4 QUICK WAYS TO PRACTICE SELF-LOVE

Hello all!

Here’s attempt #idon’tknowanymore at jump-starting my novel writing. While I managed to make significant progress during the Chinese New Year holidays, I find it hard to make further progress after. To get my engine going, I truly need to block out a fair bit of time in my schedule. That’s hard when you’re juggling several commitments. That being said, one of my colleagues at work has two kids and still managed to get a side-hustle going… that’s inspirational. If he can do it, then so can I.

So here’s a bit more life advice while I work out my writing schedule for the next few weeks and months. With how busy I am, finding quick ways to practice self love is important. Here’s what I’ve been using.

Medito App
I struggled to find a free meditation app, until I found Medito. I’ve been using it for around 1/3 of a year now and I feel like it really does help me to keep anxiety low in the mornings. (I am prone to feeling anxious when I wake up.) My favourite thing about this app is the ‘daily meditation’ section, which accompanies me on my daily 5 min meditation session in the morning. Soon, I am going to look at the other sections to further expand my journey in meditation

Headspace on Netflix
Not sure whether this is available where you are, but it provided me with new meditation techniques that I have found intriguing. The graphics are beautiful and going through the various episodes has been an experience. They also have a new upcoming series, which is supposed to help one sleep better. This is something I am definitely going to check out.

Presently – A Gratitude Journal App
There are a ton of these apps out there…but what made me stick to Presently is its very simple interface. It doesn’t feel like a chore to fill each daily entry up. Also, I keep it to 3 things I am grateful for every day so I take less than a minute to fill it up.


Create / or whatever floats your boat
After much soul-searching a few years ago, I realised what makes me feel happy is creating new things. It can be a piece of design, a blog or even a photo. It is why content marketing suits me as a career. It is the thing that I get ‘into the zone’ with. And that is also why I am here today, writing this blog. It makes me happy. It’ll make me even happier if I know this blog post has helped someone. So my advice here is to find out the thing that makes you tick. If you get to do what you love, then you’re already practicing self-love.

3 WAYS TO MINIMIZE EFFECTS OF IMPOSTER SYNDROME

A new year, a new post.

Long story short, life took over. But honestly? It is no excuse. I had pockets of time where I could have been doing some writing but… #effort. Plus, I do loads of content development at work so when I am home, all I want to do is to relax….but nope, I am going to try and get this blog going again. When my block leave for Chinese New Year comes around, I am going to try and get a few chapters of my novel done – THAT IS A PROMISE I MAKE TO MYSELF.

Until then, I am going to do mini blog posts about whatever inspires me. For this blog, I’ll like to briefly go over the psychological thought pattern ‘imposter syndrome’.

In short, it means a lack of confidence… it means being afraid of being exposed as a ‘fraud’ even when there is external evidence that you aren’t at work.

This is something that I relate to at so many levels. But at the same time, I also have moments where I do feel confident and proud of my work. I can swing between these two modes so quickly that it is almost a miracle that I haven’t gotten some kind of mental whiplash.

I also don’t think this is something I can ever completely overcome… but I do believe there are ways where I can minimise these moments. I’ve been accumulating these mini strategies for some time now and perhaps it is time to put them into words.

  1. BEING IN THE PRESENT

    If you had done some sort of meditation or yoga, you would know what this means. To me, it means simply living in the present moment and not caring about what comes after. After all, you will get there when you get there. To be in the present moment, you can simply train all your focus on something like your breath for a few minutes. Alternatively you can focus on listening to something like the rainfall or the sounds of nature. You don’t HAVE to meditate to be in the present, in my opinion. Take some time out of your busy day to do this and sooner or later, I’m sure you will start to see it as an avenue to relax from your busy mind.

  2. FIND WAYS TO ‘REBOOT’ YOUR BRAIN

Once you start thinking negatively, it is likely that you will spin down and down and…you get the picture. Before you get too emo(tional), you gotta snap yourself out of it. You can do this by distracting yourself with a piece of news or a show. Sometimes, I get into this ‘panic’ mode the moment I wake up and I have realised that if I just sit up and focus on the quiet around me, my mind will eventually follow suit as well. Perhaps I should figure out a way to take the ‘quiet’ of my room into my office…. mentally, I mean. That way, I can reboot my brain no matter where I am.

