Closing thoughts of 2016

I’ll keep this year’s entry short, even though it’s been one of the most eventful and exciting years ever. I have learned so many things in this short timeframe, thanks to the decisions I’ve made to change my life. Here is a sharing of some of the thoughts that struck me this year and guide the way I live and work.

People who are willing to change their lives, do not need to be told they need to change. Those who refuse to change, will simply not listen to this advice until their life is shaken dramatically to the core, and often it will be too late.

You either work for a growing organization or a dying one. There is no in-between.

When people tell me they are comfortable in their jobs, it is a sure sign of trouble to come (for them and others who have to work with them).

The best line I read in a book this year went something like this – “Why avoid self-help books? Someone has already spent years making the mistakes, you just need to spend a few minutes reading their writings rather than years repeating the same mistakes.”

The second best line came from Bruce Lee’s writings: “Life is the effect of feelings – Life is simply what our feelings do to us”

Most people spend their lives talking when they should be reading.

Impatience is a virtue in many scenarios (except when you really have to wait things out). The people in my life who have all told me to stop being impatient… well after observing them for many years, they were always the wrong people to take advice from.

The opposite of impatience is procrastination, and the latter must be eliminated. There is no better day than today to get things done, to believe in Jesus, to love your wife, kids and friends. Because like I always say, we could be dead tomorrow and you wouldn’t even know why.

The best thing anyone told me this year was “Ian, you either see opportunities or handcuffs all around you. Make sure it is not the latter.”

The worse thing anyone told me this year? I cannot remember because I am blessed with a bad memory for people I do not like and the things they say. Also because I recognize these people early and I do everything I can to stay away from their destructive natures.

The older we get, the harder we have to work in order to survive each new year. I don’t know why there is this idea that you should slow down with age. The environment never gets any more forgiving, only more competitive and disruptive.

There comes a point of trying when you know you cannot be wrong anymore, even when everyone insists you are wrong. That is when you either give up or change your life.

Everyone should join a start-up at least once in their lives. The start-up called Andios did not work out for us, but it made me into an energized 25-year-old again when I was getting stuck in a rut as a 40-year-old corporate creature. I effectively stopped feeling pain after my stint in Andios.

That said, most start-ups will fail because true entrepreneurs are very, very rare, and they too, need a confluence of unlikely factors to make things work. So be prepared for the high risk of failure and job loss when you join a start-up… but the price is worth it.

I have always been self-critical, but this year, I went a bit further to try to eliminate the word “excuses” from my list of acceptable behavior. In every thing that we do not get right, I want to know first where I was responsible and why I could not have prevented it. The word “excuses” must be replaced by “reasons” and always followed up by “solutions”. At the least, know how to to “ask for help”.

Minimalism is not just about throwing out unnecessary items, but making sure you invest in ownership of the best things you can afford and they should be absolutely essential to your life.

People really ought to stop stupid diets like juicing. If it sounds stupid the first time you hear it, it probably is. I have yet to see it work on anyone I know.

I have stopped actively telling people how to lose weight (but please excuse the earlier paragraph on juicing). There really is no point as long as I am healthy myself – since many people really want to fill their lives with excess sugar. My book is still on sale, but I let it sell itself.

Technology has made easy the old and difficult ways of life. However, it does make life a lot more difficult because it will not stop improving things that help slow us down and give us more breathing space.

I have stopped saying “I will try my best.” when asked to do something difficult, and I ask others not to say the same to me too. Often more than not, “I will try my best” is a veiled admission that you cannot meet the real objectives at hand and want to stick to your old ways. It’s a sentence only young children should use, because they really do not know better.

The best mobile app I have downloaded this year is Snapseed (or was that last year?). I also liked Prisma for its beautiful artistic filters, but it is crippled by only producing square images.

Curved screens on a phone like the Samsung S7 Edge are cool, but it makes taking photos more difficult since the edges are warped. I will buy flat screen phones after this S7 Edge dies.

I have discovered the best time of the day to visit the now Michelin-starred Tai Hwa Noodles in order to avoid the 1-hour long queues. It shall remain my secret.

Make your life happen the way you want it to in 2017, people.

God bless you all.


Also published on Medium.

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