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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

My Pace

When I was studying at Gan Eng Seng School Anson Road, I had the good fortune of learning Geography (Sec 2) from a wonderful teacher Mdm Foo. She is still teaching at Gan Eng Seng by the way.

I remember fondly what she told us "slower" students:

"If others need 10 minutes to understand and you need 8 hours, so be it. Once you understand, there's no difference."

Goal setting is fine provided you have the wisdom to use it as a tool to support you; not as a rope to hang ourselves.

I'll use running a marathon as an example.

Finishing a marathon is a great achievement by itself. How many people around you have ran a marathon? (X amount)

To some, that is not good enough. 

We must complete it within 6 hours (Y time). Then got certificate to show others mah! No certificate, no papers, no consider "success".

Would you rather be the one who finished a marathon in 12 hours or the one who always tell others (and yourself) I will run a marathon... one day...

Not everyone who starts a marathon will reach the finishing line.

1.  Some never trained for it:

Can swim 50 laps in the pool does not make you automatically a long distance runner.

Chanting if I think I can I can ain't going to help much. No amount of positive thinking will overcome our lack of preparations.

2.   Shit happens

We may get injured or fall sick during the run.

3.  Paradigm shift

Those who jog or walk regularly will know that exercise is a great stress reliever. It calms our minds. In this "meditative" state of mind, sometimes we can get glimpses of our true heart.

It's a bit like in the movie where Forest Gump decides he no longer needs to run from coast to coast anymore. 

No reason; no explanation. We just know.

Why you want to complete a marathon?

A few weeks back, there was an idiot runner who cheated in a Singapore race. He even got the cheek to claim the first prize award before the very surprised organiser found out the truth.

Sometimes it is not about completing or not completing a marathon.

It's always good to ask ourselves why the hell we want to run a marathon in the first place?

If we just want a certificate to brag to others or to fit in, "buying" it from someone who has completed a marathon can be a better use of our time.

And that's the saddest pitfall of bad goal setting - running other people's race.



  1. Thanks SMOL.

    Indeed a good reminder to finish our own race within our own capabilities that is within our comfortable zone. Otherwise, what's a certificate to show for? Having said that, if one has the capabilities to win an olympic gold medal but CHOSE not to win one, then that person is as guilty as well.

    1. B,

      Ah! The weight of Great Expectations by others ;)

      Just because I am 2 metres tall does not mean I have to play basketball, or else wasted right?

      Being a first born male is woeful if one is expected to succeed the family business when one has other interests in life...

      Many smart and high achiever women can most probably earn more than their husbands if they forgo children and not worry about their husbands' feelings. Some choose not to by forgoing promotions or cutting their careers short to be stay at home moms.


      Success is measured by what you have to sacrifice to achieve it.

      My pace. Your pace. Run our own race.

    2. Hi smol

      Your points above are all valid and one that I agree with especially on the wife example.

      I have a friend who is a scholar at school and I know one that has much capabilities but chose to stay and work as an entry level work where he doesnt find challenge after a year or so and change job every year. As a friend ive tried pushing him to the next level knowing that he could do it, he probably just underestimate his capabilities. Now I wonder how can I convince him?

    3. B,

      I'm influenced by Buddhist philosophy; I've learnt no one can live our lives for us.

      Your scholar friend is searching for his calling, and he is doing it the Thomas Edison way of testing for the right element to the light bulb. One day your friend may discover his tungsten, and that would bright up his life ;)

      Not everyone is lucky enough to discover what they want to do in life at their first job. I myself have job-hopped quite a bit as you can see from My Story.

      Contrast that with some of the financial bloggers who have expressed discontent in their current jobs, and is seeking financial freedom to "escape".

      Your friend cut-loss very quickly; others hold on to unhappy positions hoping one day they can walk away if they achieve X by Y...

      Who are we to say what's "right" for others?

      Just accept our friends the way they are; like the way we want others to accept us the way we are.

      I don't change you; you don't change me.

      I'll change when I reach my "yellow river".

    4. Thanks for your response.

      I truly appreciate it snd doesnt mean any harm when I tried to "help" my friend achieve better. My worries is just perhaps he is lost in his way not that he wants it the way he has been doing. At the end of the day I will of course still accept him as my best friend and as a good friend we help each other pointing out on improving to the better.

      That is my intention but thank you for your guidance.

