Are you experiencing a super-paced life in this world full of expectations?
This post is for you.
Lately, I have experienced setbacks on my goals, failed test interviews let alone unforeseen rejection from companies. It has just been few months since I graduated and yet it feels like am losing track of time. There is this “rush feeling” inside of me.
You might be feeling that rush too.
You want to get that unparalleled experience, grow your career very fast, go for higher education, start a family, own a house, drive that latest C-class benz…
As I lay on my bed few days ago, I thought “what’s all this rush for? what exactly am I chasing?”. I remembered my post on Baby Steps I wrote months ago while I was starting this blog. Reading through was reassuring but it was too brief and focused more on achieving goals.
I needed more inspiration on taking those baby steps.
I thought why not write another one. This one.
The Worlds’ Clock
The world has automatically lured us into it’s own clock.
We must attend school and graduate.
Get jobs at top reputable companies.
Own lands, build houses, drive cars…
It is like manual that you can’t miss a step. That’s why you feel the pressure to perform, the pressure to not miss those steps. Because, “what will my family, my friends and the society say of me?”.
We feel the pressure because we keep working with the clock the world has set for us. How can 7.6 Billion people run on the same lane?
We will suffocate.
There is no single clock for everyone
Some graduated at 21 and are still searching for jobs at 30. Others graduated at 25 and got jobs without a sweat.
Some work at international companies but have the saddest life. Others started at humble backgrounds but are contented and happy.
Some own properties and drive luxurious cars, but are lonely deep within. Others walk to work holding hands with their loved ones.
Some married early but waited long to get children. Others married late but were blessed with children immediately.
“I know people who are in relationships but love someone else. I know people who love each other but aren’t together”.
Work according to your clock
Obama retired at 55, Trump started at 70!
You are you. Different from everyone else.
You have your own clock, your own timezone.
Don’t feel you have to run by the world’s clock.
Your mates might have gone ahead of you. Do not envy them, they are working in their time zone.
Others might be behind you. Do not despise them, they are working in their time zone.
Everyone is exactly where they are! Including you!
Be aware of who you are, what you are capable of, your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. The rest is about time, wait for that.
You’re okay where you are. You might not appreciate your small efforts right now but someday you will.
Your time is coming. Stay focused and stay true to yourself. You are not late, you are on time.
I never knew there is power deep within ourselves. I often saw people doing great things and I believed they were just great naturally.
I read many amazing stories of great people like Muhammad Ali, Tony Robbins, Nick Vujicic…. But it all ended up there. It somehow always felt so fictional albeit very motivating. I just couldn’t understand what is inside these great humans that I didn’t have.
What did they have that they shook the world with their unrivaled footsteps?
The turning point of my life
After I joined high school, I never had a clear vision to be successful. I was just another teenage girl who joined school and that’s it. I pretty much understood that I can just study a little and “pass”, which was quite enough. So in my first term I just played around with my friends, having lots of fun in boarding school and being a “mono” – a form one student.
At the closing ceremony of the end of the term, they called out the top 10 students awarding them with stationery and other good stuff. I was just seated somewhere in the crowd clapping not understanding how they were the best students “were they studying like seriously or just some naturally bright students?”. It somehow stuck in my heart but I kind of neglected it excited I am finally going home. 100+ students had A’s, I was nowhere there.
We always had exams on the first week of a new term, just to make as read during the holidays and report to school on time. On the opening I reported to school late because I waited for my friend, we just somehow didn’t care much about the repercussions of missing exams and we braved ourselves “they are just gonna make us re-sit for those exams”. Unfortunately, that never happened, so we had just sat for few papers. Results? With those 0 in some subjects, you don’t want to know!
To avoid being retained in school for bad grades during holidays, I resolved to study harder. I doubted that I could make it. But I had to do something, “I can’t stay for extra tuition when everyone else go home!”, I told myself. After lots of hard work and persistence, I passed just enough to not be retained for tuition. It was unbelievable for me, did I just do that? Does it mean I have the capability to do better? It then dawned on me, “we choose what we want to be in life”. That was the U-turn of my academic life and I can vow, that every other aspect of my life changed.
I now understood what the likes of Muhammad Ali had. Without a doubt, they had immense belief in themselves!
It wasn’t that I could not have better grades, it was that I never believed I could have them.
I chose to shut down all the voices within me that always said; “they are naturally brilliant, you ain’t that just chill”.
Vincent van Gogh said;
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
I never listened to what other people said. It didn’t matter. I knew what I am and what I am capable of doing on my own.
It ain’t just about academics…
You might be thinking, is professional academics all that there is in life? No its not. We are all gifted in our own ways. For me, it was books that made me understand the power within myself. That I have the capability to be who I want. I can study hard and be that doctor, that architect, business-lady…it’s all up to me. The key to what I want to be is in my hands.
