A Million Dreams

Do you have a favourite song that inspires you? A movie perhaps?

Every once in a while, out comes something that reminds me of an experience of my childhood or past that gives me a deep sense of nostalgia and causes me to think- “What has happened? Things have changed so much since then.”

Personally, the movie “The Greatest Showman” is one of these for me. Each of its songs reminded me of something special and reminded or reaffirmed me of why certain decisions were made regardless of whether it has worked out for the better so far. No regrets.

Speaking of which, i’ll share one of my favourite quotes 🙂

The greatest regret anyone can have, is the regret of not taking action because of the fear of failure.

It is only natural to fail sometimes. Thats how we learn isn’t it? From “The School of Hard Knocks” as my dad used to say. What matters is how you pick yourself up after that. Do you decide to give up or keep that faith in yourself, knowing that this has happened for a reason? Re-evaluate your decisions and think through carefully as to why you failed, then learn from it. Oh man. Another quote has come to me hahaha sorry guys i’m quite a big fan of quotes 😀

Insanity is trying to do the same thing over and over again and yet hoping for a different result.

We may easily brush this off and think in our minds “I’m not that stupid. Who does that? Not me at least.”

I used to think that too. But if you pay careful attention to the little things in life that you do (e.g. studying for you students out there) we may keep wondering why we study so hard, yet why do our grades not reflect the amount of effort we have put in preparation for it? It’s such a disappointment! It may have been because we keep using the same poor working methods, head-banging ourselves against the wall and trying to fool ourselves that so and so amount of hours of work equates to better results. But NO! Results come from quality too. A 1 hour productive session is way better than trying to ‘force’ yourself to sit down for a 5 hour all nighter. You may remember those facts for the next couple hours or so after cramming, but your long-term memory of what you’ve just tried to remember or learn is gonna be pretty messed up in your head. Don’t fool yourself that you’re “studying”.

Who is able to maintain this amount of insane studying in the long-run anyway? You are only setting yourself up for a burnout. I speak from personal experience 😅

I read a book a couple months ago, titled ‘How to be a Straight-A student’ by Cal Newport if I remember correctly. He said that if you just go to the library and observe, many students are ‘pseudo-studying’. That is, the act of students trying or saying that they are studying. But if you see carefully, they are distracted. Either talking to their friends, listening to music whilst studying that is preventing them from utilising their full attention, watching some random video on facebook or youtube, or trying to study, but with their minds deep in thought on something else. Nothing is being learnt or retained. What they are doing is just trying to soothe their conscience that they are ‘studying’ so that they will not feel so guilty. Wouldn’t you be so much better off closing that Facebook tab, closing that Youtube tab and putting in a good honest amount of work for a short period of time and then do what you enjoy doing?

Tip: Quality over quantity; better still, why not both quality and quantity if you can help it? I’m definitely still a stronger believer in putting hard effort and quantity of work, as long as you’re being efficient.

Oh man.. I just realised i’ve digressed quite a bit from my original post intention.

Here are the lyrics of the song that inspired this post 🙂

A Million Dreams

I close my eyes and I can see

The world that’s waiting up for me

That I call my own

Through the dark, through the door

Through where no one’s been before

But it feels like home

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy

They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind

I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy

We can live in a world that we design

‘Cause every night I lie in bed

The brightest colors fill my head

A million dreams are keeping me awake

I think of what the world could be

A vision of the one I see

A million dreams is all it’s gonna take

A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

There’s a house we can build

Every room inside is filled

With things from far away

The special things I compile

Each one there to make you smile

On a rainy day

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy

They can say, they can say we’ve lost our minds

I don’t care, I don’t care if they call us crazy

Runaway to a world that we design

Every night I lie in bed

The brightest colors fill my head

A million dreams are keeping me awake

I think of what the world could be

A vision of the one I see

A million dreams is all it’s gonna take

A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

However big, however small

Let me be part of it all

Share your dreams with me

You may be right, you may be wrong

But say that you’ll bring me along

To the world you see

To the world I close my eyes to see

I close my eyes to see

Every night I lie in bed

The brightest colors fill my head

A million dreams are keeping me awake

A million dreams, a million dreams

I think of what the world could be

A vision of the one I see

A million dreams is all it’s gonna take

A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

For the world we’re gonna make

Why 40 days?

