Breakthrough: Ten Things I Will Enjoy when I Conquer Procrastination

As part of my little personal campaign to break the habit of procrastination, I would like to imagine a life without procrastination.

When the breakthrough in this endeavor arrives, what will success look like? What are the things I will enjoy?

  1. Constant peace of mind – from the absence of unfinished tasks whose deadlines are looming close
  2. Increased focus – when I can afford to devote more time to work on things that are begun early and well before the target completion date, which leads to…
  3. More creative ideas for the projects I work on
  4. More enjoyment of the tasks at hand – simply because every moment can be fully experienced instead of rushed through with one hundred other things on my mind
  5. A relaxed, unhurried pace of life – no more scurrying around trying to get things done in record time…which leads to…
  6. A better figure and healthier body – being on tops of things would mean I have enough time and energy to work out three times a week, instead of just once or twice
  7. Better relationship with my loved ones with more time to spend with them
  8. Better decision making – with more time to weigh the pros and cons to make sure I make the best possible choices
  9. Freedom from guilt – the nagging feeling that I may not be giving my best to whatever I am working on because time is running short; and finally, last but not least…
  10. Freedom from regret – knowing that I have been a good steward of my time here on Earth.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/breakthrough/

In Honour of Life: Ten Personal Victories in 2014

Even as I keep tabs on the news hoping to hear that the missing AirAsia plane has been found, I figure it is pointless to wallow in sadness and put everything else on hold. At the very least, the silver lining from this tragedy is the reminder that life can be snuffed out anytime, anywhere. So I want to honour this gift called life by living it out thoughtfully–enough to fully enjoy the moment, and yet without disregarding the future, uncertain though it may be.

When I was 22, in university and growing in my faith as a Christian, I started pondering the purpose of life. I asked the God with whom I was cultivating a relationship and I was certain this was the answer He gave me:”We are all here to make this world a better place for one another.” That’s it–making this world a better place, even if it means only my tiny sphere of influence–my class, at home, or my neighbourhood. It didn’t necessarily mean I had to save the world or a nation. So I started my quest to discover the ‘how’ for me–and as a fan of Malaysian social activist, Datuk Paduka Marina Mahathir, I soon discovered I had a passion for issues related to women and youth. Over the years I had somehow managed to reconcile my altruistic interests with the materialistic ones–enjoying life while making a contribution and difference in my small circle of influence.  So every year I would set and review my goals, and update them for a new year.

And the more I do the exercise every year, the more I experience firsthand that the more specific a goal is, the more likely it is to materialize. But I also learnt that being specific can be quite challenging–because knowing what we want often takes a lot of soul searching and thinking. It’s still an exercise I look forward to doing each year, though, because as Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” So in honour of this life I have been given, here’s the list of personal victories I achieved in 2014:

1. Stepping out of my comfort zone and overcoming self-consciousness to actually ASK for help and delegate things at work–The embarassment I felt before asking for help was actually quite unfounded because it wasn’t as if the things I was initiating were for my personal gains. They could have been my goals based on which my performance would be rated, but they were still things that would benefit the company and employees, and when things are achieved, the credit is always shared.

2. Travelling to some places I had wanted to visit–including going to New Zealand on my own to join a spiritual retreat at the beautiful Taupo.

3. Stepping out of my introvert shell to reach out to more people, especially at work–I stopped having lunch at my desk and started joining my colleagues for lunch regularly. It has certainly made the workplace a lot more fun!

4. Cutting down on Facebook drastically–this is a rather big achievement because I used to feel the urge to update so many things I did, and to just mindlessly scroll down my newsfeed to go through photos of what people ate for their lunches and dinners, or to read impassioned views of the latest political events, when I already had so much other information to deal with in my head. Without Facebook, my mind is clearer and I accomplish more important things in shorter times.

5. Learning Thai and German–two items on my ‘to-do someday’ list that I finally decided not to postpone anymore. I have acquired a very basic command of both languages so far so this is something I foresee doing for many more years to come–possibly even till when I am old and wrinkled!

6. Starting this blog–another ‘to-do someday’ item I finally decided to not postpone anymore. There will never come a day when I would have ‘enough’ free time to write a blog, so I might as well just start. And am I am glad I did!

7. Running and fund raising–this was not something I consciously planned to pick up, but I decided to jump at the chance when I found out that one could run the New York City Marathon 2015 for charity–so it was my passion for travelling and charity that led to my new-found passion for running. Now I am hooked on running because there’s just something inherently fulfilling about pushing and overcoming our own limits. Training for the marathon is a test of my physical limitations, whereas fund raising challenges my emotional limits–overcoming reservations to approach people to donate and learning that rejection is not personal when the prospects choose not to give. And of course, the joy when they decide to do so!

8. Turning a deaf ear to gossip–where I used to think lending a listening ear was the right thing to do when someone tells me something, suddenly idle talk about other people’s lives started  to feel so draining that I found myself feeling frustrated over the loss of precious time. I would have rather invested my minutes in a siesta! So alongside minding the things I say, I also decided to become more mindful as to what I choose to hear.

