Note to Self: No Zero Days

A promise to being a better human.

We’ve all been through tough times in life. Times when you feel like the whole world’s running against you and you can’t seem to catch up no matter what you do. Times when you know you’re procrastinating but continue to do so anyway. Times when every decision you make turns out to be wrong and ends up biting you in the ass. It’s a complete mess and a slippery fucking slope into a black hole of self-doubt and stagnation.

I’ve been through it, and I’m sure you’ve been through it too. While it’s perfectly human to feel like that, wallowing in this cycle of self pity really sucks and can mess you up big time.

If there’s one rule you live by this year, make it the no zero day rule. Let 2019 be a year of no zero days. Repeat after me, 2019 is a year of no zero days because that shit is toxic.

What’s a zero day?

A zero day is when you don’t do a single fucking thing towards whatever dream or goal or want or whatever that you got going on.

-/u/ryans01

It’s really up to you to pick yourself up and make it be the un-norm (what?). You see, what’s more important is the ‘what comes after’ you feel like shit.

Do yourself a favour, stop everything you’re doing and start setting yourself some goals for the year. Well, not literally, it’s fine to give yourself a couple of days or a week.

Having these goals matter because the next time you’re cutting it close to having a zero day, you can pick yourself a goal and do something that takes you closer towards that target. It’s late at night and you’re on Netflix, turn that shit off and read two pages of that book you’ve been meaning to finish. Write a sentence. Do a pushup. You get the picture, do whatever it takes to make a zero day become a non-zero day. Because the longer and more consistently you can string together a bunch of non-zero days, the faster you’ll get yourself out of the hole and closer towards your goal.

My goal for 2019 is to be a better human. To me, this means:
– Being a product leader by having a product voice and reading more consistently
– Being a better speaker and writer by publishing more and speaking at events that matter
– Being proud of my body by consistently working on my physical fitness
– Loving better by spending more quality time with family and friends
– Revisit being a musician by picking up the guitar again

What is your goal for the year?

2018 has been a year of great, and not so great. Great because I landed a dream job and accomplished what I’d set out to do for the year careerwise. Not so great because I ended up neglecting my health and physical well-being as a result of getting injured several times throughout the year. I hope this note inspires you the same way I hope it will inspire me throughout the year.

To an amazing 2019. Godspeed.

This post is inspired by a post on reddit I chanced upon a few weeks ago, which was originally submitted by /u/ryans01, in response to /u/maxstolfe who was going through a tough time in life. It inspired me to the point of goosebumps. No matter what stage in life you’re in, I strongly recommend giving it a read.

My Year In Weight – Quantified & Visualized

Tuesday, 21 July 2015 — 70.02kg // 14.2% fat

That’s what I weighed a year ago when I took my first measurement on an electronic scale that captures my weight and provides a breakdown of my lean mass and fat percentage.

I’ve since tried to be as religious as possible with taking my measurements. One year on and I’ve added 313 measurements to the log.

To keep the measurements accurate, this is what my morning routine looks like:

  1. Get up
  2. Take dump and pee
  3. Quick shower
  4. Shave
  5. Step onto the weighing scale for the moment of truth

You know, I’ve got to get unnecessary solids and liquids out of my system before weighing myself.

I’ve really gotten into the hang of weighing myself every morning and find it quite a satisfying daily ritual. I love it because it provides me with a good gauge of how much more or less I’m supposed to be eating throughout the day.

Now that it’s been a year on, I thought it would be cool to quantify my weight and visualize how it has fluctuated over the last year or so.

Weight graph I pulled from Withing's Health Mate

Weight graph I pulled from the Withing’s Health Mate Web App

Fat Mass graph I pulled from Withing's Health Mate web app

Fat Mass graph I pulled from the Withing’s Health Mate Web App

There seemed to be a glitch with the web app as a few data points seemed to be missing from the graph.  This was most likely due to the UI not being able unable to accommodate the number of data points in such a small space.

I then exported the data and used Keynote to create two graphs that better visually represent my weight over the last year.

Daniel’s Weight

My Weight Graph

My Weight Graph

Highest Weight: 74.47kg (1 Jan 2016)
Lowest Weight: 65.07kg (1 Dec 2016)

Can’t believe I was almost 75kg at the start of the year and had 14.82kg of fat in my body.

Daniel’s Fat Percentage

My Fat Graph

My Fat Graph

Highest Fat Percentage: 16.8% (4 Jan 2016)
Lowest Fat Percentage: 11.4% (16 Oct 2016)

Kind of want my fat percentage to be around 10%. I’m currently hovering around 12%, got to do some work here.

Thoughts

It’s amazing how far technology has come. If you don’t already have access to an electronic scale that’s able to keep a log of your data, I strongly suggest you get one.

I was at the heaviest I’d ever been and felt horrible about it. Being able to keep a close tab on my weight & fat logs has really helped me to bring that weight down to a healthier level with the help of regular exercise.

My Aim for 2017

Time to get my weight up to 68-70kg, with a fat percentage of 10% by the middle of 2017.

Let’s go!

