Friday, 24 March 2017

Finding footsteps...

Sunrise over the Alps enroute to Munich

Resonates with my soul

An old friend, Asingaporeanson recommended Steve Pavlina's website to me and I came across the following paragraphs which resonate with me.

"When I had a job, I didn’t care so much about optimizing my startup routine for each day. There was a disconnect between my productivity and my results. As an employee I sometimes prided myself on how little real work I got done each day. I didn’t like my boss, especially due to his bad temper and his use of fear tactics to manage people, so perhaps being unproductive was my way of punishing him for being such a jerk.

Without a job, however, being unproductive makes no sense since it’s clear that I’m wasting my precious life. So I’m very motivated to stay sharp and squeeze a lot of juice out of each day. If I don’t keep my standards high, I suffer for it, and there’s no one to blame but myself.
If I ever slack off, I can reboot myself whenever I want. I don’t have to wait till the end of a shift or a weekend. I can set new goals or pivot to a different rhythm whenever I experience one of those golden awareness boosts. If I want to start a new habit trial, I can kick it off as soon as I’m ready. I don’t have to work around my employer’s schedule.
If I feel unmotivated or burnt out, I can take a vacation starting the very next day (or in some cases, the same day). I can stay on vacation for as long as I want. I’ve taken breaks for 30+ days more than once. Taking a full month off can be very restorative, and I usually hit the ground running when I return.
I write when I’m inspired to write, not on some employer-dictated schedule. I don’t arbitrary say to myself, “I have to blog something today.” What draws me to the keyboard is when I’m struck by an idea. I’ve gone as long as seven weeks at a stretch without blogging, and it’s totally fine. It wouldn’t suit me (or my readers) to crank out drivel on a schedule. I’d rather write only when I have something inspired to communicate.
This isn’t the industrial age anymore. Working on a 9-5 schedule isn’t well suited to today’s best opportunities for creative knowledge workers. I feel fortunate that I don’t have anyone imposing such a schedule on me. Discovering my own best rhythms has enabled me to crank out 2 million words for 100 million readers over the years."

Steve Pavlina is a successful entrepreneur and writer who wrote much about personal development. His last job was 25 years ago and has been self employed ever since. He believed in treasuring life and the constant need to improve oneself.

Finding my footing
I am still trying to find my footing in this footloose reality that I have given myself. 
It is easy to take things easy and wake up late everyday. Go around to all the places that I would have love to go when I was fully employed. After all, most of my work doesn't start till the late afternoon. But as I have tried, I find it hard to truly relax.
Sunrise in Stuttgart, Germany

The early bird catches the worm

By waking up late, I would have wasted much time to accomplish my many things in the morning. Richard Branson is a role model that I looked up to in managing my business and he has a firm routine in the morning which begins at 5am. He believes in embracing each day from sunrise to sunset.
In all honesty, waking up at 5 am is far too difficult for me and besides, I do not have an island to explore and kite surf. Yet. Haha.

Now, I try to wake up at 8am every morning and be out of the house at 9am by sending my baby boy Gerald to infant care. After that, I head straight to my serviced office and start reading and writing.

The alternative was to rent an Uber car in the morning and drive for a few hours exploring Singapore while earning some money. But the downside is that it will rob me of much energy for my other endeavours for the rest of the day.

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Unsustainable Uber

In all honesty, I think trying to make a living via Uber in Singapore is not workable. The income is only slightly better than that of working at Starbucks. I salute those who drive Uber for a living. It is a tough job and pays too little for the amount of risk and work. If you want to drive for a living, being a taxi driver would the main taxi companies in Singapore would be more practical.

I truly hope that Uber would stop promoting its drive for new drivers and concentrate on retaining its existing drivers by giving them their fair dues in proper fares. The fares are simply too low. A passenger gave me a SGD$0.50 fare for a ride the other day. Half the price of taking a public bus.

For several times, I had wanted to throw in the towel but boredom got the better of me and I was back at the helm of a Mitsubishi Attrage in the morning. And hey, due to the stress and fatigue of Uber driving, I lost my appetite. With that,  I actually lost 3 kg. Well, guess that is a kind of perk. I guess.

