Monday, 10 April 2017

Visions, Dreams, Ikigai, and Goals

I am better organised now!

For those of you who have this lingering feeling of "emptiness" in your heart even though you have hit all the goals you have set for yourself, you may want to click under:

"My interests" and on the "Dreams and Goals" tab located on the right column of my blog.

There, you'll find the deranged and hallucinated writings typical of a grasshopper.

Mind you, the perspective of the grasshopper was borne out by his past life as a purchaser visiting founder owners of factories throughout Asia.

Its a real privilege to be able to have tea or coffee with land owners who are in their late 60s to early 70s, and have passed the day-to-day operations to their 2nd generation.

They are more open to discussions on grey grey no conclusion topics of philosophy and life as opposed to the precision of nuts and bolts goal settings...


For readers who no time and no patience, no worries!

I have the short version (but cryptic):

Goal setting is like Western medicine - where pain; fix where  (治标).

Got headache? They look at your head. Knee pain, they fix your knee.

Dreams and visions are like Chinese medicine - holistic approach  (治本).

Complain about stomach ulcers?

They freaking ask probing questions about your lifestyle, diet, how's it going at work, relationship issues at home???

Hey! Fix my stomach can?



  1. How does Chinese sinseh know you have stomach ulcers without scoping?

    1. CW,


      This is typical ant behaviour ;)

      Its like saying majority of people don't have retirement goals so goal setting ants belong to the minority!?

      OK, you win liao lor!

      C'mon, give me something more intellectually stimulating leh!

    2. Quote : "They freaking ask probing questions about your lifestyle, diet, how's it going at work, relationship issues at home???"

      The Chinese Sinseh does have some common illness and health knowledge to conclude severe and prolong stomach pain may be due to gastric, ulcer or cancer. The lifestyle and stresses may be the root cause. MAY BE; but to know the difference Western medicine has the technology to know the difference by scoping the difference.

      Same same as investing goals. We need "scoping" to know the difference gastric, ulcer or cancer. Gastric and ulcer are minor and curable. Same same as investment portfolio. :-)

    3. CW,

      LOL! You again! Persistent fellow, aren't you?

      When you young as a little boy and taking Sunday bible class, you must be that ONE in every class ;)

      Wait. What do you mean its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than a rich man?

      BOTH camel and man CANNOT pass through the eye of the needle! Look, the eye of the needle so small! Explain!

      You know what?

      To make you happy, just change stomach ulcer to headache.

      Happy now?


      Yes, little Jacob. You are right. Calling yourself 8 years old is not precision enough.

      When people ask you how old you are, you can reply you are 7 years, 2 months, 3 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, and 7 seconds old!

      Oh! Little Jacob, by the time you finish your sentence, you would be 2-3 seconds older.

      Reply in the speed of light next time OK?

  2. Hi SMOL,

    "For those of you who have this lingering feeling of "emptiness" in your heart even though you have hit all the goals you have set for yourself"

    Feeling empty, they turn their attention to helping and serving others, doing good, and contributing to society. Some call the after-effects from such activities as the "warm glow of altruism"; others call it "dopamine fix."

    So, the ikigai is premised on what? A genuine desire to help others or a sugary coating over bitter medicine?

    1. Unintelligent Nerd,

      A simple definition of ikigai is the reason why you get up in the morning.

      If we have to drag ourselves to work/school, that means we have no ikigai ;)

      Ikigai is a big topic, a whole philosophy of living.

      That's the source of happiness and well being. And thus not everyone and anyone can discover theirs without some effort...

      The activity of helping others is one useful technique to quell depression, loneliness, and melancholy.

      By focusing on others, we don't have time to dwell on our own problems/issues.

      Its a remedy to quiet and tame our egos. (We are not the centre of the Universe)

      What the medical professionals and spiritual leaders hope is that through this process of focusing on others, we'll discover our true self.

      Its a simple mind trick on changing perspective. You can only help those who are worse off than you.