  2. In Marathon, you run your own Race by setting your own goal or no goal.

    Nobody is forcing you but no cheating yourself.

    1. CW,

      That's the ideal.

      Reality is tell people you ran a marathon, first thing they ask is either what time you finished or what place you come in?

      You're a parent. You know.

      Your journey is an inspiration to the "late developers" out there.

      Cannot be that the journey for financial freedom has to be completed by age 40 (it gets lower year by year)?

      It's better to start young, but nothing wrong in starting our journeys in our 40s, 50, and even 60s :)

      More important is after finishing the marathon you know the answer to then what?

      And if you never into marathon running in the first place why train so hard?

      Getting paid to do something you enjoy means there is no finishing line. You "played" till your last breath.

  3. My race , My pace not your face =p

    1. Small Time Investor,

      Truth be told that when I was younger, try getting promoted 1 or 2 years later than my cohort and I will show you a moody me.

      Then I reached an age where I see people younger moving on to a "better place", faster runners ahead of me dropping out due to illness or injury, seniors changing their minds and switching to spirituality or family time, I can't help but gain new perspective and realise how silly I've been ;)

  4. Hi SMOL,

    Your posts are always very insightful. I agree with you totally that some people will never get themselves down to achieving their goal. Take marathon for example, they always say they have no time train. For me, I just sign up for it without training. Knowing that I have a race at the end of the year makes me train automatically, no matter how busy I may be.

    Wen Ge

    1. Thanks Wen Ge!

      1. A shout out to you for having 2 businesses under your belt at such a young age ;)

      2. I applaud your courage in not wearing a mask while blogging. I only removed my mask when I reached 44 and decided to follow my heart.

      It made sense you are an entrepreneur.

      3. I see you love jogging. Why run a marathon? Don't let that fire inside your belly burn out. Keep on burning man!

      4. Have fun inflicting pain to your body! What a pleasure!

      Oooh baby, hit me one more time.... That's the spot! Yeah baby.

    2. Hi Jared,

      Those biz are not really big, just starting out some sideline, hoping that can bring in money if I can ever make it big.

      Yes, I feel that in running and marathon, you tend to push yourself to the limit. When the times are tough, your mind will have thoughts of giving up. True satisfaction comes when you hear those thoughts, but you combat them, and persevere to the end.

      I think that you are really insightful and spot on. Yes, I decided that since I was going to do things, I would do it without a mask. As long as I did it with my conscience, I am not afraid of gossip. This is what my grandmother always tells me.

      Definitely going to love your posts. I learn about life lessons and experiences even when you write about finance.

      Wen Ge

    3. Wen Ge,

      The giant oak originates from a tiny acorn.

      Must listen to ah ma. Stand don't change name; sit don't change our surname ;)

  5. competition is good for us, sports or financial means.

    we count ourselves lucky we got to go through evolution without risking our lives but through competitions of all sort to stay relevant. others are not so lucky.

    1. yes, we compete at our own pace, but are we aware of what we are doing or going through and our progress?

    2. Can we really do an official Marathon at our slow pace?


      Marathon officials pack up and go home. You still doing at your own pace?


    3. official cannot go home, what happen if i fell and die??

      i wonder whats the slowest marathon official time? 2 days 20 hours 20 minutes and 20 point 20 seconds?

      no idea.

    4. CW,

      It's interesting you spell marathon with a capital M; I with a small capital m ;)

      Official is an interesting word - Recognised by the "authorities"? Recognised by others?

      Crossing the finishing line to no cheering crowd or spectators is not "recognised"?

      This "to be recognised" is quite evident in your postings and powerpoints ;)

      There are many marathon runners who do not finish within the 6 hours certification cut-off time. Their motivations are different:

      1. Some do it for charity - they raise money or awareness for a cause. Like that Ah Seow with a tyre tied to his waist.

      2. Some do it in honour or in memory of a friend or comrade.

      3. Some do it because they like jogging. Period.

      4. Some do it for the fun of it!

  6. coconut,

    Of course competition is a reality in everyday life.

    It's all around us.

    That's why I avoid the language of encouraging everyone and anyone that investing or trading is the way to go for financial freedom...

    It's a bit like saying at the Mahjong or Poker table: "Let's play carefully so we all can go home as winners tonight!"

    The moment we step into the markets, we are all carnivores. For us to profit, someone out there has to spill some blood.

  7. coconut,

    You so cute!

    If you fell and die, what can any official do?

