What makes you happy?

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Self-help | 0 comments

Really, what makes you happy? What are the things that make you feel alive?

If you say it’s the 9-5 work, then good for you. But I can say that people like you are very rare indeed. :P

For most of us, it’ll be small things like hobbies, passions, family, etc. It can be anything ranging from something simple such as writing, diving, gardening, to something more extreme such as skydiving, mountain climbing, etc. Or it could be spending time with your kids, and watching them grow up. Or watching movies, and reading books.

The list goes on and on and on. And the list can be very different from one person to another.

But enough of the things that you already know.

What I want to say is, if you already know what makes you happy…..then why aren’t you doing more of them? Don’t you want to be happy?

Or, you’re going to tell me you don’t have the time? Everyone of us has the same amount of time. It’s up to you to manage it. And if you say you’re very busy with your work and you’re neglecting things that make you happy…things that make you feel alive….don’t you think there’s something wrong somewhere?

Perhaps it’s time to reflect a little before it’s too late?

And if you tell me you don’t have the money to support whatever that you like…….I’m sure there are things which come free.

And if you tell me you are not happy even after doing things that you initially thought are going to make you happy…….then you’re not trying hard enough to find the things that you REALLY love.

Simple as it sounds, most people actually don’t do what they like. They don’t have a hobby or a passion that make the tick. They give countless excuses why they have no time and no money to do all those things. They are creating a huge barrier in between themselves, and the things that make them feel alive.

So, are you one of those people too? Remember….it’s your choice.

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Stop taking things for granted

Posted by on Oct 6, 2012 in Self-help | 0 comments

We live in a world of uncertainties. Job uncertainties. Security uncertainties. Relationship uncertainties. You name it, you have it. It’s just part of our life and our world that we need to deal with.

Yes, “deal with it” is the phrase. Some of us might be thinking that these things will never happen to us. That our plan will always work. Things will always work as we have planned.

So we indulge in things like we will still get paid in the coming months, consume unhealthy food everyday like we won’t get heart attack tomorrow, ignoring our spouse like he/she will never walk away from us, not spending time with our family like they will still be with us tomorrow, or spending our working hour doing non-work related stuff like we’re too valuable for the company to fire us.

We take things for granted.

Stop that. Because things don’t last forever. Not your seemingly safe job. Not your seemingly healthy body. Not your family.

So before you regret, perhaps it’s better for you to stop taking things for granted. Start appreciating things more.

  • Spend more time with your family.
  • Communicate more with your spouse.
  • Be on time in your job.
  • Stop wasting other people’s time.
  • Save up some money for your emergency fund so that you are recession-proof.
  • Spend money wisely and not simply waste it.
  • Be dedicated to your job and prove your worth to your company.
  • Start more personal projects that you are passionate about.
  • Contribute more to the society and charity.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat healthily. Ok to indulge in unhealthy but nice food once in a while.
  • Sleep early and rest sufficiently.
  • Take things easily. Don’t fret too much over everything.
  • Enjoy life.

Sounds simple? Actually it is simple but most people don’t do that. Most of us take things for granted and never appreciate the people and things we have until we lost them.

So, make a change. Help more, treasure more and love more…while you still can.

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Stress and To Do List

Posted by on Oct 1, 2012 in Self-help | 0 comments

I’m someone who always refer to my To Do List whenever I have a chance. Yes, I like to be organized and well-planned (also to remind my forgetful self on what needs to be done).

But recently, I’ve been noticing this trend pretty often – there are so many items in my To Do List that I just cannot seem to complete all of them. So I end up pushing and delaying them by re-assigning the due date for each of the item.

After doing that, I start to feel bad and guilty. I’m not being efficient here and having a To Do List seems like making things worse……and I feel stressed up.

Then a good friend of mine came to me and asked “Why are you feeling so stressed up?”

I said “Because there are many things left for me to do but I just cannot finish them!”

And then she said “Why not just take a break and leave those things for some other time? Everyone needs rest and you certainly look very tired to me.”

That last line may seem obvious to all of you….but it wasn’t to me at that time. I was too engrossed in my To Do List! All I wanted to do was to complete more, and to be more “efficient”. And guess what, I didn’t end up being more efficient like I planned to. All I got was STRESS.

Stress led to many health issues – TMJ dysfunction, nasal problem, neck problem, posture problem, etc. One after another. And I’ve been going in and out of hospital for countless times. I then decided to do more research and BINGO!, my assumption is correct.  All the health issues (even though they do have some other possible causes) have 1 common (possible) cause – STRESS.

It’s amazing what STRESS can do to people. And now, whenever I think I’m feeling a bit stressed up, I will think of what my friend said to me:

Everyone needs rest in order to be more efficient.

