After a breakdown, you build yourself back up.

Friday night lights in an empty gym.

Friday night lights in an empty gym.

About 2 and a half months since my last post, then I thought I hit rock bottom, I was wrong.

Shortly after that post I had a full-blown breakdown.

I somehow just felt the overwhelming crushing weight of defeat.

I ended up driving around for an entire day just crying at my steering wheel and for a couple of days I was just lost.

Crying at what exactly, I’m not entirely sure.

It’s a combination of mourning a past relationship lost, feeling the pains of regret and the failures I had.

I guess for the longest time I’ve been sucking it up and pushing things aside to keep pressing on, and slowly these things just added up until the straw that broke the camel’s back.

And then the realization came to me, that I was stuck in a rut.

Since 2012 I’ve had no clear goals, not doing what I really wanted to do, the business that I started isn’t really going anywhere and I’m just not spending my days in a fulfilling manner.

I’ve spent a large part of my twenties chasing my dreams but at the end of it, I had pretty much nothing to show for except the scars of my failures and the pains of my defeat.

I needed results.

I realized that if I don’t do anything about it, if I remained the same and kept doing the same things, saying the same things, I’m going to crash and burn, heading nowhere real quick.

I had to get myself out.

The breakdown gave me a chance to have an honest evaluation of my life.

What I have got going and what I did not.

Most of all, it made me realize, I wasn’t happy.

So I had to change.

I took some hard decisions, broke up another relationship with a great girl (hurting others is always the worst, but I knew I wasn’t in the right place and time and that the hard thing to do was the right thing to do).

And then I took some time off.

If you go to another place at another time, will you become another person?

If you go to another place at another time, will you become another person?

Bought tickets to Krabi at 1 in the morning, flew off to Thailand with no expectations just a couple of hours later. One backpack on me, I left everything unnecessary behind.

Sometimes, removing yourself from the familiar and putting yourself in an environment that you got to start all over again makes you realize what you truly need.

Got on the bus and started chatting with another young fella from Brazil. He was traveling for a month whilst taking a break from his studies in Australia.

Straight away, I realized something that I’ve forgotten for a long time.

One of the reasons why I set off on this journey all those years ago was to be free. I watched Jason Mraz’s video and just felt a very deep connection to the message back then.

Along the way I’ve just forgotten what it was like to let go of expectations and enjoy the moments, embracing the uncertainties and just going with it.

Got checked in to a random hotel I booked online called the Happiness Resort (hey, I guess I was looking for happiness), and immediately rented a scooter.

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Water, food, shelter and transport.

Somehow those few things have always stuck on in my head since my army days.

In essence, those are perhaps the only things you truly need. Everything else just weighs you down and slows you.

So I spent the next few days just riding around Krabi on my scooter, exploring the area, hanging around the beaches, went water taxi-ing around to other beaches nearby.

The week went by with me just roaming around, but there wasn’t any sudden realization or enlightenment I was hoping for.

I think perhaps that itself was the enlightenment.

I’ve been travelling quite a lot by myself and roaming around hoping to find myself whatever that means, then I realize that it actually doesn’t quite matter which part of the world you are in.

Happiness is a state of mind.

You’re not going to find it by suddenly being in a different environment and suddenly become a different person.

You’ll just be the same person in a different environment.

Nothing changes.

And being in Krabi made me realize that all along, the state of mind I was looking for was freedom.

Freedom from inhibition.

Nope, I realise you won't. And that's ok.

Nope, I realise you won’t. And that’s ok.

I realized that there was just so many things I do holding myself back, and that if I don’t let go of those things now, I’ll never be happy and I’ll never be the person I could be.

And it’s all about just taking the actions you need.

I wasn’t happy about my weight, my fitness, my career, my personal and social life.

It was time to stop giving myself excuses and work at it.

So I got back to Singapore and actually made the decision to work at it.

No excuses if good enough this time.

I decided to work on what makes me happy.

Being fit and riding a motorbike around came to my head as the obvious ones to start working on.

So I decided to sort my body out, my Achilles tendon was giving me big issues still when I ran, so I sought out a physiotherapist and went for intensive 2-3 times a week rehab/therapy sessions, completely stopping any training for a month to focus on healing.

Every single night I worked on the rehab exercises, no exceptions, no excuses.

If I missed one day, I know that I’ll miss everyday.

After I got that sorted, then I went to cut down my weight.

Over the year I’ve gotten fat.

