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?

Your Side Hustle Is Your Biggest Early Retirement Accelerator

I tell this to my family, friends and even employees/contractors all the time: keep your day job BUT start a side hustle during your free time.

Your day job is to put a roof over your head, food and drinks on the table and some savings.

Your side hustle?

It will change your financial future and will likely be your biggest early retirement accelerator, waaaaay more than ability to save and be frugal.

Not to mean that ability to save and spend wisely isn’t good, it’s a good start but if you truly want to retire early and be financially independent, then you need to consider starting a side hustle.

Entrepreneurship may sound overwhelming, but to me there’s nothing more exciting than a person who wants to take care of their own financial future, pursue their passions and dreams and start their own business.

There are so many what-ifs around entrepreneurhship that makes business overwhelming, which stops so many would-be entrepreneurs from starting – and that’s why I recommend keeping your day job, your full time job, and dip your toes in the water with a side hustle.

The Long Term Problem Of Inflation and Time

Free inflation Images & Pictures | Royalty-Free | FreeImages

Inflation is eating away the value of our money, and though banks are saying that the national inflation is low, say 2-ish percent…but the real inflation is when you go out to the marketplace and buy stuff for yourself.

United States February 2022 states that the inflation rates are 7.5%, highest since 1982. In Singapore, the petrol prices just went up 3-4x in a span of weeks in March 2022.

And we hadnt even touched on passive investment income and time.

Worse is “stagflation” where cost of living goes up, but wages dont catch up with the increase in costs.

So What Can You Do?

If you want to get out of the rat race, the very rat race that takes up most of your days and energy, then you need to change the way you think about making money in the first place.

After all, that is what that separates entrepreneurs from employees.

Employees tend to associate active work = income, which isn’t wrong. It’s called active income, and the only issue with this is that it’s finite and linked to your time.

Work equals income, no work equals no income.

As an entrepreneur, I dissociate time from earning, and instead, I build systems where I can help both clients and employees / contractors (or technology), whilst making a profit in between. This allows me to scale my business and profits beyond my two hands and my personal energy.

I made the decision a long time ago to not get too upset about how unfair or rigged the system is, and instead, to learn, to adapt and use the very same system to my advantage without hurting anyone.

Side Hustle Ideas

If you’re not sure about what side businesses to start, and this is especially if your true calling isn’t clear, then you can consider being a

  1. Consultant — Being a consultant is suitable for people who love the work they do but not the company. So instead of reinventing the wheel, you take your expertise, experience and skills you already process into part time consulting gigs. I do this with my main physical therapy business. Companies are eager to work with you because you have hands on experience and you may like it cos it’s a low cost start up…maybe all you need is to turn up or work from home with a laptop.
  2. Sales Agent — There are some agency work such as being selling properties (realtor), insurance, watches and cars. There are many other stuff that one can sell, these four examples are pretty common. property or realty agents, or insurance agents and the like, where you can sell other people’s products and get a commission, some are big ticket some are recurring commissions.
  3. Multi-level marketing / Network Marketing — I dont recommend this to start off, but they do provide great sales training…BUT you must do your research. The products must be solid and have strong track record (be careful, many pyramid schemes out there) and commit to growing your business, your business will grow.
  4. Turn your interests and hobbies into cash — There are interests that are monetizable, such as photography, woodworking, heck even knitting! You can build a business in your own community and start off by helping neighbours and people you know. Over time, effort, you will get more word-of-mouth referrals…getting paid to do shit you like. An extension of this is to start an online business sharing tips and information about stuff you care about, from knitting to teaching dog tricks to teaching babies to poop in toilet bowls. Learn how you can build an online business here (affiliate link and free to create account)
  5. Sharing economy — Such as AirBNB (room/home-sharing); Grab/Uber/Lyft for to deliver passengers or food and even parcels.

What You Can Do With The Side Hustle Profits

As you earn more and more in your side hustle, you can consider investing a portion of profits into

  1. dividend paying stocks or rental properties
  2. hiring more employees / contractors to scale your business
  3. creating products to sell and service your clients
  4. quit your job, retire or work part time if you so desire
  5. take more holidays
  6. be more generous with your loved ones and friends
  7. and more

All in all, the most important thing about starting a side hustle…is to give yourself more life and financial options and opportunities in life, that you otherwise wont have if you’re stuck.

What keeps you going?

What are your burning passions that keeps you going?

  • Is it for the better future of your loved ones?
  • Is it to give back to the world and society?
  • Is it to prove someone else wrong? And prove yourself right?

Is there even a correct answer to this question?

Everyone’s reasons should be different and unique, though there may be some similarities when we compare as a group or from a broad based perspective.

The reasons may change as seasons in life change.

When I was younger in my tens and twenties, it was to survive.

Then in my 30s, it was to thrive and prove to myself and those that seem to look down on me.

Now, as I’m 40, it’s for my family and myself.

Deep down, I know my reasons are my kids, my loved ones, and I want to show my loved ones a better way of life. That it isn’t just about studying hard, getting a good job, working, buying shit we dont care about, then one day, we die.

Ugh, that’s depressing as heck to me.

I dont want that for me, my loved ones or for you – that’s not a good way.

A better way to a good life is to build a business we care about, ideally an online business that provides passive business income, that can work 24/7, providing good value to clients who love paying us, and yet at the same time, frees up our time to do stuff we love, and more.

A life where we have more control over the time and energy we put in.

Or where we work from.

And more.

Do you know what’s your burning reasons that keep you going?