9. Identifying and overcoming a negative core belief about myself–this was the core and most important personal victory in 2014, because the beliefs we hold about ourselves are the foundation on which our entire life is built. The USD 150 or so I invested in the four enlightening sessions with the psychotherapist was the best investment I have ever made in myself. Once I understood why I felt the way I did about some things, and why did some things I did, I felt almost unstoppable! The saying that if you could kick the person who gives you the most trouble in the back, you won’t be able to sit for days is so true. So in other words, the four therapy sessions helped me get me out of my way–so over the last few months of 2014 I felt like almost nothing is impossible! Where I have been running, now I feel like I am soaring.

10. Making a simple but enormously helpful change to my diet–I stopped adding sugar to my morning coffee, and stopped having rice for lunch. The result was I no longer felt sleepy by mid morning and also post lunch, and found that my mind remained sharp even in the late afternoons. This benefit alone is awesome enough for me to want to do this for the rest of my life. Life is sweeter without sugar!

So with slightly over three days left before 2014 ends, and in honour of life as a gift, even as we hope and pray for those on board the AirAsia flight, I end this post with this quote by Seneca: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

 

 

 

Impossible…Really?

I don’t remember exactly when I started to believe that dreams do, and can come true. I think when I was around 20 I thought that there would be more to life than just growing into adulthood, finishing school, getting a decent job, gaining financial independence, getting married, having children, slogging to put them through school, watching them grow up and repeat what I did, and in the end…grow old and die.

Then, in my final year in university, I became the editor for the Students’ Council Women’s Affairs Committee magazine. My friends and I somehow decided to interview our Media Studies lecturer, and that interview confirmed that what I had thought about life actually made sense. I guess when you were young and about to start out, it helped to discover that someone more experienced and successful shared the same beliefs. And what more, this was someone who at the age of 20 left her home country for Paris with just USD 7 in her pocket – so that she could pursue her dream of becoming a writer! Joanna is still writing now, with more books getting published. (You may check out her website here). I hope she knows how many young people she has inspired, and how many dreams are being realized because she set an amazing example.

So I guess that was one key encounter that fueled the idealism in me. And the romance, too. Dreams do come true. Indeed. But we must know what choices to make, and there will certainly be some things to give up along the way. So, armed with that belief, and DESPITE self-doubt and fears, I forged ahead and sought for the thing that would make my heart sing. It took me five years, and after some fine tuning, trials and errors, I found my path, and I have been walking it till today.

And I have discovered that the more things I try, the more hits and misses I experience, the bolder I become! There’s nothing personal in failures and rejections, they are just lessons and experiences to embrace! Like how I submitted a story on women’s rights and it did not get published, and how I took part in the Miss Malaysia/World beauty pageant one year and got so disappointed when I only made it to the Top 9. And then how I was cheered up when my agent called and told me they wanted to send me to Germany for another beauty contest – not as prestigious as Miss World but still an international pageant with 35 countries participating! And then…only to have my leave application rejected by my then employer, and realize that I wouldn’t give up my teaching job for that chance which some people told me was a ‘once in a lifetime’ thing.

And how I got a call for interview with the President of a renowned local institution, and then turned it down because I had, at that time, just resigned from another job to become a freelance copywriter, having decided that I would pursue what I really liked to do, instead of forcing myself to build a career the conventional way – no matter how glamorous the opportunity sounded.

So here I am today, doing the things that make my heart sing. I have just kick started another adventure …so I will be posting updates on that one. Can’t wait!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ready-set-done-6/

Life sans Facebook

I logged out of Facebook and stayed out for a month. During that time, I discovered that I had more mental clarity, focus, and could actually get more things done.  I enjoyed that so much that I went one step further to deactivate my Facebook account – though I must admit I am curious as to how that will affect the views on this blog because I was using the Publicize feature, connecting my blog to my Facebook account. But I will see.

So here’s a summary of how I found life without Facebook:

1. I realized I benefited from the absence of all the ‘noise’ on Facebook

Social media is like a noisy market, full of people peddling all kinds of things — their opinions, their favourite songs and movies, quotes, their rants, photos, achievements – from what they cooked for dinner to where they went for vacation. I did all those things too when I was using Facebook actively. Scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed felt like walking down the street where there were so many things on display, and I made many stops to take a look at them without getting much takeaway in the end.

2.  I felt more peace and freedom to just be, instead of feeling pressured to keep doing and achieving

On a public forum we will tend to only disclose the positive side of our lives, at the majority of the time at least. It’s easy to have our minds be influenced by that illusion of perfection and before we know it we start to feel discontented with what we have. On Facebook, everyone’s life is not only awesome, but picture perfect.

