Tag Archives: change

Navigating the Crossroads

It's not always a straight road

It’s not always a straight road

Just like it’s easier reading books, blogs and appreciating art that some one else has created; it’s easier leaving life up to fate, destiny, a higher power or even friends and family to direct and just living a life others think is best for us.

The difficult bit is writing the story, crafting the blog post and making life yours to live. The life people say we only live once – it doesn’t take long for us to figure out that saying is true.

I’m not saying that we should curtail YouTube, delete all the blogs we are following, never read another book or ignore our friends and families and stubbornly stick to what we think is right; because if you’re reading and comprehending this (i.e. not a bot), then you most likely are human and sticking to what you think is right all the time doesn’t make it right.

It’s not even about creating the big things; though I’m not dissuading you from designing and building a new skyscraper if you are so inclined. It’s simply navigating the crossroads, which as vague as it sounds, happens more often than you think. Too often I see people asking others for advice and in the end making a decision that is the “popular” one. Others just leave the decision and their goals to the future and live in the comfort of the moment. Have you heard the saying “Not making a decision is a decision in itself”?

Decision making skills are naively construed as a straightforward skill we gain throughout our life. I think it is much more than that. As a child, decisions are made for us, everyday, and we try to break those decisions and rules every chance we get by throwing a tantrum or asking “but why?”. Our parents take us places, teach us things, tell us what we can and cannot have, who they think is a bad influence, what they think we should study or potential careers they think would be interesting, citing experience and wisdom to support their advice or directives.

When we move into our teens, as much as we try to assert our independence and rebel, most of the time we just want to live in the moment and enjoy hanging out with friends, living in the comfort of the routine modern society provides. We search for what’s important – the latest trends, being popular, having friends, school results and throughout this time, our interactions and responses start forming a basis for our values.

In our 20s is when things get exciting. Hindsight and aging forces us to face the international truth that somehow wisdom does convert to slightly better decisions and even if our elders are not always right, it is helpful to get their point of view. The smaller decisions we make in our 20s about which friends we want to keep, how many parties we want to attend, whether we will take the first graduate job we get helps us become more self aware. We start to examine the labels we use on ourselves and reinvent or reinforce what we know of ourselves. What does all this have to do with making decisions? More than you think.

To navigate the crossroads we need to be confident in ourselves. Confident, not arrogant; realistic not idealistic and self aware not selfless. We can’t make decisions based on what is best for others, we can’t choose based on what most people think we would or should do, we can’t wait for fate and destiny to do what they will because then at the end of the day, we lose ourselves and the idea of our own ‘free will’. If we stayed as we were as teenagers, choosing something because it’s the opposite of what our parents say or because it’s what your friends would do then we would never know what life would be like if we took charge of it.

The higher powers not within our control will do what they will, people will think what they want of you (some may be truer than others), some will project their lost dreams and hopes onto your situation – kind advice may not be so kind because it prevents you from looking within and around yourself and picking the road you want to tread.

So examine the facts, speak to people you trust to gain insights and recommendations, to bounce ideas off, to ensure you’ve considered the situation well and not to judge; understand who you are and what you want, listen to your intuition or your gut. You are where all these things intersect. You are at the crossroads. Get the best perspective you can, make the best decision you can make and then make the most of that decision and live life brilliantly.

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Glass half full

I was reading a book the other day, “Brain Rules”, you might have heard of it. It’s a great read by John Medina and while I highly recommend it, it’s not what I want to write about today.

There was a short introduction on the concept of “learned helplessness”, where the subject is conditioned to stay in an inescapable situation and have no hope or control over the situation. The subject then resigns itself to its “fate” in a sense, and even though an escape is made available, does not go in search of it. Reading it made me quite upset and made me think of various things – depression, religion, hope, faith, fate, destiny and life in general.

I realized this could relate to many situations in our lives when we feel a lack of control, an inability to change things and a depressing realization that things will never change. I know of people close to me who stay in their jobs even though they hated it because they feel they have no other alternative; of people who consistently found it hard to do well at school and believe that they are less well-endowed intellectually while the issue may just be the methods they have been employing to study or the teaching methods used in the current system.

