18 things I wish I knew earlier

  1. Knowing the value of taking time off to do nothing. (If you’re reading this, thank you Joseph Chen for this gentle reminder that i’m not a super-human and we all sometimes deserve a break from our schedule. It was a good reminder. πŸ™‚ ) Personally, I have a tendency to cram pack my schedule super tight and make sure that i’m always doing something. I have this habit to want to be as productive as I can and may be overly ambitious initially. I’ve come to learn that busyness doesn’t necessarily always lead to accomplishing the most. Also, you can’t last long and will burn out very quickly this way too.
  2. Knowing to pace myself for the long run and that consistency is key. I used to think of myself as a sprinter. I still love sprints. But i’ve come to appreciate long runs too. My time in National Service (NS) serving in the Scdf firefighting department gave me one of life’s most important lessons of looking out for myself and pacing myself to survive in the long run. Training was intense and pretty crazy sometimes, and if you didn’t pace yourself, you’re gonna crash and burn pretty bad. Pace yourself, wait it out, even if things aren’t passing fast. As long as you’re progressing, you’ll get there eventually. Don’t give up!
  3. To constantly filter what goes in and out of my mind and heart. Things you see and hear around you everyday, not everything is good and worth taking in. Learn to separate the good from the bad, and be aware of everything around you. Only allow values and experiences worth their weight in gold to enter and remain. During NS, people I met didn’t always have the best habits or were of the best character, and I subconsciously picked up several bad habits and experiences without filtering the bad gunk out. But that’s life isn’t it? It throws everything at you, and when you crumble and realise you’re a mess, that’s when you learn! From the School of Hard Knocks πŸ˜‰
  4. Set financial goals. Realistic amounts. Something you know you can keep up in the long run. And a target age that you know when you should aim to hit them by. This way, you have something to work towards and will not be so easily tempted to impulse buy that will only push your goal further back.
  5. Learning to let go and let God lead the way. Thanks Christian Brillhart for this reminder. You’ve been an awesome God-fearing friend and companion that i’ve made these past 2 years and helped me so much in my walk with God, keeping me accountable and consistent in my prayers and quiet time. If I tried to control everything in life, i’d go crazy. Rather, I now let Him take control of my ‘steering wheel of life’. People come, people go. Things happen, then disappear. You gain, then lose. If you keep holding on to the past, you will not know how to live in the present. Let go, let God. To be honest if I could not do this, I think I will go insane with worry and sadness because everything in life is so uncertain and fragile! God gives, and he takes away. Everything in His own time.
  6. Being aware that whatever I did, doesn’t always matter to other people very much. It may mean the world or even tear me apart. But the unfortunate truth is that even if I pass away tonight, the world will still remain and life will go on. Personally, I use this as a reason to push myself harder. To make sure that what I do, positively impacts others around me so my presence is felt πŸ™‚
  7. Self-love. Most of us aren’t aware that we only deserve the best. We don’t value ourselves enough. We let other people do things to us that should never have happened. We don’t protect ourselves enough. We don’t know how to say ‘NO’. Only when it gets unbearable do we snap and crumble and ask ourselves why we let others do what they did. Mental and emotional breakdown. We don’t let others beat us up do we? Then why do we let others mentally beat up and take advantage of us? At the same time i’m not saying that we should have this mentality that we should be proud and expect the whole world to revolve around us. No. Be humble. But at the same time, know that you deserve some TLC too. Yes, i’m talking to you alpha males out there too πŸ˜‰ We could always do with more love and care.
  8. Recognise that money is important, but yet isn’t everything. Money can only help us so much, but it will not solve all our problems. In fact, you may face even more problems with more money! Remember this phrase? “With more power, comes great responsibility”
  9. Time is more valuable than money. We can always earn back lost money, but we will never be able to rewind the clock back. Don’t fall into the trap of placing the value of money over time. Because when we are old and weary, what can we do with so much wealth anyway? What matters is how we have meaningfully spent our time here on Earth.
  10. Know when to cultivate relationships both deep and wide. By this I mean to develop as wide a social network as you can, but at the same time, choose a couple of close mates that you can go deep with. Be able to have heartfelt conversations with them. Be yourself. Be vulnerable. Be accountable. It always helps πŸ™‚