Was weighing in at about 86kg, up from 83kg back when I was competing in decathlon.

So I put my sports science knowledge to use, cut out carbs completely from my diet to get into a net negative caloric state and after 4 weeks, this is my current weight.

Yup, it's back got it back down.

Yup, it’s back got it back down.

 

Next phase is to get myself cardiovascular-ly fit. I will be using my 1500m timing as a gauge of my fitness (my best time was back in 2012, 5 min 26s during a decathlon).

Time to take some of my own medicine that I have prescribed.

After 3 weeks I took a time trial and it turned out to be like this:

It's slow, but I'm ok. I'm working on it.

It’s slow, but I’m ok. I’m working on it.

Yup, definitely a lot more work needed.

But this time, I found myself a lot more determined.

I boiled down the essence of my life to this:

At 530am when the alarm rings, either I get up or I give up, it’s that simple.

I always struggled in the past to put in these before work training session, but now, it’s gotten a lot easier.

I guess it’s because the alternative, which is a life wasted, is a lot more painful than the feeling of waking up early.

I’m running with my heart rate monitor and paying attention to the time spent in the heart rate zones to maximize the effectiveness of my trainings.

I found out that I tended to be overly harsh on myself at times, cause I kick myself for not going hard enough to hit the times or reps, but when I look at the data from my HR monitor, it clearly shows the improvements and that session after session I was pushing into new times spent in the max zones.

My next test will be in 2 weeks time, will post out the results then.

Next, motorbike license.

Well this is what classic procrastination looks like.

Each day you delay is a day longer you will take to succeed.

I’ve enrolled in motorbike riding school since late 2012, could have gotten my license by mid 2013 if I focused and took consistent lessons back tend. Which would mean by now I can take my 2A license (Singapore’s riding license format requires you to wait a year after you get your 2B license (200cc and below) till you take your 2A (400cc and below) and another year to class 2(unlimited)).

Instead, I’m still without a license and it would mean it would be at least another 2 years before I can get my class 2 license and get my dream bike, a BMW GS1200.

So I set a schedule, 2 lessons a week, no excuses.

After two months, finally.

After over a year and a half, I finally completed all the lessons.

After over a year and a half, I finally completed all the lessons.

I passed all the school lessons and internal evaluations, allowing me to book a test date (28th May).

In fact, I failed the lesson 8 evaluation once because I was a little too nervous, then I realized, heck, I’m prepared to keep going until I passed everything.

And being in that frame of mind, failure really doesn’t faze you anymore.

Fail forwards until you reach your goals.

That was the idea behind the company I started last year, but I guess along the way we’ve kinda gotten sloppy due to the lack of results.

So I got together with whoever was left in the group committed to the process, and decided there was no substitute to being competent and getting skilled.

To build a modern business empire, we realized that a big skill set that was missing was the ability to code.

Which incidentally once again was something I started learning 4 years ago but just procrastinated over.

So I bit the bullet and threw myself into it.

No excuses this time.

You can follow our process at this other blog where we are building a super awesome to do list (a web app built on Ruby on Rails) as a technical exercise to learn coding.

Functional version of the web app, still primitive but rapidly iterating. Great learning experience.

Functional version of the web app, still primitive but rapidly iterating. Great learning experience.

So two and a half months later, here I am and I’m seeing small results.

Am I happy?

Happier I must say, but I know there is still a lot of work to be done.

How do you build a life worth living?

I’m not sure, but I’m doing my best to find out.

Comments

  1. “I realize that it actually doesn’t quite matter which part of the world you are in.
    Happiness is a state of mind.
    You’re not going to find it by suddenly being in a different environment and suddenly become a different person.
    You’ll just be the same person in a different environment.
    Nothing changes.”

    Exactly. I got this same enlightenment when I was in San Francisco all by myself for the entire year, that nothing changes at all. I’m still me. And I can choose to be happy or I can choose to be lost and sad. I decided that every single day in the Valley is going to fly by, night after night, i go in this same cycle, if I don’t find meaning in what I do, I’m not going to find meaning in anything. And so, I fought to challenge myself every single day, to go out of my comfort zone, to say yes to every foreign experience, to live on the edge. And every single day added up to the whole year’s worth of experience. I learnt so much about myself. I penned down my thoughts on my learnings, feel free to have a read: https://medium.com/@jacindasiew/what-i-learnt-in-noc-silicon-valley-2014-ee88308d0f9b

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