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It’s okay if you haven’t achieved anything yet

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So I opened my Feedly app and this image and headline was the cover page of the day’s top news. With over 700 “shares” for this article, there must be plenty of people feeling the same way as I do. Coincidence? I think not.

According to a Facebook employee, you don’t have to achieve everything when you’re young. That’s a relief because I was getting worried about my lack of stellar achievements in my 30 years on earth.

It’s true what Anthony Sharwood said on news.com.au: If you don’t have the most happening career and the most Twitter followers and the greatest this and the most excellent that, you might start to look at all your successful friends and wonder ‘Why isn’t my life like that?’. And then you might begin to feel pretty down on yourself.

If you’re sighing sorrowfully now like me, the following might just change your entire perspective for the better. Kejia Zhu is a 29-year-old guy who was born in China. He grew up in the UK and now lives in America. Here’s what the Facebook employee has to say about the pursuit of success in his blog post:

“Do you sometimes lie awake worrying that you aren’t succeeding fast enough? Are you tortured by younger peers who have global businesses, penned acclaimed books and a string of iron-man medals? Do you count down the years until you can no longer make the 30 under 30 list? Take a deep breath. My 92 year old grandpa has some advice for you.

“He is a tremendously accomplished individual and considered by many to be a pioneer in biomedical engineering. I visited him in Beijing recently. We were taking an after dinner stroll. I was pestering him for details about his career, looking for tidbits that might help my own. What was he like at my age? How did he work? Is there a secret a routine? He stops me mid-sentence: ‘You know, my career only really took off after I turned 58.’

“Hang on, what?

‘Yes, I’d say the 10 years between my 60s and 70s were my busiest.’

“I was floored. Here is a man who helped revolutionise medical technology and he did it in his twilight years.”

Kejia’s grandfather had gone through various hardships in China, because of the political turmoil and World War II. He found success only in the late 1970s.

“My grandpa’s story made me reflect upon the worship of youthful achievement and our drive to get it all so early in life. I, like many other insecure overachievers, feel an urgency to do big things. Deep down I know this anxiety is root in fear. That I’m not actually any good. That I will waste my shot at life and be a disappointment. So I strive for a quick success because I need to validate my worth. After that I can relax and everything will be plain sailing. Right? Instead, this warped expectation more often leads me to behave in a manner that’s unsustainable and counterproductive.

“It’s easy to forget that our careers extend for decades beyond our 20s and 30s. The truth is significant works usually take a long time. Whether it’s business, academia or the arts, most of the contributions made have been the result of many years of toil. It’s just that we hear of the young overnight success because that’s a more attractive narrative. Even then, those rare few who achieve a lot early in life do not simply stop. The race doesn’t end with the win.

“My grandpa had no choice but to wait a long time for his opportunity. It’s likely he would have achieved even more had be moved to the West. However, had he missed his moment, I dare say he would still have had a fulfilling life. Without the acclaim and recognition he’d still be the jovial, curious and industrious man I love.

“His advice to me: ‘Don’t be in so much of a rush. Be easier on yourself. Comparing yourself to what others are doing is a waste of time.'”

Kejia’s grandfather dispenses one last morsel of wisdom—an old Chinese saying “大器晚成” that roughly translates to “A big construction is always completed late.”

Encouraging, huh? If you had been holding your breath and worrying yourself sick this whole time wondering if you will ever get to the metaphorical “top”, you may exhale now. Take a chill pill and be patient.

Something else Kejia said to news.com.au struck a chord in me:

“It feels like I was part of the generation groomed to feel like they could and should achieve everything. I, for one, have been anxious about living up to this expectation and could see many of my peers felt the same, though it was never talked about. …

“Despite some early successes, I feel rather unremarkable here, which is a good thing. I wanted to be in a position, where I could feel like a rookie and soak up the learning. I do think that the high achievement-driven attitude that fuels this area has a negative impact on people’s expectations of themselves.”

You know what the moral of this blog post is, don’t you? Don’t fret over whether you’re the smarter than everyone else or if you’re way ahead in the rat race. Just know what you want in life and do things in your own time and trust that the universe will do the rest.