Most Useful Mac Apps 2016

I swear by this list, trust me.

I bought my first MacBook 7 years ago and have performed several clean installations since. The latest one took place a few days ago as a result of water hitting the keyboard.

Every time I do a clean install, I find myself reinstalling a bunch of familiar apps over and over again. They’re the ones that have survived the Trash and have proven themselves to be truly useful.

What my desktop looks like right now, how lovely.

What my desktop looks like right now, how lovely.

Here, I’ve compiled a short list of the most truly useful Mac OS X applications that I can’t live without. I use these apps on a daily basis, swear by them, and am in no way paid by any of the companies to put this list together.

Whether or not you’re new or familiar to OS X (macOS), I hope you’ll find the list helpful.

In no order of importance or usefulness, here goes:

Caffeine – Nifty menubar app that prevents your screen from going to sleep with a click of the mouse.

ColorSnapper 2 – Great menubar app that helps me bring up a colorpicker with a keyboard shortcut.

F.lux – A menubar app that tailors the amount of blue light on your screen to the time of day. Great if you’re a night owl like me.

Screenie – Another menubar app I love that helps to organize screenshots and bring up the most recent ones with a click of the mouse.

aText – Great text expander that lives in the menubar. Every Mac user needs one.

BetterSnapTool – Awesome menubar app that lives in the background but allows you to manipulate windows like a pro. You need this!

DeskPM – If you blog or write often, this app is one of the best authoring apps out there that provides a super smooth writing and publishing workflow.

Spotify – Need I say more? Never worry about downloading music again.

Franz – Great app that integrates an insane amount of Instant Messengers out there into one dashboard.

Evernote – Best free notetaking app I’ve ever used. Thanks guys.

I’ll continue to build on this list as I go along. Let me know if you found it helpful!

Wants

So many things I want right now…

  1. 15″ Macbook Pro with Touchbar
  2. Boosted Board
  3. GoPro Hero5 Black
  4. IPhone 7 256GB
  5. Bose Quiet Comfort 35

Why are they all gadgets?

Pushing Through

Why we push through even though we hate it.

We hate to persevere, to push through and get our hands dirty because it’s infinitely more difficult than giving up.

Pushing through requires willpower and doesn’t reward us instantly.

Pushing through is our least favourite option because it takes us effort, and time, and blood, and sweat, and tears.

Worst of all, we never seem to know when the end is near.

On the other hand, giving up is easy because it requires zero effort.

Giving up is instant. It’s quick and easy.

The problem is, giving up ruins us.

We wouldn’t have lightbulbs today, if Edison gave up after his 200th experiment.

The same can be said for flight, the telephone, and many other things that exist in the world today.

So even though we hate it, we push through because it’s our way of telling life that we’re trying. It’s our way of giving life that one more shot before calling it quits. It’s our way of leaving an impact on the world.

Because after all, it doesn’t matter how slowly we go, as long as we don’t stop*.

*Confucious

But

Our favourite word in the whole world.

“I love the idea, and can totally imagine how it would improve the way we do things. But…”

“That’s fantastic. It sounds like something people would love. But…”

“I desperately need to go on a holiday. But…”

Sound familiar?

It’s because but is our favourite word in the whole world.

But makes us feel comfortable.

But makes us feel smart.

But helps us feel in control.

But is three letters, one syllable, and especially easy to say.

It’s also very likely the worst possible fucking word in the english language.

Why?

It’s because but is almost always followed by something negative. Be it feedback, an excuse, or a complaint.

What if we tried using “what if?”

What if is our door to the world of endless possibilities.

What if frames our brains to think positively and creatively.

What if makes us feel like superheroes.

What if is six letters, two syllables, and is worth every extra breath saying.

Now, let’s go back to the first three quotes.

“I love your idea, and can totally imagine how it would improve the way we do things. What if you could…”

“That’s fantastic. This sounds like something people would love. What if we could… ”

“I desperately need to go on a holiday. What if I could…”

The worst thing in the world, is to let our brains be governed by but.

What if we could make that change, today?

Impossible Decisions

It’s always tough making decisions.

We’re faced with so many of them to make in life. Some easier, some tougher, and others impossible.

Most of us don’t realise when we’re making easy decisions because they happen subconsciously, like the batting of an eyelid.

Tougher decisions tend to require more willpower. They sap our energy and make us tired. They ask more from our conscious minds, and more often than not, have us wasting time and energy that could be better spent elsewhere.

The worst decisions, however, are impossible decisions. We call them life-changing and they keep us up at night, causing what we like to call stress. They’re like mosquitos. Just bigger, and meaner. Fleeting around us mostly, and flying in with the occasional irritating bite.

Of course, the worst thing to do with these impossible decisions, is to leave them hanging there. Because they’ll never go away, just like how mosquitos that don’t get killed continue to fly, bite and irritate the heck out of us.

Naturally, the best thing to do then, is to face these impossible decisions. Spend time thinking about them. Spend time talking to others about them. Even if it’s just a little bit. Just like how killing mosquitos take practice.

