brandmentalist

Letting go is like pulling a tooth. When it’s pulled, you’re relieved. But how many times does your tongue run itself over the spot where the tooth once was? Probably a hundred times a day. Just because it was not hurting you doesn’t mean you did not notice it. It leaves a gap. And sometimes you see yourself missing it terribly. It’s going to take a while but it takes time. Should you have kept the tooth? No, because it was causing you so much pain.Therefore, move on and let go.
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We are giving away two Pink Happiness Planners! If you want to win one, just re-blog our post and follow us. Winners will be announced on Black Friday. 

10 RULES POSITIVE PEOPLE LIVE BY

There are several rules to live by. It is up to you to take one that aligns with your values the most. About a year ago I wrote 10 Rules To Live By For Those Who Lead a Life of Wisdom. This year I’d like to focus on positivity and happiness so I have come up with the absolute 10 rules to live by for those who want to live a life filled with positivity. 

1. Be comfortable in your own skin 

The first step to becoming happy is to feel comfortable in your own skin. Everyone was born with a flaw. No one is perfect. Accept yourself with what you’re born with whether it be your background, your skin, your nose, your eyes, your hair, your freckles, your breast, or the size of your private part. You have to accept yourself for who you are and LOVE YOURSELF. 

It is the number one happiness killer. Because if you are not comfortable in your own skin, this becomes your biggest concern that stays on the top of your mind everyday - it kills your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and the happiness that comes from within. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship of all and if you can’t make peace with it, it will keep bothering your mind. 

If you find it hard because other people discriminate or make judgements about you, distance yourself from people who are shallow and narrow-minded. You are better than that. Prove to them and to yourself that you are capable and talented in so many other ways. Surround yourself with people who value the same things as you and leave the people with bad attitudes behind. 


2. Appreciate what you have and never compare yourself with others

You will never be truly happy if you keep looking outside and wish you have what you don’t. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side but that does not mean it’s actually greener. If you keep wishing, hoping, expecting for something else and don’t feel happy with what you already have, you will always feel miserable and feel like something is missing in your life. Worse if you keep comparing yourself to others, wishing your life was like theirs; your face and body were like theirs; your family was like theirs; your partner was like theirs, you will feel the jealousy burning within you. While comparing yourself to others in a healthy dose as to set yourself a benchmark of success or accomplishment can be motivating, doing so with jealousy burning within is not. 

If you can live simply and appreciate what you have, acknowledge that everyone is different, and stop comparing yourself to others, you will experience joy and happiness in everyday life.


3. See the positive in every situation

You will always run into unfortunate situations in life that are outside of your control. You can choose to feel sad, annoyed, angry, or stressed about the situation OR turn it around and focus on the positive. You can choose to be stuck in a bad situation OR let go, move on, and start anew. Learn from a failure or a bad experience and never repeat the same mistake. Every setback and bad situation in life teaches you something. Growth doesn’t happen in comfort. Take it as an opportunity to train your mind to be stronger, more resilient, and more equipped to be able to deal with things life throws at you. 


4. Let go of your need to control 

Control makes you feel secure. But at the same time, with control you also lose freedom. Confusing isn’t it? When you try to control your life, situations, and sometimes others, you do so because you want to feel more secure. However, when you feel more secure because you take control of it, you lose control of yourself and very likely of those you try to control. This is because you become dependent on the feeling of having control. And it can drive you crazy because things don’t always go as planned. Trying to control things will not only drive other people away which will make you panic even more when that happens, but it also hinders you from achieving happiness from within.


5. Drop the resentment within

Most of the time you hold onto anger because you believe it would make the person you’re mad at upset and realize that they have done something wrong. But the fact is that you are actually hanging yourself up on something that’s burning you within. When you’re mad at someone, the pain is onto yourself more than it is onto the person you’re mad at. When you hate someone, the fire is within your own mind.

No matter what one does to you - hurt you, look down on you, underestimate you, backstab you, abuse you, or cheat on you - when you hold the hatred, you hold the hurt. Only when you learn to let go, you let your soul free from the pain. No matter what it is that caused them to do certain things to you, the best thing you can do is to let go. 

It will be hard to do if you’ve never done it before. But slowly, one day at a time, be patient, let it go, forgive those who’ve done you wrong, you will feel that each day you get stronger and more powerful. 

If you’re struggling to let go, start with meditation. Even meditation is hard because you need to control yourself not to think about anything while meditating - but that’s the key! Being able to control one’s thoughts and focus, and keep one’s mind at peace strengthens the mind’s muscles - this is the secret power of meditation. 

The fire is only within you.
 The person you hate doesn’t feel your hatred. Let it go. Let it go.


6. Live in the moment

I believe that one of the reasons little kids and happy couples on dates are happy is because they live in the moment. They focus on what is happening in front of them and pay attention to the person they are with. When you live in the moment and do your best, you just feel happy. Why wouldn’t you? You don’t worry about the future, neither do you feel sad about the past.

Take every waking hour as it comes and do what you are supposed to do and complete what you’re supposed to complete. Stop overanalysing or trying to predict and plan things too far. The only constant in life is change. Just live in the moment and do your best.


7. Avoid overanalyzing

This is what a lot of us do - overanalyzing things from relationships to career and finances. Overanalyzing is dwelling on the thought about something, thinking about it over and over, trying to dig deeper and deeper, because somehow you believe it could end up giving you a way out. When in doubt, overanalyzing somehow gives us comfort. Most of the time, we never actually get an answer but a set of worries. 

In order to avoid overanalyzing, we need to be more outspoken with people whom we have doubts about, take things as they come, and listen closely to our intuition. 


8. Stop worrying about the future 

Many of us worry. We worry about our future - about our career, health, living, finances, and about the people we love. We worry because we are scared. However, worrying doesn’t make anything better unless we stop worrying and start taking actions towards our goals. If you’re worried about your health when you get older, then you should start eating healthy and exercising regularly. If you’re worried about your finances, then you should start saving up for the rainy days. If you’re worried about your kids, then encourage them to take actions to help you ease your worries. Remember that worrying about your loved ones doesn’t actually make them better. It only affects your health and your blood pressure. Your loved ones will need to take actions themselves. All you can do is to encourage them and help them move towards the right direction.  


9. Drop your ego and be true

We have our ego as our security guard that protects our self-esteem from being attacked. However, sometimes we become a victim of our own ego. This is when the ego takes control and we become too arrogant and act above ourselves. We distort the reality about us. We live in an illusion. Sometimes we do so because we believe it will take us somewhere. Sometimes we do it because it makes us feel good about ourselves. 

Whatever it maybe, letting your ego become your front shield actually hurts you more on the inside because you can’t be your true self. You just live with lies. In the end, you just can’t take it anymore because you are just faking it and are attracting people who are also faking it. Over and over, you will become tired of it and feel like no one really understands you. This is when you will realize that you will never be truly happy unless you stay true to yourself and others. 


10. Have an open mind

Having a narrow mind can hurt you more than you think because naturally we as humans don’t like being disapproved of. We don’t like feeling like we’re wrong because it makes us feel rejected and unaccepted. 

So if you don’t have an open mind which means you stand firmly on your beliefs and ideas and oppose others who think otherwise, you will feel extremely agitated and uncomfortable when people with different beliefs and ideas are presented in front of you. On the other hand, if you have an open mind, you wouldn’t mind hearing about the different beliefs. In fact, you would embrace the difference, want to understand it better, and become adaptable and flexible in your approach. You wouldn’t have to fight with yourself in accepting others. You’d feel at ease with differences and feel positive about change.

Available now at TheHappinessPlanner.com.

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.
— 

Bob Marley

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! 

10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LIVE ABROAD AT LEAST ONCE IN YOUR LIFETIME.

1. You get to know yourself better.

“The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself.”

Nothing can bring you closer to building an intimate relationship with yourself and getting to know yourself better than moving away from home and living in another country. You have the freedom to discover who you are, what you truly want and don’t want without any distractions or influences from people close to you — whether it’s close friends, family, or just familiar surroundings, societal and cultural norms you grew up in and were taught to believe.

