything, both physically and mentally
  11. Start this blog
  12. Develop over 10 good habits to turn my life around

So, that’s my story, so far.

What’s yours?

What get you to this current state of life?

What brings you here?

Do share your story.

You may not always find a solution to your struggle here, but there definitely is an ear somewhere to hear it.

You see, I’m no expert in the game of life. But over the course of wrestling with my own problems, I’ve found ways to enjoy my transformation journey, and made some modest accomplishments. I share my experience on this blog.

Specifically, here are what you will find reading this blog:

+ Sincerity & Truth:

This blog is a public journal of my personal development journey, the journey to transform myself, as old Zig often said, from a “wandering generality” to a “meaningful specific”.

It’s a public diary, in which I share my thoughts, feelings, and insights. It’s about my dreams, loves, temptations, lessons, failures, practices, obsessions, and inspirations in life.

I hope you can find in me two things – Sincerity and Truth.

I’m no expert in personal development, so offering wisdom is not my day job. But above all else, I’m willing to share my own story and the lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

+ Ideas & Inspiration:

I have a strong belief, that the only way to ensure reaching the destination of any journey is to find ways to enjoy the journey. Or, to quote Wayne Dyer:

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way

This blog contains ideas and insights into personal growth and goal achievement. I do not own any lessons here. All that I know I have learned from teachings of the wises who came before me. I’m merely a student of life, trying to apply what I learn consistently, and share the experience.

It’s been my dream since studying at university, to become a source of inspiration to boost courage and confidence in others to follow their dreams.

Ironically, for a long time, I’d been the one who lacked courage to go after my own dream.

This blog marks a bold step in pursuing my dreams, and I hope it will provide the support and inspiration necessary for others to follow their passions.

So let’s start, shall we?

The Art of Becoming an Awakened Dream-walker

First, if you have a dream, and have already decided to go after it, then there’s one thing that you know for sure (and probably are afraid of) is that failure is inevitable on your journey toward your dream. In fact, if you were like me, failure would be a default outcome every time I try. And when you know that you have to deal with failure fairly frequently, wouldn’t it make more sense to prepare yourself for the bad news?

Fear not! For I’ve a comprehensive guide with practical steps to deal with this issue. I call it the Art of becoming an Awakened Dream-walker. The art shows you how to take advantage of all the challenges and obstacles on your journey, so that failure no longer frustrates, but inspires and enlightens you on your path.

If there’s one thing that you can take from me, that helps you on your journey, I hope it’s this one. Head here for the guide.

Personal Growth

Are you walking on, or yearning to take the journey of personal growth?

Pursue Your Dream

Are you pursuing, or afraid to pursue your dreams/passions/adventures?
Are you sick and tired of conformity and suppressing your uniqueness?

Enjoy Your Journey

Are you certain that happiness is attained after reaching your goals?
Are you using goals as the means in the pursuit of happiness?

Productivity

Are you frustrated and dissatisfied with not getting results in personal growth?

Spirituality

Are you a soul with a body, or a body with a soul?
What is the meaning of life?
What’s your biggest regret in life?

Inspiration

Not sure where to start? Head here for Thought for the Day

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

Contact

For feedback or suggestions, please send to: rumitg (at) enjoyyrjourney {dot} com