5 things you should be doing!!

Such a click-baity title isn’t it? I should know.. cause I’ve read countless articles that have such headings hahaha

Oh well.. let me at least try to justify it alright?

Since young, I always wondered what I was missing out on. And you know what they all say..

You don’t know what you don’t know!

This favourite quote of mine can actually apply to so many things in life!

This was what exactly made me wonder what I could do then (starting as early as possible) to make the best use of my time, because unlike popular belief, money isn’t the most valuable thing we can have. Time is. Anything we do in life, requires time. Be it working, studying, learning a new skill, eating, going on holidays etc. We always run out of time. That’s why we often hear people around us saying “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have enough time for this..” etc. Time is precious, and it is the most important commodity everyone has.

Imagine that you had a bank account that at the beginning of every day got $86,400 put into it, but at the end of every day, that money disappeared.

Now imagine – you’d take that money out wouldn’t you, you’d take it out, spend it on yourself, you’d give the money to someone else, you’d take the money out and store it. You wouldn’t let this $86,400 disappear would you?

Well. You are given this bank account. Unfortunately it’s not money, but it’s time. Everyone in this room is given 86,400 seconds at the beginning of the day to do whatever they want with it. And at the end of the day you’re not given that time back so when you look at it like that that’s why I think it’s important to use the time we’ve got as positively and productively as possible.”

– Steven Sutton

Steven Sutton was just 15 when he discovered he had an incurable disease- Cancer. When he realized that it wasn’t going away anytime soon, he set out to do what many of us fail to do everyday. LIVE. But i’ll stick to my original post intention and not sidetrack, so if you would like to find out more, you can click here to read up more about him. (I highly recommend you do!! Extremely inspiring and thought-provoking)

Anyway, so here are my 5 things I believe everyone should be doing to reap maximal benefits in their lives!

  1. Making their beds in the morning when they first wake up. This simple, yet extremely effective habit was my first real habit that I tried when I first started my 40 days challenge and succeeded. This success gave me more and more confidence, which motivated me to just keep on doing even more crazier challenges. Read here to find out more benefits of why all of us should start our day which just a simple act of making our beds everyday. Don’t use that excuse that you don’t have enough time. We all do, and its a daily choice that you should consciously make. It’ll be worth it. TRUST ME. Where did I get all these inspiration from? TIM FERRIS of course! He’s been my favourite pod-caster. On his blog, you can find a link to his podcast explaining why he tries his best to do these 5 things within the first 60-90 minutes of his morning and if he manages to do at least 3 of these, he considers the morning won. Pretty cool huh?
  2. Spending just 3 minutes at the end of the day reflecting & evaluating how they’ve spent their time that day. It really doesn’t have to take long! Just stop and spend a few moments to ask yourself- e.g. Have what I done today, enabled me to be somewhat closer to achieving my life goals? Is there anything I should have done/should not have done? Would I change anything? If so, what is it and how would I have done instead?
  3. Exercising more. We all could do with more exercise. It doesn’t only have the physical benefits we all know about. There are so many other tremendous benefits such as having a MOOD UPLIFT, feeling better and more confident of ourselves, feeling more awake to go back for another round of study/work, being able to eat more.. 😉 yes.. this is a big one for y’all isn’t it? HAHAHA just remember though, no one, and I literally mean NO ONE, can out-train a bad diet in the long run. A couple days, weeks, months even maybe.. but not for long.
  4. Having a life plan. Not some vague idea of what they want to be, but something physically WRITTEN DOWN and SPECIFIC. There’s a difference. A VERY BIG ONE. Remember guys.. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 
  5. Paying yourself first before you spend. So many of us live from paycheck to paycheck. We get all excited when we get our monthly pay, then before we realize, we’re out of cash and then have to wait for next month’s paycheck all over again.. What’s gonna happen when there’s an emergency? An accident maybe? I’m a strong believer in being self-sufficient. We shouldn’t have to rely on others to solve our problems. We shouldn’t have to rely on handouts. If you realize that your monthly salary is always disappearing way too fast and end up always wondering where its gone, you should try this trick. Set up an automatic payment system with your company/bank for your salary each time once it comes in to immediately deduct a fixed amount from it before you can even touch it. This way, you don’t have to rely on self-discipline to save. You don’t even see the money, yet it’s slowly growing.. and before long, you’d have some extra money for that down-payment, to cover that power bill you forgot to budget and take into account for, or to even invest.. But that will be a post and story for another time. Long story short, treat it as an extra taxation that Uncle Sam has implemented. Just that you get to decide what you wanna spend it on when it really comes down to it.