Whatever your line of profession is, the bottom line is, do you believe you are in control of who you become in the next 10 years?
The biggest difference I’ve noticed between successful people and unsuccessful people isn’t intelligence or opportunity or resources. It’s the belief that they can make their goals happen.
I have not known anything powerful as a man’s thoughts.
They make or destroy you.
I think you’ll agree with me when I say: your mind defines you.
Isn’t it fascinating that you can change your worldview with your mind?
We all from time to time sulk into negative thoughts.
We fall into the circus of our own thoughts and see everything as a mess!
“I wanted to go swimming but it’s raining. Arrrgh! Nothing ever goes my way!”
“She didn’t pass by to say hello, she doesn’t like me!”
“I studied but I don’t think I will pass that exam.”
“I don’t think I will nail that interview, I really have no skills needed.”
Alas! You often are drowning in this ocean of your own negative thoughts.
“You will never be free until you free yourself from the prison of your own false thoughts.” ~Philip Arnold
How do I stop negative thoughts?
Getting negative thoughts off your brain is easier said than done.
It begins with you realizing that your thoughts are negative.
And that they are not helping you in anyway. They are rather a disease to your heart.
Separate your thoughts from facts. If it is raining, and you cannot go swimming, do not attach that to yourself. It totally has nothing to do with you.
Louise Hay says;
“I monitor my self-talk, making sure it is supportive and uplifting for myself and others.” ~ Louise Hay
Accept that life is challenging and that there is no smooth road. Face life head on and learn to accept how things turn out. You always plan but God’s plan prevails.
If it didn’t work out this time, do not think “I am never lucky”. Instead think “I will do better next time”.
We can’t think positively every time. Bad things happen to us.
We get fired.
We lose a loved one.
We fail terribly at things we thought we are good at.
And sometimes, sometimes, we just feel we suck at everything.
Really, we just can’t be purely positive people.
But we can switch our thoughts into a healthy one. Where when things happen to us, the good, the bad, the neutral – we look at the entire situation with clear glasses and not rose-colored glasses.
It means we approach life in a balanced way.
Developing healthy thinking will help you in many ways than you may realize. You will experience growth you have never imagined. You will also boost your confidence and feel your chest light-weight, ready to take on new challenges and improve yourself.
You’ll be happy. Because you have no thoughts to pull you down.
Benjamin Israeli said;
Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.
Do NOT entertain negative thoughts or doubts in your head. You don’t have that space for negativity.
You can only go as far as your thoughts.
Think highly of yourself. Change your world by harnessing the power of healthy thinking.
We all have dreams, but not all of us dream enough to achieve them.
In fact, we have lost hope in them and we are just living for the sake of living. “Yeah whatever life brings.” So long as we eat and have a roof on our heads, that’s good enough.
Indeed, it is hard. 🙁
With all the challenges that we face in our day to day life, can we even speak about our dreams?
Let’s kindle anew in our mind and hearts the sparks of our dreams.
Henry Ford didn’t wait for an opportunity to favor him, despite being poor and uneducated. To date there are more wheels under his name than any man who ever lived.
Thomas Edison lived his dream of a lamp after more than 10,000 failures.
Ray Kroc turned McDonald’s into the most successful food outlet in the world making him one of the richest men of his time. He was only a salesman of milkshakes.
The Wright brothers dreamed of a machine that would fly. Today, there exists a fleet of such.
Well, these people were great and brought great inventions. But, we really don’t like being compared to “great people”. It intimidates us. But it’s okay. They had bigger dreams….
What do you dream of?
Is there someone you know who lived their dreams?
Don’t you wish to live the life of your dreams everyday? Even if it is only your family or friends who will know about it?
Dreams Don’t Matter…
It isn’t about the idea…big or small. You don’t have to be Thomas Edison. You don’t need to revolutionize the world with a “wow” dream.
Brilliant dreams are good but it isn’t what matters. It is good if you have it, at least it shows you are still alive inside of you. But what is the importance of a dream that just remains to be a dream?
How to live your dreams is what matters.
If your dreams just sit back in your mind, that is where they will forever live.
We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. – Jesse Owens
You’ve got to live your dreams. No matter how small they are. It maybe small to the world but they maybe everything to you.
It is overwhelming to think of all things at once. To look around us and see people going for their dreams effortlessly, while here we are stuck not knowing what direction to take; and what was my dream again?
Find Your Calling. Search within you and find your sparks. Along the way your dreams may change. You will want different things at different times because you keep evolving. Understand that that is okay. All you need to focus on, is how to achieve those dreams, of course, with calculated risks.