Living in a new country is an eye opener especially if the place is far removed from where you’re originally from. You observe things from an outsider’s perspective. You see things from the outside in which makes you re-think the way you understand your own culture and your own self from the inside out.

This process makes you re-think about who you are as a person and start questioning your original beliefs, attitudes, and values which were influenced by your upbringing.

Questioning this over and over with different perspectives coming in back, front, left, right, you now have a chance to shape yourself to be who you truly want to be and find your purpose in life with fewer biases (as you would have if you lived in your own culture all your life).



2. You become independent.

Being independent takes courage — the courage to get over your internal fear to face unfamiliarity on your own.

When you move to a new country, everything is new; everything is unfamiliar. Unfamiliarity can make you feel insecure and scared at first. Getting to know the unfamiliar environment which soon becomes familiar teaches you to get over fear — fear of discovering the new streets alone, talking to new people, trying out new foods, or fear of people in general because you do not know people’s intentions and the streets look scary at night.

Moving to a new country, you learn to build up the courage - over and over - to be independent and face fear on your own. You will reach a point where facing fear and getting to know the unfamiliar alone are no longer scary. 

You become independent.

And how rewarding does it feel to know that you can finally run on your own without having to have someone holding your hand all the time or watching over you?


3. You know what it feels like to have no support system.

Even though we have friends, in the early years of living overseas you will always feel like you have no support system. If you have a good relationship with your family, no one can replace that feeling — the feeling that family is and will always be there for you through thick and thin, through the darkest hours and stormy nights. No matter what time it is, no matter where you are, they will always be there and go out of their way to help you.

Being overseas, the question is always at the back of your mind — How am I going to get to the hospital if I happened to get really sick? Who is going to help me if I had a problem with the housing situation? Who is going to be by my side if I get attacked on the street? It takes years to find true friends whom you feel you can truly rely on and trust. It is indeed a big responsibility. It is a heart-to-heart thing.

Living in another country teaches you to be mentally strong, resilient at times, and be careful and cautious with every step you take because if something happens, you might be all on your own.


4. You become adaptable and open-minded.

Probably nothing is ever what you’re accustomed to in a new country — from road rules, choices to choose from in day-to-day life, to people’s attitudes and common behaviours. As a result of this, you have to keep an open mind and continue to learn new things. It’s like going back to school again — social etiquettes, the education system, healthcare system, the country’s history and cultural beliefs, etc.

The next you know you are no longer scared of change. In fact, you learn to embrace change. You thrive on change. Stagnancy and complacency become your worst enemy.

You become addicted to the excitement of discovering new things and adapting yourself to and trying to understand the new surroundings. Then all of a sudden, you feel the urge to move again because you simply don’t want to lose that feeling of excitement (which makes you feel alive and gives you joy).



5. You learn to build connections and network.

We all grow up with a group of networks — from schools to family, family friends, and friends of friends. When you move to a new country, you don’t have these networks. You have to learn to build it up especially for business, work, and career progression.

A lot of hiring comes from referrals. School mates and family recommendations are common practices. When you try to establish yourself in a new country, you have to pick up another skill set which is your ability to build a connection AND your ability to break into a circle of tight connection and fit in.

It’s challenging at first. But once you’ve accomplished that, you become confident that you can do that all over again no matter where you go. It’s not scary anymore. You feel confident. You take a leap of faith in yourself.


6. You can build a new identity.

You are a new brand here, not a rebrand. There’s no better way to start fresh than moving to a new country.

But the art here lies in getting to know yourself and the ability to be able to become who you truly want to be without influences or distractions from others.

People don’t know who you are, where you’re from, who your parents are, what schools you went to. They probably couldn’t careless about your background. You now have a chance to embrace this new blank canvas to draw a picture of yourself. Whatever you want to be and do, you now have all the chances to explore and create without any influences from people you grew up with like family or childhood friends.

In a new country, you build a whole new ecosystem around you — be it new friends, a new job, a new apartment, new flatmates. You have to find the place and people you feel belong. You get to really follow your heart, your instinct, and your true identity at present without having to compromise with past relationships. You don’t have to hang out with childhood friends whom you no longer feel connected to because you both have grown apart mentally and intellectually. You don’t have to slightly change who you really are to please your parents.


7. You become self-reliant.

From doing your own laundry to paying bills and dealing with complicated visa arrangement, you become totally self-reliant because you only have yourself to trust and do things for you. Your mom can’t help you. Your dad can’t help you. Your family friends and childhood friends can’t help you.

The art and benefit of being self-reliant is that you learn that you are in control of the situation and everything that happens around you and to you.

If you take actions, things happen. If you don’t, things don’t happen. Nothing is going to be delivered to you on a silver platter. At the same time, you learn to create and spot opportunities around you — but it’s you, who makes things happen. And you WILL make them happen.



8. You become more in tune with your gut instinct.

We all have doubts and questions about situations and things, we can google, we can ask people for advice and opinions. But that only gives us a sense of security and affirmation that what we feel is right.

When you move to another country, more often than not, you have doubts — pretty much about everything — whether it’s the new job, new friends, new colleagues, new apartment, new boyfriend/girlfriend. You don’t have someone who can read your mind (like your best friend whom you’ve been friends with for 6 years) besides you for you to bounce ideas off. You only have yourself to trust and that’s your gut instinct.

The next thing you know you become much more aware of detecting fears and danger, and can make decisions from the inside out, rather than outside in.

“When you tune into your gut instinct, every single decision you make will be wiser, more fulfilling & more heart-centred. When life throws you a curve ball, you’ll have a default check-in call with your gut instinct and move forwards knowing you did the very best thing at that moment in time.”

Life won’t always be perfect, but with your gut instinct as your sidekick, you’re a whole lot stronger & smarter than you think.


9. You become bold and fearless.

If you can get over fear of moving to another country on your own, you can get over fear of anything. Getting out of one’s comfort zone is an art that can be mastered. Just like any habit — actions done repeatedly become a habit that the mind is no longer scared of jumping right into.

Without the support system you’d have in your own hometown, it is hard to know where to start and which dots to connect. Moving to another country, you build up the courage to make things happen from the ground up. You start fresh. You need to know where to go and who to approach. You become more strategic in your thinking. You become bold and fearless because you’ve got nothing to lose. And if you don’t take actions, you’ve got nothing to gain.

If you can become who you want to be and be successful in your field in a new country, then why can’t you do the same in another country? If you can make life experiences absolutely unforgettable in a new country because you have found your kind of places and your kind of people, then why can’t you do the same in another country? Nothing is unachievable. Every little milestone counts and builds up your mental strength.


10. You start to wonder where home is.

Moving to a new country feels like entering a new phase of life. There’s a whole lot of psychological changes going on in your head and your mind. You start to self-reflect more and question your being — What was I born to do? What am I really good at? What is my purpose in life? What is my true passion? How can I be truly happy? What’s the meaning of life?

Discovering answers to all of these questions when you’re far away from home, you have all the freedom to genuinely answer these without biases. The next thing you know, traveling and living overseas have become a part of who you are. You become emotionally connected to this new country you moved to only just a few years ago. You start to wonder where home really is. They say home is where the heart is, but where is my heart at?

We talk about falling in love as in falling in love with someone. But for a traveller, you fall in love with another country. The country has become your new love affair.

And here you wonder… where will I fall in love with next?

Thinking about moving but not sure where to start?

Check out Our Guide to Moving to A New Country

HOW TO FOCUS WHEN THERE SEEMS TO BE A MILLION THINGS ON YOUR PLATE

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the work that you’ve got to do?

There seems to be a million different things that need to be done. We feel overwhelmed and out of control because we don’t know where to start. Should I start with project A? What about project B and C that need to be done as well? 

We all know that focus is incredibly important to productivity. But it’s almost impossible to be working on just one thing and one task in a given month or week or even just day.

From being a student to a professional working in the corporate world or a freelancer, you will find that there’s no difference in juggling tasks. Some of us are better than others. Some suffer from it even more as scatterbrains.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the past twenty years in how to reshape my focus when working on several things at once. 