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What I really do at home

The “What I really do” meme has been wildly popular these days and I just came across another gem which made me laugh out loud. I have been staying home the past few days trying to cram as much revision work as possible.

In an ideal world, I’d be extremely productive in that for every 50 minutes spent revising, I’d only take a 10-minute rest… and not revise for 10 minutes while getting distracted by social network updates, Scramble With Friends games, the internet at large, food, TV and sleep for the rest of the day.

Ahem. I do love my sleep and it’s amazing how attached I am to my bed, especially after a full satisfying meal. Anyone familiar with the “food coma” symptom?

So while the society and my parents perceive me as a really hardworking mature adult, this is what I really do behind closed doors. Shhh, let’s keep it between us.

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This is the sign

I woke up bleary on Saturday early morning trying to motivate myself to continue my revision. Gosh, I really love my sleep and forcing myself to stay awake at 7am is always going to be a struggle. After several mental push-ups, I finally shut my alarm off and sat up to face reality.

But to warm up, I had to scroll through all my social networks and read some of the day’s news before getting down to the serious stuff. And I came across this article below and I WAS BLOWN AWAY. Seriously, it was as though someone knew what I had been going through and wanted to pass a message to me and fate had me clicking on the link.

After I finished reading it, I was quietly impressed and inspired to do great things. So I read the article again, savouring each word and pausing at each sentence trying to memorise the advice it is imparting. That was when I took a deep breath and promptly fell right back to sleep.

Anyway, here are a few quotes from the article. A reminder of the emotion the article evoked in me and how it’s important we should pursue and fulfil our dreams and be happy in our pursuit:

Some people dream of success, others make it happen. Of course, you can dream as much as you like but waiting for things to happen gets you nowhere. Get active and start making things happen.

Before you get started, find the burning passion in you that will spur you on when the going gets tough:

Whatever journey your path takes you on, the most important thing is to have passion in what you do.

How many of you went to college, got your degree, and ended up doing something totally unrelated to your major? Studying it did not make you passionate about it. It wasn’t your path.

Education or even talent aren’t worth much without passion. So do the stuff that you love and you’ve always wanted to do because without it, you’ll feel stuck and unfulfilled.

Why this is a clear sign for me:

Make this year the turning point in your life. When you do what you love, you will be rewarded — it will just flow naturally.

Look at those around you who just make things happen. They have a clear goal in mind and they know where they want to go. They don’t always have a plan but they have the passion and the tenacity to make it work, and they achieve their goals as the end result.

Trust us when we tell you this. If something [sic] important to you, you WILL find a way. If it isn’t, you’ll find an excuse. It’s that simple. Find your way. Make it work, whatever it takes.

And why we should never stand still and hope for things to fall into our lap:

Stop waiting for the perfect time to do what you want to do. Do it now.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so get used to being uncomfortable. It won’t kill you. Do you need a sign? Here it is: - Bill Tikos

[via The Cool Hunter]

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What I really do

If you have a Facebook account and have been logging on regularly to virtual stalk read your friends’ updates and whereabouts, then you would have seen this latest “What People Think I Do / What I Really Do” meme around the past two weeks.

Some of which are frankly hilarious and true to the core even though the pictures used look super 80s corny. But this meme is meant to be a spoof of those laminated “motivational” posters that were so darn popular in the early 2000s. So there.

According to Know Your Meme [via The Gawker], the “What People Think I Do” meme was created by the artist Garnet Hertz on Feb 9. Well in the weeks since then, I have seen almost every possible job being covered by creative (and quite possibly the most bo liao) people in the world. While some might wonder and ridicule people who want to tell the world how utterly boring their jobs are, I think it’s great to know the actual pain that everyone goes through in their jobs and it’s not a fairytale every day.

So this is what I used to do:

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Well, it’s actually a combination of the top row from the journalist’s meme and the bottom row from news editor (which is totally ALL true):

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After nodding furiously at how true the photo descriptions are, I found another meme that would be what I’d be really doing from now on. I sent the same image to my friend who has been doing the exact same thing for the past six months and she said: “How true :)” I practically beamed in public. So here it is and now you know me better already.