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Time for to go running again

Starting from next week or even tomorrow. I will put an running regime in my daily schedule. I have not ran much in 2017 because of a long bout of flu which bogged me in the first two months of 2017, which also contributed to my resignation of my day job. Mileage for this year is very low. I will reverse that trend and depend on running instead of Uber to maintain my weight.

Yes, it is necessary to put exercise as an appointment in the schedule. If not, it will be relegated to one of those things that we will do one day.

Let's do it!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Freelancing: Feeling "lost" and terrified...

Changi Airport Terminal 3

It is a nice, quiet Tuesday morning, I have decided to take things slow on this day and not cram too many things on the schedule. 

Former Hectic Life

I had being juggling a permanent job and running my teaching business for many years. Day in day out, I had been rushing through meals, rushing from one point to another. Having many deadlines to juggle on the day job. Lessons plans to be made for my classes. Family time to juggle. etc. etc.

Current Reality

I woke up on Tuesday morning at 8am, sent my baby boy and his mummy to his infant care centre and drove to Changi International Airport for my medical checkup. After the check up, which ended at 10.30am, I walked out of the clinic and began wandering along the airport terminal. My mind endlessly thinking about finding something to do.

Note that this is not a off day for me. I do have lessons in the evenings. I just have the morning and afternoon off. I thought to myself, perhaps I should call up the car rental company to get a Uber car for a spot of Uber driving. Perhaps, there is some paperwork to do or errands to run. Perhaps, I should head to the office to sit down to read and write my blog. 

I was utterly lost

I look at the restaurants and cafes, yes in my previous life. I would have loved to have time to sit down in a restaurant to have a nice meal or spend time in a cafe over coffee to read. It was a luxury I yearned to have. Now I can, but I couldn't do it. I know it sounds like a first world problem. But I was quite terrified.

Germanic Trait

I remembered watching a documentary on modern day Germany and remembered the reporter interviewing a German on how he spends his free time. The German was quite serious about the word "vacation" and gave a solemn face reply that vacations are a free and a dangerous time. It requires careful planning and structure.

Yes, I do have a strand of German DNA in me and now I feel just as terrified as that solemn face German.

Back to the cubicle

In the end, I gave in. Headed to my nearest Regus serviced office and wrote this post. I did have my coffee.  

In an office cubicle though.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

I want to be a motoring journalist!

Petrol Head Heaven, the Stelvio Pass

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Petrol head

I am a petrol head. There is no denying of it. Petrol literally runs in my veins. Now that I am very much a man who is free to dabble in my interests. I would like try my hand as a motoring journalist. Albeit an amateur one.

A shortage of car reviews for Singapore

There is clearly a shortage of good motoring review of cars in Singapore especially long term reviews by owners. Other than the odd comment or short review in or in, there is hardly any other information source from car owners in Singapore. When I am looking for car reviews, I often have to turn to the British motoring website or the US motoring website for objective and professional reviews.

It is often inadequate as these websites review cars that are equipped for the UK or US markets. 

In Singapore, due to the high cost of cars, equipment on cars is often spartan as dealers are afraid to bring in more equipment for fear of further elevating the selling price of the cars. Hence, while very good reviews are written on these websites. Often many of the features in these reviews are not available in Singapore.

Outrageous Prices for Singapore Cars

To put in perspective on how high car prices are in Singapore, I shall put in some numbers over here for new cars sold locally.

Picture source:

Honda Civic 1.5  VTEC Turbo Sedan (Price as on 19 Mar 2017)  

SGD $130,000 or USD $92,731.30

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Mercedes Benz C-Class C180 Sedan Avantgarde (Price as on 19 Mar 2017)

SGD $184,000 or USD $131, 250.46 

Now let that sink in for a while.

I must be mad to be a petrol head in Singapore.

My motoring credentials

Thankfully, I have travelled and driven extensively in these countries. Hertz and Budget car rentals have allowed me to drive in the following countries:

  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam (on motorcycle)
  • Western Australia
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Liechtenstein
  • France
  • Northern Italy
  • Belgium
  • The Netherlands

With the above credentials, and my extensive autobahn experience, I can proudly declare I am an international driver.