(This trick has helped me successfully lose 20 kg (44 pounds) in 5 months, scored A’s in exams, and won several competitions.)


1. Create a to-do list

Create a list of everything that you need to do - both major and minor tasks - and the time required to finish each task.  

Type or write it all down on a Google Doc, on your phone’s Note app, on a white board, or on a notepad. 


2. Prioritize tasks

After writing it all down, you might feel a little less overwhelmed as you feel more in control of what needs to get done.

Now you need to reassess what to focus on - where to pay most attention to and pour your energy towards. 

This can be complicated when you feel like everything requires the same amount of attention and energy, everything needs to be done at the same time - and then you just panic. 

Use this matrix below to help you prioritise tasks.

Urgency:

  • What is the deadline for each task?
  • Which one needs to be finished first? 

Importance:

  • How important is the task? What would happen if the task is not done in time?
  • What is the effect that the task will have on the other or consequential tasks?
  • Is there any other thing that relies on this task to be done first? Is it absolutely crucial for you to do because otherwise the other tasks can’t be done?  
  • If the task is left unfinished, uncompleted, incomplete, or done poorly, how is it going to affect you and what’s the cost of that? 
  • What is the opportunity cost? If you spend your time on A and not B, what will it cost you? What will you miss out on? 
  • Can you assign someone else to do the task for you? 

After evaluating all the tasks based on these factors, you will know what to prioritise - what task you should do first, what you should do right after, what you should reschedule, what you should delegate, and what you may cut out completely if possible.  


3. Schedule and allocate time for each task

This is what I did best when I was a student. Because I was able to effectively and efficiently allocate time, I finished all my studies and did really well in the exams. My close friends even relied on me to help with scheduling. So why not bring this childhood trick and skill into adulthood right? 

Grab a calendar, either on your phone or a notepad, and start allocating time throughout the day. I plan my schedule week by week. Sometimes two weeks at a time. I normally do this on Sunday so I can fully focus and get right into it from Monday through to Friday. 

This is what my calendar normally looks like. 

8 - 9 : Write a blog post

9 - 10 : Meeting with Mr. B

10 - 12 : Work on Task A 

12 - 1 : Lunch break

1 - 3 : Work on Task E

3 - 4 : Gym

4 - 6 : Work on Task D 

6 - 6.30 : Finalise and send off Task D to client

Make sure you stick to your schedule.

If you’ve spent too much time on one task or got distracted at one point and it affects the rest of your schedule and plan, re-schedule and move everything back a few hours as required. 

There’s no need to stress. Just go to bed late for a couple of nights and you’ll catch up on work. 


4. Get in the zone

  • Disconnect and go offline

When working on a task that doesn’t require an internet connection, go offline. Social media, email pop-ups, and SMS can distract you more than you may think. You eyes will keep wandering off every ten minutes. Pretty photos, interesting articles, text messages from your partner, emails from unhappy clients - all these can affect your mood and emotions which affect your ability to focus. 

  • Find your sanctuary

If you don’t have a fixed desk at an office, find a cafe or a place where you can go to for a few hours and really focus without any distraction or interruption - if could be a cafe, a library, or a corner in your house. 

  • Block out noise

Some people can work with music in the background. But for me it’s best to be in a quiet place where I don’t hear the lyrics repeating itself in my head or overhear the conversation of the people sitting in the vicinity. I use noise-cancelling in-ear headphones to block out noise and distraction. Even in a library, sometimes people talk and it’s very annoying and distracting!


5. Optimize your time

There are a lot of inevitable activities that waste your time in your daily life - from commuting, to running errands, and everyday routines. 

Time is a limited resource so I try to optimise my time as much as possible and make use of the inevitable wasted time. 

  • Commute time:

We have to commute - everyday - either by bus, train, or foot. I find commute time to be one of the best to focus because no one is trying to talk to me and I can’t do anything else but to do some work.

Use the morning commute time to read the news or websites related to your industry for inspiration and knowledge. 

Smart phones and light laptops now make it easy for us to do work on the go. I always find myself reading work-related stuff while waiting for the train or the bus, getting my laptop out to do work when on a 30-minute train ride, and writing things down while power walking home from work. 

  • Waiting time: 

Waiting time is annoying but inevitable  - from waiting for the bus or the train, to waiting for coffee or food, waiting for a friend or a colleague who’s late, being stuck in traffic, and queueing at the bank or the post office. It is usually short (5-15 minutes) and not long enough to let you do work that requires a lot of focus and a long thinking process. 

I use this period to do a little brainstorming or research. Just take out my phone and reply some emails and do some reading and browsing - whether it be on websites, Flipboard, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook. Sometimes I use this period to reschedule or plan my day/week and think about the little things that I need to do - the little tasks I need to add to my to-do list and my calendar, the things I need to buy, and people I need to call or email.

Believe it or not but I usually find that my best creative work gets inspired on the spur of the moment during my commuting or waiting time. 


6. Keep track of each task

Once you’ve allocated time for each task, make sure you stick to it and that each task is on schedule. If one is left undone, re-arrange your schedule again and make sure you catch up on it as soon as possible to avoid procrastination or postponing. 


7. Reap a habit

Finally, it might sound quite easy to do but incredibly hard to follow through. Starting a new habit is hard but repeatedly you will reap a habit. Over and over you will be able to prioritise your tasks, focus, and maximise your productivity without feeling confused, burnt out, or tortured. 

The mind has a memory and it subconsciously recognises patterns. Only if you understand the trick to manipulate your own mind, you’ll realise that it’s not hard to do or achieve anything that you set your mind to. 

7 PIECES OF ADVICE I’D LIKE TO GIVE TO MY YOUNGER SELF

Looking back at my younger years, I am sometimes amazed at how life has turned out. Nothing is exactly what I had originally planned for. The only thing that stays the same is who I am, my values, and my interests. 

Fast forward to today, I have moved to a new country and to two different cities. Most importantly I have got myself involved in a lot of things I would have never thought of if I was living a mundane life and trying to stick to plans. Nonetheless, I have summed up what I have learned - some new perspectives on life. And if I could go back in time and hang out with my younger self for a day, here’s what I would tell her. 

1. Everything happens for a reason.

Whether it’s good or bad, everything comes into your life for a reason - even though it might seem like something has come into your life to hurt you. It is only natural to feel like things are not meant to happen that way - people are not meant to leave, you are not meant to get rejected, accidents are not meant to happen - and if you had done something differently, the situation might have turned out different. However, as time passes, you realise that things were supposed to happen the way they did because one event led to another. People came into your life to teach you something. At the time, they may have seemed horrible, painful, or unfair, but they happened for a reason. And in reflecting, you realise that they helped you become stronger.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self :

Understand that everything happens for a reason. Without mistakes and failure, you would never have learned. Without breakups, you would never have met someone new. Without pain, you would never have grown. Once you understand this - really understand this - you will know that everything comes in to serve a purpose and then it will go. You will not dwell on disappointments or view unfortunate events as regrets. But rather, you’d see them as opportunities in disguise. Only those with a sharp brain and a spiritual mind can understand the fleeting nature of events in life. So don’t stress or think that life is unfair, because everything happens for a reason. And only time will tell what it will teach us.



2. Focus on one thing at a time. You can have it all but not all at once.

It seems like we forever debate on the topic of productivity whether it’s practical for us to multitask. At one point in my life, I was multitasking like an expert. I was involved in 3 different start-ups, I was doing my own consulting work, I had another writing gig, and I was managing this blog. I was single and had all the time in the world to myself. So why not keep myself busy, right? I thought I could manage. I thought I could wait to see which startup would take off first and that it would become my main focus for years to come. But I was wrong. I felt overwhelmed. I was multitasking too much. At the end of the day, I realised that none of the startups were my true passion. This blog is my true passion. Having my own brand is my true passion. Nonetheless, the experience I had while I was working for the start-ups taught me quite a few things. I learned what it’s like to pitch to investors. I learned about growth hacking and a bit of coding. I met so many talented people during those times, people I’m still friends with and can ask for business advice. I don’t regret my decision for taking on too many things. Although none of them succeeded because I did not focus, I learned a great deal. And I believe the process - though you may feel like you have wasted time - is actually needed for you to grow and learn so that you can be ready for what’s next.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self :

Focus on one thing at a time. You can have it all in life, but not all at once. And if you don’t remain focused, you might not achieve anything.

