Don’t Settle And Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Silver lining of COVID-19 is that it shook everything and turned many things upside down.

I hate that people suffered health-wise, and many died due to this pandemic. There is nothing that can change this fact and pain.

On the small upside, this pandemic forced to change.

We had to stay home, stay safe, and not surprisingly, we had many downtimes.

It’s in the silence of the downtime that we can usually hear ourselves and our thoughts, and I think the common question is that “is this it?”

As in, is this the kind of life we want?

Comfortable, Peaceful Living?

I live in peaceful, safe and stable Singapore.

Women and children can walk outside at 3 AM in the morning and they’d be 99.9% safe.

I run a business called Phoenix Rehab, a physical therapy, hand therapy , TCM and massage business.

I sleep well at night (other than my newborn waking me up) – I’m alive.

I thought this was okay.

I thought it was okay to be living a quiet-ish life where I

  • mind my own business (and dont bother others)
  • have food and water
  • and enough, money’s okay (we’re doing not bad as physical therapists)

And that running my business would be enough.

But i’m starting to ask myself if i’m shortchanging myself.

As in, am I wasting my own time?

My abilities?

Am I settling?

In 2022, I’m 40 years old.

As I mentioned earlier, for a hand therapist with a physio wife, we did (and do) pretty okay with growing a business, selling our first business for 7-figures.

My wife then went on to start a business and I even got an 18 month sabbatical before I decided to help her out.

We’ve a wonderful team and business as well as 3 beautiful kids.

I’m grateful but also uncertain

Like there’s a nagging sensation or sense…

like a spider-sense eh

As I started off earlier, one of the key benefits of the pandemic is that it turned almost everything on its head. In 2020, Singapore goverment got most of us to stay home for a good 1-2ish months.

It was uncertain times, and many of my competitors and people were very vocal about how dissatisfied they were yada yada…but I felt at home because of my 18 months sabbatical, and I could be more with my kids and wife.

I like(d) it.

The downtime gave me a reminder and question if the life we’ve been living is the one we want to keep doing.

Hey it’s not just me, it’s many.

Like many others, I too question.

It seems that it’s a movement where people are taking action en masse, see some examples:

We’re talking millions of people quitting jobs as they pivot.

No longer willing to settle, or maybe they’re just tired of lockdowns.

Then again, there are many bullshit jobs out there –

bullshit jobs are jobs you dont care for that you do to pay the bills…the kind of jobs where you dread Mondays and look forward for end of day on Fridays.

Bullshit jobs…have bad negative effects.

The highest problem is that they make you sad. They make people sad…but ironically, many people will do their level best to NOT lose their bullshit jobs.

Why?

Cos it pays the bills, and it’s pretty easy to “coast”. It’s easier in big companies where there are many layers of people that support other layers of people and more.

Ew, typing that was painful reminder as to why I stay an entrepreneur, cos I’ve met many bullshit individuals in corporates and even competitors.

If you love your job, you’re the top 15% lucky ones.

According to Gallup’s State of The Workplace Report, 85% of Americans are extremely disengaged at work and 81% are actively looking for new jobs.

85% and in my book, that’s majority of people have bullshit jobs they dislike or gasp, hate.

And that’s where the pandemic are shaking things up.

People are quitting bullshit jobs to find one that either

  • makes more money for them
  • provides more flexibility
  • more meaningful

There are more taking up entrepreneurship too:

A whopping 5.4 million new businesses registered in 2021!

Bloody good if you ask me – it’s easier and easier in the history of mankind to launch your own business and make money on your own terms. It takes lots of passion, gusto, and work.

Problem: It’s easy to hide.

I see this everywhere I go.

In fact, I’ve also faced individuals and corporations who daringly do blatantly wrong things…because they likely wont get caught. These guys and gals? Fuck them, I dont care.

But those I care about, the everyday people, who reach out and tell me that they feel stuck.