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[Photos via Stuff Journalists Like, Andrew Beginning, Michael Rubin]

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The one behind your success

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I don’t know if the story below is true but it made me laugh and I love the idea of having someone who will always be there by my side and be part of my success.

One night, US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle decided to do something out of the routine and go for a casual dinner at a cozy restaurant that wasn’t too luxurious.

When they were seated, the owner of the restaurant asked the President’s Secret Service if he could speak to the First Lady in private. They obliged and Michelle had a chat with the owner.

Following the conversation, President Obama asked Michelle why the owner was so keen on speaking to her. Michelle replied that the owner had been madly in love with her during their teenage years.

President Obama then said: “So if you had married him, you would now be the owner of this lovely restaurant.”

To which Michelle responded: “No, if I had married him, he would now be the President.”

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A new era

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Today is the first day of a new beginning. At least this is what I have been thinking since last Friday. In a way, my self-prophecy came true. Obviously, I wish I had better comeback lines to outwit the nasty people I had to deal with on a regular basis. But today is not the time to ruminate about the past.

Ok, I know you are confused right now and you have absolutely no idea what I am rambling about. Please be patient while I sort my thoughts out and turn them into a more coherent format.

But hey, since I’m feeling generous during this Chinese New Year period, here are some clues: career, crossroads and courage.

This will be one of the greatest lessons you will ever learn about life and career in general – something that they never teach in school. Why? Because it’s something only life can teach you. And here I’m giving it to you for free.

It’s simple. I’m shit scared but I have to take this leap of faith if I want to truly succeed. If I continue to be shit scared because I fear looking silly or facing failure, then I will always have that “what if” on my mind. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? Right? Glad you came to the same conclusion.

So yes, I admit that I’m shit scared. But I am also telling myself this: “Use this fear as motivation to do better. You only live once. You can always pick yourself up, no matter what. The most important thing is you have to try.”

Because if you never try, you will never know. What makes you think you won’t succeed? Why not think of it as “every move you make is a step closer to success”?

And it doesn’t mean you sit there and wait for things to drop on your lap. You have to understand that it’s going to be extremely tough and you will have to put in effort to ensure that you are well-prepared and ready to take up the opportunity when it arrives.

Being grateful helps too. When you show gratitude to the good things in your life and people who have helped you, you will find that more of the same will come to you.

But always, always remember that you are worthy of the success that is coming your way. So dream big and prepare yourself in all ways possible to receive it.

You can do it. Happiness is in your hands.

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Big fish

If you conduct a google search for this phrase “Big fish in a small pond”, this website will give you this meaning:

“People who are important but only within their limited circle of influence.”

The converse phrase is “small fish in a big pond”.

The phrases are often used to convey the degree of ambition a person has – if they are content to stay in a small place or seek out a chance to grow into a “big fish”.

I remember someone asking me about this “big fish versus big pond” conundrum once because she thought I was wasting my talent in a small firm when I could probably grow and fulfill my ambitions in a larger organisation. I think I kept quiet then but to be honest, I had been mulling over it and biding my time since 2009.

Anyway, recently I blogged that I have made a big decision more than a month ago after much discussions with my close friends. Then on 20 September, I had an insightful chat with a mentor of sorts. He gave me so much useful career advice that I was trying to type as much as I can remember down after we parted.

What he said to me that day reaffirmed and validated my initial decision. But I think what was more important (and what made me felt better) was that he said the things I wanted to hear. Yet he was right in many ways.

Ok, there’s a tangent here. He also said I look very young and he thought I was only 26 years old. He is the seventh or eighth person who said I look young in the past two months. The sixth person had called me a young kid few weekends and someone I met at a party thought I was only 23.

Have I taken a youth elixir I didn’t know?! Maybe it’s my longish floppy rockstar hair that has been creating the youthful aura. Bet you want to be in my funky shoes now. If only my good looks can help me grow a bit taller.

SO. Guess this is it. I’ll be starting afresh and hopefully I have made the right choice for my future. I am fearful of the changes I have to adapt, and yet I am optimistic because I am confident that I will thrive no matter where I am. I am that good at what I do after all.