3. UPDATE YOUR RESUME/LINKEDIN PROFILE

This is a bit of a weird one but I’ve realised that people quickly forget how much they have accomplished if they do not have an opportunity to reflect on it. And what better way to do so than to update your resume or linkedin profile? As a bonus, it makes applying for your next job several times easier. Speaking of, I should probably do that soon as well.

And that’s all for now – see you next time!

RANDOM STUFF#1

I wish I could say I have been working on my novel but alas, that is far from the case. I have been caught up in some real life obligations in the past few weeks and as they are very important ones, I shall forgive myself for lapsing in this blog XD. So here is my attempt at jump-starting the whole writing thing again. Today, I shall get a quick post out so as to ease myself back into working on my novel.

So here are some random things that kept my life interesting in the last few weeks.

#1 Chef Hua
(Follow the youtube link to the channel with all the episodes)

Cooking and medieval China? Sign me up! The romance is very very VERY cliche but man the food always looks awesome. One other thing that I like about this drama is that the main characters aren’t royalty. They’re just simple commoners! Also, it features a very supportive mother-in-law. That’s rare – even in real life!

#2 Alien
This is, of course, a very very old series. I basically went back and devoured all the material I could easily get my hands on (yay for Netflix!) and read up on all the lore. Ripley is an amazing female character and I hope to bring my main character to life in a similar way. Of course, the story will be completely different. I do not often delve into sci-fi/horror often but every now and then, I have this…morbid curiosity that needed feeding. Another series I kept jumping back to is the “Thing”.


#3 TED TALK – On Raising Kids To Overcome Anxiety

And just to show that I haven’t just been lazing my day away in front of the screen, here’s one of the TED talks that struck a nerve with me. Anxiety, I believe, is one of the main issues plaguing young adults in Asian cultures. This is because we have been bred to want to succeed while remaining dependent on others at the same time. For example, teachers give us oddles of content to memorise but rarely manage to cultivate a desire of indepedent learning in their students. We just take what we are given and do nothing more. By the time these students get to university, they have trouble with discipline, taking risks and feeling confident about their own decisions.

But now that I am aware of it, I can hopefully slowly undo that negative mindset. And if I ever have children, this is a video I will probably keep coming back to.



BOUNDARIES IN THE WORKPLACE

Yes yes – it has been a while since my last blog. I know that very well. I don’t have any excuse as I know very well that you should make time for the things that matter to you. And given all that I have written in my blogs about forming habits, the last thing I want to be is to be a hypocrite. So let’s get straight into the topic on my mind today – boundaries.

I think boundaries are extremely important in keeping relationships healthy. You might think it is immature or even cruel to completely ‘burn bridges’ but from my experience, it can only be beneficial to yourself. While I don’t have much problem in maintaining boundaries in my personal life, I oddly struggle with this in my professional life.

As an INTJ, I am incredibly task-oriented. When I am focused on a task, I will tend towards wanting to do everything to get the task done, no matter what. But this means I run the risk of over-stepping into someone else’s territory. In addition, it also puts me at risk of giving others the impression that I can do all the little things for them. It took me a while to realize that being helpful can actually be…a bad thing. And saying ‘no’ in a non-offensive way is a ‘must have’ skill in the workplace.

So how do I fix this? I actually like that ‘task-oriented’ part of myself and it is not something I want to change. I also like being helpful and curious as it is how I picked up all the skills I now possess.

However, I think I would have to readjust my concept of a ‘task’. It should now include considering the perception of others (aka being ‘people-oriented’) before making an action. I should also consider the function of the various departments in the workplace before deciding on a course of action. It’ll be a challenging thing to do, yes, but once I make it a habit at the workplace, everything else should fall into place.

As for being ‘too helpful’, I think I need to consistently remind myself that there are various departments in a company for a reason. I can’t do ‘everything’ like when I was in a smaller company. It is not to my benefit if I try to cover all grounds for a task. It may be a benefit to the company in the short term but it most definitely won’t be in the long run. This is because of the uneven workflow process.

I am writing this blog as a reminder to myself that this is something I must and should work on in the workplace.  