My daily ride is Honda Civic Hybrid which I name the Whisperer. 

Yes, some pure petrol heads will cringe now and say it is sacrilege for a petrol head to own and drives a hybrid. I will write a post in the future about why petrol heads should look at hybrids in the future. 

A clue? 

Instant torque is the answer. Instant torque. Nothing that runs purely on petrol can beat that.

Believe me, the Civic Hybrid is a good car and workhorse. This is especially so when you will forget when was the last time you visited a petrol station.

Car Reviews and Driving Destinations

I will be posting reviews on cars that I have driven overseas and some cars that I have tested in Singapore. 

I will also be writing about the countries that I have driven in and hopefully it can provide those who intend to drive them to have some information before hitting the road. All countries have their own road nuances and idiosyncrasies. In my opinion, Singapore roads has the most idiosyncrasies.

If you are feeling generous and would like me to write a review of your car(s). Please feel free to email me at I will try my best to write a thorough and objective review on them.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Isaac Lidsky, the man without sight but sees better than most

I came across Isaac Lidsky while researching for a coaching session. 

Isaac Lidsky,

A man who lost his sight at age 25

Despite of his disability, he went on to become a successful lawyer and served as a law clerk under two justices in the Supreme Court

The CEO of ODC Construction, a construction company worth USD$70 million 

The writer for the book "Eyes Wide Open"

Most importantly, a father of four kids who insist on changing his children's diapers even though he could not see. And he did a good job of that.

Sight without Vision

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision - Helen Keller

How many of us are guilty of that? Seeing an open door which leads out of our predicament but refusing it as it is unknown, foreign and fearful. Choosing instead to remain where we are and continuing with deal with the problems and constraints we are familiar with. In other words, choosing to remain stuck.

In my early adulthood, I was convinced that holding a stable job would allow me to have a comfortable life and pay all my bills. Not a luxurious, but a comfortable life. I was wrong.

I rejected any suggestion of teaching part time, after all I was a trained teacher with the Ministry of Education. To me, it was too tiring, too difficult. Who holds two jobs nowadays, I thought.

I struggled to pay my bills for a number of years. In the end, a chance referral by a friend restarted my teaching career. Yes, it was tiring, and difficult. But I enjoyed it and made me aware that I was being short changed in my day job. I was worth a lot more.

A few years later, my little start-up company TakeFlight was formed, established and bringing in decent profits. It was a long, exhausting process. It was a fulfilling process. Still, it took a long while for me to say farewell to my day job. 

I eventually did and to be honest, it is still scary and uncertain but I definitely feel happier. 

We decide our own reality

If you are carrying a heavy load, a hill will look steeper that it really is. If we are rushing for time, the bus will seem slower than it really it. We see what we want to see, and more often than not, we choose not to see what we do not want to see. 

What we see is only as real as how we decide for it to be.

For Lidsky, his eyes were failing and worse still, it was giving him false messages. The world that he sees through his eyes before he went blind were strange images and false realities. He can't trust his sight even when he had it. Hence, he started to make sense of his world in his own way. And it also began his journey on believing in his vision rather than his sight. 

Knowing that he was going blind, he knew that he was destined for a simple life with limited opportunities. A life of pity and possibly alone,

He rejected that destiny and built for himself a life which may seem even impossible for a fully able person.

We decide our own destiny

Recently, I watched a Korean drama titled "Goblin" who mentioned that even God cannot predict and defy the will of the human spirit. I subscribed to that notion.

Like Lidsky, I was once diagnosed with a disabling illness that made me questioned if I will ever be an independent person again, Life was so uncertain that it is far easier to give up then to fight the reality. However, I choose to fight. And the destiny, that I thought would be my life, was in fact untrue.

Now, if you think you are stuck, you are not. if you think you are a failure, you are not. That is not the reality. The open doors are just around you. Try to see them.

The impossible is simply not impossible. 

Lidsky, in his own words is over here.