That’s it from me tonight guys, hope its been helpful and worth the click-baity title 😉

P.s. I’ve been thinking about dedicating this blog partly to writing some finance tips and advice that I’ve been learning online/from financial books/podcasts/people and good ol’ investopedia. Would love if you guys could let me know what you think!!

As always, thanks for reading 🙂

Kind regards

Paul Chong

You have it within you! (Learning how to learn)

Im always all about maximising and trying to get the most out of life. Today, I will be talking about learning and how to learn faster. What so important about learning? Learning is basically the key to improvement and getting better. Without it, we’re stuck. We plateau and like a shark, if we don’t swim, we die.

I often hear people say.. “I’m just bad at languages”, or “That guy is just naturally good at Math”. (Like how they always say you shouldn’t examine how good a fish is by its ability to climb trees) Of course, everyone has different natural talents, strengths and abilities. I believe that’s true. Kinda.. To a certain extent. But that can’t just be the sole reason why you’re failing so terribly in your tests surely? No way! I don’t believe that. I sincerely believe that all of us, and by this I mean the vast majority of us (99.9%) of us are able to learn something to an extent that is of a pretty decent standard. Let me give you 2 reasons why I think so. (Correct me if you think i’m wrong)

Point 1: Remember the 3S’s

I used to think I sucked at playing the Violin. In terms of academic subjects, I sucked at History, Physics and Chemistry. Man.. I really disliked them. Really. I still don’t particularly enjoyed studying those subjects. I thought i’d suck at them forever. All this was until I had my GCE ‘O’ Levels in Secondary 4 (Year 10) about 7 years ago. Daily practice of physics and chemistry. Oh man, talk about intense work and studying. However, I noticed that the more I practiced a particular topic in that subject, the easier I found it was to do the questions. I also found that I was slowly disliking the subject less and less the more I practiced. It was like math, the more I practiced, the more I noticed similar patterns and things that were required. I know this isn’t applicable to everything, but for most, it does indeed! Eventually Physics and Chemistry started becoming my favourite 2 subjects during that period, with my Physics results doing even better than the rest of my subjects (including Biology!), by getting an A2. Yes, I know its not a super fantastic result. But this was pretty decent compared to the measly C6 I used to score. What about the Violin you may ask. Trevor, my last violin/viola teacher, taught me SO MUCH. Its insane how he managed to get me from struggling and barely able to play a simple song decently to attaining my Grade 5 Violin (and almost took my Grade 8 Violin exam but I left for New Zealand before I was able to) and Grade 8 Viola exam (ABRSM) within a couple months. Before that, I was struggling to even fathom the thought of going for my Grade 3 Violin exam. How he did it I don’t know. But what I do know is that he taught me the magic of repetition, breaking and slowing complex things down during practice sessions. And that, changed my mentality forever at how I see things that I have to learn. When you try and learn something difficult, it always seems crazy impossible and that may cause you to tear your hair out in frustration isn’t it? But hold on a second! It isn’t necessarily that tough! This is what I’ve learnt.

  1. Take a step back
  2. Calm yourself down
  3. Tell yourself that what you’re trying to do isn’t impossible
  4. Understand the aim or goal of what you have to do
  5. Break your task down into its simplest form possible. (e.g. if you have to play a music piece, you might start off learning how to play the notes correctly from a single bar; if you’re trying to memorise the names of the entire musculoskeletal system, you may want to try doing it systematically and understand why a particular muscle may be called that (e.g. Flexor Carpi Radialis is called that because it helps you FLEX your forearm, Carpi refers to the ‘hand’ in Latin, Radialis corresponds to one of the bones in the forearm it is associated with that is called the Radius); if you have to memorise the entire Krebs/Calvin cycle or all 21 amino acids, you may want to start off by understanding why you have to even memorise it in the first place and then start breaking it down into the various names and enzymes you have to learn)
  6. Take your time and don’t rush through it. Undue stress on your mind makes it harder for you to focus and concentrate on the task at hand. Tell yourself that you have all the time in the world. You just need to understand.
  7. Keep repeating and testing yourself over and over again. And by test, I DO NOT MEAN “RE-READING”. I literally mean you should be testing yourself by taking out a blank piece of paper and writing down everything you have just learnt and everything that can remember.

Basically..

SSS

Step back!

Slow down!

Simplify!

A difficult task is always made easier by slowing down the pace at which you’re trying to learn, and then stepping back to try and understand the big picture by breaking it down into simple concepts. Then PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!