Commit to working on yourself. Someone somewhere alongside their day to day work, takes time to read more, to have a healthy lifestyle, to sharpen their skills. Someone has committed to having healthy and meaningful relationships. Someone is set to go back to school and advance their knowledge. Let that someone be you.
You’ve found your dream. You’ve given up your bad habits and are now committed to improving yourself. Now build a plan to achieve them. How are your daily activities helping you achieve that dream? We all ignore this part, thinking that it is a waste of time. Successful people ask, “What’s the one thing I can do today that will get me closer to my goal?”
Highly successful people don’t wait and hope for desired results. Success is never accidental for them. It’s the direct result of preparing, planning, and aligning their time with their most important goals.
Dream achievers have a clear vision of what they want and a strategic plan to carry out their mission.
It’s on you to flame yours sparks into flames, to flame your dreams into reality.
I miss being that kid who cared less about what is happening in the world. Being that super energetic human being who only cared about being happy. Where we all had big dreams and ambitions just by seeing what others have become.
I wanted to badly be a neurosurgeon after reading “Think Big” and all the series of Ben Carson. So, I kept telling my mum how I am going to operate people’s brains and help them with their illnesses. I didn’t even know what it takes to be one, but it didn’t really matter at that point in time. All I knew was, I am going to be a neurosurgeon. Period!
My friends had big dreams too. I am 99.99% sure, you had them too.
And here we are today, wishing it was as easy today as it was before. We’ve all grown up in different worlds under different circumstances and now with responsibilities on our shoulders. We’ve all forgotten how to just sit and be happy and with life moving at ninety miles per hour, we are forced to move with twice that speed for us to survive.
It is no longer a matter of pen and paper, it is as real as it gets. A point in time where you feel you are walking on a rope, one mistake and you are done for.
Living with the unknown…
For many of us, living without knowing what is in for us for the future, is dreadful. You are anxious, imbalanced and on your feet all the time.
You are afraid you will miss out on what you are meant to do. Deep down you know you want to do great things, but what exactly? You keep searching for your path, which at present seems very vague and blurry.
You don’t know what to do. Perhaps, you know a little of everything good you want. A well paying job. Great physique, healthy life, great social life (you’ve imagined going for that awesome holiday with friends because you are financially free), loving family, spiritually stable…
But, you don’t know where to start from. Everything is everywhere.
On top of it all, you just want answers. And you want them right now!
Hold on my friend!
Why are you trying to figure everything out?
You want to know what steps will lead to your success, happiness and whatever else you desire? You want guarantee that whatever tree you plant today will bear sweet fruits tomorrow?
Sorry friend, there is no guarantee in this life.
Your constant need to “figure out everything” only gives you more pain and suffering. Your mind and heart is not capable of understanding everything and having all the answers. You will end up frustrated and exhausted.
So What Now?
Dance in the fog my friend! There is a circle of clarity within the fog, dance where you can see. As you keep moving forward, your circle of clarity goes with you. You will see more, when you get there.
They say “trust the process”. You need to take that to heart, deeply.
You can’t plan out your whole life.
It’s not to say we stop to think about our life. It is important to have direction, to have dreams and ambitions. It is important to have that drive, that grit and passion that keeps your fire burning. But it is not important to have all the answers in our palms. True well being does not depend on know-it-all.
Your “figured out” world could fall apart and your dreams could crash. You can fail at your well-laid out plan you thought would be your road to success or happiness. You could be completely wrong about everything you have “figured out”.
So stop trying to fit the puzzle. Just live your life. Letting go, as uncomfortable as it is, inevitably allows you to experience life without guilt, stress or pain.
“Cease trying to work everything out with your minds. It will get you nowhere. Live by intuition and inspiration and let your whole life be Revelation.” – Eileen Caddy
Keep in mind, you can’t figure it all out, because such is life, a puzzle. So, learn to let go and swim with the currents.
Self-reflection: Can you trust that your life circumstances, even though you can’t always explain them, are here for your awakening?
We’ve all had different experiences for the last one year or so. For some it has been great, they have ticked off many achievements, and for some, it has been a downfall. I personally have been in between. I have achieved great things, but on the flip side, there are many things I personally noted to have been my drawbacks for the last one year.
I am a great believer of “there is no challenge greater than challenging to improve yourself”, so I gave a deep thought to the habits I desperately want to get rid off for a “better me”.
And here are 7 things I am working on giving up this year;
1. Making Excuses
Sure, I make a whole lot of excuses and have not done a dozen of things thanks to my laziness. Excuse are a justification for inaction and laziness. But, for a greater and better life, we must start doing what needs to be done, whether we feel like it or not.
For whatever goals in pipeline this year, no more excuses!
