Being at our best

24 06 2010

Recently a few situations and chats with people spark this thought.

If mediocrity and “incompetence” is rewarded (either indirect or direct), what is the motivation to do well?

There’s a few factors of motivation.

Motivation can come from external sources or within oneself. Often I find that people who are motivated internally, have that “I do my best, and to the best I can” attitude. Such people do not settle for less.

There are also those who find that if doing the bare minimal can get by, why not? After all, it’s just work and the company only pay us so much. What better if they learn the language that the management likes to hear, all that is required is to talk the right language versus actually doing.

There are many different kind of roles in an organisation/world. Some requires good verbal communication skills, e.g. sales or training, others may require action – the actual doing. Some roles require leadership skills, people management skills compared to specialist skills. It’s really a matter of developing and demonstrating the qualities and skill set required for that role, and then performing at your best.

In a space where people are even more connected to others, no matter physical or geographical distance, it’s hard to get away with a poor reputation. People do observe and talk, and in many cases, we are mirrors of others, and vice versa. So why is that some people have been “getting away” with doing less than their best?

Now, by using the term “getting away”, it implies judgement. It implies a comparison of situations, often a personal value or bias used to determine “fairness”.

Life, I feel, is not unfair. We all co-exist in this environment, and all have a part to play. There will be things that we like, and some that don’t feel as right to us. The key is to surround ourselves with more of the likes.

I like the idea, as discussed in the book “The leader who had no title”, that the world is a better place if we can all just do our very best, and nothing less. If we all aim to be our very best as a human being, and be connected at the heart where the very intent and core value is pure, the world will be a better place.

I believe that we are moving towards that kind of world, just that there are many many old habits and “infrastructure” that has established over the years need to be broken down, and we are in the process of re-learning and rebuilding.

Like-minded people will gather together, doing what they do best, and collectively, achieve more than what an individual may be able to do.

I’m certainly looking forward to work with more like-minded people, and also refining and connecting back to my own true self, pursuing the passion and becoming the best that I am meant to be.

I am that I am. So are you.





Chip Conley: Measuring what makes life worthwhile

22 06 2010

I saw this video this morning, and found the thought behind this talk really meaningful.

View the video – Chip Conley – Measuring what makes life worthwhile
View transcript of the video

I wanna be work for that employer or be that employer in time to come 😉
Measure GNH (Gross National Happiness) instead of GDP (Gross Domestic Product)





Energising conversations

6 06 2010

I had a few great chats with friends recently.

We shared our ideas, experiences. Situations that we were facing at the work place, how each of us can do better.

We motivate each other, to try another approach of doing things, having another perspective. Bouncing off ideas from each other, then thinking of collaboration, a peer motivation.

After those conversations, I feel alive. Always.

Sometimes it’s an energy booster, giving me the boost to do something positively. Other times, I’m the energy booster, in some ways, communicating the exact message that is required by that individual at that certain point in time.

What works in such conversations? How does a conversation become energising?

Being open to listen to another perspective, and having that mutual trust in each other. The trust that whatever this person is saying is in the highest good, not for their ego, or to be condescending.

It’s also about appreciation. The appreciation of the openness, to listen and to give.

Chemistry. Sometimes people just click. We have the same frequency, values and mindset. In our own ways, to make things better.

A motivation and positivity that we want to offer to the other person. Many times, I’m my worst enemy, but it’s through these type of conversations, I reflect and accept that I don’t have to be so hard on myself. My thoughts, point of view, my value as an individual is as worthy as the next person. I offer that booster to friends who I believe are capable of doing more, and in other situations, I get the booster from other friends who believe the same of me.

I try to surround myself with people who are true and honest. Those who don’t take everything for granted, those who are appreciative and those who respect others. In seeking  those, I aim to have those qualities. To do better in listening.

I pray that most conversations I have, can be energising — either to myself, mutually or for the other person.

What’s the last conversation you had that energises you?





A great speech – Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

29 04 2010

A friend forwarded me this speech by Adrian Tan, the author of the Teenage Textbook (1988), at NTU’s convocation ceremony in 2008.

This message is just so timely for me, as I’m in the pensive, reflective mood.