In those situations, I’m less confident in the effectiveness of an external encouragement compared to the power of internal motivation and awareness. In those situations, the person has to come to their own realization to snap out of that learned helplessness yet it is somewhat a chicken and egg relationship. Yet, like most addictions, I believe it can be overcome.

  1. Awareness is the first step we can take to bring ourselves out of that low
  2. Making a choice – do we want to stay in it or get out of it? Sometimes not making a decision is a decision in itself, which doesn’t make things better. If we want to stay in it, make the most of it and ensure we’re not being miserable staying in it.
  3. Knowing which are the areas we have control over – the world, no; my room, yes; other people’s opinions, no; my own thoughts and behavior, yes
  4. Taking small steps to make changes in those areas we have control over
  5. Optimism and a glass half full psyche – this is where I think faith and hope crosses paths just because while some people garner hope from things around them, others look towards religion and faith and somehow perhaps realizing that someone out there, whoever it is, is looking over us, adds a little booster to the hope meter.
  6. Recognizing the changes and its impact, however small – this is where external encouragement starts to make a difference.

So, hopefully if I ever find myself in a state of “learned helplessness”, I am able to recognize it and take action. Otherwise, maybe a little nudge from the Universe to perhaps allow me to stumble upon my own post or a similar post would point me in the right direction.

Thanks Universe, in advance.

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The Art of Procrastination

The Art of Procrastination. I think I’ve perfected it.

 

1. Before starting on my work, check all email accounts. I’m sure there’s an email I need to respond to or haven’t read properly.

2. Read my favorite blogs on WordPress and then just explore those Freshly Pressed. Add new blogs to those I’m following. I should start on my work but,

3. I should update myself on real-world happenings first! So, I read the news. While reading, Google the tangential issues that peaked my interest. 40 minutes later…

4. Check my email again. Maybe something came in when I wasn’t looking. I’ll start doing stuff in a few minutes, I promise.

5. Oooh an email notification from Facebook. Login to Facebook to find out more, read my news feed for a dose of gossip.

6. Finally pull myself together to write a list of what I aim to do today before realizing that it is already 5pm.

7. Since its close to dinner time, I psyche myself into a state of potential hunger and keep my mind occupied with thoughts of food, or dinner-time TV.

8. Say something motivating and purposeful like, “That’s it, I’m knuckling down to do all these things on this list after dinner and the new episode of The Mentalist which starts at 8:30pm.

9. I follow step 8 through and at 9:30pm, after Mentalist, the warm bed looks real attractive.

10. The cycle willingly repeats itself.

Kids, don’t try this at home.

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Flipside

Actually going to work for a few weeks really put a different spin on working life. All the things I used to hate, didn’t seem so bad! Things like:

1. Getting out of bed before 8am

I love my sleep-ins, but I have to admit this forced me to grab a proper breakfast before heading to work; and since health experts always say breakfast is the most important meal of the day…

+ 5 health points
+ 2 mood points for getting out of the house to take in some of the early morning fresh air

2. Catching public transport with all the other people who seem to be going somewhere important

Public transport always makes for an interesting ride, as soliloquized in my previous post “Mind the Gap“, but more than that, I think it really allowed me to see a different perspective of the city.

+ 5 knowledge points
+ 2 mood points for the opportunity to enjoy the sunset scene without having to drive

3. Having to work to survive

Should we work to enable us to do what we like or should we strive to enjoy our work? In my current situation, seeing my bank balance go up instead of down for once took those thoughts out of my mind, at least for now.

+ 10 financial points
+ 5 mood points for being able to buy the desserts I was craving for
– 5 financial points for spending more on “wants”

4. Five-day work-weeks

I used to think they were too much and ardently fought on the side of legalizing four-day work-weeks instead. Hmm..actually, no change of opinion there. However, it did make me realize how hard it was to plan what to cook for dinner and work issues at the same time. 

