Building Habits

I just finished reading the book Atomic Habits. It’s a great book, very easy to read and very practical. 

It helps me reframe the way I see myself building habits, cultivating self-discipline and creating my own environment for success.

Years ago when I started learning about meditation, I went through what probably many people go through. I couldn’t sit still for more than 5 minutes. I couldn’t hold a consistent practice. I’d meditate for one day and stop for 2 months. You know how it goes. 

But then I heard the best advice I got for meditation and for building any habits – Start with 1-minute meditation. 

Chiameng-de, an early pioneer at Google, now teaching meditation and mindfulness introduces this 1-minute meditation method. The idea is to make it so easy that you can’t say no. The key to building any habit is consistency. We can’t expect to have a fit body only going to the gym once in a while or whenever we feel like it. We see the results by consistently putting in the effort and time. 10 pushups a day is better than 100 pushups a month. 

In Atomic Habits, James Clear also makes that very clear. One of the principles is to make a habit so easy that you can’t miss it. For example, meditating for one minute. So often when we try to start a new habit, we want to build a perfect habit from the get-go. We want to go from never working out, to going to the gym every day for an hour. Or having never meditated to meditating for 30 minutes every day. We might be able to gather some will and determination to kickstart the habit this way for a day, a week or even a month. But most of the time, this method is not sustainable and we fall back to our old ways in no time. 

James Clear says, standardize to optimize. When we want to start a new habit, try to make it as simple as possible at the beginning and then optimize from there. 

The one-minute meditation helped me build a meditation practice. That was when I was able to keep this practice consistently and ultimately enjoy the benefits that it has to bring. 

Last night, I went through my phone and rearranged my apps to create an environment on my phone that supports my lifestyle. 

I also downloaded a habit tracker to track a few habits that I want to build and I fool-proved them to help myself stay consistent with them and make them enjoyable to do. I wrote down 5 habits to start keeping track: Yoga, Meditation, Writing, Guitar and French. 

All of these habits were scheduled into my days in bite-sized chunks. Yoga – 3 times a week, 5 minutes. Meditating – every day, 5 minutes. Writing – every day, 100 words. French – twice a day, 5 minutes each time. Guitar – every day, 5 minutes. 

I want to make my habits so easy that I can’t say no to them and don’t weigh me down when I think about them. 

Most of us know many obstacles or hardships that we perceive we have are mostly in our head. When I think about writing 5 pages every day, it seems ‘big’ in my head. Hence, I feel stressed just thinking about it and it stops me from actually doing it. So I set the goal to write 100 words. Now I am at 553 words. 

This idea of ‘making it easy for myself’ is counterintuitive. Many times we think we need to hold ourselves to a high standard so we set the bar very high for ourselves to reach. But what I’ve found is that when I make a goal, a habit, a task easy for myself, I tend to excel in them more. 

‘Design the system for my worst days. Not my best days.’

I feel like nowadays we have a habit of making things hard for ourselves. It’s almost like making something easy for ourselves will be seen as a crime. It seems like what a failure does. But in reality, it’s the opposite. 

Do you have any habits or things that you’ve been wanting to do but just can’t get around to it?

How do you simplify, fool-proof it and make it easy for yourself to achieve? You got this!

The Rejection Therapy

My first few years after moving to the states, I did door-to-door sales for a while, selling office supplies to businesses and AT&T services to homeowners. I learned a lot working that job. I highly recommend everybody to try that once in their lifetime. 😉

Other than the chance to practice my English at that time (and learning Spanish as well), the most I learned was work ethic. Walking hours and hours a day, in the scorching heat or stormy rain. Going from one door to another, facing rejections and uncertainty while keeping a great attitude. It was a necessary training ground for me to have the work ethic I have now. 

Dealing with the uncertainty of getting sales, working on 100% commission, there was a certain mindset that we needed to adopt to keep our spirit up. To help us with that, one day our sales manager helped us reframe the rejections we got in the field. 

Let’s say, with the law of averages, I would get one sale from every 20 people I talk to. Then my focus becomes talking to 20 people instead of that one sale. Every time I hear a no, it means I am closer to a yes. I remember there were days, when our manager had us focus on not the yes’s we got but the no’s. We tried to get as many no’s as we could and we celebrated every time we got a no. Because it means we are closer to our yes! 

The no’s don’t affect us that much anymore. In contrast, it motivates us. 

Another story from a guy called Jia Jiang. He did ‘100 days of Rejection Therapy’ by himself. Every day for 100 days he went out and purposely looked for ways to get rejected. He would go to Starbucks and ask to be a greeter, try to get a free room at a hotel, borrow a book from Barnes & Nobles. The list goes on. You can check out his YouTube and blog for the crazy things he tried to attempt. 

His goal wasn’t to succeed but to get rejected. Sometimes he did get the no, but also many times he was surprised with the craziest yes. Like the Olympic donuts Krispy Kreme made for him and a private jet ride from Tony Hsieh. 

He didn’t see no as failure. Just as my sales manager helped us see no as a good thing. 

This mindset has helped me tremendously throughout my career. I no longer was scared of being rejected but more motivated to keep trying and ‘failing’.

I don’t determine my success by how many yes’s I get but by how many times I try. 

I don’t care if what I am working on will ever turn into something grandeur. I only care if I put in the effort, learn something and enjoy the process along the way.  

Rejection and failure don’t define us. It’s how we deal with them that defines us.

Can you imagine what you can accomplish if you are not afraid to hear a no?

A random photo of me trying to stand on somebody’s shoulder for the first time.

The ‘Do Something’ Principle

I am reading a book called ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck’. It’s quite a famous book. I am glad I am finally reading it and I’m in love with it.