It is not surprising that many of us are doing too many things at once. We need to make ends meet. The early days of working on a dream start-up can be an emotional burden. But if you are working three jobs at a time, it is not likely that you will succeed at any of them. You need to put all of your energy towards whatever it is that you want to achieve the most in life. You have to keep your eyes on the big picture. An extra few hundred dollars might help you make ends meet, but the opportunity cost might actually be worth thousands. Can you move back to your parents’ house to save rent for half a year? Can you sacrifice eating out to work on your dream? I got distracted several times over the past few years because every opportunity presented in front of me seemed great. They seemed interesting, seemed to have potential, and seemed to align with my interests. However, opportunities will keep presenting themselves. You have to ask yourself what exactly do you want to achieve for the next 10 years? What is that one main goal? Make it a priority. Focus on one thing at a time. Achieve your goals one by one. Make a to-do list and a bucketlist and work towards ticking them off ONE BY ONE.



3. You can plan ahead but your plan will definitely change when the time comes.

I remember so vividly that when I was a kid I used to dream of going to an Ivy league college. I wanted to go to the US for college. I wanted to work in branding in New York. I had it all mapped out in my head and I was working on the plan to achieve those goals. Fast forward to today: my plan has changed completely, as if there was never any plan. My goal to go to the US fell through. I ended up in Zurich, Switzerland, and instantly fell in love with the place. But then, I had to leave. I cried really hard on my flight back. I didn’t think I would actually move to Australia for university … and I definitely didn’t think I’d end up living there for almost 8 years. I didn’t even know where Melbourne was. I’d been to Sydney and I loved it. But I moved to Australia to study Marketing and halfway through, I switched to study Entertainment (Music) Business Management instead. I became a club promoter to make new friends and happened to become one of the most well-known promoters in 2010. The way that everything happened was like a snowball effect - one event after another. Life was flowing like crazy. I had the happiest years of my life. The next thing I knew, I started to adopt the Australian way of life and started to “go with the flow” instead of planning things too far ahead. I learned to be spontaneous and embrace life as it comes. I found myself opportunities and jumped into them without fear, like becoming a promoter even though I didn’t know anyone to start with.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self :

You can plan ahead because sometimes planning ahead can give you a clearer direction of where you want to go. Planning can drive you and motivate you. The planning process can teach you something. However, don’t be too fixated on a plan. Plans will almost always change, so be prepared! Live life with open arms. You will go where you’re supposed to be headed. Don’t stress.



4. Trust your instincts.

Doubt occurs several times throughout our lives. It could be in the job that doesn’t make you happy, a relationship that leaves you feeling uncertain, wondering whether you can trust the people you’ve just met, or wondering about the move you have to make and whether you should go left or right.

Prior to writing this article, I asked 20 friends of mine “what life lessons would you like to give to your younger self?”. This is one answer that I particularly like:

The sooner in life you realise that you gain more from feeling your way through than thinking you way through, the better life is and the more you can achieve.

There are a lot of factors that influence the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we see the world. A lot of it has to do with our upbringing. Some parents are more logical than others. Some are free-spirited, artistic and creative. Some are practical and pragmatic. This has become the way of life for us and how we react to things.

I grew up with a conservative Asian mother who is very pragmatic and practical and a father who is a creative thinker. Even though I possess innate artistic abilities, I am still heavily influenced by my mother’s practical nature, which makes me more inclined to find logic in the world around me. However, as I get older, I realise that no matter how logical some things are, if they don’t feel right, sooner or later you will realise that they are not right. And if you ever have any doubt between two choices, wherein one choice follows logic, the other follows heart, always follow your heart.

Having lived overseas over the past 8 years without my family in a new city, I’ve learned to embrace autonomy and make decisions on my own. With so much freedom in hands, it’s sometimes hard to pick between choices. However, after lots of trial and error, I can assure you that your gut instincts never lie. They are always right. Even if you follow logic in the beginning, you will change your mind later. Let your heart win.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self :

Don’t worry too much about a decision you have to make. Don’t try to weigh the pros and cons and follow logic. Just do what feels right. Do what you believe would make you happiest. You know what you want. You might consult other people. But deep down, you know what you want. You don’t need to seek outside assurance to confirm what your heart knows best. Do what makes you happy. Because at the end of the day, even if you follow logic, you will want to quit and follow your heart.

Always. If something doesn’t feel right or leaves you with doubt, even just for a little bit, it’s probably not right.



5. It’s okay to be unsure about your purpose in life.

At one point in life, you might stop and ask yourself “what is your purpose in life?”. The project you’re working on doesn’t seem to provide meaning to your life anymore. You feel like you have lost your purpose. You try to search for it, but as you keep going, you feel a bit lost, confused, and unsure.

I was one of those super determined kids who tried to map her life out and plan ahead in the best possible way. I was passionate about a lot of things and I was very good at all of the things I was passionate about. However, when I graduated, I felt a bit lost. Suddenly, there were so many options to choose from. Even though I knew exactly what my passions were, it was not easy to pick that one career path to fulfil me on a deeper level and make me feel like I was living a purposeful life. I had to dip my toes into quite a few different things, and each one took at least a few months before I realised it’s not my purpose in life. Pressure from parents and society - where some people may be sticking to one career path - can make you feel a bit like a loser. However, without trying so many different things, I wouldn’t have known what I know now. I wouldn’t be the confident and assured person I am today.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self:

You might be graduating or have hit a turning point in your life with your career. You might feel a bit lost and unsure of where to go. It’s okay. Go out there and try as many different things as you can. Don’t ever feel like you’re wasting your time. The process that you’ll be going through will shape you into who you will be. If you let your intuition guide you, you will almost certainly be in your most fulfilled place in the future when you find your purpose in life. Enjoy the journey. Don’t rush. Every little path will lead you somewhere. And looking back, you will be able to connect the dots. It will all make sense.



6. Don’t try too hard with people

Dating can sometimes feel tiring, especially if you have been going on dates for a while and feel like you aren’t meeting anyone that you really like or get along with well. Once in a while you meet someone who seems to tick all of your boxes. However, you still have to work hard to make it work. You try to impress them. You learn about their interests. You make sure that you portray yourself as the person of their dreams as well. It’s all hard work, isn’t it? Then a couple of months into the relationship, you realise that this is never going to work - it’s too much work!

Besides dating, entering college, starting a new job, and moving to a new city, you will certainly have to make new friends. It can sometimes be awkward when you don’t know anyone. Sometimes you try very hard to get along with people. You try to fit in, only to end up feeling uncomfortable with yourself and going back to who you truly are. Making new friends is not easy, especially if you are not very outgoing. You may sometimes feel like you have to make a lot of effort to make friends or get close to someone. This can be tiring and can sometimes make you want to back off and stay home alone.

I’m sure you have been in a situation where you feel like the people you meet are not like you. With such people, you have to try hard to get the conversation going. It doesn’t flow. It’s like going on a first date with someone you don’t feel like kissing at the end of the night - it’s a little awkward and uncomfortable. And even though you manage to become friends with them, deep down, you don’t feel very happy. You just hang out with them for the sake of going out, so that you can feel like you have an exciting social life. However you’d rather just be at home curled up in your PJs watching your favourite TV shows. You would feel much happier at home…but you also feel a little bit like a loser with no social life.

Yup, I’ve been in that kind of situation several times. Sometimes it’s because you tag along with someone and you don’t particularly get along with their friends. Sometimes it’s your work colleagues, so you have to try very hard to get along with them. Sometimes it’s the people you meet and go on dates with. Things just don’t flow naturally. The conversation doesn’t flow - you have to THINK ABOUT what you should talk to that person about.