2. Unhealthy Lifestyle
Hooooooly! This one is every year’s goal, however I keep hearing “more fries” instead of “more exercise”. More fries, packing on pounds, more sleep, more laziness. I can’t say it any better, I know you feel me! For the last one year, I have been skipping lunch so I can have an early dinner and call it a day. I have since been a victim of gastric, constipation, fatigue and all sorts of body weakness, including mental tiredness.
Alas! It is time to plan for what and when to eat. It is also a year to kick-start consistent exercise for a healthy body and mind.
That is just half of it, the other half of unhealthy lifestyle is too much screen-time. It is time to replace screen-time with this things.
3. Wasting Time
No excessive series and dramas. They are the same old story.
No excessive sleep, Too Young To Sleep.
We all get 24 hours, but some people are far ahead of us because they spend every second they have in a meaningful way. We should spend our time on things that directly improve our personal lives. Everything else is a potential time waster.
Most importantly, to utilize our time doing things at the top of our priority list. Stephen Covey says, First Things First.
4. Believing I’d be happier if I get this or that
The last 12 months have been full of anxiety for me because I keep postponing relaxation and enjoyment until I am done with or I get something I have planned for. Before that, I am too focused on accomplishing what I have set that I jeopardize my own happiness.
I forget that such is life, we will always be chasing one thing after the other.
Let’s live in the moment and live a fulfilling life while working on our life goals.
5. The Need to Control Everything
The greatest control, is in letting go the need if it.
I’ve noticed I use a lot of energy and time planning and predicting things I shouldn’t be. I think of when I should do laundry, trying to perfectly time the time when there will be no people at the laundry bay. And how it will be so unfortunate if I find a long queue. And if I find a long queue, what is plan B? I mean, I spend my very limited time planning for every possible thing!
I calculate everything so that it will work in my favor. When I say everything, I mean every-thing.
We tend to control everything because we think of what will happen if we don’t. So what if it doesn’t happen the way we want?
It is time to let go the need to control every little thing. Things go much smoothly when you let go the need to control them.
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” ~Steve Maraboli
6. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
The grass is always greener on the other side, they said. But the grass on our side is green too right? So why the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that we’re missing out – that our peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than us?
We sometimes experience where we wish we were somewhere else, with certain people, doing different things; that’s okay! But these feelings shouldn’t make us feel we are missing out on something. We are at the right place, with the right people and at the right time. If you were to be somewhere else, trust me you would have already been.
7. Being Too Hard on Myself
I have been incredibly hard on myself for the last few months. It would have been enough if it just ended with school, but I am still too hard on myself.
I seldom allow myself to just “wine and dine”. But even when I do, somewhere in my head there is that thought “you should be applying for that and this, you should prepare for that interview…”.
It isn’t bad to remind yourself of your goals and keep your feet on the ground, but we need to take time off and appreciate what we have accomplished, instead of focusing on what we haven’t accomplished yet.
It is time to ace the self-loving thing. Don’t starve your soul from play and relaxation.
So, have you any habits you wish to give up?
Do not hesitate to meditate on the things that are dragging you from your path to greatness. Do not ignore the toxic habits because you are afraid of change. Change is scary, because we are too comfortable in our cocoon. We need to get out and evolve.
Wean yourself off those habits! You will thank yourself later.
Until next time, Chao!
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What you do, in life, doesn’t matter. How you do it, is what matters.
Whatever You Are…
It is high time we start embracing every other role in the society. The presence of variety of roles and responsibility is what unifies us. Without doctors we would all die of sickness and without janitors we would all suffocate to filth. We all need each other, for some reason
“Whatever” – means “of any kind”. The position you hold, or the role you play as an individual is not where the meat lies. Because in reality, everyone has a position or a role in this society.
Far too often, we lack the appreciation or an understanding of just how important every one matters in the society. There is no one important job over the other. All occupations matter, but of course you are responsible for your choice of occupation.
You are a teacher,
You are a nurse,
A barber, Chef, Tailor, Firefighter, Tailor, Janitor, Mechanic…you name it.
It doesn’t matter.
On the other hand, we hold positions that are in human nature, the greatest gift of responsibilities we have. Our social relationships with others.
You are either a parent, spouse, a brother, sister or a friend to someone. That, that, is something to value and hold responsibly.
Be A Good One…
Regardless of the position you hold or the responsibility you have, perform it to the very best of your ability.
In your line of work, do your best.
If you are in corporate, let the company know that they have the best field officer, accountant, human resource fellow, secretary, engineer…
Given you are a tailor, let people line-up at your shop waiting for their beautiful dresses, gowns and bespoke suits.
If you are a teacher, be the best teacher. Let your students be your topmost priority ensuring they learn what is necessary and they perform to the best of their ability.