4 PILLARS OF MEANING IN LIFE

It’s been quite a while since my last post, but yay, I am back! Life has taken quite a few interesting turns lately, hence my absence from the front page on this site. I am happy to report that I am slowly developing my main character, who already feels far ‘deeper’ compared to the character I developed for the previous version of my story. But more on that another time. Today, I would like to show you all a very interesting TED talk and book I encountered on Linkedin. (BTW, I’ve been getting loads of good advice from LinkedIn lately and I highly recommend casually browsing every now and then for young adults looking to improve their careers and life.)

This is the TED talk in question:

Belonging, Purpose, Transcendence and Story-telling. Here’s her book if you would like a deeper look into these four pillars. I am about 5 chapters in and it has already been incredibly enlightening.

As an atheist, I have struggled to understand the concept of religion for the longest time. While my new understanding of these four pillars did not compel me further towards god, it did help me understand why religion has been so compelling for others.

It taught me how perspective can be a double-edged sword. Typically, looking at the good side of things helps to keep you motivated. However, what if the situation is a bad one, such as being trapped in a relationship with an abusive partner? By looking on the bright side of things, it traps that person in a vicious cycle. Some part of them knows they should leave but because they engage in the act of ‘looking on the bright side of things’, it somehow gives them meaning and a reason to stay.

The book also helped me draw connections between the many revelations I had in my adult life, such as the importance of working on my relationships, hobbies and reflecting upon the events and decisions I have made in my life. All this time, it seems I have been unknowingly working on adding meaning to my life. For example, my novel and this blog support the pillars of story-telling, purpose and transcendence. It is no wonder I have never felt more fulfilled than right now.

But of course, life is ever-changing. In the years to come, if all goes to plan, my life will change drastically yet again. The components of my life that feed into these four pillars will no doubt change too. I shall endeavor to keep this book and its lessons in mind as I waddle through the many transitions that my life will take.

ADULTING 101 (IN SINGAPORE)

If you are anything like me (born in the 90s, sheltered, well-to-do background), the most significant life challenge you might face in your early 20s is adulting. I knew I struggled for two reasons:

 1) I was used to Singapore’s spoon-feeding education system that it took me some time to find the initiative required to find my own way. I remember feeling a sense of dread during resume-writing class and realizing I had nearly nothing to write in it. That was one of the things that kicked me into gear.

2) There was quite a bit of difference in the Singapore of my parents’ generation and my generation. Whatever methods they deployed in the past wouldn’t have worked for my generation. Hence, they didn’t know how to guide me. Thankfully, I had friends and google.

In all honesty, I probably still have ways to go, especially in the managing-your-own-household department. (In Singapore, you typically stay with your parents until marriage.) However, I think I have come a long way since the start of my adulting journey and thought it would be nice to summarise the process in getting to where I am today.

 Finding the Initiative

As the youngest in the family, it was actually hard to do this because you are so used to having everything done for you. And sometimes, when you TRY to be independent, you are given a free pass not to. You also never/rarely had the opportunity to take care of something so you have 0 experience in taking care of yourself.

Aside from slowly finding a way to develop new habits, I found my initiative by looking into my future. In fact, this is probably the part of my personality that saved me from a TON of things. I constantly ask myself if X is what I want to suffer through potentially and took the steps needed to avoid that type of future.

Handling Failure

My biggest episode with failure happened in my mid 20s. Up till then, I would say my life was pretty smooth sailing. Granted, I expended a ton of effort to make sure I wouldn’t fail my A levels.

As a near-perfectionist, it isn’t easy to experience failure. However, I must say I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without it. It is a failure that taught me how to manage negative emotions, how to find my way back up the ladder and how life never goes as planned. Failure shouldn’t be shunned. It should be embraced.    

 Getting (Job) Experience

I took up some small part-time jobs / volunteered while making sure they wouldn’t interfere with my studies. This gave me 1-2 years of part-time experience. I managed to do this while still studying in university because I crammed many class units in my early years. (Protip: Go for summer studies to eat up your credits.) Even though I didn’t end up in the fields I was part-timing in, I still believe it was an excellent way to explore my interests.

But I do think I should mention that if you like your part-time job, it doesn’t mean you will like the full-time version because the demands of the full-time version is much higher mentally.  

At the end of the day, I ended up jumping into a career I wasn’t even sure that I would even like. However, my intuition must have been onto something because 3 years later, I am pretty much thriving.