    Unless there's a necromancer out there who can raise the dead, well, it's pretty much game over for you. Unless you believe there's life after death. If so, what's the worry? Game on again!

    See this interesting story for the slowest or longest time taken to complete a marathon:


    1. if i fell and die, at least its official, got to go into the books.

      otherwise no body care haha...

    2. coconut,

      You don''t care that strangers "care".

      What you really care is that those you love are informed and have closure.

      It's an agony for our love ones if we went "missing" and never found...

  8. "It's an agony for our love ones if we went "missing" and never found"

    This was what had happened to my brother-in-law (my wife's younger brother)-------- a fighter pilot who flew the refurbished "Hunter Jet" (aka unreliable British 2nd hand jet). His colleagues flying in formation with him that day said his jet just dived into the South CHINA SEA. Nobody was sure whether he ejected. But till today there is no closure. Nobody dare to mention anything about him in front of my "MIL"-----It is really no closure for her. Especially he is her favourite son.
    i just got married for 2 or 3 years then.
    Till today no one dare to mention about him or want to talk about him. Especially in front of my "MIL".

    1. temperament,

      My sympathies and condolences to your MIL.

      I guess that's the fear that drives most people - no one wants to be in the grave of the unknown soldier.

      We strive to have our names on buildings, in textbooks, to be remembered, to be recognised by society with awards and citations.

      In the past it was the eager showing of photo albums whenever we have guests visiting us. Now its on social media - how else to explain the popularity of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc?

      Narcissism is now "accepted" social norm as in selfie...

  9. i have family member a pilot too, its a dangerous job especially if you fly the chopper.

    sorry to say but why can't they accept that he is dead? he should be honor and talk about!

    the feeling is like our (big) trading losses, accept it and talk about it and move on, otherwise we will tend to make the very same mistake again.

    1. coconut,

      People have feelings and emotions; it's shades of grey.

      Those who us who have been to funerals where "well meaning" relatives/friends start offering "advice" to grieving ones will know how insensitive and low EQ some people are...

      Needle no prick you; you feel no pain.

  10. SMOL,
    Thank you very much.

    i like to share with you another real experience. Because i know you will understand and maybe "profitable" to you if you have not experienced it. (Touch wood).

    We (my wife and i) were on the way to visit the cancer-strickened husband of my wife's aunt. His hours on earth were numbered. When we reached there, we saw my aunt's family and closed relatives gathered around him, saying consoling words to him.
    When we reached there and in his presence, we could see his pupils were very much diluted. You could say the light in his eyes were almost gone. He was prepared to exit this world. You could say nobody was sure how much his soul or spirit was still around. And then something happened when he was told my wife and i came to see him. His eyes suddenly lighted up again to acknowledge our presence. He definitely displayed his gladness that we paid him a visit at this time.
    Not a word were uttered by us (My wife & i).
    Our presence was enough for him and everyone around.
    It really was an experience that we couldn't forget.
    No! No words was necessary at this time.

  11. temperament,

    It's the relationship you and your wife had with her aunt's husband BEFORE his condition worsens.

    When we meet up with long lost colleagues or classmates - those we had a deep prior relationship we can re-connect immediately; those with superficial connections we just exchange pleasantries and move on.

    "Acquaintances" use words to hide their discomfort or uneasiness when talking to the sick; those with real connections to us use actions.

    A hug, an embrace, a kiss, a holding of hands, or simply our presence. Words indeed not needed.

  12. SMOL, your teacher is very wise.
    As cliched as it sounds, it's the journey not the destination.
    A girl friend was asked at what age would she want to get married. Her answer was brilliant: "it doesn't matter if I marry at 30, 35 or 40. I will marry when I am with the right person."
    There seems to be a perception that there are fixed milestones to achieve: whether marriage, career, family, wealth etc. Milestones may be great guides, but navigating towards them with the unexpected twists and turns that life throws up, some serendipitous, some less so, knowing when to take the leap to change route - now that's an art.
    Still trying to master the art... gambatte to me! And to all who try!

    1. Aloha plumerainbow!

      It's so much easier being a man.

      Your lady friend is fantastic!

      Yes, its sad to belong to someone when the right one comes along... Is that a song?

      Life is exciting and worth living precisely its' never in accordance to what we planned to be. Can you imagine how boring life would be without bumps and surprises along the way?

      My most memorable travel experiences are frequently those detours and chance encounters :)


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