      Seeing so many with problems/issues more insurmountable than ours, our little problems will seem so petty and insignificant by comparison.

      We are the ones who cure ourselves :)

      Of course there are those who "love" to help others because by mixing with others worse of than them, they can feel more "superior"...

      They treat those they help as "doormats". No matter how miserable their lives are, they take comfort there are others more miserable than them.

      I stay the hell clear of such "do-gooders".

  3. HA! HA!

    The Chinese also usually like to claim, "一种药可以治愈百病".


    1. Spot on!

      Chinese medicine labelling can be most "snake oil".

      Just take the Po Chai pills for diarrheal. When you read the label on the box, can almost cure all diseases!?


      Jokes aside, the strength of Chinese medicine is PREVENTION.

      I noticed a lot of people focus on medical insurances as though they're "cures".

      I prefer to follow the holistic way of Chinese medicine when it comes to health care ;)

  4. Smol,

    My take is always like this, if we understand the spirit behind visions and goals, everything fall in place, otherwise it is furniture stick together but glue, nice to see, sit down it kaput

    Dreams and big, vision more concrete, and finally goals specific. It makes your pursuit meaningful and aligned your direction. See 3 dots make a solid line.

    Take away goals ? Just vision and dreams? If u like exploring, that's fine. That is one stage we need to go through anyway to crystallize the vision and dream. Never see desert where the long for waterhole ?

    But if goals become a end itself.... then ....

    If vision without concrete plans then... so much for ...

    The goals need not be what the books said it is ... your buy sell entries are goal. Your honing of craft at hedge fund manager it's vision and your dream, guess it's wine women merry plus contentment LOL

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      Your furniture metaphor is fantastic!


      I use goals and plans too. But its way at the end; they work great at the operational level ;)

      The person who recommended you for your HOD post did not 看走眼.

      Hello, wine, women, and song are not about contentment. They are about decadence and pleasure!


  5. Sorry, no link between vision and dream? No success from hedge fund think u can make merry with wine and women meh?

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      Vision and Dream are same same.

      Vision is used more in the corporate setting.

      Dream is used in our personal capacity.

      If you say, "I have a dream for this school..."

      You'll be quickly beaten down, "You think this is your grandfather's school?"

      But if we say, "I have a vision to make this school..."

      Sounds more inclusive right?

      That's the power of words.

      We can invited others to share our vision.

      You think colleagues interested to help us achieve our dreams?

      As shepherds, we know certain words work better on sheep. Keep this in mind - words do matter.

      As landowners, we can see through the flowery words.

      What visions, what dreams, what goals? Do they matter just as long our shepherds can produce milk, wool, and meat ;)

    2. Hahaha, SMol,

      I believe in power of words, but I believe in power of relationships more!!!

      I say I have a dream for education... got sheeps like lei... hahahAhahaha

    3. Sillyinvestor,

      Colleagues are fellow HOD ;)

      They have their own dreams to pursue.

      As for sheep, I guess you meant your underlings. Then that would make sense ;)

      But don't underestimate some sheep. These are the shepherds-in-waiting. They probably think your dream is crap; but they have the EQ to know better than to let you know what they really think!

      Once upon a time, there was this bald sheep that scored lots of brownie points when the shepherd said, "Jump!"

      Other sheep ask, "Why must we jump? Or "Why ask me? Can ask Mary to do it or not?"

      The bald sheep just replied, "How high?"

      The bald sheep is always eyeing the shepherd's seat.


    4. Smol,

      I know what u mean! I am super mindful too... hehehe but in the meantime, continue to pretend to be sheep and raise up the ranks by helping me, will ya. I believe in win-win remember? U bid for your time and I squeeze what I want. When my time comes or is up, I know my place too Hahaha

      I also score brownie points like nobody business! Although it might be more difficult now.

  6. Smol,

    U say my ex-boss got foresight? LoL! If we are in the 先秦,I know how to talk male chicken only. The 纵横家,no real stuff. I saw my colleagues are the real strategists, the 法家、墨家、兵家LOL

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      There is this possibility that your ex-boss can't stand the sight of you.