 Small Tips to Finding a Job

 – Resume Writing: If you are in a line that requires a bit of design sparkle, then I highly recommend using Canva to develop your resume. They have templates! I think it really made a difference between looking for my 1st job and 2nd job.

 – Apply in Bulk: I remember applying to 20 jobs in every ‘phase’ to avoid burnout. I try not to scrutinize too much and apply for jobs that vaguely matched my skills. Then, when the calls come in, I would take a closer look at the companies’ background and office culture.

 – Interview: Honestly, I think I am still lacking in this area. I am also not even sure which of what I said got me hired. However, I basically strive to always be honest because I do not want to project a false impression of my attitude and nature. What they see is what they get. 

 What I need to work on next:

 (…because knowing where you need to go next is also key in adulting!)

Career & Skill advancement: I may have gotten promoted from sheer hard work, but it wasn’t out of design or planned. I think there needs to be some actual planning on the backend to add some ‘oomph’ to your advancement.

One soft skill I need much more work on is relationship management in the office. I have improved vastly since the beginning with my interpersonal relationships, but the next level is managing inter-departmental relationships. This is probably integral if I ever want to become a manager. Thankfully, I have good examples to observe how this can be managed. 

Finance Management: Thankfully, I have savings. But how does one progress from there? I want to deal with the actual calculation and numbers instead of just having the nebulous awareness that I have enough to live on.

Reflection & Building a Life: Your job is important…but it isn’t everything. I am juggling several commitments and constantly tweaking my ways to manage them. But sometimes, I think it is important to take a break (especially when you have dengue – gods) and take a step back. Re-access yourself. Do you have time to manage all you have right now? Do you enjoy what you do? Do your current methods help you go somewhere or are they ineffective?

 In any case, I wish my readers all the best in getting to where they want to in life. 

5 ACTIONABLE STRATEGIES FOR GRIEF & ANXIETY MANAGEMENT (INTJ-STYLE)

There will always be times in our lives where we will hit rough spots. They are never pretty, and most of the time, you will feel that you don’t even recognize yourself. However, I also believe that these are the times where you learn the most about how to lead a better life because you have the most motivation to improve your current lifestyle and routines.

For me, mental and emotional peace is incredibly important. I cannot tolerate delaying issues and letting them fester inside of me. Part of me figures it is because I am an INTJ type, which means I am not used to holding onto loads of emotions within me.

Another thing most INTJs are not used to is managing these bad emotions, which then led me to create this blog. Of course, these strategies are potentially applicable to anyone. But I would also like to acknowledge that strategies that work for some may not necessarily work for others. Also, there is probably a chance that these strategies work better for people who are more like me, such as introverts.

Before I go into the actionable strategies, I would also like to point out that all of these are also acts of self-love, which is the best medicine for grief.


1) Listen to music without lyrics

While I can appreciate music like most people, but I have a tendency to get distracted by lyrics, especially if I can understand them. Therefore, when I am trying to set a calming mood, I tend to go for songs that do not have lyrics and have a slow beat. If you are an RPG gamer like me, you will probably appreciate songs like these:

Zelda: Breath of the Wild OSTs: 1, 2, 3

The Kalimba is also excellent for getting yourself into a calming mood:

April Yang’s Kalimba Playlist

And last but not least, Studio Ghlibi Music (always live radio)

2) Drink something hot (while under covers)

Heat is comforting. A warm sensation in your tummy is especially so. As for what to drink exactly, I’ll recommend chamomile tea…or something without caffeine. Chamomile is known to have a long list of benefits, including putting you to sleep. While doing this, I like to get under some covers. I learnt from an occupational therapist once that by adding pressure to your body, it gives you a sense of comfort. It is also why people find hugs so incredibly relaxing. Now, if you are a book lover and/or an introvert, wouldn’t you agree this is the best way to enjoy a good book?