As a student, do your best in your studies. Give it your all because at that point in time, that is your duty, to work hard and excel.
In your line of responsibility, do your best.
If you are a parent, you have to be the best parent ensuring whoever calls you mum or dad receives utmost care and massive amount of love.
If you are a spouse, it is your duty every day to look out for your partner and to constantly commit to your spouse regardless of the present circumstances. You should make it your priority to ensure your relationship is healthy and that your spouse is your number one.
If you are a sister or a brother, it is upon you to reach out to your siblings and look after their well-being. It is your duty to be the first to respond to their call for help.
As a friend, because you are, you have to make time to deeply connect with your friends. By deeply I mean, really knowing who they are within them and not what you see outside. Many people are friends just on the surface. They meet, eat and merry but in reality, they don’t know who their friends truly are.
Make your relationships worth it!
Appreciate your occupation and make it count!
So stop looking at what you are, it doesn’t really matter. Do your best and most importantly, do it with all your heart.
There is no an iota of doubt that knowledge is power.
Since I embarked on the journey to read as often as I can, I have had a lot of “ah-ha” moments that have turned my world-of-thoughts around. For couple of years, my thoughts were aligned in one direction and I believed I was right and no one should change my thinking. Until I flipped pages of uncomfortable truths, deep insights and emotions, then I awoke from my slumber.
Here are some realizations I woke up to. I haven’t experienced all of them deeply but to some extent. Some are still hard to absorb in me like #5, while some like #3 have empowered me to stand when the grounds are shaking.
1. You and you alone are responsible for your life.
Everything about your life is a result of you doing or not doing…your health, physical fitness, feelings, achievements, quality of your relationships…everything!
Excuses and blames will comfort you temporarily, but you will never be fully contented because deep down you know your life is in your hands.
Cease attributing your problems to people, environment or circumstances and silence your unhelpful inner voice from rehearsing the excuse-filled conversation.
You are in charge of how you feel, choose to feel great even when people have crossed your path.
Your Life, Your Rules. It is your decision to make. Bob Moawad says; “The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours — it is an amazing journey — and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
2. Take chances, make mistakes.
You are afraid you are not prepared. You are afraid you will fail or give up on the way.
I took the chance to start writing after years of thinking I someday will. I suck at it. But guess what? In the mean time, I will keep sharing my imperfection with you and find a way to perfect my imperfection while I keep soaring. How’s that?
“’It’s impossible,’ said pride. ‘It’s risky,’ said experience. ‘It’s pointless,’ said reason. ‘Give it a try,’ whispered the heart.” ~Unknown
Of course no one likes to jump into a dark hole. But, how I wish life was full of colorful light bulbs so we could see the end.
Unless you are satisfied with your life, you have to take that leap of faith.
You don’t have to be Muhammad Ali to start boxing. But you have to start now if you want to be like Muhammad Ali at some point in your life. That decision to start is what matters the most. Take small steps towards achieving what you want in life.
Stop waiting for all your ducks to be in a row to start something new.
And you can’t just quit after your first disappointment. It is rare to get it right at the beginning. You have to go all the way to the end. You must be gritty to achieve the best in life.
3. Life is a roller coaster
A perfect life? Even Cinderella worked like a house-help before becoming a princess.
Just like in a roller coaster, you will be screaming when you start to fall.
There is no such thing as a perfect life. Today you are up, happy and things are working well for you. Tomorrow you are down overwhelmed with sadness, anxiety and challenges. Some of the things you have really worked hard for, may not work out as you planned.
None of us are safe from the disappointments of life. Life is unpredictable.
Do not be crippled by your down moments in life. They are there to make you stronger. Embrace them and never give up.
“Just like a muscle needs to tear to grow stronger, sometimes we need to wade into our own darkness to find a brighter light.” ~Lori Deschene
4. Your obstacles are your stepping stones
It is a sure deal, you will face obstacles in life.
You probably see obstacles as barriers to your success. When you run into difficulties, you straight away want to run away from it.
To achieve your goals, you have to change how you perceive obstacles. You have to start seeing them as an opportunity for growth.
Ryan Holiday says;
“We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given.”
You just need a little more persistence and a little more effort to overcome all your obstacles.
5. Perfectionism is your Barricade
We plan, plan and plan to avoid mistakes and blame.
Undoubtedly, It is good to plan your life but do not live your life on the drawing board. Make sketches, get up and go live your life.
Perfectionism will cripple your journey to living your life fully. It is a barrier to your happiness and fulfillment because you are too focused on the result and not the process. You tell yourself you are not good enough so you keep trying harder. You don’t stop for a moment to tap your own back.
Cut yourself some slack! Quit trying to be perfect.
