Monday 14 July 2014

Running in the Maze of Life

Have you noticed this phenomenon when shopping in IKEA?

Don't laugh! There's a lot of science and understanding of consumer behaviours that's gone into the design of the maze.

Isn't it true pretty much of most things in Life?

After going through one meaningless relationship to another, we finally realised The One for us has all along been in our midst near us. It's just that we didn't notice.

After jumping through hoops and rings, and attending courses and seminars for the Holy Grail to Riches, we finally realise Buying is not the answer; it's Selling that makes us rich!

After spending loads to buy Happiness, we finally realise Happiness is a choice we can make.

After searching high and low for the answer, we discover we already have it all along. 

If we are spiritual, now why would our Creator create a "defective" specimen? The Creator can't be so petty and insecure as to be like our Chinese Kung Fu master who always kept 1 secret stroke from his students? Just in case?

If we are non-spiritual, Nature will take care of everything. If we don't have what it takes to survive, we will become extinct. Do the trees have goals to grow 10 metres taller the next year? Do the birds worry about their old age when they can't fly anymore?

What we need is frequently close at hand. The problem is either we create our own mazes to run for ourselves, or we run in the mazes others have created for us.

All in the name to "look busy".



  1. Hi SMOL

    Actually I kind of like the layout at Ikea.

    I did a project work on Ikea previously and through research we noticed that they created the layout so that customers can pass through each segment even if they aren't interested in a particular segment (e.g kitchen).

    Of course though if we play a hide and seek there we would still get lost ;)

    1. B,

      That's why the pay scale for those who design the layouts at NTUC and Cold Storage are different from those on the selling floor.

      It's all selling ;)

      Why would the owner or management spend $ on renovation if we can't sell with this layout, we could increase the store's sales by X%?

      Want a good paying job? Just run through the maze that's "designed" for you and me ;)

      But then, did the founder of IKEA have a degree? Hmm... But he sure can build mazes for his customers! Respect!

  2. Regarding the layout, I've never followed it. I always cut through some corners to get to where I want to (at least the one in Tamp have some shortcuts, not sure about others though). It's quite irritating to me to have to go through so many hoops just to get to where I want to :)

    I always believed that we have to go one big round to discover what we really want. It's the journey of discovery that is important, so even if I am to go back in time to advise my younger self what to do, I doubt that younger self will listen to. All things happen for the best ;)

    1. Butter and fly,

      Aye, you have summed it up nicely!

      We see no such shortcuts the first time we stepped into the store.

      Through repeated visits, we discover the shortcuts.

      Ah! The wisdom of experience!

      But alas! The price we paid is the lost of that wide-eyed wonderment we experienced the first time we entered the store.

      And hence, the maze designer will change the layout of the store from time to time - just to give us back that feeling of: "Eh? It's different now!"

      Perhaps that's also why bored men have affairs, drive fast cars, gamble, do drugs, and other dumb things to feel "alive" again...

  3. Yes, I lose the curiosity for efficiency. Not a good deal all the time. But to see life in the eyes of a newbie when you're a pro is really difficult, lol

    I realised that as I become more mature, I hate efficiency. Redundancy is better...I need to unlearn some things that works for me in the past :)

  4. Hi SMOL

    This reminds me of the formations used by war advisors , strategist in the war to counter each other. Ba gua formation , Wu Xing formation , Tian men formation ...hahaha

    知 己 知 彼 百 战 百 胜

  5. The maze of life...
    Close your eyes and the maze has changed when u opened it.
    When u break the code of maze 1, u realized u are in maze 2.
    So, some chose to go to maze 4 and 5, in search of satisfaction and challenge.
    Some enjoy the walk around the maze and marvel at its extricatities
    Some decide to sit down and protest and refuse to move, hoping the maze will disappear.

    We all do all the above depending on our mood and season.

    Personally, I doubt many can get put of the maze.

    There are only 2 ways out.
    1) the painful way of always only going north. No matter the obstacles
    2) the enlightened ones that can levitate above the maze.

    Most of us just choose the mood to be in this maze

    1. sillyinvestor,

      Let's say your 1) and 2) are two of the possible ways out of the maze.

      Everyone will have their own personalised solutions once they decide it's time to leave the maze altogether ;)

      When we are having fun in the maze, who wants to leave? It's cliche, but doing what we is the wonderful mood to be in!

  6. i don't know who the hell created the life of maze for us, but the important question we have to ask is, do we like the maze that we are in, can we alter the maze to our liking and how do we alter it?

    the normal way is when we don't like the maze, we usually will try to alter it and that will not work! we end up in the same maze again and agin.

    the solution is this, we have to like the maze we are current in, then we can alter the maze without going round and round.

    1. when we like the maze we are currently in, why do we want to alter it?

      i remember CW once said, when we have a steady passive income, working becomes a choice and not a necessity, something like that.

      we have gain a degree of freedom, of choice.

    2. this mindset is particulary critical that determine if i am a consistent or inconsistent trader! my objective is to be as happy and confident a trader i can be every single day!

      ofcos i'm still trying.

    3. Pocket got money. Talk also got wind. Life is like that one.

    4. the issue is not about money here but more often we just link it to money haha. trading included (meaning its not about money)!

      its about freedom and choice.

      ofcos you can argue got money then got freedom and choice but i see it the other way round. got freedom then money start talking.