3. I don’t miss out on my regular dose of helpful and necessary information

Brendon Burchard, for example, maybe among the most followed public figures on Facebook, but I am able to stay updated with his latest videos and books by subscribing to his email newsletters. I used to read Forbes articles via Facebook, but what’s so difficult about typing http://www.forbes.com on my browser?

4. I felt more present in my daily life and work

Aside from getting more things done at work, I also became more motivated to nurture real-life connections, especially at work, where I spend most of my time. Before going off Facebook, the sense of belonging (whether false or real) I had from chatting, posting updates, and exchanging comments online, even if they were with people I hardly met up with caused me to be lazy and complacent to the extent that I would eat lunch at my desk. I thought it was because I wanted to finish my work faster to go home earlier, but looking back, the real reason was probably that I had consumed a lot of my social energy online till I didn’t have much left to be present with people in the flesh. I have since started to engage more with the people at work – and it has certainly been enriching!

So after my first Facebook post in one month, I suddenly felt my mind getting cluttered with noise again. And somehow online bantering just did not feel so meaningful anymore. I dropped a private message with my phone number for a  former university classmate whom I had not seen in many years since we mentioned possibly meeting up, and another one for a friend who is organizing an event I am interested to attend. And then I deactivated my account.

Can you feel the zen? 😀

The Beauty of an Empty Hard Disk

I am writing this on an old yet ‘new’ laptop–thanks to dad who helped me get my 6-year-old (gasp it’s been 6 years since I bought this Compaq laptop as a freelance copywriter!) repaired. Turned out that the hard disk had crashed so he got it replaced with a new 500-GB Western Digital storage,  and my old data remains in the previous one, well beyond my access without professional help.

So this is rather symbolic. My life over the last six years has been quite a ride–ups and downs, so many changes along the way, walking and refining the path I  had discovered, looking forward all the way though there had been some station of regret I kept looking back at. But it’s all good, the past is over (and locked up in that konked out HDD), the present is teeming with life, and every time some zealous fellow Christian comes and talks to me about how they believe Jesus is coming back again soon and that we will all be taken up to Heaven with Him, my answer is still: “But I am still having fun here!”

There are thousands of songs in that old drive, countless photos, journal entries where I wrote down my thoughts, experiences, angst, and everything, articles I kept for “future” references, my portfolio as a freelance copywriter, one-page Word documents where I typed down random ideas for “future” action…and many more. When dad walked through the door and announced “your old data could not be backed up because the hard disk has crashed”, I was slightly aghast but when I found out that I still had the option of getting everything retrieved by the experts the first thought I had was, “Well I may not need to do that after all.”

So tonight I start anew with an empty hard disk–I guess spring cleaning always feels good–without the weight of accumulated information. The old hard disk is sitting on my desk, looking kind of antiquated.

Like the past. It will be there for retrieval if I need to consult any wisdom of old, but for now, it is not going to slow down my ‘new’ and fast laptop.

 

 

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

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Badge by Doobster @ Mindful Digressions

I have too many elephants staring down at me–work elephants, personal elephants. Oh gosh how do I eat them all? One bite at a time, so say the wise ones. Take this one rather complex elephant–a big project I am starting at work. It’s going to involve many different parties–many whose expertise the entire thing cannot do without. So Elephant Project, how do I eat you?

First, I need to get clear on what I want to achieve. Second, I write down all these goals. Third, I need to flesh out the work details–what exactly needs to get done, by when, in order for the goals to become a reality? Like if I want to build a showhouse from scratch with the goal of charging people to come and view it, what are the nitty gritty?

Uhhmm (yes this really requires a lot of hard thinking!), I would probably need to finalize the concept of the house, and then engage a reputable and reasonably priced, and reliable builder; and then there’s the interior decor, sourcing of materials, so on and so forth.

Fourth, armed with a clear list of work to be done, I need to set out to recruit the right people to work with me. People whose expertise, talents, and interests match the things I have on my list. Oh dear, even the recruitment process itself alone can be broken down to at least 10 steps, I reckon.

Fifth, I need to keep my eye on the ball — on all the deliverables that are being worked on by these various parties. And make sure I regularly touch base with my team members to get updates, find out what challenges are being faced, and play the part of the motivating presence (I hope)…and hopefully everything pans out well and the elephant gets eaten, digested, leaving everyone happy and satisfied in the end.

This post is part of SoCS:
http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-september-2714/

It’s Okay to Be Average

20140920-170618.jpgFor almost my entire life I had this fear of being average. In everything, almost everything. I had to be somebody, I had to stand out in some ways, else I felt like I did not matter.

Looking back I realize the drive to excel may not always come from the right place within ourselves. Like in my case, it came from fear…fear that I had to somewhat shine in some ways.

Today I still want to excel and give my best in everything I do. But at least now it’s motivated by the belief in my own potential, and also the desire to make a difference in my circle of influence and be a blessing to the people around me.

There is such a huge difference between striving to be outstanding because we are insecure, and just being motivated to reach for the stars because we believe we can. The latter journey is so much more fun.

This post is part of SoCS:
http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-september-2014/