“Do your best and let the rest go. You can’t be perfect, no matter how hard you try, so give yourself credit for making an effort and try to stop stressing about the outcome.” – Lori Deschene
Be a perfectly imperfect being!
Until next time, Chao!
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Yes, just pause for a moment. When was the last time you had a good cup of coffee next to your window watching the birds fly around or thinking how the coffee beans were ground? Undoubtedly, if you even had time to sit next to the window, you must have been thinking of all things you had to do and all the hows to do them.
Do you still remember that gravity is what holds you to the ground? You see my point?
Right now, you must be feeling the need to scan this piece of writing through to the end because you are in a rush.
You are living at a breakneck speed…
And why wouldn’t anyone be in a rush in this frantic world? The world is too much with us. Work, school, family…we are busy, busy, busy living at a breakneck speed with our days and nights crowded with to-do-lists.
The society has put us under pressure to accomplish things, and accomplish them fast. Before we even learn to speak well, we are rushed to kindergarten. We then strive to finish primary school, then high school. Then college and grad school. We kick ourselves for jobs and before we even settle, “when are you getting a promotion?”
We are stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, worried…
But is it our fault when the world demands more than it gives us? We have continued to work harder throughout the century waiting for the industrial and digital revolution that promised us less work and a more balanced life yet Miwa Sado, a 31-year-old Japanese journalist died of overwork. We all know Japan is an extreme case, but we are all headed there.
On the flip side though, isn’t our busyness associated with our human nature to want more and more? We want the best grades, best jobs, best paying jobs, great houses, great spouses, big cars…the best of everything.
You are on this frantic chase to get the best. You hustle, you grind and work hard every day to achieve the best. You wake up to the same routine that you know will make you successful. On the other hand, you can’t avoid being busy because you have responsibilities on your shoulder.
That is superbly great. You should hustle and grind because you have to. Besides, you are too young to sleep 😉.
Is this hustle and grind eating you away from the inside that you have no control of your life anymore? Has it taken away your smile, joy and happiness? Or has it made it impossible for you to be with your loved ones?
Here is a problem with this…
You will turn fifty, exhausted but successful. You did it. You traded all your precious moments for the hustle and bustle, but you’ve made it. Looking around your home gives you pleasure; the expensive cars and the big mansion. But suddenly your happiness is short lived, it was temporary. You’ve satisfied your ego, not your heart. Your heart yearns for something more…
Your kids have grown up, they can no longer play around with you yet that’s what you were yearning for! You are not a youth anymore and all the things you worked hard for are no longer your taste. The parents you worked hard for, might no longer be in need of all the wealth you have now; “but I kept busy to earn for them?” you say. That is the painful truth.
You played the song of life but forgot to dance.
You Deserve A Rest
Life is not a race. You do not need to be the fastest horse.
“The real you, the inner you, is pure, very pure. It understands. It has patience. It will wait forever while your ego trots all over everywhere trying to figure life out.” ~Stuart Wilde
It is time for you to stop and smell the roses.
Time for you to dance to the song of life instead of focusing on finishing the song. Your purpose is to dance to the end.
You will always have something to pursue and work hard for but do not measure your happiness by your achievements because you will always say; “I can’t rest now until I achieve A. I will enjoy and be happy when I achieve A”. Your A will constantly change and you will never have rest nor taste happiness. You will be in a cycle of busy life without happiness because you missed out many things in the process.
Keep in mind, that no matter how far you get, you will always feel the need to get to the next level. Keep pushing and pursuing, but do not miss the point of living.
Live in the moment
Make time for your friends and family. Make time for yourself. To breathe, to laugh, to play, to dance…make time to experience life fully embracing your surroundings, because in the end, it is the little things that matter the most.
Do not live a life only to regret in the end. I was perplexed that one of the common things people regret on their death bed is “I wish I didn’t work so hard”.
So pause for a moment and dance to the song of life.
For many of us, we have hardly done anything longer than 3 months, unless it was a school project we had to submit at the end of the semester or job tasks we had no choice but to keep doing. But for our personal goals, we are usually psyched up at the beginning but more often give up in the middle of the way. Either we became lazy, made excuses or we just couldn’t find a good reason to continue. In short, our perseverance for long term goals is very low.
Mustafa has had an amazing journey with athletics. He was the best scorer of the champion football team, Youth Football Academy Malaysia and was selected by the Qatari Team Under 21 to go to Qatar. He is also a national taekwondo champion.
All these didn’t baffle me until I learnt that Mustafa turned his immense passion of athletics into a profession. He is a certified personal trainer and is currently paid for training.
I recently had a Coffee Chat with Mustafa to know more about his 90-day challenge called OOPPAA Challenge which he started about 2 months ago. For the one hour I sat there listening, I wondered how I would do justice to the golden lessons from his life experience as an athlete.