+ 5 knowledge points – now I know what my mom has to go through
– 5 mood points due to increased stress levels

5. Having to send a million (pointless) emails a day

I think the nature of a temporary job is to fill a temporary need, so in this case, the emails weren’t completely pointless. Or maybe I was just enjoying the illusion that I was actually doing “work”.

+ 5 self-affirmation points

My evaluation:
Work in small doses increases knowledge of our surroundings, improves our overall health and mood and aids in self affirmation as well as a general boost of our financial situation (if managed properly). I guess it was a positive experience overall!

Next test: Work in larger doses.
Sky streaked with orange

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Multitasking Madness

I’ve got 29 tabs open in my browser and every 2 minutes something else pops into mind and my mouse heads towards the “+” icon to ‘Open a New Tab’!! What is wrong with me?!

  • I want to blog about some story ideas I had
  • I have some job applications to submit
  • Need to do some research on companies for a kick-ass job application
  • Thinking about (and googling) recipe ideas for the leftover kiwi in my pantry
  • Feeling a little frustrated and want to blog about the fuzz that’s growing in my mind and a growing hunger in my belly as it draws closer to dinner time…

Stop!

I took a breath and opened WordPress, but got distracted by reading the posts from some of my favorite bloggers.
Wait, what was I trying to do?
Closed WordPress.
As I berate myself mentally, I realize the pantry is just a few steps away.
Mmm a cookie would taste so good right now.

I should grab one.
But it’s too close to dinner. Or is it?
Images of the Tim Tams I bought tempted me further into the sweet, sweet embrace of my pantry and all its treasures.
A mental battle ensues.
One that logic wins.
Defeated, I grab the thing nearest to me.
My cup – and took a sip of water.
It tasted nothing like the sweet sensation of chocolate.

Searching for a distraction, I looked back at my screen and clicked on a random tab.
It was a job opening I was interested in.
Re-read it.
It was a website I had never seen before, asking for my resume and contact details.
I wondered if they were legit.
Opened a new tab to research on the jobbing website.

It was taking some time to load.

Re-opened WordPress.
Clicked on “New Post”.
Maybe I could try to get a post in while it was loading.
I had some ideas on what to blog, hmmm….
My stomach growls.

I’m hungry, it’s dinner time.
Or close to it.
Everything else will have to wait.

Just for a little while.

My Tim Tam Stash

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I’m Back!

Hi all, sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately. Remember my rant on my recent move and subsequent uncertainty about the situation, which then led to a self-motivational post about life? *takes a breath* If not, see it here!

Hmmm I don’t really know why people do that. By “that” I mean linking their current post to a previous post. I did it because I’ve seen it done so often so here I am trying it out. My verdict: Feels a little silly, but then Maybe it’s just for the readers’ convenience because, let’s admit it, our memories are unpredictable to say the least.

But I digress.

I wasn’t blogging much because I was lured away by the sound of typing on a classic keyboard, and not the kind that comes from my laptop, but from stickier, firmer keys. This sounds crazy but I think I might have been conditioned, yep, like a dog to the bell.

Now before you imagine me floating in the air behind a phantom clicking keyboard, let me just clarify that I did no such thing. To refine the terms of the “classical conditioning” I am under, it has to be in a quiet office space where every one else in there is doing something similar. Now doesn’t that sound like a chain of factory workers sitting at their designated areas typing away on their keyboards, assembling the individual parts of a (Made in China) doll or dress or perhaps even a, dare I say it, a car.

That’s right, an employment opportunity came up with an urgent need for a short term contract, so I filled it. I thoroughly enjoyed it too. I’ll tell you why in my next post; and yes, being able to have extra money to spend on that codfish or salmon was definitely a big part of it.

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This State of Mind

This weekend started out busy.
I had friends over for dinner on Friday and Sunday and was excited, yet a little worried that my amateur cooking would be less than edible.

It’s Monday now, and I spent most of the weekend, and today, sorting through my email.
Well, to clarify, trying to delete my Hotmail accounts.

