2018 – 2019 have been a transformation journey for me. I have been collecting what I am learning in my Instagram Story Highlights. I hope this post can do justice with the amount of lessons I have learnt so far.
In 2019, I do my best to read the bible every morning. It has been the greatest learning process in my life. There is so much wisdom in just 1 bible, beyond hundreds of books that I have read before. My bible app says that I spent 237 days in the app this year. Today is 27th Dec, so I will reach 241 days in 2019. Let’s do better in 2020!
1. Love Unconditionally
If I love and ask for something in return, is that love? Probably you think: no. Or yes? because what’s wrong with asking for something in return?
I come to realize something really important about love. I never realized this, but I found out how I demanded certain things from my loved ones… It sounds weird but we do that sometimes. If you love me, why would you do this? If you love me, why wouldn’t you do that?
Here is the thing, many of us love someone because… there is a condition that has to be filled. This way of loving is still love, but what happens when there is no more reasons to love?
Unconditional love, easy to say, hear, learn, understand, but not to do. The moment I understood the unconditional love of God for me, I knew I have been set free. I have been forgiven by God. I have been loved by God despite my weaknesses. God accepts me for who I am, including my rights and wrongs.
By having a clear distinction of both, I choose to love people around me despite, not because. Love isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. Love people despite their weaknesses, flaws and imperfections. Not because of their strengths and perfections, because eventually you will find out that nobody is perfect. And remember to love ourselves unconditionally too, like how God and our parents do.
2. Chase The Lion
Each of us has our own “lion”. Something big and scary, we are afraid to do it. In every dream journey, there comes a moment when you have to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. You have to go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. It means a dream so big and impossible for human, that one wouldn’t be able to achieve it without God’s help.
You have to go big or go home. You have to take the road less traveled or settle for status quo. You have to bite the bullet or turn your back on your dreams. If you find yourself in a pit with a lion on a snowy day, you’ve got a decision to make. A decision that will determine your destiny. You can run away from what you are afraid of, but you’ll be running the rest of your life. Or you can face your fears, taking a flying leap of faith, and chase the lion!
Sometimes, we don’t do something because we are unclear. The lack of clarity creates fear. We can gain clarity by asking ourselves the right questions.
3. Ask The Right Questions
We have answers within us. We know what we want, what is right, what is true. We just don’t have the right questions given to us or we don’t bother listening to the questions.
One of the best questions I have heard this year: “Is this what you really want to do the rest of your life?”
Imagine listening to the right questions during the right time in your life. It’s possible, but we need to surround ourselves with the right people.
4. Choose Your Pack
I wish I knew this earlier. Better late than never! This topic has been talked about many times, but most people do not practice it. We have enough information, we just don’t take enough actions, ain’t we?
“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn
It’s not exactly true with the number five, but the concept is true. When I meet the right people, I develop the right things. I am not just talking about networking. It’s beyond that, I am talking about core values, mindset, wealth, spirit, faith and health. Nobody is immune to daily influence.
Try analyzing these things from the people whom you spend the most time with: health, habits, wealth, core values, mindset. You will be surprised that you are becoming them and/or they are becoming you. Wow!
Choosing our pack actually helps us focus on the right things.
Focus is the most expensive commodity today. We are distracted by our mobile phones, news, updates, etc. We are addicted with what is new and what is next. This is the root of many problems in our lives.
Without focus, we don’t put attention, we don’t plan for what we want, and we may not consistently follow the plan we have created. So, how can we put attention to the right things and focus?
Input -> Process -> Output
Garbage in, garbage out.
What we see and hear will impact what we feel in our heart and what we think. What we feel and think will determine our actions. The thief wants to steal the most expensive commodity in our lives, which is our focus. Because that’s how our feelings and thoughts are affected and it would change our actions and results.
In order to focus, we need to put the intention to filter what we see and hear! This is the big revelation, we don’t focus by trying to focus. We focus by filtering the “input” in our lives. Remember that Input -> Process -> Output.
Imagine having the focus and only do the most important things. What would have been achieved? We can do less and achieve more.
Marie Kondo said it best, “Does this bring joy?” If not, let it go. Declutter and filter. Why would we hold on to things that don’t bring joy? Still sad about past failures or mistakes? Let them go. Furthermore, each focus has its own time. Focusing on the right thing and the right time makes things easier.
Focus = (Attention – Distraction) x Time
The longer we give attention and remove distraction, the more focus we become.
“If we don’t pay attention for what truly matters, we will have to pay with something else in the future.”
6. The Right Time
There is a time for everything.
I’m not saying the situations below are wrong, but these are not effective:
When it’s time for college, we look for a girlfriend or boyfriend. When it’s time to have a girlfriend or boyfriend, we work day and night. When it’s time to work hard and build financial stability, we get married and have kids. When it’s time to take care of the kids, we don’t have time to take care of them because we are too busy building financial stability.
Everything has its season and time. It’s easier to study hard subjects like programming when we are young. It’s easier to get pregnant before 30. It’s easier to do physical activities when we are young. I’m not saying it’s impossible for older people, it’s just absolutely easier.