Today I shall write about what kickstarted and sparked my interest into the habit of constant self-improvement. To be honest, it was not a conscious decision that I woke up one day deciding that i’d want to improve myself. Rather, it was more of a gradual journey that cultivated my passion for all these.

I think what really made me want to improve myself and my life were 3 main push factors. (Unfortunately, most of us need push factors/stimuli to kick us off our asses and get to work..me included)

My first reason was good company/friends that I had made along the way. William was a major ‘push’ factor in my self-improvement journey.

I met William in first year of uni, first semester in 2016, but we never really had the chance to talk much. We were sitting at the same table during laboratory sessions with different partners. I could see that this guy put effort into his work and was methodological. When in doubt, was not afraid to ask questions. It was only in semester two that we started getting to know one another better. Initially through us becoming lab partners and talking a lot more, then studying together after lectures in the quiet areas of the libraries in different faculties.

All along, I had been studying my ass off to try my best to enter into medicine. Staying up late till 3am and waking up at 6.30am for lectures at 8am was a norm, pulling several all-nighters till 7 or 8am during the weekends with a couple cans of red bull was not uncommon. It took a whole lot of heart, discipline and work to pull through that, but I was determined to do my best. Despite all that effort, my results were only slightly above average at B+ (Gpa 6.0). I needed an A average (Gpa 8.0) for better chances. I was intrigued, and very curious to find out how my friends who had all along been scoring so well were studying. What their study habits were, what time they slept etc. How and what methods were they using to memorise all these countless facts and points we were given every lecture? I was determined to find out and started talking to them about this.

William was one of the friends I started talking to about this, and he was glad to share. We started talking about other things aside from lecture content, and more about things like food, life passions, habits, aspirations for the future, movies, books and so much more. It was not often for me to I find someone with similar quirks, interests and habits that I had, some better than mine which I was keen to try out and implement into my daily life. For example, I had and still love eating meat. I could never imagine myself in a thousand years enjoying and looking forward to eating a vegetarian meal. William himself was vegan, and ate very healthily. He never imposed his thoughts and ideals upon me or our friends, which I respected greatly. If somebody tried to persuade me and “force” me to eat healthy and give up meat, I would never have listened. Meat was life! Whenever it was mealtime, I would invite him to come along with a couple other friends to hang out in school and eat together, but he would gently decline and say that he would go home to eat instead. This went on for a couple times and made me very curious to see what he was preparing for himself back at home.

What I think brought us much closer was when I first went over to his place to study together. We studied for a while, and then felt a rather peckish. I then used this opportunity to ask him what he exactly was he eating and whether I could give it a try. He was more than happy to oblige, and we went about preparing dinner together in the kitchen. What impressed me was the variety of vegetables he included into each meal. All natural and organic, we cut one type of vegetable after another, and put them in the pot to cook. It looked so colourful and smelt pretty good too! Upon counting the different types of vegetables we had added into this one meal, the number came up to about 14. There were the basic herbs like onions, garlic, ginger, and many others like kale, carrots, broccoli, turmeric etc. Furthermore, to add onto that list of food, we had lentils which I had never tried before. The list of vegetables just went on and on. I have never had so many different types of vegetables in one day, let alone one meal! We topped them with chia seeds, nutritional yeast, dried seaweed, flaxseed oil and several other superfoods that I had never seen before. I was just mind-blown at that moment. The food tasted really good, and was one of the most satisfying meals I had in a long time. Up till then, I had never imagined that I would ever be full and satisfied with just herbs itself. I was very impressed.

