How Mate & Fish Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Last Longer

Ok, let’s get serious now. New year is approaching fast. We better get ourselves ready for ‘new’ resolutions.

Often we recycle previous year resolutions. In fact, we might do that again next year (nothing wrong with that). My new year’s resolution in the last 2 years has been losing weight (lost 12kg so far!).

Or, we might have entirely new goals, and that’s fine too. 

Whatever the goals are, let’s work together so our new year resolutions will last longer. 

Are you ready?


I have a simple system, even created an acronym to make it easier to remember: MATe FiSh.

Let’s get started.

My ambitious goal and my ambitious goal only

MATe FiSh – My ambitious goal

Your new resolution should excite you. It should be ambitious. 

You want it to pull you forward towards it.It needs that extra gravity to do that. It must be exciting, powerful, and amazing.

But more importantly, make sure it’s yours, not anyone else’s (not your partner’s, wife’s, husband’s, parents’, etc, etc). You can talk about it with friends and family but it is important that you OWN this goal.

It is your ambitious goal.

When the going gets tough it is common to find excuses to jeopardise the resolution. If the goal is not yours often a slight obstacle will be enough to excuse yourselves away from achieving it.

Some common excuses:
I didn’t even want to do it in the first place.
They talked me into it.
My shoes are dirty, no running today then.

In order to help you with these simple steps, I will share my goal with you. My new resolution will be, you guessed it — losing more weight!

My doctor told me to lose around 35kg. I have managed to lose 12kg in the last two years. This time (or next year) my goal is to lose twice that in half the time, which is 24kg (yeah).

Ambitious? Yes!

What is your goal? 
What convinces you that this goal is yours?
Do you really 
OWNthis goal?

Achievable goal is the only goal that is achievable

MATe FiSh — Achievable

Sometimes the goal is set too high. It is so high up that it is almost impossible to achieve.

If the goal is almost impossible to achieve, then what are the chances of you achieving it? Almost zero it seems like.

So why do we set ‘almost impossible’ goals?

Are we setting up ourselves for failure?
Are we trying to build a red-face-safe exit (for when the going gets tough)?

Maybe we are afraid of failing our resolutions (again). Hence, we set them up so high it is not possible to achieve anyway (perfect excuse).

Set up a goal that you can actually achieve — no more excuses now!

Some common excuses:
No one can do this. Definitely not me.
I knew it’s too hard to do.
I guess I aimed too high.

In my case, hmmm, maybe 24kg is too difficult to achieve. I’ll make it 12kg then. Wait a minute, not so fast. It is still too vague. I cannot confidently say I can achieve it, yet.

What about this. Losing 12kg through eating 30% less per meal (real advice given by my doctor). Wow, now it grips me, it is concrete and practical.

It’s not easy but it can be done!

Do you need to refine your goal to make it achievable?
Do you need to break it down into more practicable chunks?
Are you more confident now that you know you can achieve this goal?

Time elements to make it alive

MATe FiSh — Time elements

So now you have an ambitious goal and you know you can achieve it. But still, often the goal just sits in your mind, not moving. It stays quietly in the ‘new resolution’ section of your brain.

It is nice to think about the goal though. But it is not real until you put time elements on it .. tick .. tock .. tick .. tock.

‘Running’ and ‘Running at 6am’. What is the difference?

What about ‘Running at 6am on the weekend’?

Let’s add one more element: ‘Running at 6am this Saturday’.

Can you see that by adding time elements, suddenly the goal is real? It becomes alive. It is so real you can almost touch it.

Why?

When a goal lacks time elements, it is just sitting in your mind waiting to be realised. 

Time elements move the goal to cross path with your life.It is not an idea anymore, it’s part of your life.

Some common excuses:
I’ll get to it later.
Life has been so busy lately, I don’t have time.

Let’s look at my example. I want to lose 12kg next year by eating less. Adding time elements and the resolution will be: ‘starting to eat 30% less on 1st January’. The goal will cross path with my life next year, on 1st January.

How would your goal look like with time elements?
Can you see how your life will cross path with the goal now?
How does it look like now that it is part of your life?

First step will set you up for a good year

MATeFiSh — First step

Your goal is now a part of your future. But we still need to smooth out the crucial moment when it crosses path with your life. Think of it as a starting point of a long walk.

A good start will set you up for a good walk.On the other hand, a bad start will discourage you. This is your first step in achieving your new year resolution.

Make it as easy as possible to take that first step. You just need to start, that’s all. It does not have to be a big leap. A small step is enough.

Some common excuses:
I am supposed to start running tomorrow but it feels so hard.
I don’t even know where to start.

So, back to my example. I will start eating 30% less on 1st January. My first step will be eating less breakfast. It’s easy enough to do. I just need to use a smaller breakfast bowl.

What is your first step?
What can you do to make your first step as easy as possible?
How do you see yourself completing the first step?

Share the goal with someone you trust

MATe FiSh — Share the goal

You have the artilleries you need to achieve this goal. Now, let’s get some supports. Share the goal, the time elements, and the first step with someone you trust. Ask him/her if it’s ok to be your accountability partner.

The act of sharing alone is beneficial. It is like a semi-public declaration of your intention. It can be very motivating knowing that someone else knows what you want to do next year.

However, the real power of sharing your goal with another person is ‘accountability’.

Now you are not alone. There is someone else watching over you. His/her role is to be your accountability partner as you move forward to achieve your goal.

How is this helpful?