The lack of clarity is what causes quarter life crisis, wrong timings, lack of purpose, wrong focus, wrong values.
Being clear about what we want and don’t want is the best way to start making decision. Without clarity, it’s like running with both eyes closed.
“Everything is created twice. First in the mind and then in reality. So pay close attention to the thoughts you choose. They have a way of becoming real.”
Imagine if your thoughts were cloudy, what would the reality be?
These are the five life questions we need to answer:
Identity – “Who am I?”
Source – “Where am I from?”
Purpose – “Why am I here?”
Potential – “What can I do?”
Destiny – “Where am I going?”
8. Think Long Term
“Most people overestimate what they can do in 1 year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”
Walt Disney’s first cartoon business went bankrupt. After years of eating beans and driving up his debts, Disney finally brought Mickey Mouse to life on film starting in the late 1920s and earned his way back to the top of his industry. But it wasn’t easy. Bankers rejected the concept of his famous mouse around 307 times before one said yes. What would happen if he stopped at 307? There will be no Frozen, Moana, Tangled, and many more. The world would have been really different. Sometimes, you only need to try 1 more time to change the world.
There is a time to plant and a time to harvest. During the waiting season, be patient and keep doing the best. God has His own timing. A delay is not a denial. Keep on asking, seeking, knocking.
9. Growth & Pain
We love growth and progress, but we hate pain. Here is the cold hard truth. Growth and comfort can never coexist. Pleasure is for hobbies, pain is for work.
In our journey of growth, the pain we have to endure is inevitable. Like how muscles grow by tearing them apart through workout and rebuilding them, that’s how we grow spiritually and mentally too.
Often we avoid pain, but sometimes that pain is required for us to move to the next level. So, stop avoiding the pain. Do the next right thing even if it’s painful.
10. Be Vigilant
Even though we should love people unconditionally, we need to stay vigilant. Here is another cold hard truth: Toxic people will not be changed by your kindness. You just have to move away and allow their lives to be their education. Don’t believe everything you hear.
During my process of practicing loving people unconditionally, there were times I became naive. We are not obliged to change people. In fact, we can’t change someone if that person has a negative attitude, core values or habits. We can love them, but we can’t change them. Accept them for who they are and move away. Remember, we have to choose our pack (point 4).
11. Excellence & Greatness
Excellence means doing common things uncommonly well. God wants us to be excellent in what we do. By understanding and practicing the points above, we can focus on the right things and create excellence.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” – Colossians 3:23
We can contribute more value to this world by doing things by being excellent at the right things and solve real problems. Excellence creates greatness.
What is greatness? It is this idea of being set apart or standing out because of the things you do. You are created to stand apart. You were not born to stay where you are; you were born to rise above. You were born to come up higher. You were born to multiply the gifts and talents that are inside you.
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” – Matthew 25:29
12. Holy Discontent
Popeye the Sailor Man was one of my favorite cartoon characters as I growing up in my early childhood. Not only did I love his sailor accent, but also I admired his unwavering focus to save his significant other Olive Oyl against those trying to threaten her well-being. Before he would exterminate his opponents, he would swallow a can of spinach and his body would transform itself into a hulk-like figure. He would proclaim the phrase, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.” (As you can see, Popeye had an incredible command of English)
Martin Luther King
King became famous because of something he couldn’t stand. He couldn’t stand all the racial oppression he witnessed in the United States in the 50s and 60s. He couldn’t stand the lynching of black people. He couldn’t stand the fact that blacks had to sit in the rear of the bus. A day arrived when King could stand it no longer. He experienced his Popeye moment and became determined that he would devote the rest of his life to moving our nation toward racial equality. He knew that his holy discontent may very well cost him his life. And it did…one evening in April 1968 when a sniper assassinated him outside a Memphis hotel. But his legacy remains.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa was just an ordinary geography teacher in Calcutta. Every morning on her way to teach at St. Mary’s High School, she passed deplorable conditions of the street people. These people were homeless, diseased, and destitute. Seeing their plight everyday brought her to a point where she could stand it no more. She had her Popeye moment and began functioning in the solution mode. She and a few of her former students began rescuing men, women, and children who had been rejected by hospitals and who were literally dying on the streets. In 1950, she received permission from the Vatican to begin the Missionaries of Charity. The order grew to more than four thousand nuns who have devoted their lives to caring for refugees, victims of epidemics, the impoverished, and the disabled. “Mother Teresa didn’t devote herself to this cause because of a fat paycheck every month; she served the under-resourced people in her midst because her holy discontent had her by the throat and wouldn’t let her go.”
What about you? What is the one aspect of this broken world that, when you see it, touch it, get near it, you just can’t stand? What is your Popeye moment?
This wraps up my 2019 reflections. I hope this can be useful for you or your loved ones. God bless you! Let’s make 2020 even more amazing! Thanks for reading!
Thank You God for everything. You have been so faithful and good to me. Thank You for loving me unconditionally.