Point 2:Right form of motivation.

Talk about hard work just doesn’t cut it. you can try and memorise as hard all you want but you can only progess so far within so much time. let me give you an example.. if one day you attend a free lecture on HIV 101. Are you gonna be able to remember all the new facts suddenly thrown at you? The names? etc etc. (Succumbing to a terminal illness. then you’re suddenly able to learn and remember so many new facts and even the scientific names and terminology used by medical professionals)

No. In fact, usually the best people to normally talk to about such things are those who are personally affected by it. Continuing on from our HIV example. If you choose Person A with HIV and a layman (Person B) from the side road to undergo the lecture, its highly likely that Person A is going to score better than Person B. Its not because Person A is smarter/is better at learning than Person B, in fact, the opposite might even be true. But what made Person A able to remember, learn and pick up that knowledge so much faster than B, was that he had the motivation to do so. He was able to personally relate to the disease! And that was what made all the difference. So remember, if you want to learn or pick something up faster, try to relate that thing to yourself and take a personal approach.

So remember guys, you DON’T suck at something. If you keep telling yourself you do, it’s just going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you guys have any additional tips on how to learn better and faster/be more efficient, I would love it if you could share your thoughts in the comments section below 😊

Thats all from me for today folks!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Paul Chong

The Purpose Driven Life (3)

This continues on from Part 2 previously, and is the last of this brief 3-part series.

What drives your life?

Ask yourself these questions..

  • What motivates you to get out of bed and get to work first thing in the morning?
  • Do you currently have a goal?
  • Is there something you know you have to achieve in life?

The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose.

There are 5 major things that drive people to do what they do everyday.

  1. Materialism. Their desire to acquire more wealth and assets in life is their whole goal in life. I may be wrong, but I believe that for many people, this drive to always want more is based on the misconceptions that having more will make them happy, more important, more secure etc.. But this is NOT TRUE! Possessions only provide temporary happiness. There is never enough. It like like a bottomless pit that wealth will never be able to fill. NET-WORTH DOES NOT EQUATE TO SELF-WORTH!!
  2. The need for approval from others. They allow the expectations of parents/friends/others control their lives. If there is something I have learnt, it is that one sure way to failure and misery is trying to please everyone. It is absolutely impossible.
  3. Fear. Fear makes people do things. The fear of failure may even make people to do things they would otherwise never have done. On the other hand, past experiences may have an impact on us, making us afraid to venture out into the world. It may even cause us to miss great opportunities. Instead, they try to play it safe and maintain the status quo by avoiding any form of risks. In any case, either way is not good.
  4. Resentment and Anger. Much too often, when something hurts us real bad and breaks us down, we keep that memory and that feeling safely locked up in our head. Our brain just goes into overdrive and constantly rewinds and rehearse that scenario and how we felt during that moment over and over and over again. Many of us aren’t living in the present. We allow the past to affect our present. The present becomes the past. And it becomes a vicious cycle. Resentment always hurts you more than it does the person you resent. While your offender has probably forgotten the offense and gone on with lfe, you continue to stew in your pain, perpetuating the past.
  5. Regret and Guilt. Much like the previous point, we often replay the scene and how we felt then over and over. We keep asking ourselves, “What if…”. Unfortunately, life is not like a video game in that there is no restart/rewind/extra lives to rely on. Shit happens, what we have to learn is how to let go of the past. We have to learn how to accept mistakes, accept things for how they were and move on. That, I believe, is one of the most important skills we have to learn in life. We all fail, but what matters is how we pick ourselves up, dust em off, and move on with life.

Are we making the most out of our lives? Are we putting to full use the unique talents that God has given each and everyone of us?

One day, we will all stand in front of God and he will ask us 2 simple questions.

  1. Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  -John 14:6
  2. What did you do with what I gave you?

Your life, talents, gifts, opportunities, energy, relationships and resources.. Did you makes full use of them all or squander them away?

The first question will determine WHERE we spend eternity.

The second question will determine WHAT WE DO in eternity.

Ask yourself : How would you answer if someone came up to you and asked what your driving force is for your life? Is what you do everyday, helping bring you closer to what you want it to be?

I hope you’ve found these articles helpful, and have enjoyed reading as much as I do enjoy writing them.

If you would like to know what drives me in life, maybe you would like to read this post that I wrote about myself, explaining my dreams, passions and the reasons why I do what I do everyday.