Slowly but surely, our friendship grew into one strengthened by constant updates with each other not just on healthy living, but also how to get the most out of life itself. We also constantly shared with each other things that we came across that week that we found interesting and intriguing. This newfound passion and great like-minded conversations were what really fueled our friendship and kept it going these past couple years.

Second reason was the fact that I had just gone through a pretty bad breakup with my then girlfriend of almost 3 years in 2016. As such, I now had to find something to engage my time or more importantly, my mind with. Exercise has always been a place I seek solace and peace in. Being able to push myself as hard as I want and could, to use all that mental tension and frustration out. What’s even better is that this form of outlet is highly encouraged and has never failed to help me feel better after an intense workout. Physically, psychologically, mentally, emotionally, it has helped in all aspects. (If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it guys! You won’t understand what i’m referring to unless you try it yourself.)

Anyway, I digress. So during that period, I drowned most of my free time in exercise, exercise and more exercise, wanting to vent all my frustrations and “improve” my body. By doing so, I started on this “positive vicious cycle” of always wanting to better myself. Instead of investing into the relationship as I used to do in the past, I started putting all that effort into investing in myself. To improve. To convince and make myself believe that the relationship ended for the better, that something good came out of what seemed like a nightmare. Little did I know, I was slowly shaping my personality of always wanting to improve, finding something within me that I could work on, regardless of how small it may be. If I heard or saw something that I knew was highly encouraged for people to do because it was beneficial, I would do it. Anything. The more benefits it had, the more I wanted to do it, and STICK TO IT. Cold showers, waking up early at 4am, getting fit/stronger, making more friends and learning how to be more social and strike up a conversation with anyone. I started reading up and watching anything related to it.

Thirdly, though i’m not proud to admit it, me not entering medical school after first year of Biomedical science was a big blow. I felt somewhat dumber and inferior to all my friends who had managed to get into med school. For sure, I was aware that this was not a positive emotion and thought to constantly have in my mind and heart. But this was exactly spurred me on to want to improve. (Guys, this isn’t something you should aim to have by the way!!) I felt helpless, weak, unable to do anything to change the situation. This, kept me going and wanting to learn from everyone else around me. To copy their study methods, imitate their habits, what they did, how they thought. Anything that I thought might help, I did. This hunger and quest for improving myself, greatly contributed to this passion I have towards investing and bettering myself (if there is such a word!).

I always ask myself now when I hear of something good out there with tremendous benefits, why aren’t I doing it? (Of course, use common sense too! If it sounds dodgy/not legit/dangerous, do more research please!)

The main idea is to do something. Anything small even. Actually, you’d wanna start somewhere small. Do something easy. Something you know you’d definitely be able to stick to and commit. Like what I heard on the Tim Ferris podcast the other day, he doesn’t tell people to do 1 hour of exercise everyday. 99% of us won’t even stick to it the first 3 days. No. What he does is to get them doing something really really simple. Have breakfast. Eat something to fuel you and start the day right. 2 eggs, some wholemeal bread & avocados for example. Just do something easy. From then on when you find that you’re sticking to it, keep going! Keep the habit up. 40 days. Longer. Keep going. Finding it too easy? Add something/another thing that you think you can improve and work on. Again, something that you know you can stick to. Slowly, but surely, you’ll start to notice that this simple habit of just getting the ball rolling not procrastinating, starting the day right, things will start to snowball and will help you gain more and more confidence to achieve and complete challenges that you’ve never dreamt of achieving and completing! Trust me, i’ve been there. I never thought that i’d take a cold shower down in the South Island (New Zealand) in Queenstown during the middle of Winter at 4 freaking degrees. Make my bed everyday for 40 days? Check. No artificial/added sugar and fast food for 40 days? Check check check 3 times. And i’m still going on with all these challenges! I’m finding that i’m having so fun challenging myself, enjoying that deep feeling of satisfaction when I know that i’ve managed to do something that 90% of us would not even contemplate doing. What’s more is the effect i’ve noticed its had on my life! Simple everyday tasks like sitting my butt down to study, do something that I have to do, I just do it now. I’m procrastinating ALOT less. My willpower is waaaaay stronger than when I first started. It’s becoming addictive. My snowball is still rolling and getting bigger, but my journey has not been all roses and no thorns. There have been days when I get affected and regret. But push through. You’d thank yourself. Trust me. We all start somewhere. You just have to START NOW. We all have that little voice in our heads telling us to start later, do it tomorrow, we’re too busy today. KICK HIM ASIDE. He doesn’t care about you. Start now. Seriously, start now, choose something, tell a close friend to stay accountable, write down your challenge, end date and get going! I can assure you that after 40 days, you will consider even continuing and pushing that deadline further back or even cancelling it. If that happens, good on you! Im proud of ya.