One day I got tired of this process. I decided that I was not going to get drinks with the coworkers that I don’t particularly enjoy anymore. I was not going to try to make friends with people with whom I had to THINK ABOUT what to talk about. Weirdly enough, by not putting up with this anymore and not trying too hard with people, I started to attract people who were similar to me. All of a sudden I started to be surrounded by people who were similar to me, who shared the same world view, and who had similar interests. Now, with these friends, the conversation just flows. There’s no hard work required. When we get drinks after work, it seems to go on forever until late hours, and I don’t need to find an excuse to leave.

So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self:

Don’t worry if you feel like it’s hard to make new friends. Don’t worry if you feel like you haven’t met anyone who’s like you and you feel absolutely happy to be around. Just be yourself and be as open as you can. Never stop going to events or attend Meet Ups of your interests. Do your thing. The people who are compatible with you will find their way to you. They will instantly be attracted to you as much as you are attracted to them. The conversation will flow. Neither of you will feel that it’s hard work to spend time together. It might take a while until you find those people - new best friends and a mate for life - but when you do, you will know it. It’s not hard work. So, just do your thing and be yourself.



7. Take of leap of faith in yourself

It can be scary to feel like we have nothing or no one to rely on but ourselves. But if you have a dream, whatever that may be, you cannot rely on someone else but yourself to make that come true. The bigger our dreams are, the scarier it seems to take a leap of faith in ourselves and jump. If you have never achieved anything in your life, it can be very hard to take a big jump. However, starting with small steps, you will slowly gain self-confidence and self-esteem. And one day, you will be ready to take a big jump.

For me, it started with applying for smaller competitions. However, the first big jump I had to make was moving to Australia on my own. It was scary. I didn’t know anyone. However, with my independent nature, I did not have a hard time moving somewhere on my own. The bigger jump I had to make was in convincing myself that I could achieve anything I wanted to achieve. I decided to be a club promoter. As a foreigner, that was probably the most foolish idea. I didn’t know anyone - how would I get people to go through the door so I could get paid for it? That was the first leap of faith I took in myself, in taking initiative and making things happen. I took that challenge and found a way to make myself become well-known in the area at the time. That success led me to transition into Australia smoothly. My life became extremely exciting for a few years. Most importantly, it was the first step I took where I took a leap of faith in myself and I made it. I then knew that if I wanted something to happen, I had no one else to count on but myself - I had to believe in myself and trust in my own ability to make it come true.

The second jump I made was to become a writer. For anyone who has always wanted to write “publicly” but has only just started, or still hasn’t started yet, you know how hard it is to actually start your first official blog post, pouring your heart and brain out without the fear of being judged. That’s right. We are all scared of being judged, and that’s the fear most artists face. I always dreamed of becoming a writer. As a child, I used to write novels and pass them around to my classmates to read. I used to write stories and submit them to comic books. As I got older, I became busier with school and didn’t have time to write novels or poetry anymore. However, I still enjoyed writing essays - I really did. And only about three years ago, when I first started writing my own content instead of just sharing other people’s quotes, I dreamed of one day becoming a writer with articles published in big publications. To be honest, I didn’t think I would make it. But when I have a goal in mind, I like to strategically think about how I can reach that goal. So when I decided to become a writer, I spent time crafting my writing skills. I researched how I could have my articles published in big publications and took another leap of faith in myself. what else did I have to lose? I could just try again and again until I succeeded.

The third jump was when I decided to invest money in my current business, The Happiness Planner. I have always loved stationery, design, and branding, but somehow I was never sure how I was going to make my dreams come true. My blog has given birth to the idea of The Happiness Planner. I knew there was something missing in the market and I was sure there was a demand for it. I started doing some research, designed the pages, and took a leap of faith in myself by investing in it. After achieving smaller milestones in my life, I now believe that I can achieve anything I set my mind to and give it all I’ve got. The sale has been great so far and I’m even more excited about how I can expand the product line and inspire more people with this beautiful unique stationery line that focuses on self-development.

So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self:

Take a leap of faith in yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain. If you fail, you’ll become smarter, If you succeed, you’ll gain even more self-confidence and the emotional and financial rewards. You’ll never know the limit of how much you can achieve until you take a leap of faith in yourself and try. Keep your focus right. Invest in yourself. Accelerate your learning curve. See life as a progressive journey. And you’ll most certainly achieve anything you set your mind to. 

COMFORT IS AN ILLUSION.

We all love comfort. Wealth gives us comfort. We work hard for a comfortable life - whether it’s for ourselves or for those we love.

But comfort is actually an illusion - an illusion that we shouldn’t be sucked into; an illusion that we should not become slaves of.

A girl friend of mine who is also a mother of a one-year-old boy said on her Facebook status,

If you love your kids, don’t raise them to become slaves of comfort.

Kids these days don’t understand why we have to struggle in life, why we have to live really simply, why we don’t consume the finest things in life we could afford and have as much fun as we possibly can.

It is because…
comfort makes us weak.
comfort makes us reckless.
comfort ropes us into becoming its slaves.

Once we’ve become slaves of comfort, we become unhappy when life starts to struggle; we become prone to unhappiness and misery which make us become resistant to happiness.

When we are slaves of comfort, we never know when enough comfort is enough. We keep wanting more. We keep seeking for more. We never feel satisfied.

But if we train our mind to be conscious of this - knowing when enough is enough and when we should stop demanding more comfort out of life - then we will be able to handle anything life throws at us. We become prone to happiness and be resistant to misery.

Don’t lose yourself to the world of comfort.

At one point in my life I was extremely broke. I had to face the harsh truth of life - what it’s like to struggle to pay rent and bills.

Two thoughts came to my mind;

  1. I could borrow some money from my parents and friends.
  2. I could give this struggling life a go.

I picked the latter as I wanted to test if I could really survive.

It was tough - real tough for about half a year. However, I really enjoyed the process because it made me realize that I am actually capable of living uncomfortably. My mind got stronger.

From that point on I lost my fear of failure because the fear of failure is actually the fear of having to live an uncomfortable life. But I survived. I was fine. I now have no fear because I know that no matter what happens in life, I will find a way to survive. Moreover, the uncomfortable period of my life actually enabled me to search for happiness from within, rather than from external sources.

I liked the new mentality I adopted so much that I aimed to push myself into the habit of living with less - no shopping, no taxi’s (only public transport and walking), mostly eating in and staying in. Because I had to be as stingy as possible with my money, I started to find “free things” to do - things that I could enjoy without having to spend any cent. I started to read more, write more, go to the park and the beach more often and just enjoy the nature, and go to Entrepreneur Meetups to meet new people instead of going out partying.

As a result, I become happier from within. I don’t need external factors to make me happy. Reading makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. Catching up with close friends and family makes me happy. Cooking makes me happy. Walking through the park makes me happy. People watching makes me happy. I don’t need a lot of comfort to make me happy.

Sometimes the uncomfortable things in life are there to teach us lessons because to go through a change of habit, we need to feel uncomfortable. 

- Mo Seetubtim

Give it a try if you can.
Learn to live with less.
Become comfortable with living uncomfortably.
Then you’ll realize that there’s more to life than finding comfort.
Because after all, comfort is just an illusion.

6 MINDSET SHIFTS TO HELP YOU FEEL POSITIVE WHEN LIFE GETS HARD.

Don’t let your busy life get in the way of your happiness 

Life is full of ups and downs. Even though we try to stay positive and happy, sometimes we just can’t help but feel a little down. Things don’t always go as planned. Disappointments, rejections, hurt, worries, illnesses, jealousy, annoyance - all of these things can occur to make us feel very uncomfortable in our own mind. We know it’s not good to feel this way but somehow it’s hard to stop thinking about it. We internalize our thought about a certain thing that annoys us or hurts us because it gives us comfort. However, by internalizing that thought in our head, thinking about it over and over, we reinforce the negative feeling we have and fill ourselves up with negative energy.