Or if you’ve missed out, you can read Parts 1 and 2.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Paul Chong

Disclaimer: I have used and quoted certain portions from the book “The Purpose Driven Life” in this blog post. I have claim no rights to any of the material found in it.

The Purpose Driven Life (2)

This continues from Part 1 previously.

We were all created for a unique purpose. Our birth was no accident. Our parents may not have planned to have us, but God did.

I love this quote.

While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children.

The bible says, “You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”

God has prescribed every single detail of our body. He deliberately chose our race, skin colour, hair, everything. He also determined the natural talents we would have and the uniqueness of our personality. He has planned when, where and how we were going to be born and how long we will live too.

He has taken into account human error and sin, and makes no mistakes.

This is a poem was written by Russell Kelfer.

You are who you are for a reason.

You’re part of an intricate plan.

You’re a precious and perfect unique design,

Called God’s special woman or man.

You look like you look for a reason.

Our God made no mistake.

He knit you together within the womb,

You’re just what he wanted to make.

The parents you had were the ones he chose,

And no matter how you may feel,

They were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind,

And they bear the Master’s seal.

No, that trauma you faced was not easy.

And God wept that it hurt you so;

But it was allowed to shape your heart

So that into His likeness you’d grow.

You are who you are for a reason,

You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.

You are who you are, beloved,

Because there is a God!

I love the last two paragraphs of this poem because it just cuts straight to what all of us are thinking- if God is so loving and kind, why does he allow evil and bad things to happen to us and people all over the world? I believe that at the end of the day, we just need to keep growing that little faith of ours, to know that He has a perfect plan. And that is that everything that happens, happens for a reason, and in His time we’d find out.

Regards

Paul Chong

Continue on to read Part 3.

Or if you’ve missed out, you can catch up to Part 1.

Disclaimer: I have used and quoted certain portions from the book “The Purpose Driven Life” in this blog post. I have claim no rights to any of the material found in it.

The Purpose Driven Life (1)

What on earth am I here for?

Sometimes, I question the purpose of my existence. What is my purpose in life? What have I been put here on earth for? Is there a reason as to why I am in this particular spot in life right now? Or has everything happened by chance and the only reason why I exist is all because of pure coincidence? By reading this book by Rick Warren, I hope it will help encourage, clarify and give me a better understanding to my purpose in life.

This book is sorted into 40 days, each chapter meant for its reader to read once a day for 40 days. (HOW COINCIDENTAL IS THAT?! In fact, i’m convinced that this isn’t a coincidence. There has to be a reason why this book and the reason why I named this website after 40 days of Fitnesse both match up.)

Why 40 days/chapters for this book? Let me quote from the preface of this book.

The bible is clear that God considers 40 days a spiritually significant time period. Whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purposes, he took 40 days. For example:

  1. Noah’s life was transformed by 40 days of rain.
  2. Moses was transformed by 40 days on Mount Sinai.
  3. The spies were transformed by 40 days in the Promised Land.
  4. David was transformed by Goliath’s 40 day challenge.
  5. Elijah was transformed when God gave him 40 days of strength from a single meal.
  6. The entire city of Nineveh was transformed when God gave the people 40 days to change.
  7. Jesus was empowered by 40 days in the wilderness.
  8. The disciples were transformed by 40 days with Jesus after his resurrection.

Before we were born, God has already planned every moment in every part of our lives. It is by no accident that anything happens. Everything happens for a reason.

One verse that has touched me deeply is Psalms 139.

Psalm 139 New King James Version (NKJV)
God’s perfect knowledge of man.
139 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

The chapter goes further on, and I strongly encourage everyone to read it. It talks about how even when we are in the depths of our misery and problems and feel that no one else understands how we feel and how hopeless everything seems to be, God understands. In fact, he knows it better than us. He knew what was going to happen, what will happen, even before we were born. Isn’t that encouraging? To know that we have a God that we can talk to about anything? A God who understands and is willing to listen and help us out?

Back to the book. So for the next 3 days, I will try my best to post my thoughts into a 3-part series as I go through the first 3 chapters of this book to give you guys a glimpse into it, and share a couple of things that I’ve learnt and think are helpful for us all. And if you like what you’ve read, why not pick up a copy of this book to find out more?

Chapter 1: IT ALL STARTS WITH GOD

It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than anything we can imagine. Why do so many people question their purpose and existence in life? That is because we typically begin at the wrong starting point- ourselves. We ask self-centered questions like “What do I want to be? What should I do with my life? What are MY goals, MY ambitions, MY dreams for MY future?”

But focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life’s true purpose.