Apparently, this speech has been making its rounds in other blogs, but I’ll just reproduce the transcript of the speech here:

Written by Adrian Tan, author of The Teenage Textbook (1988), who was the guest-of-honour at a recent NTU convocation ceremony. This was his speech to the graduating class of 2008.


I must say thank you to the faculty and staff of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for inviting me to give your convocation address. It’s a wonderful honour and a privilege for me to speak here for ten minutes without fear of contradiction, defamation or retaliation. I say this as a Singaporean and more so as a husband.

My wife is a wonderful person and perfect in every way except one. She is the editor of a magazine. She corrects people for a living. She has honed her expert skills over a quarter of a century, mostly by practising at home during conversations between her and me.

On the other hand, I am a litigator. Essentially, I spend my day telling people how wrong they are. I make my living being disagreeable.

Nevertheless, there is perfect harmony in our matrimonial home. That is because when an editor and a litigator have an argument, the one who triumphs is always the wife.

And so I want to start by giving one piece of advice to the men: when you’ve already won her heart, you don’t need to win every argument.

Marriage is considered one milestone of life. Some of you may already be married. Some of you may never be married. Some of you will be married. Some of you will enjoy the experience so much, you will be married many, many times. Good for you.

The next big milestone in your life is today: your graduation. The end of education. You’re done learning.

You’ve probably been told the big lie that “Learning is a lifelong process” and that therefore you will continue studying and taking masters’ degrees and doctorates and professorships and so on. You know the sort of people who tell you that? Teachers. Don’t you think there is some measure of conflict of interest? They are in the business of learning, after all. Where would they be without you? They need you to be repeat customers.

The good news is that they’re wrong.

The bad news is that you don’t need further education because your entire life is over. It is gone. That may come as a shock to some of you. You’re in your teens or early twenties. People may tell you that you will live to be 70, 80, 90 years old. That is your life expectancy.

I love that term: life expectancy. We all understand the term to mean the average life span of a group of people. But I’m here to talk about a bigger idea, which is what you expect from your life.

You may be very happy to know that Singapore is currently ranked as the country with the third highest life expectancy. We are behind Andorra and Japan, and tied with San Marino. It seems quite clear why people in those countries, and ours, live so long. We share one thing in common: our football teams are all hopeless. There’s very little danger of any of our citizens having their pulses raised by watching us play in the World Cup. Spectators are more likely to be lulled into a gentle and restful nap.

Singaporeans have a life expectancy of 81.8 years. Singapore men live to an average of 79.21 years, while Singapore women live more than five years longer, probably to take into account the additional time they need to spend in the bathroom.

So here you are, in your twenties, thinking that you’ll have another 40 years to go. Four decades in which to live long and prosper.

Bad news. Read the papers. There are people dropping dead when they’re 50, 40, 30 years old. Or quite possibly just after finishing their convocation. They would be very disappointed that they didn’t meet their life expectancy.

I’m here to tell you this. Forget about your life expectancy.

After all, it’s calculated based on an average. And you never, ever want to expect being average.

Revisit those expectations. You might be looking forward to working, falling in love, marrying, raising a family. You are told that, as graduates, you should expect to find a job paying so much, where your hours are so much, where your responsibilities are so much.

That is what is expected of you. And if you live up to it, it will be an awful waste.

If you expect that, you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to boundaries set by average people. I have nothing against average people. But no one should aspire to be them. And you don’t need years of education by the best minds in Singapore to prepare you to be average.

What you should prepare for is mess. Life’s a mess. You are not entitled to expect anything from it. Life is not fair. Everything does not balance out in the end. Life happens, and you have no control over it. Good and bad things happen to you day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Your degree is a poor armour against fate.

Don’t expect anything. Erase all life expectancies. Just live. Your life is over as of today. At this point in time, you have grown as tall as you will ever be, you are physically the fittest you will ever be in your entire life and you are probably looking the best that you will ever look. This is as good as it gets. It is all downhill from here. Or up. No one knows.

What does this mean for you? It is good that your life is over.

Since your life is over, you are free. Let me tell you the many wonderful things that you can do when you are free.

The most important is this: do not work.

Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.

Work kills. The Japanese have a term “Karoshi”, which means death from overwork. That’s the most dramatic form of how work can kill. But it can also kill you in more subtle ways. If you work, then day by day, bit by bit, your soul is chipped away, disintegrating until there’s nothing left. A rock has been ground into sand and dust.