Some of you may be wondering why I choose 40 days as the length of my challenges.

2 reasons.

Firstly, i’ve read somewhere that 40 days is the length of time required to cultivate a habit that sticks. It just hits that sweet spot of not being too long that you’d think it’s impossible to achieve, yet long enough to be effective.

Secondly, mentioned 146 times in Scripture, the number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation.

(In the Bible) During Moses’ life he lived forty years in Egypt and forty years in the desert before God selected him to lead his people out of slavery. Moses was also on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1 – 28), receiving God’s laws. He also sent spies, for forty days, to investigate the land God promised the Israelites as an inheritance (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).

The prophet Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh, for forty days, that its destruction would come because of its many sins. The prophet Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sins (Ezekiel 4:6). Elijah went 40 days without food or water at Mount Horeb. Jesus was tempted by the devil not just three times, but MANY times during the 40 days and nights he fasted just before his ministry began. He also appeared to his disciples and others for 40 days after his resurrection from the dead.

The number forty can also represent a generation of man. Because of their sins after leaving Egypt, God swore that the generation of Israelites who left Egyptian bondage would not enter their inheritance in Canaan (Deuteronomy 1). The children of Israel were punished by wandering the wilderness for 40 years before a new generation was allowed to possess the promised land. (By having the meaning of a generation of man, I felt that by doing a 40-day challenge, it could also mean that my old worse self would be gone (Hopefully!) and my current better self would be in place).

40-day meaning and info taken from http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/40.html for anyone of you who are interested to know more.

That’s all from me today guys. Stay tuned for more! 🙂

Learn from a child

We have so much to learn from children. Their child-like innocence is a rarity in this day and age. What about their innate happiness and positive outlook in life? What happened along the way of us growing up? Losing sight of our aspirations, giving up the dream chase & resigning ourselves to the fact that things have to be the way they are. But they do not have to be!!

Some of us may think that we have to face reality. True. We have to be mindful of what is possible and impossible. However, we have to keep in mind that just decades ago, international travel within a week from Country A to Country B was deemed impossible. Now it’s a daily affair and achieved within a day or two max. If the Wright brothers or others who contributed to the success of the modern aeroplane listened to those critics who said that air travel was impossible/unsafe and abandoned their dreams of flying, would we have the invention of the plane today? I highly doubt so. What about the sending of mail from one end of the world to the other side within seconds? It used to take months or even years. Now? With internet and satellite connection, this is achieved within seconds and all it takes is the press of a button. Not from a landline/computer, but from a wireless mobile device and sent from almost anywhere you are.

The future belongs to us dreamers.

What is needed, is tenacity, grit, and the perseverance to see things through.

Tip: Put conscious effort into thinking and maintaining that child-like innocence once more.

Why

Why am I writing this blog?

It is to challenge myself. To often than not, we get comfortable and if given a choice, will do all we can do STAY COMFORTABLE. Well, I know this to be true for me at least..

