The motivation myth

“I don’t feel motivated to do this”
“I need some motivation to do this”
“I need to set a few milestone goals along the way to keep myself motivated”

I am also guilty in saying some of the “excuses” above. This is a book authored by Jeff Haden to explore how to keep yourself motivated. Is it to set a reward in the end of the process? Is it to make a few milestone goals and keep reminding yourself everyday? Is it to paste post-it note all over the place with best quotes from the best people?

Hell no, according to Jeff.

“Dream big. Set a huge goal. Commit to your huge goal. Create a process that ensures you can reach your goal. Then forget about your huge goal and work on your process instead.”

Jeff is an advocate of “process”. One needs to create a process, a habit that will put one in the right state of mind or in the flow, and keep working on the process itself without keep looking at the goal. A lot of people believed that they need a spark in order to be motivated, be it some short term reward or some benefits to start the ball rolling. However, all these are temporary and unsustainable, which leads to one dropping out half way citing “I don’t feel motivated anymore”.

The book took an example from world famous guitarist. When asked what keeps him motivated to be the best, what was the secret recipe that made him the best, the answer was surprisingly simple. It goes something like this: “I wanted to be good in playing guitar. So I set the routine of keep playing, keep practicing, trying to be better and better every time. Never once I thought about how far I am from being the best. I just keep playing.”

One key learning that I agree well with this book is the setting up of “process” or habit. If you want to achieve something, it is important to set out the process which will guide you towards your goal. And then of course, stick with your process. Though I think at times it is good to measure how far you are from your goal and calibrate your process along the way as you go. But yeah, focus on the process is really important. That’s how I have been keeping myself writing consistently throughout the years. Noting down on thoughts, ideas, and then spent time in the days to work them through and eventually turning them into posts on my blog.

I do admit there were times when my process broke down, and then I just need to stop for a moment to get it fixed, and continue again. Perhaps I should start doing the same for my photography? I used to have a habit in place, but as life goes on, priorities changed, the habit cycle was broken. Well, if I wanted to do more, I really need to setup a new process for it. The same goes to other goals that I would like to achieve in my life.

“Motivation isn’t something that you have, it is something that you get when you start working on things.”

Hopefully you can extract something useful from this, do read the book to learn more as Jeff also detailed many other aspects about motivation. Till then.

After 1st of June 2020

Technically speaking, the circuit breaker (a.k.a. lockdown) in Singapore has been lifted. From 2nd of June onwards, measures are gradually loosen in order to allow people to resume back their daily life, although it will not be the usual one in near future. For me, nothing much has changed other than now I will need to juggle between working from home and working in office. This turns out to be more taxing as I will either need to carry all my work related stuff with me wherever I go, or I just need to have two sets of everything, one in office and one at home.

A friend of mine asked me what I’ve missed throughout the lockdown period. Hmm… to be honest, nothing much. Perhaps I missed going to gym daily, I missed working in office instead of at home, I missed the freedom of going places or travelling, and that’s about it I guess? I believe some of us can’t wait to dine in at our favourite restaurant, visiting friends, attending concerts, hop on a cruise and so on. Well, in my opinion, the lockdown has actually taught us to identify what’s essential and what’s not. Not sure if there was a moment during this period where you realized you could actually go on with your life with just very little thing?

Taking stock on what have I done during the lockdown period: I have read some books, watched a few dramas and movies, started learning some programming language, not exercising as much as I would have hoped for but more time was spent in stretching and form improvement, rearranged some of the furniture in my house making it more spacious to live in, cooked a whole lot and learned a few new tricks and recipes, and finally completed my personal book project and started a few others. Sounds fulfilling?

I’m glad that I was able to live through this period. I have to admit I do have some downs in the beginning. Received pay cut, worried about job, worried about finance, worried about future. But I managed to pick myself up and got through everything. I know I was fortunate enough to at least be in my position during this period and I’m grateful for that. It could be much worse. Well, let’s see what challenge awaits for me in the days to come. Till then. Take care.

Live within your means

It had never really struck me until I sit down, reflect and do the math. Netflix, Adobe subscription, Apple Music, Microsoft Office and etc. are just a few of the things I was paying for on monthly basis all along. I was working in sales, as long as I push myself, I’ll get my equivalent pay in return. Although I wouldn’t say I’m rich in any means, but those are the things that seem affordable to me all along.