Here are the 6 tips of what you can do to get yourself out of the habit of internalizing negative thought patterns. So that you can easily let go off negative thoughts whenever they hit you and feel happy again. 


1. When you find yourself over-thinking about something, take your mind off it  with “meditation”.

It’s hard to switch from a negative thought to a positive thought right away. So instead of trying to do that, use “meditation” to help you transition. Because when you meditate you need to have a clear mind - you should not think about anything but just focus on your breathing. Meditation sets your mind and your brain to default - to a blank state. Doing this for 10 minutes your head will be clear and you will feel relaxed - ready to start thinking about something that gives you joy again. 


2. When you face a struggle in life, instead of feeling you’re unfortunate or life is not fair, see it as an opportunity to learn and to grow your mental strength.

Because without a struggle, you wouldn’t get to grow your mental strength. It’s a blessing in disguise. When you start thinking life is unfair, you’d then have a tendency to circle that thought in your head - telling yourself so over and over which is only going to make you feel worse. Instead of wasting time feeling sad and sorry for yourself, accept the situation and see this as a challenge for yourself. Forget about the future. Just focus on your next step. Then your next step. Inch by inch. Eventually you claw your way out. 

When the worst happens, you can’t worry about the rest of your life. You can’t even be worrying about the rest of the month. But you can usually handle one day at a time. And whenever 24 hours is too tough, bite off five minutes at a time. Tackle one problem at a time. Take a step. You get a little confidence… take another step, and another. Eventually you find that the worst is over.  

- Andrew Matthew, author of Happiness in Hard Times


3. When you feel stressed because you feel overwhelmed with work and things you have to do, make a clear to-do list and tick them off one by one. 

Even just by writing down the to-do list, you feel much more relieved and organized already. The next step is to follow through. Focus on one task at a time. Complete it one by one. By doing it this way, you’ll feel less stressed and get more things done. 

 

4. When you feel grumpy and negative because the people around you are negative, start treating yourself as a priority and step away from those people.

If they’re family, try helping them in a subtle way if you can. If they’re friends, spend less time with the negative ones and hang out more with the positive ones. Your time, energy, and feelings are precious. So don’t let anyone think they have the right to destroy your good mood, positivity, and happy vibes with their negativity. 


5. When you feel tired from work, try to focus on the simple joy in life. 

Focus on the little things you can do that make you feel relaxed and happy. Stop thinking about work and how stressful work is. Focus on the little beautiful things that you get to enjoy - like spending time with your kids, drinking your favorite tea while reading your favorite book, watching your favorite tv show, or having dinner with your lovely husband.


6. When you’re sick, don’t see yourself as unfortunate. Instead, feel thankful for being alive.

You should feel happy that at least you’re sick - you’re not dead or suffering from a more chronic or more serious illness. There are many more people who have worse conditions than you. You are very lucky that you are recovering and that you will be well soon. Take this opportunity to think about who you feel thankful for in life, the things you’d like to do before you die, and make plans to achieve those things so you won’t have any regret when your time actually comes. 

____________________________________


The Happiness Planner is a planner designed to help you see the positives in everyday. With The Happiness Planner as your sidekick, you can use it as a daily reminder to always put yourself into a positive frame of mind, to be mindful, and to always set exciting goals for the better you. Our app will be available in November.

FREE PRINTABLES TO HELP YOU REFLECT & PLAN FOR 2016!

The end of the year has come around again.  And like every other year, I always look back to the past year and anticipate how I want next year to be. Over the past two years, I have been on a steep learning curve.  I threw myself into the unknown, fell into rock bottom, and rose up again having found myself.

When you are completely cut open, there’s nothing left to be scared of. You can only find what you have been looking for all along.

After going through a few trials and errors, I’ve finally found my true calling. I’ve found my dreams, my life’s purpose, what makes my heart sing, and most importantly, how to turn those dreams into my life’s work. By discovering my authentic self and adhering to who I truly am, I find everything in life flowing naturally - a peace of mind, happiness from within, insatiable hunger for personal growth, and curiosity to explore.

2016 is going to be the year in which I fully focus on growing The Happiness Planner. We will expand our product range, develop a beautiful app, and inspire more people around the world to embrace the art of positive thinking because happiness is contagious.

On top of that, I will tick off my life-long bucket list. I’m going to do everything I have ever thought of doing, dreamed of achieving, and imagined of trying. From skydiving to bungee jumping, traveling to all the cities I’ve always wanted to visit, learning a third language, taking up a singing lesson, learning to cook more dishes, and inspiring people around the world to live with passion and find happiness from within.

What about you? Are you excited for 2016?

While you’re waiting for The Happiness Planner to arrive and to begin using it in the new year, I have created some exercises and printables to help you reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. Please feel free to share with your friends and family.

Simply click on link below the preview photos to download the actual files.

1. Reflect on the highs and lows of this year

There will always be highs and lows in life - happiness, sadness, joy, disappointment, anger, and stress. The key question we should ask ourselves is not “What did we lose from it?”, but rather “WHAT DID WE LEARN?”. The quicker we can change our mindset and shift our focus to that, the stronger and happier we become. 

We were able to get those times of happiness and disappointments, because we had certain people and certain things in our lives. Looking back on those moments, what and who do you feel grateful for? What great things happened that you wish you could repeat and how could you make them happen again? Write them all down so you can start visualizing and planning for 2016 in a more meaningful way. Because after all, what we actually remember about the moments in our lives is “how we felt”.

 Download 2015 Reflection (the highs of this year) printable

Download 2015 Reflection (the lows of this year) printable


2. Reflect on how you have been spending your time on different areas of your life.

We can’t escape the fact that there are many aspects of life and sometimes it’s hard to be good at everything at once. Sometimes we want one area of our life to excel and we forget to pay attention to the other areas of life. Taking a look at how we spend the only limited resource that we have - our time - can help us realize that we might have been too caught up in one area of our life and that we should start balancing better.

Download My Life (current pie chart) printable

40 years from now when you are old - whether you’ve become a grandparent, traveled the world, or achieved all of the great things you set your mind to - and look back to how you have spent your time during your younger years, how would you like it to look like? Drawing a pie chart of how you picture your time being spent can help you realize what you truly want to prioritize, value, and how you want to be remembered. 

Download My Life (40-years-from-now pie chart) printable


3. Envision your life 5, 3, and 1 year(s) from now.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in moments of fear and self-doubt. When we do that, we often forget our big dreams and forget to unleash our full potential. We might develop a habit of holding ourselves back until one day we may forget what our dreams are. Dream big because even if you don’t reach your ultimate goal, at least you’ll land somewhere nearby.

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not in the branch but in its wings. Always believe in yourself.

After all…

Here are the 3 vision boards for 5, 3, and 1 year(s).

Click here to download:



4. Think about all the things you want to achieve in 2016 and who you want to be

Now it’s time to think about all the qualities you want to improve, the values you want to enhance or reinforce, and the skills you want to adopt or master. Do you want to be more organized, fearless, and confident? Do you want to engage in more social work because it is aligned with your values? Do you want to learn another language or take a cooking class because that’s what you’ve always wanted to do but never seem to get around to it? Now is the time to write everything down on one piece of paper.

Download 2016 Vision Board printable


5. Create an action plan

After reflecting on the past year and visualizing your life in the future, you now should have more clarity about exactly what you want to achieve in 2016. You should feel more focused and determined now that you have identified exactly what you want to happen and what you will do to make those things happen.

Download 2016 I Will printable



Please feel free to share this with your loved ones. This can be a great family lunch or a friends’ get-together activity. If you’d like to share your experience with The Happiness Planner’s community, please write to us at hello@thehappinessplanner.com.


x

Mo Seetubtim

Founder of The Happiness Planner

Whatever it is you’re trying to change - a habit, a mindset, or an attitude - take it one day at a time. Focus on making each day a great day. Over and over, you will have a great life.