3) Exercise

Since this is a universal suggestion, I won’t bother going into details. But here are some youtube links you can take a look at if you need further recommendations:

Sarah Beth’s Yoga Channel

Wim Hof’s Youtube Channel for Breathing Exercises

4) Talk to friends or close loved ones and/or CRY

Now, this is a tricky one for INTJs. We instinctively avoid talking about emotions because of several reasons. When I was young, I felt that emotions make me come off as weak. And this is despite the fact that I am a girl, who are expected to be emotional. (I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for guys.) For the longest time, I didn’t even bother understanding my emotions and simply let them pass through me when they get ‘too much’. It worked, up until it didn’t. Following that, I started talking to anyone and everyone willing to lend a listening ear. It was then I realised it is an immensely useful way to get your anxious or grief-stricken thoughts back into order. When you are an emotional mess, what you need is a good dose of objectivity and evidence that you are not alone. How can you expect to feel like you are NOT alone when you are the one who chose to close themselves off? Yes, being vulnerable to someone is always a risk. However, it is one of those risks that I believe is worth taking.

Once I started to talk about my thoughts and emotions, it also triggered an immense amount of growth in me, which then provided a sense of achievement. So, to those who think being stoic and what-not is ‘cool’, I would advise you to consider just what made you think that way. Is it because of what society or your friends say? If so, then you are doing yourself a great disservice.

Crying is also similar. Again, I used to think crying is an act of weakness. But I have since learnt that it is actually an act of strength. You are BRAVE to cry because it means you are trying to get what you need (emotional peace) regardless of what (Asian) society thinks. If you are a male and deploy this tactic to manage your emotions, please know that you are amazing for that. It is, in my opinion, the healthiest way to get any kind of emotion out.

5) Write out your plan for the day or week

I am a future-oriented person…and it seems most INTJs are the same. Knowing what lies ahead of us gives us a great sense of comfort.

I know I get the most anxious about work when I have no idea what my next step is. Hence, I invest a bit of time every day into thinking about what I want to do and when I want to do them. A small list, which takes about five minutes to think up, is generally good enough.

Not only does it keep you on track for your goals, it also ensures that you have all the reminders you need for the things you need to do, reducing chances of you panicking when you realise you have forgotten them. And then, if you are dealing with grief, checking off items on your list gives you that constant reminder that time is passing and one day, you WILL be okay.

And that’s all for now! Now it is your turn – what stress-relieving tactics do YOU have? Don’t hesitate to let me know!  

3 LIFE-HACKS FOR THE MILLENNIAL

I like to be productive with my time. Hence, I am on the constant lookout for ways to be more efficient. Some of the life-hacks listed here are for the office, while others can be used in all areas of life. If you have any to share, kindly comment! I would love to learn from you as well 🙂

1) Combine Digital Tools for Improved Productivity

Did you know you can create a WhatsApp group that contains only you? Create a group, add at least one other person and then kick that person out. You will then have a group just for yourself. This is great for…

(a) Sending quick notes and reminders to yourself
(b) Sending something from your phone to your laptop/desktop, assuming you have Whatsapp Web installed on your laptop/desktop

And then, if you have a screenshot tool, you can (c) send screenshots of things on your laptop/desktop to your mobile. I find this especially useful in sharing your work with colleagues.

For the screenshot tool, I recommend Lightshot. It can even instantly generate a URL from your screenshots!

2) Find Ways to Bring Your Commitments Together

I don’t know about you, but this is the time of my life where I have immense difficulty in balancing my commitments. For instance, I have my full-time job, partner, family, friends and hobbies (both productive and non-productive ones) to manage. I think balancing all of the above can be difficult, especially when you spend most of your waking hours in the office. Over time, I have found ways to keep up with life. Examples include…

(a) Bringing friends from two friend groups together. Both of them can potentially gain a new friend!
(b) Sharing my hobbies (e.g. writing and gaming) with my friends & partner. Sometimes they even give me ideas to better my story!
(c) Take a long walk (to improve my health) before meeting up with a business partner (for work)
(d) Work on skills during your off-time (e.g. designing cards) that can be translated to better performance in the office (e.g. designing adverts)

3) Break Bad Habits by Setting the Right Environment

These days, my worst habit is probably snacking on potato chips. While I don’t stop myself from eating chips, I try my utmost best to make sure there are 1001 barriers between me and my chips. This means I make it a point to avoid stopping by the convenience store on my way home from work. Another example is putting my phone far far away when I need time away from the screen. In this instance, I know I will be too lazy to go to my table when I am lying on my bed.

In other words, to set the right environment, you need to consider what are the steps you usually take before committing the ‘felony’ and then add barriers to stop yourself from getting to that stage.

