This year came with another big wake up call from the universe, where I finally was able to see what kept me spinning my wheels in my pursuit of business success.
Driven by blind ambition and the never-ending need to prove myself, all my accomplishments up until this point were achieved by brute force since I had no patience with myself. When I have a goal in mind, I develop tunnel vision and proceed to mow the goal down with everything I’ve got.
Pushing myself hard to achieve my goals was a price I had always been willing to pay, until it became clear to me why I was stuck in the cycle of the perpetual chase.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always attacked my goals at 120% (because 100% was not enough). I was proud of my “work ethic”. Throwing myself at my goals has been the only way I knew how to operate in life.
I did the same thing in business. I went after arbitrary goals and what I thought I wanted because I wanted to be successful. But what I realised was all the activities I believed I had to do in order to achieve success and to keep myself busy were really just masking my fears of failure and my insecurities about my career since I could never figure out what I really should be doing with my life.
Followed by an uninspiring career sitting in cubicles inside uninspiring companies, my unhealthy relationship with work was the source of pain and suffering behind my business experience.
Since becoming an entrepreneur, I’d throw myself into every business idea I see other people succeed with, and worked hard at achieving the same success. And when I find myself failing at other people’s business ideas, I was forced to face all the negative emotions about myself and my work that stemmed from anxiety, stress, feelings of instability and uncertainty that ultimately dragged down my mental state.
I started the year in a pretty bad place feeling like a loser (again). However, as I continued to learn to sit with all the negative emotions (by not pushing them down), I was able to turn my mindset around by coaching myself, and ended the year with a different outlook on life.
This was another hard year where I needed to do a lot of growing and deep self work.
Things To Celebrate
Improved Relationship With Parents
My relationship with my parents finally started to improve. While on the surface, it may seem like we get along, but in reality, our relationship has been strained for a long time because of my inability to express myself with words, and the fact that I never felt accepted and understood by them.
Our communication with each other has never been great because they are also not great at communication.
Being around them feels like I was always trapped in a big tangled mess of mixed emotions and energy. It’s a mix of love and gratitude for them, yet at the same time, feeling trapped and suffocated because their energy to me was overbearing.
Like most parents who want what they think is best for you, they’ve tried dictating where my life should go, and what I should do without being explicit, but I feel it in their energy.
While I need them and want them in my life, I also wanted them to leave me alone so I can find my own path in life without criticism and judgement.
The tension between us comes from our different world views, cultural upbringing and beliefs about everything — work, career, marriage, relationships, friendships…
Whenever things get heated, I’d just ignore them, not engage and get the hell away because I had no desire to listen to advice or behave in ways that doesn’t align with me.
In February, I finally puckered up the courage to tell them how I really felt and the weight finally dropped as I began to learn to express myself and communicate better.
Really glad our relationship is finally in repair and moving to a better place.
Self Development Work
I continued to struggle to get clarity, and was stuck in confusion, anxiety and stress because I had no idea what I really wanted to build for a new business I desperately tried to create.
After body work sessions with a healer friend, I learned that my body and nervous system was in freeze. I was told to learn to really listen to my body (not my mind) because that’s where the truth ultimately lies.
While I resisted getting a job, I eventually came to terms with it after working through the shame, feeling like a failure, and the negative emotions associated with a job.
My self talk went from:
- “When am I gonna catch a fucking break?!”
- “I hate job hunting! And everything that comes with it!”
- “I don’t even know what the hell I’m looking for.”
- “Ok… this is not forever. It’s just temporary.”
- “This doesn’t define you.”
- “Who cares what people think?”
The priority was to get myself out of my own head and stop spiralling downwards so I don’t end up depressed again.
I just needed to learn to not allow my mind to take over my life, and stop overthinking.
Because I finally understood the importance of creating space for myself, I promised myself to not think about business or build anything until I have clarity and alignment with what I want to create.
I had no idea how long this process would take, and I realised I needed to learn to trust myself, and trust that my life will work itself out without me pushing nor forcing artificial results that I think I want to see.
Looking back, deciding to dedicate my time and energy to practice listening to my body, meeting its needs, observing its changes, being willing to wait and practice being patient with myself was the best thing I did for myself to start turning my life around.
I purposely got a boring, low stress temp job in business support close to home in June. I didn’t want any responsibilities, pressure and stress on my body, and I also didn’t want to use my brain especially on work I don’t care about.
The job served its purpose to help me pay the bills, pass time and gives me the mental space to focus on my body and my health.
The 6-week temp assignment turned into a 9 month gig and finished right before COVID lockdown in March.