HOW TO TURN YOUR PASSION INTO YOUR LIFE’S WORK

How amazing would it be if you could begin each day feeling inspired and excited because you are able to work on something that you truly love? If you could feel that your future rests in your own hands because you have the inner power to utilise your innate abilities? Would you feel an immense sense of freedom and an ample amount of joy? Would you feel more fulfilled and rich from within because, by embracing your own natural talents and striving to be your best, you’re on the path to personal growth and self-actualisation?

Since I was a child, I’ve always believed in turning my passion into my life’s work. My dad is a passionate golfer, an ex-national marathon runner, and an entrepreneur who lives life with passion. When he becomes interested in something, he gets obsessed with it and becomes the best at it. I believe that I was also born this way, and maybe I was also influenced and inspired by my father’s way of life. No matter what I engage in, I make sure I become really good at it. However, as I grew up, I realised that it is not so easy to earn money from my passion. I spent several years of my life thinking about my passions and which one I could turn into my life’s work. I went on so many different paths, from doing music marketing to advertising, media, new product development, and tech startups. I can fully say now that my current venture, The Happiness Planner, is my true calling. Not only does it give me an ample amount of joy and motivation when I wake up each morning, but it also gives me freedom. If you have been thinking about turning your passion into your life’s work, here are a few tips from my own experience of finding my true calling and turning it into my life’s work.  


1. Know yourself

This might sound easy. But not many of us actually know ourselves. We may think we do, but if we really sit down and think about who we truly are and what we truly want in life, we might feel stuck for weeks and months before we can come up with answers. Most of us live life based on the opinions of others - of society, of parents, of what we read and were taught to believe. We go from step one, two, three, without questioning whether those steps are even necessary or if it’s possible to break away from the societal norms and patterns. At some point in our lives, we will start to feel stuck, because the path we have been on doesn’t actually give us true fulfilment. Often, we have stayed on the path because it is familiar, it is predictable, it is stable, and it is secure. Paving a new path for one’s self is scary. But when you reach that point in your life, you realise that in order for you to feel truly fulfilled, you need to understand what would make you feel fulfilled. And you can only do that when you know who you truly are.

If you find yourself stuck at this stage of your life, make a conscious practice to self-reflect regularly and read personal development books. This practice will help you look further within yourself and eventually, one day, you will wake up with an epiphany - a life-changing moment where you feel like a brand new person with a new mindset.

These exercises below might help you understand yourself better and find out what truly makes you feel fulfilled:

  • Look at your past experiences and the situations you’ve been in. When you had to pick between two critical decisions in life, which path did you go with? The path your gut instinct tells you to choose normally reflects your core values.
  • Look at the people you dislike. Why do you dislike someone? What is it about them that you don’t like? What is it about their behavior that you don’t like? Is it their work ethic? Is it their perspective of the world, their attitude, or their beliefs?
  • Look at the people you like and admire. Why do you like someone? What is it about them that you like or admire? Is it their work ethic, their attitude, their perspective of the world, and their beliefs? Is it their way of life? Is it their ambition, their aspiration, the way they work, or the way they think? Is it what they’ve done in life? Is it the “reason” behind why they do what they do?
  • What did you love doing as a child? What were your childhood hobbies? Were you good at drawing, painting, writing, music, or sports? When you role-played as a kid, what role did you enjoy playing? A lot of the time, these relate to your natural talents. Natural talents are what you’re innately good at, especially when you’re not restricted by societal norms and your dreams and imagination are still running wild.
  • What do you love doing in general? Do you find joy in making sure things are organised? Do you like freedom? Do you hate or love routine? Do you like talking to people you don’t know? Do you enjoy learning something that is methodological and systematic or abstract and conceptual? How do you describe the way you think and the way you see things?

Read more: How to Find Your Purpose in Life


2. Embrace your passion(s)

It might be quite hard to know what our purpose in life is. However, it is pretty obvious what our passions and interests are. Whether you have one or several passions, embrace your passion at full force and become the best at it. Never leave it astray or forget what used to make your heart beat or what used to soothe you emotionally.

Do you remember what you’re good at as a child and at school? Look beyond the surface of what you loved. For example, if math was your favourite subject, what did you love about it? Did you love it because it got you to think strategically? What side of the brain did it use? Was science your favourite subject? Why did you love science? Was it because it relates to things you can relate to in real life or the fact that you can prove it factual? Did you love art? How did you feel when you engaged in art? What made you love art? Was it the sense of freedom you got from being able to draw and paint and let your imagination run wild? Was it an escape from the unpleasant environment you were in? Did it provide emotional comfort? Did you like it because there are no set rules in art and being creative means being and thinking differently? Look deep into the underlying psychological side of why you love something and turn that into something you can apply to your work and career. And sometimes, you don’t even need to step away from your childhood dreams and hobbies. You just need to know how to turn what you’re good at into a valuable asset that people want to pay for.


3. Evaluate all of your passions and see what stands out the most.

Most of us are passionate about and are good at a lot of things. It can be quite confusing to figure out which one we should strive to be the best at and turn into our life’s work.

Make a list of all of your passions and see which one you’re the best at and if there are a lot of people with the same passion. If what you’re good at is something that a lot of people are also good at, it can be very challenging for you to earn sufficient money, especially if the demand for what you offer is lower than the supply. Pick the one passion where you think you have the most opportunity to stand out, and stick to it.

4. Master what you’re great at

Once you’ve decided which passion you’re going to become the best at, pour your heart and soul into it and focus on doing it better than everyone else.

In my own life, I love inspiring people. I also love marketing and branding and I’m good at it. I have proved to myself and to other people that I am capable of inspiring people through my blog. Although, when I started my blog, I didn’t really think about how I would monetise it. I was just focusing on creating great content that inspired people. Receiving daily emails from my readers telling me how inspiring my blog was made me very happy. That’s when I realised this is what I want to do well and do for the rest of my life.


5. Find your niche

Being good at something is not enough. You also have to be different. You need to find your niche or your unique value proposition.

How can you be different? How are you better than the other people who are doing the same thing as you? What is the gap in the market? What can you offer that others don’t? What is unique about you? How can you make people remember you?

I believe my voice is my unique value proposition. Everything I write about relates to me and comes from my own thoughts and experiences. This cannot be replicated. It is important that you find out what makes you stand out and that it cannot be replaced or copied easily. People can copy you or be similar to you, but that’s just one facet of it. You are a combination of several things put together. Make sure that is reflected in your work.


6. Create something new

Once you know what your niche is, create a product or a service that you can offer to the world. Sometimes it’s hard to create something that stands out, especially in such a crowded market. If that’s the case, you have to create something totally new and different.

What is missing in the market? Can you create something new by merging a few simple things together? What are the two genres or niches that people love? How can you combine the two and create something new and interesting? How can you use new technology and trends to create something innovative that the market doesn’t currently have?

In my case, I realised that people love personal development stuff - self-help books, inspirational blogs, motivational articles. People (especially females) also love and still use paper planners and journals. However, there’s nothing in the market that is a combination of the two. This is how the idea of The Happiness Planner was conceived.


7. Find your market

Now that you know what you’re going to offer to the world, and have established your unique value proposition and branding, you need to know who your audience is. Who is going to like your work and your style? Who is going to vouch for you? Who is going to appreciate what you put out in the world? Define this and build a fan base by showcasing your talents and gifts through content creation. Find ways to reach out to them and attract them to you.

Most importantly, you need to understand who your customers are. You need to understand them beyond their age, gender, or other demographics. It is important that you dig deep into human psychology to uncover their attitudes, lifestyle, hopes, and dreams, and to build an authentic connection with them.


8. Build a system

Your business won’t run on its own. You won’t become successful and have freedom to yourself if you don’t build an effective and efficient system. With the power of technology and globalisation, you can do things on a big scale with a small team or as a solo entrepreneur. You just have to find a system that works for you. Find a way to automate work. Assign tasks that can be done by others - tasks that are tedious and time-consuming. Pour your time and energy towards something you’re good at. It may take quite a while for you to come up with the most feasible structure, but once you’ve worked out the system, things will become much easier, and you will have more time to focus on the bigger picture and on yourself.