These three are all I have for now. I’m sure there are some I have missed out. I’ll add them here if I think of any!

HOW DO YOU GROW EMOTIONALLY AS AN INTJ?

While I am aware that Myer-Briggs classification is pseudoscience, I have often found it a useful way to get to know yourself better. In my case, it has been practically transformative.


For one thing, it explained a massive bunch of the difficulties I went through while growing up. In fact, I am still going through them now.

One main difficulty is handling emotions and relationships, something that women are supposed to be good at. Welp, not me.


For the longest time, I had scoffed at the notion of emotions, spirituality and all of that. I once thought mediation was a rubbish thing too. I had near-zero ability to connect to my feelings and went through life like some sort of a robot. In some ways, it was kind of liberating – not having to care about a significant number of things that bothered other people.

But I wasn’t alive, not one bit.

I realized this when I went through a few traumatic episodes. I had ignored all the signs that something about my life was wrong. This led to a failure that I am still not proud of. Nevertheless, I am glad that it happened. If not, I wouldn’t have learnt.

Due to these events, I began to recognize the importance of acknowledging what your emotions are saying. They are like warning signs – not very different from the big yellow/red ones that you see on the roads.

And then, through this, I started to become more aware of how I affect the emotions of others. I used to be frustrated that people do not appreciate my direct way of engagement. I still am, actually. But now I also acknowledge the importance of tailoring your message in a way that will help other people accept the message that you are trying to convey. At the end of the day, isn’t that more important?

I used to be a big loner, but now I make an effort to maintain my relationships with the people I want to keep in my life. I did not realize the importance of having a supportive network of loved ones until I needed them. And now, I aspire to be part of someone’s supportive network too.

Finally, in recent times, I realized I am getting more attuned with people’s manipulative intentions too. Before this, I was incredibly naïve.


So how did I get here? These are the critical steps I took.

1) Introspect +++


Yes, my growth was triggered by big negative events. But I don’t think you necessarily need one to allow for that sort of growth. I do believe it will impact your rate of growth, however. Anyways, what you really need is the motivation to do so. For INTJs, that usually means a good and logical reason. So fellow INTJs, consider this – are emotions really all that useless? Do you really not crave for quality companionship? Do you NOT want to learn about what life can offer? Is staying alone and safe in your bubble really worth not trying? I used to think so, until I personally experienced what being out there and learning from other people could do for me. To put it simply, my life is now filled with colour. Previously, it was like some dull grey-white newspaper. And now, because I am able to feel more, my memories of the recent past are abundantly clear. In comparison, my teenage years were blurry as heck.


2) Be Open To Growth


I don’t think INTJs usually have a problem with this, but I do think we have some difficulties with being open to growing in certain areas. I know I have a tendency to not work on things I am bad in coughdirectionscough but…that really isn’t a good reason to stop working on it altogether. It takes a bit of grit, but over time, I really do think it will all work out. If there is one thing we ARE good at, it is picking up on new things. If you want to get an idea of how to build emotional growth into your routine, you can check out my blog on how to build a new habit .

3) Practice & Ask For Feedback. Rinse & Repeat.


Sounds kind of redundant but let’s be real – do people really do this? Especially when we’re talking about building up social skills. Engage others and watch their reactions. If they are people who matter to you and are willing to be honest, I am sure they will give you the feedback that you ask for. Emotions are the INTJ’s blindspot so there is no way in hell we will be able to navigate this alone.

So – what do you think? Do you have any questions on growing your emotional side? I’m all ears 😀

HOW DO YOU BUILD A NEW HABIT & STICK TO IT?


Self-love is critical to self-sustained happiness.

Self-improvement is one of the significant components of self-love.

Therefore, forming new habits is one of the many ways to self improve.

But how does one form new habits?

Here’s an excerpt from a Healthline article:

According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit.

The study also concluded that, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.

That sounds like a lot of work…and it is. But there are ways to make this journey more comfortable. Here’s a step by step guide on how I managed to develop new (and healthy) habits. But first, you should understand that I am not an incredibly disciplined individual. Or rather, I didn’t start out as one. There were times in my life where I spent days rotting away on the bed playing games. Heck, there are times where I still do that. However, I have also successfully developed a personal strategy for self-improvement.