      Since cannot fire you, the only other option is to promote you and get you out of his school!


      Now that's high level politics!

  7. Hi SMOL,

    Dunno why I can't reply directly to your reply, so I reply here. That's why it just doesn't sit well with me for those whose ikigai is to help others.

    Maybe I'm too cynical. For such cases, I tend to question their motives. Are they reaaaaally genuinely concerned about others or are there other plausible explanations for their behaviour?

    Like what you said, introspection and being comfortable with one's own skin is uncomfortable. Hence, helping others is one way to divert attention away from a much needed self-reflection.

    Dopamine fix is another plausible reason. The person gets a kick from doing good. Not so much about the target of good works, but rather using the target as an instrument/medium for one's self-benefit.

    Then there's the Greco-Roman patron/benefactor factor at work in some cases as well. Either to unsully their own reputation or to flex their political muscles, some people "help" to prove that they are moral beings who "understand" the plight of others and deign to help those kor lian tai people.

    Then there are spoilt social science practitioner princesses who live on income support from their elite pa. Shitty pay because of your social science degree? "Yah lor, I so pai mia/qi cham, I forsake remuneration in order to touch lives!" wonder whether the above statement holds true when they have an insane level of income support behind-the-scenes and take on the juiciest of cases for internal gossip mongering!

    1. Aye aye Sir! I won't use dialect in the workplace one lah!

      Speaking of dialect, I remember coming across some journal article stating that the use of the vernacular enhances rapport building (too bad I didn't save the article back then......)

      While searching for the article, I found a lagi better one:

      Time to bring out the raw, unfiltered Hokkien language? :P

      Anyway, regarding healing myself with my academic training, I remember a group discussion in a counselling module I took. The topic was on whether social science practitioners should seek mental healthcare from other practitioners from time to time.

      I shared that I would not. For problems that could be solved, I have the self-agency to solve them (problem-focused coping). For problems that cannot be solved, gently accept what is (emotion-focused coping). One of my coursemate disagreed with me. After all, mental healthcare is just as important as physical healthcare. Before I expand further, I'm awaiting your thoughts :D

    2. Unintelligent Nerd,

      Of course it builds rapport! You think why I write with a local local voice?

      I have no delusions of grandeur that I'm writing for an international readership ;)

      I like to solve problems myself first. Only when I've exhausted all avenues will I ask for help. I'm not too proud to seek assistance ;)

      The reason I do so is not ego or pride (OK, maybe a little bit). The main reason is that I learn better this way. If the solution came too easily or from others, I won't treasure or remember it ;)

      The world would be so boring if everyone of us agree with each other! Total conformity? That's communism! Yucks!

      Rest assured one day you and I will disagree and that would be super fun!

      We'll be having a go at each other like I do lovingly with the fisherman. We've been doing it for 5 years now!

      Just no hitting on the face OK?

      Yes, mental disorders are now being discussed more openly nowadays.

      Especially for young children.

      In the past, they would be assumed as slow or dumb.

      Today, with better awareness, we now know these children could be dyslexic, autistic, suffering from attention deficit hyperactive disorder; etc...

      As for adults, we are still some steps behind the West where people openly talk about therapy sessions with their psychologists.

      If HR, our bosses, and/or colleagues know we are suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, or mild schizophrenia, I don't think we'll get the same support as those with physical disorders...

      Stress levels in the workplace can be quite high for certain industries. That's not helping :(

    3. We got disagree before what. Forgot what issue was that though.

      There is more openness and less stigma now, but still, in our Asian culture, people do not look too kindly on those who need a listening ear or a visit to the shrink. The typical Asian response is "aiyo, just suck it up and soldier on lah!" But certain issues cannot be resolved by just "sucking it up." For this reason, the East views the West as having lesser mental fortitude, running to their psychologists for the mildest of problems.

      Meanwhile, the West is baffled with the East's aversion to mental healthcare. To them, mental well-being is part of overall well-being.