To Do List is a wonderful invention. It is there to help us remember stuff and help us organize our life. But it is definitely not a tool to give ourselves more stress. Once I’ve realized that, I decided that I will still continue to use my To Do List (I’m using Springpad by the way), but here are few things that I will remember to do as well, which may or may not be applicable to you:

  • Only accomplish 1 medium task everyday, after work. If there’s an appointment (movie, dinner, badminton, gym etc), keep it to 1 minor task.
  • Set a reasonable due date. Don’t hesitate to push some less important tasks to a much later date. Only do those that need my immediate attention.
  • If I cannot accomplish anything or feeling too tired to do anything, don’t feel bad. Rest more, relax more and sleep early. I will need to feel energized the next day and hopefully, I will be able to accomplish more after that.
  • Be daring to have an open date for To Do List items. Meaning, no due date. It’s just there to remind you about the task.
  • Use To Do List not just to record things to be done, but also ideas and notes.
  • Always remind myself what harm can (and will) stress bring to my body if I don’t rest enough.
  • Spend more time with my family. This is something which will never appear in my To Do List but is equally (or more) important than all those tasks in the list. So why not, make it a default activity after work? 30 minutes a day is better than nothing. I won’t feel stressed up too (unless they start to ask me when do I want to get married?).

So if you are a To Do List user like me, always remember that it is a tool to help us become more efficient. But we cannot be efficient if we don’t have the energy to complete those tasks. And the answer to that is to have sufficient rest.

Even a car on a long distance journey, needs to stop once in a while to refill fuel and rest. And the faster you go, the more stops you need to make to rest the car. Otherwise, it’ll overheat.

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How the recession can hit you, and how to prepare for it?

Posted by on Sep 22, 2012 in Finance, Jobs & Career, Self-help | 0 comments

In 1997-1999, there was a global recession that most of the people my age would not remember. We were still students then. So we didn’t care much, but our parents did.

About a decade later, 2007-2009, another global recession hit us. This time, some of us experienced it first hand. I did. I was forced to take 2 days of unpaid leave per week…which means 35-40% pay cut. It was difficult as I was barely able to survive. Still, I was more fortunate than few of my friends who lost their jobs completely and were unable to find a new job. But these few friends of mine, and myself, we were but a small group of Malaysians who have experienced the impact of a global recession.

Fortunately (or unfortunately?), Malaysia was not that heavily hit by the recession. So, most people still do not know the desperation that someone who is jobless can experience. To them, their jobs are safe, and they have the mindset “I won’t be affected by the recession”, or “Malaysia is safe from global recession”, or “My company cannot survive without me”.

And because of that, most people do not have any form of backup plan (surprised?). They have no contingency plan…no emergency fund…no proper skills which will make them highly sought after in the job market, etc. All they have is optimism that they will not lose their jobs, and the recession will not affect them.

Sad to say, recession WILL hit them whether they like it or not. It’s just a matter of WHEN and HOW. So if you are one of those optimistic people, perhaps the things below will help you.

How the recession might hit you:

  • The prices of your daily needs go up. You need more money than usual to stay alive.
  • Your customers stop buying products or services from you.
  • Your multinational company decides to move the whole operation to a cheaper location, outside of the country.
  • Your local company starts to lose customers and might be forced to close down.
  • Your CEO decides to take the money and run, forcing the company to close down.
  • Your spouse loses his/her job. Now you alone have to feed the whole family.
  • Your income is reduced, and you do not have enough money to pay off the monthly debts.
  • and the worst…you forgot you are jobless…and you are spending money like you are not!

So, before any of the above happens, what can you do to prepare yourself for recession?

  • Prepare an emergency fund and put them in FD. Preferably 6 months of pay. So that you can survive for 6 months without a job. And don’t put your emergency fund in stocks, mutual funds, or any risky investment types. Just put them in FD. You might need them sooner than you expected. And you won’t want to sell off your stocks at a loss.
  • Skill up! Make sure your skills are not obsolete. Attend courses, take up additional certs or learn a new skill yourself. These skills might prove to be valuable and might even help you fight off the competition if you were to find a new job during recession period.
  • Be more proactive in your job. Take up tasks willingly especially if there are big projects involved. Prove yourself valuable to the company so that if there’s a plan to reduce headcount, you won’t be the first on the list.
  • Learn more DIY stuff. So that in case something breaks and needs fixing, you know how to do it instead of paying people to fix it. I myself is pretty bad in this, but it’s something worth learning. You won’t want to have a leaking roof but not enough money to fix it.
  • Don’t simply quit your job just because you’re frustrated, angry or disappointed. Think and plan properly before you make any quick decision.
  • Ensure you have sufficient insurance coverage. This is not just for yourself, but for your loved ones as well. Just in case something bad happens to you or any of your assets (houses, cars, etc), you still have insurance coverage to help you and your loved ones out.
  • Avoid over-indulging in lifestyle items. If you want, make sure you can afford them and by saying that, I don’t mean paying the bill via installment or flexi-payment. If you plan to buy a 5k item, pay it off at one go. It’s easier for you to estimate your budget that well. True, 5k if divided by 12 months, is only around $400+ per month. Not much. But if you are jobless, that $400 can mean a whole lot more.
  • Always be mentally prepared that the recession might hit you and your family…hard.

Some of you might think that I’m a bit paranoid when it comes to recession and stuff. But trust me, being overly-prepared is better than not preparing for it at all. Because at the end of the day, those 5 things above will help you in one way or another even if there’s no recession….even though I hardly doubt so.