I reach back and tell them that they usually know it in their sense and intuition.

And then they write back that they’re scared (behind multiple layers of fears and what-ifs).

I empathize.

I’ve been there, and in some levels, I am still there.

I’ve been stuck many times.

Sometimes it takes months for me to overcome, sometimes its longer for it to “click” or for me to just give it a go.

Let me tell you something about intuition – your intuition is one of the most powerful sensors and inner compasses that you can have. The more I use it and hone it and trust it, the better and better it becomes.

…and the more it works for me.

Recently my intuition has been saying that I’ve been playing and thinking too small.

That I’ve been playing it “safe”.

I’m paying attention and putting my senses to writing, on paper.

One thing I realize is that my intuition is pretty spot on, and the more I resist it, the worse I usually get.

Upset I mean.

No, upset is not the word.

It’s really like tingling spider-senses which gets stronger and stronger, and eventually I cannot ignore it.

And when I do it, it’s like

Why did I take so long to do that?

Usually it leads to growth

Why I ignore these “spider-sense tingling” is because there is change and effort…which means it can lead to

  • failure
  • confrontations
  • changes
  • growth
  • insight

I like growing and learning – this is so “sexy” on paper.

Just that real learning and growth sometimes the process is painful and annoying, ugh.

I look back at my 20 year old self and my Lord, I wouldn’t recognize him.

And neither would he recognize me – I was a sucky, lumpy idiot back then.

Less of an idiot today, and I’ve grown so much too.

It’s easy to settle…but it’s costly

Coasting and settling is easy…but it’s very very costly.

Not in terms of just money (which we can count easily), but moreso in terms of opportunity cost.

No one lies in their death bed asking themselves:

I wished I earn $2M more, ah I could die better now.

Of course not.

On our deathbeds, I imagine we regret all the opportunities we do not take.

AKA settling.

We settle cos we’re scared.

We settle when we dont know what else to do.

We settle when it’s just easier to stay status quo or do nothing as compared to thinking hard and doing and failing again and again to figure out and course correct what we actually want to do.

When you’re doing well, everyone will tell you to keep doing what you’re doing.

You see, capitalism runs on that – doing X gets Y, and if we want more Y, do more X. Model that, and do it again and again. Squeeze processes and things and stuff and sometimes people.

Rinse and repeat.

Knowing yourself is the beginning.

I know I dont need $1B.

Heck, I dont even aim for $100M.

I dont even want to run a big company, or take a company public, or become a celebrity or politician.

All I want is…to be free, healthy and happy.

And that remains the same.

Alright back to my intuition: I’m starting to sense that I am on the cusp of something.

That I cannot play small or safe any more.

Like I need to go deeper, double or triple down.

Stop wasting time.

Make a bigger impact as I live and leave the world.

What about you?

Are you shortchanging yourself?

Retire Early To Take care Of People You Love

I got a call the other day from one of my friends, and he shared with me very sad news of how his loved one had a fall during a vacation and now is bedbound and needs full time care.

Oh, the sting in my heart, it hurts.

One of the reasons why I speak again and again on getting our finances sorted out, including insurance and retiring as early as possible, is not just to retire and move to another country and chill out, but…also where need be, we can take care of those we love if they’re ill, sick or hurt.

Can be for

  • parents / in-laws
  • spouses
  • fiance / fiancee
  • girlfriend / boyfriend
  • pets
  • ourselves

***

Deep breath.

This was one of the harder calls of my life, and I choked a few times thinking about it, and it reminded me heavily on “living and traveling light” ie

  • not taking unnecessary loan or mortgage burdens
  • not taking / agreeing to commitments that are long term unnecessarily

The key operative word here is “long term commitments that are unnecessary” as time is a very important finite resource that I will deeply respect and not waste wherever possible.

It doesnt make sense to take on a commitment I dont care about that will lock me in terms of time, energy and effort for longer than I need to.