There’s a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are “making a living”. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.

People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan “Arbeit macht frei” was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense.

Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.

Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play. Find something you enjoy doing. Do it. Over and over again. You will become good at it for two reasons: you like it, and you do it often. Soon, that will have value in itself.

I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn’t do that, I would’ve been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.

So what should you do? You will find your own niche. I don’t imagine you will need to look very hard. By this time in your life, you will have a very good idea of what you will want to do. In fact, I’ll go further and say the ideal situation would be that you will not be able to stop yourself pursuing your passions. By this time you should know what your obsessions are. If you enjoy showing off your knowledge and feeling superior, you might become a teacher.

Find that pursuit that will energise you, consume you, become an obsession. Each day, you must rise with a restless enthusiasm. If you don’t, you are working.

Most of you will end up in activities which involve communication. To those of you I have a second message: be wary of the truth. I’m not asking you to speak it, or write it, for there are times when it is dangerous or impossible to do those things. The truth has a great capacity to offend and injure, and you will find that the closer you are to someone, the more care you must take to disguise or even conceal the truth. Often, there is great virtue in being evasive, or equivocating. There is also great skill. Any child can blurt out the truth, without thought to the consequences. It takes great maturity to appreciate the value of silence.

In order to be wary of the truth, you must first know it. That requires great frankness to yourself. Never fool the person in the mirror.

I have told you that your life is over, that you should not work, and that you should avoid telling the truth. I now say this to you: be hated.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.

One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it’s often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one’s own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.

The other side of the coin is this: fall in love.

I didn’t say “be loved”. That requires too much compromise. If one changes one’s looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.

Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.

Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the true worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.

Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn’t happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor. It grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.

You will find, that when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart.

You will also find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.

Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don’t, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.

Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

‘he had been groping and grabbing after certainty, as if it were something he could possess.  he had been demanding a security, a guarantee, which is not granted: and which, if granted, would become a prison.’
—-ursula le guin, ‘the dispossessed’





Love and falling in love

23 02 2009

The recent Valentine’s Day season and a few heart broken friends led to a very deep, lengthy and “tedious” discussion with a friend about Love and the feeling of “falling in love”.

The discussion spanned 4 days, but we can’t come to a conclusion about should one act on the feeling of “falling in love”. So I decided to write this article, based on some of my understanding of what Love and “falling in love” is about.

If you are reading this, please feel free to leave your views.

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The believing of the feeling of “falling in love” can have drastic effects on a marriage, for 2 reasons. 

When singles believe too much in this feeling and acted on them, to realise later in the marriage that this feeling has subsided. When this feeling has subsided the image they have about the partner might change accordingly, for the best or worst (therefore a >50% divorce rate). If they do not have the consciousness that this change is part of the process and work on holding the union, the marriage will break.

Secondly, this feeling might arise after the marriage, unfortunately with another target, if the individual trusted and acted on the feeling, inevitably there is negative energy contributed to the marriage, even if s/he simply trusted and not acted on the feeling. Physically, if the original partner found out about the affair, trust is shattered, the union will never be the same again, even if it doesn’t lead to a divorce. If it’s never found out, the energy of the union could have been shifted.

For the other 50% or less that managed to hold the union, we need to ask how many of them are engaging their evolution, how many are really helping the partners in their growth. Are they holding the union for reasons other than love? Eg. children, “face”, etc.

Love is a conscious effort, it’s not something based on the feeling of “falling in love” (although the feeling might still be present in some union, but that is secondary). We Love because we choose to Love. Why love when there’s no falling in love feeling? Because it’s a contract between the souls involved in the union, not just the partners, if the union eventually resulted in the forming of a family unit, the children’s soul are involved too. Karmic connection could also be involved, but I think that could be part of the soul level agreement, or it may not be the ingredient of a spiritual partnership at all.

When we chose to Love another person, especially in the form of a spiritual partnership, we do not attach physically to that person, the union comes about mainly to assist the growth of all the souls involved. There is no fear of losing the loving feeling, or losing the person, no jealousy, no possessiveness, not attachment at all, and therfore no fear, only freedom of expression and Loving energy.