Just like me, you might not be into athletics and might be wondering why you should continue reading this. I will give you two reasons;
You will understand why as an individual you haven’t been able to achieve your personal goals, you will relate.
You will at least pick one or two lessons you can effortlessly apply to your personal life.
So, go ahead and collect your gems. Enjoy!
Can you tell us more about yourself and your athletic journey?
I was born in Malaysia and have studied here all along but my roots are from the beautiful mountains of Kankan, Conakry Guinea where we make funny jokes to each other while planting seeds in the farm. I have visited there often.
I have been a competitive athlete my whole life until recently where I had to withdraw from it because of major injuries. It was a tragic and depressing moment in my life because it was the one thing I knew best, even better than studies.
I wanted to be a professional player after watching a Cristiano Ronaldo video. I dedicated my whole life to soccer while in Grade 8 even though I was overweight and short. I worked on my weight for 2 years straight running 7.5 km every single day. This is where my athletic dedication began. At this point, I was the best player, the best athlete in my school.
I made efforts and joined an International Team but I didn’t have enough money to go for trainings so I used to skip my lunch for a whole week to save money to commute to the training ground on Saturdays. Unfortunately, I could not make it on Sundays since the money I had wasn’t enough to cater for both days. This was my routine for 3 years. I later did my GCSE but didn’t do very well. I had focused all my energy into soccer.
I later joined the IIUM football team even before joining the university. I was really doing well but I wanted more, I wanted to make it EPL, to Spain…those big teams. But overtime, my training morale fell because the team wasn’t as dedicated as much. Since I wasn’t progressing, I chose to focus on my studies and put efforts in my academic life as my parents had really struggled to help me pass my GCSE so I could join university.
So, you started this OOPPAA Challenge, what does it stand for and what is it about?
I was a rugby player at some point in my soccer journey because I needed a sport where I would use my immense strength. In football, everybody was fast but small so I had to match my speed against them. In rugby, although they were big and strong, they were slow. I was Fast, Big and Strong. All balls were passed to me. I was super confident and that is where I got my second injury. My first injury was during high school days. When you become too confident at something, then you become lazy. I stopped training, running, sprinting and went to the gym less often. Because I was already the best, I didn’t see why I should do more. But I learnt my lesson.
After my second injury, I went back to playing rugby. So, in rugby when you get the ball, everybody gets excited. I got the ball once and got very excited. I was like “Mustafa I am back, I am back!”. With that nostalgia of pressure and people, I screamed “OOPPAA” and off I scored. Everyone in the team started saying OOPPAA and it built up from there. From then, my nickname was “Mustooppaa”.
So, I kept playing rugby and one time while we were competing, there was this one big, tall and fast guy who was an import. Usually no one would run against me but this guy came straight ahead and suddenly everything was blackened and we were both in an ambulance. I don’t know what happened but I was told I injured my knees.
I stopped training for 4 months and had pain everywhere. I was limping and had no one by my side not even my teammates. I learnt a lot from this injury. I moved on and my knee got better. I later saw this post that says, “If you want to change your life, change it in 90 days”.
I told myself, in 90 days I will go to the gym every day regardless. Even when I am sick, I am going to push myself and do it off-mood off-feelings. I started with 45 minutes cardio to lose weight first and go down with vigorous amount of body fat. I went from 16% to 7% body fat. I changed my life from there.
I hated reading but I went through research to understand the human body. I wanted to be effective in my workout so I read and watched videos a lot about it.
I shot for the moon so I landed at the stars. After I gave up on committing to soccer, I missed the pain I used to get from the 7.5 km I used to run. So, going to the gym everyday was a great way to give myself that kind of pain, that kind of struggle and dedication in a small way. I named this new goal, OOPPAA Challenge, to remind myself of my rugby days.
At the beginning, I had 400 people along with me in this OOPPAA Challenge. Within weeks, 150 backed out. It is now Day 42, last week 50 backed out and 2 days ago 30 backed out…people are going down day by day and it maybe for various reasons. Now we are about 90. I personally train some of them and I am getting paid for that.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Every time! Every time I feel like giving up. But when I remember my soccer days, my 7.5 km run, I keep going because this is something I want.
Besides, I can’t give up because I want to do something great in the world although I don’t know what it is yet. But I want to be the best at something. I read this book called The Mastery which says, just involve yourself in everything and you will know what connects with you. This OOPPAA is one of them. I got into fitness, into reading books and research. For me, this 90 days was to push on beyond my limits, especially on the concept of discipline. Telling yourself to do something whether you feel like it or not is really hard. Discipline makes you trust yourself more, and when you trust yourself more you build more self-confidence.
I am in the path of finding what I want to do, but the bottom line is, I want to inspire people.