    5. 1) CW,

      Sad but true. Resources do open up more options. All the more the need to be humble. Flowers don't bloom all the time, and "wind water alternate turn".

      2) coconut,

      If you not into trading, I think you too can do well as a spiritual guru.

      You have a very interesting way of looking at things differently from others ;)

    6. nothing special la, trial and error, what do you think it is.

      do this, cannot then do that, cannot then change again. at the end it might not work actually but at least we try our best. same idea goes to developing trading systems.

    7. coconut,

      Learn by Doing.

      Just like we don't learn to cycle by taking theory lessons in the classroom ;)

    8. by the way, i should use the degree of freedom rather than just freedom itself, freedom itself has no meaning but only misleading!

    9. oh yes, trading is like riding bicycle, on a mountain or hill, not on flat road. no amount of classroom learning can teach you. you just got to go out and feel it and adjust to it, by yourself ofcos.

    10. coconut,

      "got freedom then money start talking"

      Although it may sound a bit like which came first? The chicken or the egg?

      You got a point there.

      If our minds are tied down by conventional and group think, how money can find us? We are "lost" amongst the crowd...

      A graduate is "free" in thinking when deciding to be a hawker.

      Others lament what a waste of all those studies.

      The graduate's vision is a chain of food outlets not only in Singapore but across Asia.

      Now who is running in the maze designed by others? Who is designing his own maze?

    11. ya, with the additional degree of freedom or flexibility, one stand a better chance of getting what he wants. that does not mean he will get what he want, but the probabulity is much higher as compare to when he has none. absolutely critical when comes to trading especially.

  7. For me, I find getting from point A to point B in a straight line very boring. So, I choose to enter the maze. Now, hopelessly lost inside while hearing people who exit it successfully screaming in joy outside.

    Side story: On a true life experience, I was standing on top of a maze looking down at people going through it and it seemed like people do silly things in the maze (eg. keep going back the same route again and again). Until I mustered enough courage to enter it myself and doing said silly things as well :-/

    1. ckw-I99,

      The ability to look at ourselves from outside-in is like you looking down at people in the maze.

      Don't get me started on the silly and dumb things I've done in the past...


  8. Very true reflection of life. Some are happy to find the exit while others are happy staying put inside the maze... ;-)

    Oh, it also reminded me of an upcoming movie "The Maze Runner", coming out in Sep 2014, so we might got some salient answers there ;-)

  9. Hi SMOL
    You can solve other people's problems but not usually not your own. If you can why you have problem lingers and lingers?

    From you:-
    "Buying is not the answer; it's Selling that makes us rich!"
    i tend to disagree on this statement especially in the stock or investments.

    Here' why:-

    "2) Assets allocation & Purchase price entry level
    There’s nothing you can do better to control Risks and generate Profit by proper Allocation of Assets and buying those assets at the Right Price.
    Right Price
    “When” is more important than “What”.
    In most cases, when you buy is more important than what you buy. You can make money on the most marginal company if you buy it at the right time; you can lose money in the bluest of blue chips if you buy it at the wrong time.
    The right time is when a stock is selling reasonably near the low end of its trading range or at a historically low price/earnings multiple, or when any trustworthy guideline indicates a sharp reduction in risk. This low entry level provides a safety net dangerously missing at higher prices.
    The wrong time to buy for a long-term investor is when a stock is selling near the high end of its trading range. Everything depends on the price you pay, regardless how gilt-edge the stock."

    1. temperament,

      1) Hence I do my best not to give advice or tell others what to do. I merely "poke" or ask whether the Emperor got wear clothes meh? And write "talk male chicken" posts; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

      2) I respect your disagreement on the Selling part.

      You think about it.

      a) How do property developers make money?

      b) How do entrepreneurs in start-ups monetise their successful "babies"?

      c) How do countries get rich? Consuming (buying) or via Exporting (selling)?

      d) Some retail investors in 1996 and 2007 may be celebrating new record highs in their portfolios. What do you think they wished they had done 1 year later?

      e) Same for property "investors". If we don't have a 2nd investment property to sell, or we brave enough to sell our existing home, rent, and hope to buy back at lower prices, what do record property prices got to do with our actual net worth?

      f) How do we earn a living working for others? By buying or selling?

  10. I think you have mistaken me on the selling part. i believe buying is the first step then selling will take care of itself. As in anything, if the 1st step is wrong, what follows can't be right. No?

    1. temperament,

      There's a retail saying from my ex-purchasing days as follows:

      "An item well bought is an item well sold."

      Of course the buying part is crucial!

      But the selling part can be even more important ;)

      Imagine I buying merchandise at very rock bottom competitive prices than my competitors. To keep my job, I've to make sure they are SOLD well too!

      Just ask those "long term" investors in Venture, Capitaland, NOL, etc. Ask if they wished they had "sold" when the prices were much higher than today...

      And also those newbie property investors who didn't sell their 2nd investment/rental property when big daddy introduced the first round of the "cooling measures". It's not as if this is the first time big daddy has done so....

  11. That's the problem with "B&H" investing and Index funds. It counts only when you sell or need to sell; granted you have bought well.

    1. temperament,

      That's the beauty of experience.

      What I believed and thought in my early 30s on investing has now been tempered with my actual mileage now in my late 40s...

      It's fun when I am still learning and growing. If not, I would have quit long ago!


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