I’m not sure how many of you use Hotmail, but here’s a low-down:

  • It gives the impression I’m using a 56k modem when it loads
  • I constantly get a frozen page and have to smack the “F5” key in anger, several times
  • Sometimes I can’t even get to the login page
  • Their help files are of no help

It wasn’t always like that, which explains why I have a lot of legacy emails I did not want to lose in that account. Saving you the dramatic, time-wasting blah blah blah, let’s just say I finally managed to use my Yahoo account to sort it out.

It then became necessary to look through my emails that dated back to 2004 (I like my email accounts organised and clean). After an hour of quick skimming and occasional tearing, I realized I had an actual record of my past.

Not in a diary, not a forced record or one based on fallible memories, but a spontaneous one, of the most important interactions I had with my immediate and extended family over email, which was a little more in depth than what social media, like Facebook, facilitates.

It took me back to the time when we were organizing the extended family trip and had to charter a school bus to the airport, to the time when I had an argument with my Aunt, to the period when my grandma was sick.

It made me realize how much our relationships and interactions have changed.
It made me realize I used to be so close to some people and how we have changed, how some people who play such a big part in my life now weren’t even there 8 years ago.
It made me realize how I used to write and our particular state of minds.

It’s amazing how much is truly exchanged.

p/s: I tried to find a picture of my extended family trip but couldn’t find it! I’m devastated!!!

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I am here

I’ve always traveled for specific duration, be it a holiday, a study experience, or work; there was always a set timeline, approximate or definite, of when I would return home.

I realize now that when that return trip is not in the plans, it becomes a little disorientating. Perhaps kinda like if life didn’t have an end, we might just roam around the Earth like headless chickens. Which isn’t good.

I had just taken a step in my life, which on hindsight, is probably a HUGE step, but I had never been one to cower away from change or new places/people. So I simply embraced it and the things I needed to do. I quit my old job and headed for an unknown future, which apart from being the tipping point of starting this blog, also triggered quite a few thoughts.

Thoughts about:

  • My family – While I was excited, saying goodbye at the airport was a teary and emotional affair, just like always. The time I spent with my family really brought me closer to them. While I felt that I’d been “filling up” on family experiences that I would miss while apart from them, I ended up cherishing the “now” of the experience more than the memory of it, and the pictures would always serve as a beautiful reminder. I wished I could stay in that phase forever, but I knew where I was heading and the financial stress of being unemployed was restricting us from fully enjoying our time together, I had to think about my career plans.
  • My ambitions – did I have any that I really wanted to stick to? I studied Marketing and Communications but have experiences in Finance, which has made me realize that I want to leave that industry and do something more tangible; and I wanted to write! Then I thought, maybe I’m just one of those who didn’t need a crazy career, because honestly, I was really sick of the political corporate scene. I’d be happy if I could just run my own little shop somewhere (a little more about this in another post), but my savings were depleting and a job would be just the thing I need right now.
  • My employability – the job search started off exciting but has become a little more urgent with the daily depletion of my savings. Reviewing my resume and comparing what experiences I have with the jobs that are out there is making me question my own capabilities and I’m worried that the longer I stay unemployed, the less employable I will be. Which is probably true and makes me realize how hard it must be for mothers coming back to work from maternity leave and realize the importance of labor laws in this area.
  • My time and life in general – it’s an odd feeling. Not having a certain routine, having financial concerns that needed to be actively worked out, yet at the same time, standing at the precipice of change and feeling that my next move might make or break things? I need to decide what I want to do with my life, will one decision close any doors, what if I get stuck in a dead end job, what if I become a jobless bum roaming the streets?!

But life isn’t made or broken so easily is it? Just as I found that being with my family gave me so much more than memories, it is a culmination of decisions that make our lives the way it is.

So despite the constant news of high unemployment rates, I will, just as I did when I graduated, keep my optimism and faith, keep exploring the things I am interested in. At least this time, I have a blog, something that gives me a semblance of a purpose, to create, to “work” and to explore.

Though let’s not digress, I can get any job I want, right?

p/s: also had an idea for a little story, will post that up soon!

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