When Love is a conscious effort, it comes from within, we give Love, but we do not seek Love externally. This can only happen when one cultivates self love, the same concept as cultivating the spiritual energy, tapping into the universal source of energy. In this case, it’s tapping into the universal source of Love. When the self love has reached it’s maximum level, the person has successfully integrate the male/female energy in the psyche. This Love energy will start to overflow, this is when he/she is ready to seek out the spritual partner, where through the union, they are able to further elevate each other spiritually.

Why then romantic love happens? The feeling of “falling in love” is the results of the chemical effects of the neurotransmitters in the brain. But why do those chemicals react with each other in the first place? We can explain this from the psychology and spiritual points of view.

We are “hard wired” for the survival of the species, so the “falling in love” feeling is required to provide the platform for a union that resulted in the forming of a family unit, which includes children. Such union may fall apart after the children are brought up to a certain age, and when the duty of the parents are fulfilled.

Another possible reason, is that we were not able to integrate our male/female energy in our childhood formative years, resulting in a piece of us “missing”. But this is not the truth, we may not be complete on the physical level (male OR female, but never both), but we are complete spiritually. So if one is not able to integrate the male/female energies on the spritual level, the physical incompleteness can take over. S/he will then seek the external source of opposite sex energy for completeness. Of course, nobody is able to provide that completeness, except someone who has achieved full self love and fully integrated both energy in him/her self. Unfortunately, someone who feels s/he is incomplete will never be able to attract a “full” person. Therefore it’s always the union of 2 “incomplete” entities, to form a “complete” entity, this eventually resulted in the power struggle when the 2 parties realised that his/her energy is being given out, and stopped giving (this is usually no a conscious process), when this happens, the other partner will resort to childhood dramas to gain the energy, which in turn, resulted in more resistance, thus the power struggle. There’s hope though, if both (or maybe one of the) partners are conscious enough to not engage in the power struggle, they may be able to elevate the union into a lasting love, or better still a spiritual partnership. But unfortunately, this is the path with the highest resistance and requires hard work to achieve, so most of the people chose to give up at the power struggle stage.

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Update:

We took a day off the topic, (and each other :P), and met each other by chance on a weekend and started talking about it again, finally, I think we have come to a conclusion on the topic:

1) One can act on the “falling in love” feeling, this may not necessarily involve the “target” s/he falls in love with.

2) Acting on the feeling may not meant letting the “target” know and starting to go into a relationship with him/her.

3) Acting on the feeeling may generally refer to letting the experience through. Feeling the feeling, which at times can be painful. This may also mean, to take the next steps, for example trying to find out more about the target, to establish whether s/he is really a “suitable” future partner.

4) Acting on the feeling may also mean to recognise why one has this feeling and to address the root cause, eg. one may feel the need to look for external sources to complete oneself, addressing the core issue may be to enhance one’s self-esteem, or to cultivate self love.

5) The above ways of acting on the feeling may be a manifestation of the concept of living in the present, ie. acting on the feeling now, when it happens, but I haven’t fully grasped the concept of living in the present, so I’m not sure.





The Saint, The Surfer and The CEO by Robin Sharma

9 05 2008

Picked up this book by Robin Sharma, the same time I read “The Alchemist“.

The story is about Jack Valentine, and his search to learn how to live a happier, healthier and more beautiful life. The title of the book are the three guides that came to his life, to help Jack learn about the philosophy of life. There are 3 Final Questions in life:

“Have I lived wisely?” — how to conduct your life so that it’s lived in a noble and enlightened way. The importance of discovering the gifts on the inside of your life so you can live with immerse peace on the outside.

“Have I loved well? — how to love life itself and each of the moments that occur within it.

“Have I served greatly? — how to be a leader on the planet, not just in terms of career, but in terms of your life.

As I go through the book again, I see quotes that really strike me.

With the first teacher, a priest, he shares the following:

The journey of life is about spotting our weaker areas and healing them so that we eventually find our best selves.

…It (the journey of life) is not about improving oneself. It’s about remembering oneself

Success is nothing more living your life according to your own truth and on your own terms.

For your life to change, you must change. The place where your greatest fears live is also the place where your greatest growth is.

Techniques that we can use to get in touch with ourselves:
– Write down what we discover so that we have the inner conversations with ourselves: Journaling
– Take action each day to reveal the true you to the world – to close the Integrity Gap, to be authentic, be real, and by yourself.