Improved Health & Healed Motion Sickness
While I worked on improving my health in 2018, my health deteriorated again once I spiralled downward, became over stressed, paralysed and overthinking the development of a new business. I ended up in a lot of physical pain.
Since discovering the Medical Medium through my sister and hearing about her health improvements, I decided to follow Anthony William’s advice because I was curious to see what improvements I can feel in my body.
After investing in a juicer and a blender, I committed to developing and integrating new health routines into my life by drinking celery juice and heavy metals detox smoothie every morning.
After about 3 months, I noticed that I was able to sit at the back of the bus for the first time in my life without getting sick, feeling anxious nor queasy on my way to work.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had motion sickness and dizziness and hated all forms of transportation. It was one of the sources of my anxiety because I never know when I’d start feeling nauseous.
I had a love & hate relationship with travelling for this reason.
I am shocked by how much my body can change just by learning to put the right food and nutrition in it. Because nothing I’ve tried in the past (including doctors, nutritionists, diets, health programs, Eastern and Western medicine) has been able to heal me from this life-long chronic condition.
I feel very fortunate that Medical Medium showed up in my life, and helped me see that I can finally start to live like a normal person with an improved quality of life.
It’s amazing just to be able to tilt my head down when I’m in moving vehicles without the queasy feeling coming on.
This year, my cooking skills improved and I feel more confident in the kitchen with an improvement in my health. It’s given me the motivation to keep going.
What I’m Grateful For
- My parents always there for me despite our disagreements
- Improved mental and emotional capacity to reframe negative emotions
- Temp job to pay the bills
- Space and time to focus on improving my health
- Finally healing motion sickness
- My own bathroom (housemate finally moved out)
- No rental increase
Things To Improve
Learn to Trust Myself
In the beginning of 2019, I was looking for help and mentorship because I grew tired of building and pivoting in business alone. I wanted guidance and support. I wanted someone to help me pull my business vision together in a way that makes sense for me.
So I borrowed money from my parents to invest in a year-long Business Mentorship Program mistakenly thinking that some business coach was going to help me solve my life misalignment issue.
When I found out that JenKuo.com became available for purchase, I took it as a “sign from the universe” that I could finally build my personal brand online.
But I realised it was my mind screwing with me, justifying and rationalising my decisions that led me down the wrong path (yet again).
After just 2 months, I pulled myself out of the Business Mentorship Program because I finally recognised that I was not ready to be building a new business, no matter how much my monkey mind tried to convince me I should.
The reason I felt like I kept looking for advice, guidance and support is because I didn’t know how to trust myself and support myself. I feel like I’m continuously reminded why I needed to keep prioritising my own self work, because I have come to finally understand that the reason why I kept looking for solutions outside of myself is due to the lack of trust I have with myself.
Because my new keyboard stopped working, and I had to take it in for warranty repairs at the beginning of the year, the disruption broke the daily practice streak I built up in 2018.
The repair took longer than expected, and as a result, piano practice slipped out of my life.
Revelation of Old Patterns & Energy
I started the year feeling flustered, frustrated and stressed. Coming up with a bunch of short term business ideas was just a bad reaction to my dwindling bank account. After feeling very unproductive and frustrated developing a new business, I went into panic mode and felt desperate to get out of my situation.
After pulling out of the Business Mentorship Program, it finally dawned on me that what I’ve been doing for 9 years was repeating my patterns of how I originally started my business in 2010.
The only reason I decided to start my side hustle was because I realised I’m never going to be happy working for someone else. I hated my job and the company I worked for, and saw business as “my way out” — my prison break.
I wanted to run as far away as possible from the miserable life I hated. And the idea of building my own business consumed me like a cancer.
I thought that making money in my own business would solve all my problems and help me escape my reality — the soul-sucking corporate job, and getting my parents off my back.
Because I started in business with the wrong energy, I became perpetually trapped in my own negative patterns and cycles.
Realising that everything I did in my entrepreneurship career up to that point had the wrong energy attached to it, was the biggest revelation I needed to start breaking my own patterns and behaviours, and becoming more self aware.
Because I’ve able to identify that my blind ambition and my need to prove myself is a toxic force in my life that always led to negative outcomes, I started learning to let go of my ambitions to create a business, and my high achiever mindset I’ve identified with all my life. I needed to learn to strip away what doesn’t serve me.
In order to master myself, I decided to strip my life down to the bare bones and made life very simple. Back to the basics, the fundamentals.
I treated myself as if I was living in a Buddhist monastery, learning to be grateful for the mundane things in life (grocery shopping, preparing food, cooking, eating well, cleaning), learning to be content and fulfilled with basic essentials and learning to enjoy being in solitude.
I practiced being content with having a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a clean and tidy environment to live in, clothes to wear, access to healthy food, and the ability to move my body.