Colossians 1:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

We were made by God and for God. We exist only because God wills that we exist. And until we understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead-end.

Many self-help books, even Christian ones, suggest ways to discover the purpose of life. However, they approach the subject from a self-centered viewpoint. They tell us to consider our dreams. Clarify our values. Set some goals. Etc. Sure they often lead to great success. But we have to be aware that being successful and fulfilling your life’s purpose are not the same! We may be successful in life, yet not have fulfilled our life’s purpose and reason why God has placed us here on earth.

Why have we been placed here on Earth?

  • The easiest and best way to discover the purpose of an invention, is to ask the creator of it.

So the only way to answer this question to our purposes in life, is to ask God. How then can we do that? God has clearly revealed his purposes for our lives in the Bible. It is our Owner’s Manual. The one and only true book that does what no other book can ever say or know.

To discover our purpose in life we have to turn to God’s Word, and not the world’s wisdom. We must build our life on eternal truths, not psychology, success motivation, or inspirational stories.

Without God, life makes no sense.

– Andrei Bitov

We were all created to worship something. There is always something that we focus and put on a pedestal in our lives, be it money, fame, influence, material wealth, people etc. If we are not careful, we may one day wake up and realize that the past 40 years of our lives was all for naught.

Day 1: Think about your purpose.

Point to ponder: It’s not about me.

Verse of the day-

Colossians 1:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Part 1 of 3

Continue reading to part 2.

Disclaimer: I have used and quoted certain portions from the book “The Purpose Driven Life” in this blog post. I have claim no rights to any of the material found in it.

What’s stopping you from being your best?

Why do you set limits on yourself? Haven’t you heard? The sky is the limit. I’ve realised that what’s stopping us from achieving our goals/aspirations or doing what we want most of the time, is ourselves.

Your biggest enemy is yourself.

Your mindset and thoughts are what drive you daily. Too often I hear people talking about their burdens and what is holding them back in life. Okay. Yes. I agree they suck. But like my mum always said (I know I always quote my mum hahahaha but it’s so true she does say it!!), “Don’t keep rejecting all my ideas without providing a solution of your own. There’s no point!”

What i’m trying to say is, don’t keep complaining about what’s holding you back in life. There’s no point! They aren’t going to magically disappear the more you complain about them. In fact, they just might get worse! What you can and should do instead, is to take charge of what you can control. What can you change? Improve upon? If you say my family and financial burden is holding me back from achieving that lifelong dream of wanting to further my education. I challenge you, “Okay, so what are you going to do about it? What can you do?” I don’t know your particular situation, but one thing I know for sure is that most of us aren’t fully maximising our time. We say we don’t have time for night classes, yet we spend hours on facebook or plonk ourselves on the couch watching telly once we get home. We say we don’t have time to read 1 book a month, but can listen to over an hour of music on the bus or subway whilst travelling to and fro. All these minor things you do in your leisure/spare time, it all adds up! I’m not saying you should suddenly plan to maximise and start overthinking every single minute of your life. Just start somewhere. Start small. Maybe try putting that smartphone down when you get home tonight. Pick up a book you’ve been intending to read. Don’t say tomorrow or next week. Do it now. Its now or never. The smartphone has been such a miracle and godsend into our daily lives, making everything so easy and convenient, information so available and accessible, but its also been such a curse to us. I’ve noticed how it has sucked away hours and days of my life when i’m stuck on it (watching videos I don’t even know why i’m watching and clicking the next recommended one after another) and by the time I realise it, time has flown by. Put that phone down. Live in the real world. Read a book. Go to the gym. Take a quick run. Get up slightly earlier to cook a healthy, satisfying breakfast instead of that pie you normally get on the way rushing to work. Have a meaningful conversation with a friend. Listen to a podcast. Tidy up your table or room. Just do something, and start somewhere. It’s gonna have a snowball effect and once you get into it and feel the rhythm, you will just want to keep going and never stop. It’s such an awesome feeling!!! I can’t describe it, but it’s just so satisfying, enjoying yourself and what you’re doing, yet at the same time knowing that you’re being productive as well.

You decide who you want to be. Nothing’s stopping you from being productive.

Your best self is just one positive step away.

Keep at it guys, I sincerely believe that we don’t have to subject ourselves to the mundane, boring, uninteresting life we think we have to live. All we have to do is start somewhere, and start now. We already have what it takes to live a better and more satisfying life, but the onus is on you if you want to or not.

I would love to hear any thoughts, what you guys have to say and any feedback y’all may have! 🙂

Regards

Paul Chong