From the Surfer, an ex-advertiser who gave it all up and lives on the beach, the following strike me:

For your life to be great, your faith must be bigger than your fears.

In the corporate world, there’s too much doing and not enough being... Live in a state of calm surrender, going with what life has in store for you.

Learn, do and then be...Moving from unconscious incompetence -> conscious competence -> unconscious competence

Adversity is the diamon dust Heaven polishes its jewels with.

Techniques for self love, self-care:
– Invest in self care activities such as getting a massage on a regular basis, taking time out to watch the starts twinkle,
– Feeding yourself with excellent food because you respect the temple that’s your body.
– Reading only the best books and listening to lovely music that sends your spirit soaring.

5 self-care practices:
– Shift from complexity to simplicity: leave space to enjoy the precious moments of life
– Daily Journaling: Answer in writing the Morning questions:
How would I live this day if I knew it was my last?
What do I have to be grateful for in my life?
What one thing could I do today to help make my life extraordinary?
What can I do to make today incredibly fun?
How can I help someone today?

– A daily period of silent retreat
– Communing with nature
– Nuturing your body. It’s the place where your spirit lives, your home. Stay fit. “Those who do not take time for exercise must eventually make time for illness” . Eating only the best foods available.

From the CEO, I learnt:

To have a better life, we must keep choosing how we are living…choosing our best thinking and our best actions. Choose how we live in every moment of our days.

Life is really short. Now is the time to raise your standards about what it means to be a person, to show the world who you really are. If not now, when?

Elite performance in career and in life is about personal accountability. Be there for the people in our life, genuinely care about people. Do the unexpected for them and give them some of yourself.

Happiness and success are the unintended yet inevitable by-products of a life spent creating value for other human beings.

Techniques/key notes:

– Have thoughtful conversations with people. Get good at conversations
– Be a value builder: Seek out ways to enrich others, improve the lot of thos who have the privilege of doing business with them.
– The purpose of life isn’t to be happy. The wold would change if we began to become consumed, not with being happier, but with being more valuable. How can I be more?…Happiness is a by-product, and it comes to those who don’t seek it.

2 reasons to be in business:

– To create value for others and for the benefit of the greater good;
– To grow as a person. To actualize who we really are, and in doing so, make peace with ourselves.

5 steps on manifesting our heart’s desires:

– Articulate a vision. Name what you desire in your life
– Develop your strategy. Break that vision down into a strategy to execute it under. Break into a week-by-week strategy, more manageable.
– Setup a self contract: Personal accountability, The Law of Diminishing Intent holds that the more time that passes after you’ve set a goal, the less likely you are to breathe life into it and to make it happen.
– Measurement. Self examination
– Celebrate your Proud moments
– Execution

The deepest of all human needs is the need to live for something more important than ourselves. Write about your legacy and what your life stand for.

There is much in the book that can be shared and learnt. The writing style is such that the author would reference to quotes, other books and using real-life stories and examples to invite readers to connect to the words and the ideas.

Nothing new in the book, but it does make one re-think and connect better with the story.

Good to read! 





Experiencing life in New Zealand: Q & A

7 05 2008

I thought it may be good to have a Q&A session, just to get my friend to share his experience in NZ. He did so it his earlier entries on why he moved, first festive seasons in a new land.

I got more out of him, so here you go:

Q: Would you continue staying in NZ for the long term?

I have not decided on this yet, given a choice, I would want to stay for a longer period, because I basically like the environment, but on the other hand, living away from family and friends for an extended period of time does not sound like a good idea to me.

Q: After staying NZ for awhile, what are the plus points and not so great points that you think of that place as somewhere worth migrating to?

Plus points:

a) Extremely family friendly work environment, personal time is greatly respected and work schedule are planned with minimum overtime expected. Flexible working hours, as long as one clocks the agreed number of hours per week (usually 40).

b) Space, a population density of 15/sqkm makes a difference (Spore is 6000/sqkm). Although some places like shopping malls can be “crowded” at times, but one can still be around and be at ease and doesn’t feel suffocated.

c) The climate, Auckland’s climate is considered mild (not necessarily true for all parts of NZ), so it’s quite pleasant most time of the year, and plenty of sunshine throughout.

d) The landscape, natural surroundings, heaps of parks no matter where one is, beaches, mountains, etc.