So, if you have not already done so, maybe it’s a good time to start preparing yourself for it.

All the best and hope this article helps. :)

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The endless cycle of buying stuff to remain happy

Posted by on Sep 19, 2012 in Self-help | 0 comments

A friend MSN-ed me recently and complained to me that her boyfriend did not want to settle down. I asked her, how old is her boyfriend? 33. I then asked her….does he know what he really want in life?

The answer did not surprise me at all. It was a “He said he has no answer yet…But..I think maybe his aim is to get his BMW 5 series?”

To be honest, we have a lot of people who think that way in our society nowadays. Big houses…big cars….and in order to get these things, they need to earn money. Loads of them. Once they’ve done that, the cars would’ve gotten old and it’s time to change a new car again. And then, they fall back to the old routine of earning more money to pay off the bank loans. Well…you get the drill.

And yes, it’s a never ending cycle.

A never ending cycle that so many people are stuck in it.

I wonder, have people ever think of why do they need those big car, big houses, luxury goods? Is it just for show? Is it to prove to other people they can do it? To prove they are successful and more superior? Or to feed their inner ego?

Perhaps, if you are stuck in this endless cycle, you should start to ask yourselves those questions. What is it, that you really want in life? Are you sure getting big cars and big houses will satisfy you? Will they really bring you long-term happiness?

And most importantly, when do you think you can stop and get out from this endless cycle? You have a timeline in mind? Or you plan to do this until you are tired and old?

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong getting nice cars, big houses or luxury goods. I myself always dream of those. But life is more that those things and they don’t necessarily bring you the long-term happiness that we all seek. Also, even without those things, I sincerely believe we can still lead a happy and rewarding life. Because there are still plenty of joy and happiness in this world for all of us, and most of them come free. Don’t you think so too?

Remember….live within your means…happily and healthily.

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Don’t quit your job

Posted by on Sep 9, 2012 in Jobs & Career, Self-help | 0 comments

Becoming tired of your job? Or feeling your life has been turned upside down by your over-demanding boss? Feels that it’s actually better to quit and take a break, even if you have yet to find another job? After all, life is not all about money and work. Life is short and you have the rights to enjoy! So go ahead and quit !

Don’t do that.

Some of my friends have walked down that path before, and most of them did not end up well. I understand that life is not about work stress….and definitely not about getting upset with your job. We all want and need to lead our life happily. But if we quit our job without thinking twice, we might end up on the receiving end of all the bad things – jobless, unable to pay loans, unable to support family, low self-confidence, getting our family worried, and the worst…jumping head first into a deeper shit (worse job) just because you are starting to get desperate.

Don’t believe? Now, let’s imagine you have been jobless for 6 months, and you are attending an interview now. Here are 2 possible scenarios that you might encounter:

Scenario 1

Interviewer : Why isn’t there any job experience stated in your CV since your last job 6 months ago?

You : I was not working.

Interviewer : Why? What were you doing then?

You: I went to attend some classes/courses/education, etc.

Interviewer : Do you have any cert to prove that?

The above will be okay if you have something to prove. If you do, you have nothing much to fear. And to be honest, this is the ONLY reason why someone should quit his job without finding another job (besides medical reasons which must be supported by the doctor’s letter). Anything other than this, will not be good.

Scenario 2

Interviewer : What were you doing in the past 6 months without any form of income?

You : I went to vacation in Australia.

Interviewer : Hmm, so you can go for a vacation and survived 6 months without income.

Or

Scenario 3

Interviewer : What were you doing in the past 6 months without any form of income? Did you go to vacation or something?

You : No, I couldn’t find a job.

Interviewer : Why?

You : I don’t know. Maybe there’s no suitable job?

 

In above cases, the interviewer might still offer you the job if your experience matches, but do not expect your salary to be competitive due to few things:

  • He assumes that you are quite rich, since you already can survive 6 months without pay and was not desperate for any income.
  • Your skillset might be a bit outdated due to being away from the industry for 6 months.
  • Or the interviewer might realize that…now that you are back and 6 months without pay…you should be desperate for a job. If that’s the case, you might be willing to work at a minimal pay.

Or he might not hire you at all based on few assumptions:

  • You might just quit your current job to go off for another round of 6 months vacation sometime soon.
  • Maybe you are just one of those people who do not have a good working attitude since you recklessly quit your job without thinking about your income.
  • You could be asking too much from a company. A perfectionist. Perhaps this was why you couldn’t find a suitable job in the past 6 months. In other words, you are a difficult employee to please.
  • And worst of all, you might be regarded as someone who will not be “professional” in his job. An irresponsible employee. A quitter.

No matter how you look at it….quitting your job before you found another job brings more harm than good. You should always have a form of backup plan before you make a big decision such as this. Think about your commitments, your family, and how would you survive without income. And if you can’t do that, then at the very least, think of how you can talk your way out from your next interview so that the interviewer will not low-ball your salary.

Hope this helps.

 

 

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