  11. Learn to say ‘No’. We don’t owe it to others to have to say Yes. Its alright to reject people sometimes. When you mean ‘No’ but say ‘Yes’, you may end up disappointing them in the end anyway. Your decision matters too!
  12. Be myself. I shouldn’t have to put up a false front in front of others. If they don’t like me for who I am, why should I consider them to be friends? Of course, we have to learn how to work well with others and conflict is sure to arise at times. But you should not cultivate this bad habit of pretending to be someone else you’re not because you’re gonna lose either way I see it. If you succeed and people ‘think’ that is truly who you are, you will always be afraid that people only like you because of your mask, and not for you. And that is not a nice feeling to have is it? Also, you may start to get confused with who you personally are as well. It is so important to be in tune with your identity and know oneself. If you yourself don’t even know who you are as a person, how are you going to expect others to know who you are? If you fail and people see that you are placing a ‘mask’ whenever you’re with them, they will not see a genuine connection and will not be willing to mutually cultivate a real friendship with you isn’t it? We all want real friends who love us for us. Not because of our ‘masks’ or whatever things we have.
  13. Verbalise things out. Don’t keep it inside you. As a guy, I know we tend to keep things inside our heads and hearts. But there is only so much we can take before we explode. Or rather, implode. This is something us guys should learn from the girls! Learn to express yourself and lighten all that mental and emotional baggage you’re carrying around. You’d feel so much better and lighter after.
  14. Know that the phrase “Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is utterly false. They are just as deadly, if not even more so. You can see the physical damage done by violence, but you can’t see the mental and emotional damage dealt by words. You may have physical scars, but I feel mental & emotional scars are what hurt more people in this day and age. We may seem fine and whole outside, but inside, a total wreak.
  15. Be aware that other people are real people leading their own lives and have feelings, dreams and emotional baggage that they are dealing with. I know it may seem obvious. But it may sometimes be very easy to just focus on ourselves and the problems we’re facing whilst ignoring the fact that others have their own shit to deal with too. We don’t have to be so savage, and it doesn’t necessarily always have to be a dog eat dog world if we want to survive. If we could all be a little more understanding and cut each other some slack, the world would be a much better place.
  16. Not to focus too much on personal gain, but on what I can positively contribute to society. Learning how to create value and impact other people’s lives. Don’t chase material wealth. When you create something of value for others, they will bring value to you too.
  17. Know when to stop. By this I mean cutting off relationships you know are way past their expiration date or toxic and obviously dragging you down. Stopping the influence they have on your life, even when you know that it will kill and hurt you inside. But trust me, face it now and cut it off ASAP. The longer you drag it on, the more it’s gonna hurt. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘trying to make it work’ when deep down inside, you know it isn’t. But you’re trying to convince yourself otherwise till you believe a lie. Hurt now, hurt less.
  18. Knowing that there is a season for everything. That What we can do is to ride them out and take them when they come. To learn and appreciate that they are all part and parcel of life. There will be a time and place for things to happen. And as Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says..

To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,

And a time to die;

A time to plant,

And a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill,

And a time to heal;

A time to break down,

And a time to build up;

A time to weep,

And a time to laugh;

A time to mourn,

And a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones,

And a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace,

And a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain,

And a time to lose;

A time to keep,

And a time to throw away;

A time to tear,

And a time to sew;

A time to keep silence,

And a time to speak;

A time to love,

And a time to hate;

A time of war,

And a time of peace

I started out this post with the intention on writing 10 things I wished I knew earlier. But along the way, the thoughts just kept flowing, and now i’ve ended up with 18 things. And even then, I know that I have definitely missed quite a couple still.. There’s just so much stuff I wish I knew earlier!

Also.. I would love it if you guys could comment and let me know what you wished you knew/did earlier! Always keen to learn and see things from a different perspective.

As always, thanks for reading guys πŸ™‚

Paul Chong

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