I realised how lucky I am to be able to have all the things I took for granted in my life.
I practiced being and feeling instead of thinking and doing. I practiced not giving into my desires and being ok with having nothing, doing nothing and achieving nothing.
This year was the first time I’m able to enjoy the true essence of life, appreciating the simple things without the conditioning to hustle and grind, to keep doing more, more and more.
I finally understood the importance of mastering the fundamentals of managing and living a peaceful and content life without the “busyness” of all the shoulds. A life of good nutrition, movement, gratitude, mindfulness, compassion, being present, patience, understanding, focus, discipline, and enjoying the process.
I realised that these are the fundamental disciplines and life skills that will become the bedrock of whatever I want to create in the future. Because I now know they are skills I can lean on and trust when work and responsibilities inevitably will pile onto my plate as a new career emerge.
I recognised the importance of allowing myself time for these life skills to grow roots, firmly take hold and to be ingrained deep in me so I won’t have to exert extra energy to think about them or practice them because they will just become a part of me and how I operate.
Wants VS Needs
I learned how little I actually needed to live a comfortable life with basic essentials. Because I stripped my life down and stopped overcrowding it with non-essentials, I gave myself the space to clearly identify and really understand this distinction.
I can now clearly see that when I found myself in overdrive, frustration, stress, anxiety or depression, I was continuously pushing for and forcing things to happen in my life that I thought I wanted. Every time I give into my desires (wanting this and that), I end up in disappointment and burnout.
It was a blessing to finally learn how to fulfil my own needs, because it started helping me see everything else I have in life as “cherry on top” instead of what I expect or deserve from life.
I’m starting to learn that a simple life is a much better way to live when I’m not busy chasing anything nor forcing anything to happen.
Respect My Own Timing
At the end of the year, I felt a change in my energy as I started to feel in alignment with myself. I began to open up to the idea of creating something new with a sense of renewed energy. While this felt exciting, I didn’t want my mind to dictate what I should create, and instead I wanted to trust my intuition and allow things to emerge from within me this time.
Learning from past mistakes, and my old patterns of immediately slamming my foot on the gas pedal trying to “make something happen”, I told myself to go turtle speed.
“Don’t rush. Take your time, and do it your way.”
I want whatever I’m creating this time to be durable and sustainable. And if it happens to be a business, then the game is to stay in business for as long as possible so I can keep playing the game with as little stress, pressure and chaos as possible because this time, I want to enjoy the journey of building a business and creating something I’m proud of.
The only metric I decided to be concerned about is whether I am getting better day after day relative to where I was the day before.
Now that I’ve come to appreciate a low stress, calm and peaceful life, I committed to learn to operate at a slow and steady pace.
Learning to respect my own timing in life also meant that I’m learning to trust myself to allow things to come to me naturally.
Focus Less on “Goals”
As I learned to let go and strip away my toxic achievement mindset, meant I also needed to learn to let go of my fixation on goals and metrics.
I realised that when my goals are achieved, the feeling of achievement is always short lived as I immediately turn my attention to “What’s next?”, and begin chasing after the next thing. It never ends.
I learned that achievement doesn’t mean fulfilment. This year, I finally learned to start enjoying the journey (and choosing the scenic route) instead of fixating on the destination.
I’ve also stopped giving myself timeframes to accomplish certain things, and removed unnecessary pressure I have the habit of putting on myself.
Now, I’m learning to lean more into intentions and projects. Making sure I take the necessary steps everyday towards a life I actually want to live.
Recap 2019 Goals
Start a business in alignment with me
Nope — I wanted to build a business and I wanted to be aligned to what I created, yet I was still out of alignment with myself that I eventually realised I needed to focus on my root problem — me!
Nope — Just for shits and giggles, I also had some stupid number attached to it.
Become good at selling
Nope — No business means no need to sell.
Improve coaching skills
Nope — This became irrelevant.
I didn’t achieve any of my goals, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t care that I didn’t achieve my goals, and I didn’t even feel bad about it.
I got something way more valuable than achieving my goals. I learned key life lessons and expanded my human capacity and human skills that I could never have planned for.
- Create honest, soul-level work and show up as myself
- Build a personal brand website
- Start a newsletter
- Start writing
- Write 1,000 words per day
- Develop new business ideas aligned with me
- Create great experiences
- Relearn SEO
- Continue to refine PKM system
I came across this video by Master Shi Heng Yi. It resonated with me so much that I felt called to share it.
I feel like I just reached the peak of one mountain, yet at the same time, arrived at the foot of another mountain. I believe that a good life is about climbing mountains. I’m curious to see what will emerge from me in 2020.