1) Review Your Current Lifestyle

Think about how you spend your time. Are there periods where you can fill them with something new? How long are these periods? How about your energy levels? Are there days where you are bursting with energy? Or are you constantly feeling lethargic?

If you do not have the time and mindset to develop a new habit or hobby, then you are already setting yourself up for failure (which isn’t always a bad thing!). Before starting a new hobby, you should aim to balance your time and commitments well. When that’s settled, THEN you can start thinking about how to build a new habit.

2) Understand How You Tick

The second step is to figure out how you tick. There are some life habits that will work for you and not for others. The opposite is also true. For example, I discovered that setting up my to-do list on digital platforms like apps does NOT work for me. I get no satisfaction from pressing a checkbox on my phone. However, I CAN stick to a physical scheduler because I enjoy crossing out items on a written list.

Then, I tried to specify the time that I will complete these items. Eventually, I discovered this doesn’t work for me because it adds too much pressure. A simple list proved to be the best way for me to keep to my daily plans.

This step will require some trial and error. But once you’ve figured out how you tick, you will start to see a dramatic increase in your ability to be productive.

3) Start Out Small

Many of us have big goals. One of mine is, obviously, to write a book. Accomplishing these big goals appear impossible… until you realise each big goal can be broken down into many small goals. One such small goal for me is to get into the rhythm of writing content that does not have a hard deadline. I do not have difficulties completing tasks with a deadline. But for those that do not have one, like a book of my own? Yeah, that poses a huge problem.

One other example of mine is exercise. I’ve hated exercise ever since I was a teen. Even now, I kind of dislike it. I’ve even wasted multiple gym memberships in the past decade in my attempts to restart it. But now, I can maintain an exercise regime with the help of a few friends and strategies.

I started out by committing to biweekly spin classes with a friend. The dinners post-workout acted as a bonus/reward. This went on for about 9 months. Then, I discovered Ringfit, which enabled me to work out on days I could not make it to spin classes for whatever reason. (This often happened, which led me to lounging around at home. As an introvert, this is my default mode.) And because of my gamer side, who hates to pause in the middle of a ‘mission’, I always end up completing my maps.

Then, when I discovered biweekly workouts weren’t helping my weight, I started exercising three times a week. I have since lost a few kilograms. As you can see, it was a very gradual process.

Starting out small makes goals less intimidating. It makes it easier to incorporate the new habit into your routine. Before you realise it, you will start to feel weird if you haven’t done X at the end of the day.

If you have problems maintaining this, then refer back to point 2.

Finally, there is the overarching ingredient.

4) Perspective

When your goals are ‘small’, there are bound to be times where you wonder if they are even worth doing. For example, one of my old goals used to be ‘sing a song’, as a mood-booster. It is a ridiculously small goal, especially since I wasn’t even aiming to improve my singing. But, considering that I was at one of my lowest points in life, anything and everything I did was an achievement.

Over time, I started seeing benefits, such as improved discipline and better moods. With these, it became easier for me to believe in the benefits of working on something slowly, but surely.

Taking on the right perspective will help you derive more pleasure from taking each small step. This will become a cycle of affirmation. Over time, it will all build up and lead you towards the big goal you wanted to achieve.

Edit (23rd August 2020): One other thing that I found helpful was to develop ‘lite’ versions of your new habit. For example, a ‘lite’ version of my typical 45min exercise routine is a quick 10 minute yoga session. These lite versions of the habit you are trying to build and maintain isn’t meant to replace the heavier versions. They are meant to help you maintain the momentum you might lose if you just completely stop the activity altogether. This is especially useful when something pulls you away from your usual routine, such as a vacation, an illness or something incredibly distracting. It also helps with alleviating the guilt from not sticking to your routine.

Conclusion

And now, here I am, at the end of a 1000-word blog post that I managed to churn out within an hour+. The last time I was able to compose something this long (with quality) so smoothly and quickly was years ago. In truth, there are things about my whole journey in this area that I have not articulated yet. When I have the time, perhaps I will revisit this post and flesh out the rest of the pointers.

You know… I thought I had lost my desire to write. As it turns out, I’ve just clearly been writing about the wrong things. Hopefully, this is my first small step (among thousands) to finally finishing that book.

Update: Added in the part about ‘lite actions’.