Not so great points:

a) Cost, I’m not sure if this is still a problem now, with the global rising cost of living, things are definitely not cheap here, but I’m not sure if they are expensive compared to other parts of the world with similar living conditions.

b) High tax rates, every single dollar earned is taxed, saving interest is taxed, etc. About 30% of my gross income goes to taxes.

c) Weak law system, which led to higher crime rate, although generally NZ is still quite a safe place.

Neutral:
a) The people, people are mostly friendly, but there have been cases of racism around (I have no personal experience with this), I believe are driven by xenophobic, which exist almost everywhere.

Q: Are there certain jobs that have more demand there?

Yes, there is a list of skill shortage that’s put up on the immigration website, for people possessing those skills, they will be able to apply to come to NZ under the skill migrant category.

Although I must emphasise that looking for a job here is not as simple as possessing the required skills, I have not personally experienced great difficulties in getting my skills or experience recognised, but I have read about people with skills who can’t find suitable employment. One common reason cited is the lack of “Kiwi Experience”, though nobody can explain what that is.

Q: Can you survive without a car in NZ?

I have been surviving without a car all the time I’m here. Public transport is not excellent, but is still accessible, it’s a matter of planning your trip around the timetable, which is readily available online.

Living in the CBD helps because almost everything is within walking distance. On the other hand, parking in the CDB is extremely expensive, between NZ$3 to NZ$10 per hour. So owning a car is not a good idea.

I do miss out on things like outings to the remote beaches, plantations, orchards, vineyards, some tourist spots, etc, which are not accessible by public transport. Maybe not because I don’t own a car, but because I do not really drive, because rental cars are readily available if the need arises.

Q: What do you do during the weekends and week nights?

On week nights I would usually cook and have my dinner, after which I’ll laze around, watching TV and to catch up on things on the Internet. Weekends are for grocery shopping, household chores, trips to the parks, or library. I would sometimes take a walk around my neighbourhood, or to the malls. Other than those activities, it’s more lazing around.

Q: With the high income tax, would one still be able to cope with rental, expenses, and still manage to save?

I guess this mainly boils down to how far one is willing to go in cutting expenses and living frugally. I noticed that many people are willing to pay for convenience, eg. eating out, buying things in just one supermarket (different supermarkets have different things on sale each week).

If one plans ahead and shops carefully, it’s actually not very hard to keep to a certain budget. Sales are good opportunities to bag good bargains, if one is patient enough to wait for them.

Besides my rental and expenses here, I’m also sending money home for my mother’s expenses and to pay for the mortgage of the flat. After all these, I’m able to save about 20% – 30% of my take home pay. With careful planning on the recurrence expenses, eg. Rental, groceries, etc.

Q: Does living abroad make you more inclined to check out the news back home more frequently?

Yes, for various reasons:

a) To evaluate the situation in each place, which may help in my decision on where to live in the coming years.

b) Can be great conversation topics with friends. Because most of the friends I talk to nowadays still pretty much back home, ironically.

Q: Would you think about moving to other countries to stay there after this experience?

Definitely yes, the experience is not one can get from being a tourist. Every country is unique , especially multi cultural countries.

Q: Do you miss home often? What are the things that you miss back home?

Until now (1.5 years) I do not miss home at all. As much as I would like to have my family and friends with me often, I appreciate the time to be away and be on my own. Although I can’t tell what’s the effect in the long run.

Besides the family and friends, I think the next thing that I miss most is the food back home. It’s not very difficult to find similar food here, but the taste can be different and they are more expensive (generally the case when eating out), so they are more like occasional treats. Being able to cook or learn to cook helps a lot, and it’s healthier.

A few things that have got me thinking:
1) Why is it that having live in domestic helpers (aka maids) is not a norm here?

2) What are the government policies that enables the elderly people to choose whether to continue working into their old age or to retire comfortably? I don’t see many old people who are working not because they choose to.

3) A multi party government, is it a good system? With the whole system under the close scrutiny of all the parties, there seem to be self regulation within the system such that bad things don’t happen, because if they do, the other parties will start jumping on the culprit

— If you are thinking of moving overseas, getting out of the country, do drop your comments here 🙂