With my job switched to non-sales role, my overall pay was reduced a little. Couple that with additional expenses after moving in to new places, my expenses and saving have gone haywire for awhile until I finally spend some time looking into it. Judging from what I really need and what I’m willing to pay for, I decided to make plans in restructuring all my expenses.

As a start, Adobe and Netflix will go, I can’t find justification to continue on as I don’t use them often enough to warrant a subscription. I’ll make do with any cheaper (or even better, free) alternative for now. Next will be Microsoft Office, I’ll make do with Apple’s apps and move most of my cloud backup back to local RAID storage that I already bought few years back. Gym membership from big names has been swapped to neighbourhood gym too. Flickr will probably be next.

The streamlining process goes on and on, and hopefully I can cut away all fats and live a leaner life going forward. “But you only live once”, yes, but still that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be leaving my responsibilities behind. I can still live the best without spending that much more. Perhaps this is a good chance for me to become a step closer to minimalism. Till then.

The Circuit Breaker

Social distancing

It’s almost a week into the 30 days long “Circuit Breaker” period, a period of time introduced by the government of Singapore to curb the spread of COVID-19. People are advised to stay home, wear mask when leaving their house, and only to head out for essential matters such as buying food and groceries. With this measure, hopefully we can contain the virus from transmitted locally and bring down the number of cases.

So how do I survived through the first couple of days? Well, nothing eventful actually, and fairly simple. As usual I woke up at 5am (yes, even at times like this) and instead of heading to gym (all non-essential services and facilities were closed throughout the period), I’ll either go for a jog around my neighbourhood or just do some workout in my house. I don’t have any equipment other than a piece of resistance band actually, so for this one month I’ll just focus on bodyweight or core trainings. It’s okay, there’s no point buying gym equipment at put them at home just to serve this period.

Once done, I’ll head to nearby market to stock up some groceries if required, otherwise I’ll be reading some news or catching up with a few videos, and I’ll have my apple cider vinegar as my “starter” and followed by a cup of home brewed coffee to start my day working from home. Yes, I’ve skipped my breakfast for the time being as I restarted my intermittent fasting routine, just nice during this period of time. Then I’ll cook my lunch and dinner, and end the day reading a few chapters of book.

How about weekends? Well, as a rather “introvert” person who enjoys all sorts of stay-at-home activities, I really have no issue surviving through the weekend. Read a few chapters more on the book, watch a movie, do some writing, spend some time in self reflection and sorting my mind, find some topics of interest and do some research on it, listen to music, take a nap… and there goes my weekend.

For others, this 30 days will be a gruesome one. People with no hobby, no interest, can’t live without going out and staying out will face tremendous challenge to survive. Already there were people who refuse to stay home, still head out and loiter around, still refuse to take personal hygiene into their habit, still refuse to wear mask… sigh. Seems like we are not far away from the extension of 30 days Circuit Breaker period.

The Singapore government has done a good job in controlling the situation, although I do not agree with some of their decision (such as late closure of border, isolation of dormitory for foreign workers), but they have been taking good care of their citizen and residents alike. All in all, I applaud their effort in managing this pandemic. Yes, on hindsight they can always do better, but apparently the world is not ready for a pandemic yet, no matter how hard we tried and prepared ourselves.

Okay, it’s been a long ranting post. Lastly, everyone plays a role in making sure the pandemic does not worsen. Stay calm, stay home, keep yourself clean and do take care of those who are in need as well whenever possible. Let’s work together and work harder to overcome this. Till then.

The state of 2020

“We should just write-off first half of 2020 and let the year begin in July.”

That was what my friend told me. Trip canceled, job lost, pay cut, income dropped, flight grounded, people died, tears dried. Up until the end of March, 2020 has been nothing short of chaotic and a mess. Most of our lives have been disrupted, many were forced to stay home, many were feeling helpless, many were feeling anxious of the uncertain future.

For me, I was fortunate that nothing much was planned for the first half of the year in the very first place. Disruption has been minimal, other than not being able to travel back to my hometown in Kuala Lumpur, some minor movement restriction, life has been pretty much “as usual” here in Singapore. I’m not sure if the measures implemented by the government were effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19, but at this point of time, there’s really nothing much I can do other than leave it to the expert to advise, and of course to wash my hand frequently.

For those who are restricted in movement, do take this opportunity to read some books (if you need recommendation, browse around my blog for some), learn some skills, don’t just Netflix and chill your time away. As the future is uncertain, it’s better to take every crisis ahead and turn it into an opportunity for the days to come. Also, stay safe, stay healthy and stay calm. We’ll get over this for sure.