BEYOND TRAVELING: A GUIDE TO MOVING TO A NEW COUNTRY

Following 10 Reasons Why You Should Live Abroad At Least Once in Your Lifetime, I hope I have inspired and encouraged you in some way to move overseas. If you have been thinking about this for quite some time now, please read on! 

Growing up with stories about different countries from cartoons to magazines to books to movies, we all have fantasized at one point in our lives to move to another country that is so out of the ordinary, so different from what we’re used to and where we grow up in, to experience something we never experience, to meet new people, to try new dishes, to see new things, to live in a different culture, to adopt new skills, and to learn a new way of life.

But when it comes to reality, we get stuck. We don’t know where to start. We can’t find someone to go on the journey with. We feel scared as the future seems uncertain and you don’t know what’s out there.

For me, traveling is never about a package tour, a Contiki tour, a shopping trip with girl friends - spending 5 days in each city,  jumping from one tourist attraction to another, sightseeing and taking photos. 

Traveling is all about experiencing new things and having my mindset and perspective shifted - hanging out with the local, experiencing the local way of life, eating local dishes, learning about their culture and attitudes, adopting their way of life even just for a period of time - simply trying to see things through their lens. 

Traveling is not a holiday or a vacation. It is not taking a break from work or a relaxing getaway, neither is it ever a drunken week of partying in a party city. 

Traveling is living - in a different place, in a different environment, surrounded by people whom you never met before - who may become your new friends - who may shed light on something new for you.

This is why I’m not a fan of going somewhere for 5 days and leaving, saying I have been there because traveling to me is not a visit to a place or a city far away from home. 

Traveling is falling deeply in love with a place beyond face value and making the place fall back in love with me. 

Just like how people set milestones in life they’d like to achieve - career progression, role as a parent, advancement in sport - I see moving to another city as a milestone. 

Trying to fit in in a new city, first and foremost you have to learn about their culture and their attitude. You can’t fall in love with something beyond its outer beauty until you’ve really gotten to know it. You can’t fall in love with a city until you really get to know it inside and out. 

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.


I believe there’s always beauty hidden in everything - it’s about finding the pair of glasses whose lens fit your eyes. In this case I mean finding your kind of place and your kind of people. 

Here are a few tips on how I travel and work and continue to do so without fear.

1. Shift your perspective from thinking that travel is a luxury, and that you need to save to travel


Traveling is simply moving from one place to another; it’s no difference from moving from one suburb to another. You just change the location. You still continue to do what you do if you were in your hometown - work, cook at home, do your laundry, and exercise. You just meet new people who may speak a language you don’t understand, walk on the roads you’ve never been on, go to cafés you’ve never been to, and eat foods you didn’t grow up eating on a daily basis. 


2. Get over fear

We all have fear, mainly the fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar - you don’t know anyone in the new city/country, you don’t know the place well and its different areas, you don’t have a job secured there, you’re not used to the culture, etc. - the list goes on and on. 

Traveling alone doesn’t need to be scary. You don’t know anyone, why not make new friends? You don’t know the place well, why don’t you move there so you get to know the place well? No job secured, why don’t you look for a job there? It’s a different culture, why don’t you try to understand and adapt yourself to it? You might learn something new, become a better person, and feel happier.



3. Do your research

Once you make up your mind that you’re going to move to another country, then do your research.

Location & Culture

  • What is the culture like? What is to be avoided or careful about? Possible culture shocks? Safety concerns? 
  • What areas should you check out? Where should you stay?

Cost Estimation

  • How much would your monthly or weekly expense cost - rent, food, transportation, phone and internet charges, etc.?

Making a Living

  • What are the options, obligations, and requirements with visa? Can you get a visa with work permit? If you’re under 30, look into Working Holiday or Work and Holiday Visa. Many countries offer this to encourage youth to travel.
  • What is your field of expertise like over there? How do they work? What kind of pay would you be getting? What companies can you approach for work? Who should you have a coffee with when you’re over there? Get in touch with some recruiters specialised in contract and freelance jobs in your industry
  • Is there any cash-in-hand work you can do to avoid the complication with visa? If so, how can you prepare yourself for it so you won’t struggle to get some income? Look into non-traditional jobs here; teaching a language, teaching a skill (swimming, scuba diving, dancing, piano, personal training, graphic design, photography, programming, writing, tutoring), becoming a chef, a bartender, a barista, or even a sale person.
  • Think about the connections that you have elsewhere. Could any company benefit from your connections? Help with market expansion or language and cultural barriers and know-how? Look into companies with international markets, travel companies, international companies and digital agencies.
  • Can you work remotely? If so, can you secure a few contracts beforehand?
  • Can you build a passive income stream? Think about real estate and online businesses here.  

4. Prepare - for a change of heart and the expected extension

Are you ready to go? Just as you’ve booked your flight, searched for possible accommodations and job options, you need to get ready.

Let me warn you: This so-called a-few-month trip can end up being a year-or-longer trip. You might fall in love with the place. You never know. So please be prepared! 

  • Scan all your important documents - ID card, driving license, university certificate, birth certificate, house registration, etc. Also make copies and get them all translated to English (if it’s not already in English). Keep in mind that you may need to get them translated to the language of the country you’re moving to. They may also need to be certified. If you’re not bringing the original with you, leave them with someone you trust in case you need them to send them over or scan them for you. 
  • Get rid of stuff you can live without. I know we all tend to endlessly collect things but traveling will make you realise that you can live just fine with 3 pairs of jeans and 10 plain tops. You can live without an amazing hair dryer or a hair curler. You can live without 10 pairs of shoes and 10 handbags to match each clothes you wear. You only need a small bag of make-up instead of a big set of drawers. You can read eBooks which don’t weigh a kilo or take up a lot of space. Plus, you can take them with you wherever you go. 
  • Store your stuff - whether at a storage or at your parents’. Give access to someone you trust in case you need to get access to something while you’re away. 
  • Sort out your bills and contracts - phone, internet, electricity - you don’t want to come back a year or two later seeing $3K+ bills.


5. Get excited 

Now you’ve sorted out the hard work which is the paperwork and the logistics, it’s time to get excited about what lies ahead of you. This transition can become a life-changing moment. Be prepared!

  • Learn the basic language so you don’t get ripped off by a taxi driver or a seller, get greeted with a friendlier manner by shopkeepers, and can make new friends more easily.
  • Pack as little as you can. Keep in mind that you may and will likely end up buying new clothes as to match the trend and the climate. If the country you’re moving to has a lower cost of living, then don’t bring any toiletries, skincare, or medicines because they will be cheaper there (even the same brands will be cheaper).
  • Look up cool local magazines. I tend to avoid reading publications produced by tourism bodies as I want to know where is cool to go to from a local’s perspective rather than a tourist’s perspective - from the chic hangouts to the upcoming gigs, the coolest art galleries, the best cafes and restaurants rated by local tongue, and the hottest bars. 
  • Ask for introductions. Has any of your friends been to the country you’re moving to? Do they know anyone there or anyone that has recently moved there? Do you know anyone that are originally from there? Can they introduce you to a few of their friends over there so you have a local showing you around, making your transition more at ease? 
  • Make some new friends in advance. Hey, it is not 2001 anymore. I’m sure you’re on social media and must have made connections with people in another country. Why not take this chance to finally meet up with your Twitter friends who reside in that country or try tweeting someone interesting in your field over there suggesting a coffee? Expats are usually quite open-minded to meeting new people. It doesn’t hurt to say hello first. 

6. Say goodbye 

Goodbye is not a sad thing. It’s saying I will see you again and I’m looking forward to showing you around another country and having an amazing time with you there. 

You can’t grow if you’re always surrounded by the same environment. Growth accelerates with change. If parents and friends don’t understand why you want to move, inspire them to travel and invite them to come visit you and they will understand why. Sometimes people grow apart and that’s a part of life.You can’t let fear hold you back, neither can you let people who love you hold you back.

If the need to travel has been itching you for so long, you need to just do it. There’s no trying and failing.

It’s only “doing” or “not doing” - and “wanting to do more”.