You share your OOPPAA challenge in your social media, what message are you hoping to pass across?
I am just a kid who has found a strategy to achieve my goals and wants to tell the world about it. When a kid discovers something, he wants his mom to know about it. And my mom is the whole world right now. I want the world to know, they can be better at anything they choose to be better at.
Have you done other challenges before OOPPAA?
Yes I have. My first challenge was to research the human body, cut my body fat from 16% to 6% although, I only made it to 7%.
I also wanted to become more emotionally stable. Rugby had made me very rough and tough. I couldn’t connect with people easily. So, I read many books and one that helped me most is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. With this book, I have been able to understand myself and other people better. I now have developed strong relationships with people around me.
I did not share this challenge on my social media, it was just for me.
Do you ever cheat with your diet?
Yes! I ate McDonalds the other day for the first time in the 90 days but I regretted it after my last bite. So, I worked out twice for that day. I usually allow myself like 3 times to eat junk food but my body usually doesn’t allow it.
You can be a bit flexible in your 90-day challenge, but don’t over-cheat.
How does setting challenges for yourself help you achieve your goals?
While growing, my mom had to tell me every now and then to be a good boy. She said for Mustafa you have to remind him constantly, so I took that aspect into my life. I set dates to call my sisters and friends and appreciate them. I set an alarm every 3 days to remind me to study.
So, every single day I wake up and it is day 42, day 41…I have to keep doing it. I check on myself, what have I been doing? Should I step-up my game or reduce it? What am I doing right and what am I doing wrong?
Challenges keep me alert and focused on what I have set ahead of me.
What lessons have you learnt along the way?
I have become much better in fitness, so much better. And I have realized that if I give the hard work and dedication like I have given to fitness into anything, my studies for instance, oh my God, I would excel. Personally, I want to apply it in the business context, I just need to make that shift. I know that I am capable. I am confident that I can get better at anything, anything.
Secondly, when you achieve your goals, you get confident about yourself and you are genuinely happy for everyone else who achieves their goals.
On the flip side, you become vulnerable when you get yourself out there. When you become better, people around you want to take you down. Friends are there when you are at the same level with them, but when you get better they won’t be handy. Your friends are with you until when you start growing. This has made me a stronger person. It is not that I am better but we are not in the same page anymore.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Myself in about 10 years. Because I know I am in the right track and if I keep doing this, the Mustafa in 10 years inspires me. I am always worried that I am going to fail at something so this leads me to doing more and become better.
But, in life, my biggest inspiration are my parents. My dad did a good job. He wasn’t there much in my life because he was busy. But he did just one thing, it might not be the one thing but the biggest thing; he just put religion in our hearts and let us go. My mom on the other hand showed me how to care for someone with integrity, meaning if they are doing wrong tell them, tell them so that they would get better. This is the purest form of caring.
What’s next for you?
After OOPPAA I will go for normal training because it is not effective to do training every day. This was just a platform to get myself disciplined.
I am currently a certified personal trainer with Fit Malaysia and have started a platform called Moustoletics to fully train and teach people to become better at sports.
Moreover, I look forward to getting income of RM 10,000 by the end of Ramadhan (May) to travel to Spain because I would have worked hard enough to make that money. I chose Spain because I want to go to a place where I don’t know anyone and I don’t know the culture so I can learn new things.
And after Spain, I will be doing another challenge from June-August.
How would you define yourself in one word?
As a person who wants to get better. I am still finding the one cheesy-word to define it.
What would you advise anyone who wants to do a 90-day challenge?
Start today but take small steps. I did this mistake of going all out in my first challenge and I got sick after 2 weeks. Don’t do that, you will burn out. First week just check out your meals, then adjust. Add some proteins, another week add more healthy proteins, add vegetables (for fitness)…do the small things, it is what matters most.
And then when you reach half way, when you are in a position to succeed, then start to put in more effort. My friend who is a graphic designer is now doing one picture every single day but he started off by making one picture one whole week. Just start small, it is a marathon not a sprint.
Anything else you would like to share?
I am a kid who wants to share what he has learnt with his mom. Stephen Covey says focus on the body, mind, heart and spirit. This is how I want to get better. Heart – emotionally by dealing with people more better. Mind – mentally, by reading more books every time. Body – physically, I am already working on that. Spiritual – I am on that too.
Also learn to be happy by yourself. When you do that, you will do things without waiting for acknowledgement and that is a path to greatness.
Here are the gems I personally picked;
Takeaway#1: With hard work, dedication and perseverance, you can become better at anything in life.
Takeaway#2: Focus on becoming a better person. Compete with who you were yesterday.
Takeaway#3: If you can, turn your passion into a profession.
So, what gems did you pick? Share in the comments below.
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