By doing this, I am trying to push myself out of my comfort zone to achieve more and at the same time, document the changes in my life as they come. Basically, this will be a place where I say whatever things that I have found interesting/learnt something new/been thinking about that day.

I will do a daily post from today onward (as long as I have internet connection) and if you enjoy my writing, please feel free to like or comment on my posts!

Happy reading! 🙂

Paul Chong

About me

– I am plagued by this deep fire of passion within me to become a doctor. To save lives and help make a difference. Being somewhere, someplace, for somebody that needs saving and life-changing medical attention. –

I’d like to start off with a brief introduction about myself. Who I am, my passions in life, and probably some random stuff like my new favourite motivational quote along the way that i’d like to share with my readers as they follow along with me on my documentation journey on this blog.

When you were younger, have you ever aspired to be something? An astronaut? Doctor? Policeman? To do something great? To change/improve upon something in this world?

Have you stayed up late into the night, just being so excited about something that you can’t fall asleep? Your mind racing non-stop such that you’re now more awake than ever?

Well.. personally, i’ve always had a curious mind. Curious about why the sky was blue. Why do people all around the world speak different languages? How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? Something about understanding the way how the world works just intrigued and fascinated me so much. Whenever I was in the car and it was raining, I would stare out of the window and wonder why and how rainbows were formed, how does the human body work, what causes gravity, etc.

Fun Fact:

Did you know that hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards in the air?

I guess, that’s where and how my love for science started in the first place, because that’s precisely what Science is- The study of how things work. And in later years, this interest of mine eventually led to my love for Biology in high school and especially in my college years- in particular, learning more and more about how the body works. Our body- it’s such a complex thing. To be honest, it’s a miracle how it does what it does.

What I always loved about studying science and especially piqued my interest was how the human body worked. The human body is made up of a number of complex systems (digestive, respiratory, circulatory, skeletal etc.) that all work together in unison to function as one. Isn’t that amazing? We are just like a living machine with different parts, and if we do not take care of it, they can be damaged and require “servicing” after a while. How do we treat/remedy all these issues? What do we do when our bodies fail us as we age? What do we do as we face certain dangerous and unavoidable diseases in life? How do I protect my loved ones from these? These are some of the questions I asked myself, and where my passion started to grow and how it caused me to actually start considering a future career in the Medical and Health Sciences Industry.

This is my reason for lying wide awake on my bed all alone, in the middle of the night at 3am. This is my passion. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. Why a doctor you may ask? Since young, I never liked not being in the know. To be able to understand and have some sort of “control” over what’s going on. When are you at your weakest and most vulnerable point? Personally, I used to have really bad tummy-aches when I was younger and those experiences really made me feel weak and helpless. Sitting all alone on the toilet bowl, unable to do anything except wait for that pain to pass away. I can still vividly remember how I was always sitting on the toilet bowl, closing my eyes, clenching my teeth and fists, trying just to survive and breathe. Even my ever loving and caring parents could not do much to help..except to offer some kind words and maybe some charcoal pills that’s suppose to ease the pain.That feeling of falling sick, getting injured and feeling pain is one of the most horrible feelings in the world, and to start feeling better and recovering, was a comfort I had never experienced before.

Who do you look for when you face such helpless experiences in life? Most of us would say – Go see the doctor!

To us, they are the know-it-all for everything medical/health-related. And that’s exactly who I looked up to and wanted to be. To be a doctor who knew what the hell was wrong with people, and be able to help get them back to baseline. To ease their pain, to understand what was going on in their bodies, and have some form of ability to help them feel better.

Doctors (General Practitioners) usually are the primary healthcare providers for most of us. I did not want to leave this role to whichever doctor happened to be treating my family whenever a loved one fell sick. I wanted to be in the know. To be in “control” in a sense. I wanted to understand how this particular illness came about, why this was happening, how to diagnose, spot the symptoms, prevent this from happening again and most importantly, how to treat this illness and help my loved one quickly recover and feel better again.