Then slowly, we’ll see impossible decisions becoming more possible and tougher decisions becoming easier. Until one day, a bigger, meaner, and faster mosquito comes along. But by then, we’ll know that all we need is more practice.

And then the cycle starts again. The key is, to never let it stop.

Buying books

Too often do we buy books and leave them sitting on shelves collecting dust.

We do it because we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that the act of buying is equal to the act of reading.

The truth is, books don’t read themselves.

The same can be said for many more things in life.

Exercising is another great example. We seek inspirational quotes, purchase fitness magazines, read fitness blogs in the hope of becoming fitter. But we fail to do the one thing that matters. That is, to exercise.

Fooling ourselves only gets us nowhere. Doing gets us to where we want to go.

Here Comes Act Two

Shutting a door to open another.

I started Sialah Co. in the middle of 2014 on a just do it whim to test out an idea. It turned out to be a great learning experience and a successful proof of concept.

Most importantly, running Sialah Co. over the last half a year helped me to discover insights and identify blind spots I would otherwise have missed.

I’ve since been spending my time working on the actual business. From finding a new name for the brand, to thinking about the brand persona, identity and graphic assets, and am really excited with how things are going.

I’ll be shutting Sialah Co. from today to focus on getting things prepped and ready for the launch. To those who have been there every step of the way, thank you so much for the support.

Great while it lasted

Great while it lasted

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get cracking.

4 Lessons from 2014

As 2014 has just come to a close, I thought that this would be the perfect time to reflect on 4 big lessons I’ve learnt. It’s a good self-reflection exercise and I hope it’ll go on to inspire you.

Here they are:

1. Do what you want

I started my life in university studying Economics. Of course this was in line with my then dream of graduating top of the class (yeah right), securing a coveted job at a bank, earning big bucks, and retiring early.

This dream took a turn after I enrolled in a design thinking class in my second year at SMU. The class opened my eyes to the world of human-centered design and got me thinking about what I really wanted to do after graduating.

To cut the long story short, the class inspired me enough to embark on a long journey of soul searching. It was a painful process, but boy was it useful. I came out of it with a much better understanding of what I wanted to do and achieve in life.

I wanted to do impactful work that would help create value for society and the people I worked with. I wanted to learn more about human-centered design. More importantly, I wanted to look forward to going to work everyday.

This lead to me looking for internships and eventually a job that involved design thinking. Today, I’m happily working at Savant Degrees, a Digital Innovation Studio. Granted, while there are definitely days when I wonder if I’m really on the right path, I can safely say that I have no regrets.

Here’s the takeaway. Don’t fret if you find yourself unsure about what you want to do or achieve in life. Don’t pull your hair out or kill yourself for it. More often than not, the answer lies within you. Be brave enough to sit yourself down and find that answer. It might take time, but it’ll be worth your while.

2. Do what you love

I’ve always wanted to be a successful entrepreneur. In 2014, I took a leap of faith and started Sialah, a proof of concept for a lifestyle brand that I would be launching this year. The journey, though small, was scary, tiring and amazing at the same time.

I love the idea of sustaining myself financially while being in control of my own time. I love the idea of making a difference in the world. I love the uncertainty, the late nights, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with every sale.

Lorna always tells me that I have it easy because I’ve got things figured out. But really, things weren’t always that simple. Knowing what I wanted and loved to do only came to me after quite a bit of soul searching. I was also lucky to have been inspired by my Mum who was a successful entrepreneur herself.

What I’m trying to get at is this. Do what you love. We only get one shot at life. We only get one shot at being young. One shot at being old. One shot at living and dying.

Why live your life doing something you dread everyday, when you could be doing something you love? Remember, we always have a choice.

3. Learn from haters

Sialah was my first proper entrepreneurial venture and I started it in the middle of 2014. While the journey has been an amazing one so far, there were definitely some low moments.

I remember receiving a live chat message from a customer who was visiting the store and it went something like:

Why is everything so expensive? You offer free shipping but you think we’re stupid? You’re hiding your shipping costs.

The customer closed the chat window before I could respond. While it may seem trivial, it’s definitely not nice being in such a situation as a business owner.

I’ve since learnt that it always helps to look at such situations objectively. That customer was probably upset because my prices weren’t transparent enough. I took that as a learning lesson and tweaked the copy on my page to make things clearer.

Lesson learnt. Instead of being affected by haters, learn from the valuable feedback they’re actually providing. Haters are everywhere and they’re only here to stay. Make the best out of them.

4. Supporters rock!

The one thing that really made the year of 2014 for me was the immense amount of support and encouragement that I got from my family, friends, acquaintances and strangers when I launched Sialah.

It was heartwarming , mind-blowing, yet extremely humbling at the same time.

I never once expected to receive that amount of love. The big lesson here is that we all have more supporters than we think we have.

So if the lack of support from the people around you is something that has been stopping you from doing what you want or love, you’re needlessly worrying. Make that change and quit worrying. Heck, if no one sends you a note of encouragement, I will.


So in summary, 2014 was a pleasant year with meaningful takeaways. I hope that this reflection was helpful and will go on to inspire some of you.

That’s about it for now. Godspeed.