One of the principles it introduces is the ‘do something’ principle. 

The idea of motivation. 

Most of us wait for the feeling of motivation to hit before we do something but the author suggests that motivation comes from action. Especially when we don’t know what to do.

I’ve heard a lot of writers’ advice is to simply write. Every day. 

Some dedicate 1-2 hours of writing time every day. Doesn’t matter if they actually write anything useful or if they actually write anything at all. That time is dedicated to writing.

I used to write at least 750 words every day when I woke up in the morning, following a method introduced in a book called ‘The Artist’s Way’.  

Sometimes I see my long to-do list and get overwhelmed and tend to not want to do anything at all. Those times I tell myself I just need to open my computer or I just need to open that web browser. A lot of times I start from the easiest task. Then the motivation/inspiration starts to flow. Tackling the bigger tasks all of a sudden becomes part of the flow. 

Elon Musk’s recent famous words for entrepreneurs: “If you need encouragement, don’t become an entrepreneur.”

Entrepreneurs are self-motivated people. But what is self-motivation? How do people get up every day and are already motivated? 

Motivation is less about feeling but more about action. 

When we don’t feel like doing anything or when we don’t know what to do, just do something, take any action, regardless of how big or small. Action creates momentum. Momentum is what we are looking for. Momentum generates motivation and inspiration. Momentum is gold.

When we feel stuck or in a slump, just get up and do something. Paint your nails, clean the kitchen counter, just get moving. It’d be even better to do something you enjoy. That starts a momentum of joy and with that momentum, ideas and inspiration will start to flow. 

At least that’s how I’ve been able to keep walking on this entrepreneurial path. 

Don’t wait for yourself to feel good to start acting. Act your way into feeling good. You can be your own source of motivation and inspiration. Cheers!

A random photo of me in Yosemite in 2019

The Untold Stories about the RV Life

There are many Instagram posts and YouTube videos about the glamorous RV life. Living and traveling on the road, basking in nature, freedom to go anywhere anytime. 

But what is not normally shown are the hardships and challenges that this lifestyle brings, both internally and externally. 

The movie ‘Nomadland’ has recently won Best Picture of 2021. The movie is about a woman who gets laid off from her job, decides to travel and live the nomadic life with her van. 

I felt deeply connected to the movie. It reflects the reality of this lifestyle, the good and the bad. 

Living on the road without a base means living in the uncertainties. I was constantly looking for my next parking spot. I sometimes parked in neighborhood but prayed that nobody would knock on my door and ask me to leave in the middle of the night. Sometimes I slept in parking lots. But the majority of the time, I was boondocking in BLM land. Thank god for these public lands in America that I got to enjoy nature at its finest. Without civilization, without noise. Though at the same time, I could only stay 14 days at a time before I had to pack up and move. 

All these moving around by myself contributed to me feeling uncertain, exhausted, and disconnected. 

I recently wrote a guest post for a friend’s blog about how I overcame these moments. 

These experiences have trained me to be strong when facing challenges, to be friends with the unknown, to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

In the summer of 2018, my sister came to visit from Malaysia. I needed to drive my RV from California to Texas. She came on the trip with me to keep me company while also experiencing the RV life herself. Because my RV hadn’t been used and maintained for a long time and I didn’t spend enough time fixing it before I departed for the trip, we dealt with a lot of challenges on the way. The worst one was when I busted 3 tires within 24 hours! Imagine a big 23-foot RV having a flat tire. It’s not as easy as picking up a wrench and replacing the flat tire with a spare. 

My most stressful moment was when my tire busted on the freeway. The whole RV was lopsided. I tried to remain as calm as possible since I had my sister with me. I didn’t want her to freak out more than she did. I pulled myself together. We figured out a plan that I would slowly back up the RV to the nearest gas station which was about 100 feet behind us. She walked behind the RV, directing the incoming traffic. I was praying to God she doesn’t get hit by a car and that my RV wouldn’t tip over. 

After going through the gut-wrenching 20 minutes, we successfully pulled over to the gas station. Thankfully, a man traveling with his family in an RV saw us in trouble. He spent about 2 hours replacing the tire for us. We were so thankful that he sacrificed his precious holiday time getting his hands dirty, sweating at a gas station to get us out of our trouble. 

As hard as the journey was, I had also never felt more blessed. I felt like God would never give me a challenge if He doesn’t have a rainbow waiting for me after. The more I travel, the more trust I have in life. I was shown again and again that I will always be taken care of and angels are everywhere. 

I will continue to dig up my travel stories and share my life on the road with you. Thank you so much for being here and reading my stories. I hope they inspire you to have more trust in life and the courage to go for what you want. 

My sister and I at Antelope Canyon in Arizona

Covid Restrictions

Koh Lanta, located in Krabi province has recently tightened its restriction for Covid. It’s been a week now dining at restaurants is not allowed and a curfew from 10pm-4am. 

Thank God Avner and I don’t mind spending time at home and I’ve been enjoying cooking a lot as well. 

But I can’t help but feel bad for the restaurant owners here. This island has been extremely quiet. When we did eat out, most of the time we were the only table at the restaurant. I can only imagine the hardship they are going through. 

Yesterday, we drove around the island for a bit and noticed the amount of empty resorts and closed restaurants. 

Since the pandemic started, I had spent most of my time on Koh Phangan. Due to the amount of expats living there, the impact that I see on Koh Phangan is not as bad as here on Koh Lanta. 

For the first time during this pandemic, I feel like I have finally witnessed the impact Covid has brought. 

I hope things get better in Thailand and their economy recovers soon. 

The beautiful coast of Koh Lanta