My mum was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast cancer back in 2008, and this came as a shock to all of us. I remember feeling shell-shocked when she first revealed it to the family, asking myself how could my mum have actually contracted such an illness? She looked so whole and alive outside, but inside her were these dangerous and deadly cancerous cells that could take my mother away from me anytime, just like that. Cancer is not just any old regular sickness that comes and goes, but a terminal, life-threatening and largely un-curable disease. This illness was not going to back down without a fight, but a disease that was life-changing! All it was going to bring to the table was pain, pain and more pain. Medical treatments as we started to get to know, would cause her to undergo painful surgery, countless sessions of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal and targeted therapies that would wreak so much havoc to her body system.. Contracting the illness was going to hurt her so much, but treating it would hurt her equally as bad. Her hair started falling out, experiencing sudden red hot flushes, extreme exhaustion and many more other extreme side effects. My dad once mentioned to me that it was so painful to see my mum come out sedated after undergoing surgery to remove the cancerous lump. He said that my mum had always been a fighter, and even when she was sedated and under anaesthesia, she was still squirming and in so much pain that she was struggling around and trying to remove the oxygen mask.

I knew then, that I definitely wanted to become a doctor.

What further confirmed my passion was when I enlisted for 2 years into the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) for my National Service. My vocation was to be a firefighter and training was never easy. Our mission and motto was “To save lives and property”, with saving lives always being first priority. This further ingrained into me how important and honourable it was to play a part, no matter how small our roles may be, in saving a person’s life. Nobody’s life is worth sacrificing no matter how unimportant they may seem to be. Somebody who passed away in a car accident, may just be another person to you, but to somebody else could be a much loved father, wife or child. It breaks my heart when I read or hear such news because I imagine them to be my dad, mum, sisters or anyone I deeply care about. Who wouldn’t want to go all out protect their loved ones, even be willing to swap places with them if it were possible? I have experienced quite a few deaths and injuries during my service as a firefighter that you normally would not experience on a day to day basis.

This is why “Stay Fit” now has become my motto and driver in life. Most people think of fitness mainly as a physical aspect, but it is so much more than just that! What about being psychologically/spiritually/emotionally fit? We need all these to function optimally isn’t it?

At this moment whilst I am still writing this blog, I am in my 3rd and final year for this degree, still trying to complete my Bachelor’s in Biomedical Science. The past couple years off studying (almost 3 years off from school with 2 years spent serving National Service in Singapore) really had an impact on me, and it was extremely hard to get the brain up and running again after such a long 3-year hiatus. First semester was particularly hard and stressful, with countless all-nighters done, trying to revise and relearn what were supposed to be basics, already long forgotten back in high school. Grades turned out to be inadequate for first year entry into medicine, but I have no regrets because I know that I have tried my best. No point plaguing yourself with all these “what-ifs” because they are just going to hurt you even more. Trust me, I’ve been there many times. At this moment, the action plan is to complete my first degree, and re-apply again to medical school when I’m done via graduate entry, both in Singapore and New Zealand. This is a dream I’ll never give up on, because I know that this is for me and my calling in life.

There have been so many nights, I just could not fall asleep. So many. Lying wide awake in bed, imagining how I would answer people when they ask me why I want to become a doctor. There are so many thoughts, feelings and emotions, I sometimes just don’t know where to start and how to answer. Even when I vocalise it out, the answer just seems so inadequate and pales in comparison to how strongly I feel about it within me. Countless nights have been spent imagining how it must feel like to finally enter into medical school, studying and graduating, starting work in the hospitals, late-night shifts, meeting patients, diagnosing and having consultations. Knowing what goes on when my loved ones fall sick, not being fully clueless as to what is going on, but at least being able to do my best to remedy that.

This is why I am plagued by this deep fire of passion within me to become a doctor. To save lives and help make a difference. Being somewhere, someplace, for somebody that needs life-saving and life-changing medical attention.