      I'm sitting on the fence here though. I can't decide which perspective is more legitimate: the gu niang or bai ren cheng jin.

    4. Unintelligent Nerd,

      Did we? I've forgotten about it too. LOL!

      I guess in this aspect, we are quite lucky here in Singapore - Singapore being the crossroad between East and West.

      We have the option to be part of the liberal Channel 5 tribe, or the more conservative Channel 8 crowd.

      My mind speaks in English; my heart sings in Mandarin :)

  8. Maybe they feel happier by helping those who are struggling financially and not out of ulterior motive. Unless you are talking about being happier is a motive.

    It does open up my mind on what to do if I achieve early semi retirement.

    1. blanc fable,

      Wow! Talk about missing from action!

      You never call, never write. Out of the blue...

      Hang on! I just remembered you're a guy.

      Idiot, just wasted my flirting saliva on the wrong sex...

      What's with wine that I always associate them with women?


      Oh dear! Don't let my conversation with Unintelligent Nerd phase you off doing charity work.

      We were talking about Doormats 

      Do what makes you happy!

      If you are insincere with ulterior motives, Unintelligent Nerd and me will be able to SPOT you and you can't do anything to us.

      As for sheep, they can't tell so we can only hope you only take their milk and wool - and leave the meat untouched.

      If you are sincere to volunteer charity work with no expectations of "profit" - could be money, fame, recognition, power, vanity; etc - then what's there to be afraid of?

      Look, Jesus and Buddha got their detractors during their day. Why should we be any different?

      Trust in our Hokkien wisdom:

      Scared don't do; do don't scared.

    2. Hi,

      I am back! Yeah I am a guy.

      Oh both of you are talking about doormat story which was posted last year.

      For your doormat story, in my own experience, I have learned not to give too much unsolicited advices. I was burned by a colleague who was mad when I genuinely wanna help and gave advices. The theory is "You can only help those who want to be helped."

      Thanks for clearing my query. The main thing about charity is just be happy with no ulterior motives and not care about detractors.

      In fact, I feel your thinking and perspectives are very deep.

    3. blanc fable,

      Sometimes the best teacher is "crash got sound" ;)

      When you semi-retired, do drop me a note will ya?

      I'm trying to build up a man of leisure kopi kakis club.

      So far there's me and the fisherman. With Sillyinvestor as a regular guest (he teacher so some weekdays afternoon free)

      I'm not deep; I'm as shallow as piss on the sidewalk.

      Lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, got to have something for me to mind-fxxx myself mah!

  9. Aiya,

    You all so high brow logic one.

    Just do what you want to do.

    As long you don't bring harm to yourself or others.

    The Hokkien's saying, "Hua Hee To Ho" still applies.

    Life is to enjoy.

    And what's enjoyment if you can't do what you want to do?

    But no harm to yourself or others.

    Who cares about what others think?

    1. temperament,

      Of course!

      I am the cheerleader of do what we like ;)

      I'm merely arguing with the STOP sign - I don't wah kali kong ;)

      Notice its the mainstream that gets quite agitated when not everyone do as they were told?

      Hey! How come he can have exception?


  10. Gist of it I guess is must have Dreams and Vision first before goal setting. If there is no dream or vision, set goal for what?
    Dream and vision, like chinese medicine... fluffy stuff.

    1. Rainbow girl,

      Dream and vision are fluffy, but they are holistic.

      For example we may set a financial freedom like $X amount in Y years. That's only part of who we are...

      What about relationship and social goals?

      Spiritual goals?

      Aspirational goals?

      Our ikigai?

      To some woman, the dream is to be with a man they love, surrounded by lovely children and grand children, in a warm and inviting home full of laughter and joy.

      How to set SMART goals on above???

      Yet I've seen young money-minded career women set goals like get married by 28, have first child by 30, earn $ amount by 35, retire at 40.

      You can't get any more cold and clinical than that!

      Precision yes. But where's the LOVE?


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