There will be obstacles along the way. There will be times when you are unsure about yourself.

Your accountability partner is the one who will help you get back on track.

Some common excuses:
I cannot do it by myself.
This is too difficult for me.

As with my goal, I have shared it with you guys here as well as with my wife and kids. They will keep a close watch of what I eat next year. No more second or third portion for me.

Who can I trust to be my accountability partner?
How do I share my goal with him/her?
How will this ‘accountability’ relationship work?


So that’s all folks.

Follow the steps: MATe FiSh.

And do it.

I am confident (and I am sure you are too) that your new year resolution will be a success!

Are you ready to make next year a fantastic year?

Cheers!


“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” — Carl Bard

I just want to lie down…

Forget five-star travel and the hotel life; when it comes to holidays as a soloist, Fredy Namdin prefers the simple things in life.

 

Back in the days of my corporate years, me and a colleague of mine often talked about holidays. These discussions spanned from possible holiday dates and destinations, to all the different food and drink we would enjoy during the trip.

We strategised about the best possible ways to capitalise on these holidays.Should we take it before Christmas? After New Year? Or maybe mid-year?

We took into account costs, the best weather, airlines, any special events, and so much more. It was almost an obsession for us.

I started a company more than ten years ago. Well, we acquired it but in my defence the company was in a very risky position, one bad move and there would be nothing left. We did quite a turnaround to make it into a strong and healthy business. And boy it took time to do that. I never knew acquiring a business could take so much work.

As with other businesses, things were never smooth nor stable for long. We experienced highs and lows, joy, heart break, excitement, and many other indescribable feelings.

“I just want to lie down on the sofa, relaxing, with a cup of coffee in my hand, and the most delicious Scotch Finger biscuit by my side.”

We worked so hard for the business (especially in the first few years). I remember those nights when the kids would sleep in the car because we had big orders to fulfil the following day. The worst was when the phone rang in the afternoon with an urgent request, and we knew we had no choice but to abide, because it was one of our major customers – another all nighter coming through. Who said owning a business means answering to no one? We quickly figured out that we were answering to more than 500 people (read: bosses). And these ‘bosses’ could be more demanding than our corporate bosses (not always).

Nevertheless we were happy. Things turned around and we made good money. We started to improve (increase) our spending. A new car, a new house, even a new coffee machine. Life was great.

“Hi Fred.” Eddie said to me. ”How have you been?”

“Hi Eddie, what a surprise. Well, I am doing good, man,” I said.

Eddie is a friend from my previous life. He is the one I discussed holidays with back in my corporate days.

“Where are you working now,” Eddie asked.

“I run my own company.” I replied to him. “We distribute industrial products.”

“Wow, I remember back in BankEast you always wanted to have your own business,” Eddie said.

“Yeah, it’s a dream come true.” I said, trying to remember what I really said to him back then.

“Congratulations man.”

“Thanks, what about you?”

“I work in South Bank Institute now.”

“Sounds like a good place.”

“Yes it is, and guess what, we are going to Bali again this year.”

“Again?”

“Yup, the third time this year.”

‘Third time?”

This guy is so lucky, I thought to myself. I haven’t got the time to do all these holidays this year.

“Ok Fred, I need to rush,” Eddie said. “It’s great bumping into you.”

Despite our best effort we could only take holidays during Christmas and New Year. That would be around 10 days per year. We compensate this by making it in such a way that we only work short hours during the year. Practically we structured the business around our kids. We want to spend time with them so we work short hours but somehow we end up with only 10 days break per year.

In all honesty, I never thought about it before meeting Eddie.

It’s not like we need multiple holidays anyway. Ten days break is long enough – or so I thought.

But I just couldn’t let it go. Eddie gets to take multiple trips to Bali and I am just stuck here in the warehouse? What a crappy lifestyle I have now. Surely there must be something I could do to make my life a bit better?

As I drove home I was reminiscing about the time when I too was able to take multiple trips per year. What a great life it was. I remembered the cubicle where I sat. Eddie was sitting just across my desk (hence we talked a lot to each other). The best part was in the morning when I would use the company’s coffee machine to make my delicious morning coffee. Lunch was not too bad as sometimes we had to rush things, especially when there was a big tender due.

Big tender, what a nightmare.

I must have made more than 1000 spreadsheets over the course of my career as an analyst. Oh yeah, and those headaches, splitting headaches. I was consuming pain killers like candy. I had a box or two on my desk and took two tablets per day. If I kept going the way I was maybe I could purchase them at wholesale price based on the volume I went through.

And my boss, OMG, she was the most discriminating, intimidating, back-stabbing $%&6%^.

You know what, maybe I don’t need those holidays.

Life is good as it is now.

We are happy, our business is growing, the wife is happy (very important), and I have my own coffee machine at home (also very important).

You know what, I have a great life.

It’s simple, not glamorous, albeit it’s the best for me.

I just want to lie down on the sofa, relaxing, with a cup of coffee in my hand, and the most delicious Scotch Finger biscuit by my side.

That’s all I need.

I just want to lie down.

By

— as originally appeared on Quora and FlyingSolo

What I Learn From The Rain

Do you know how to put away four pallets with a dozen different items into two little shelves? Neither did we, but sadly that was what we were doing in that cold morning. The shelves were almost full too. We ran out of idea until one of us decided to ‘MacGyver’ it. Somehow we connected four smaller shelves, turning them into ‘unofficial-somewhat-risky-shelves-extension’.

Chemicals were the worst because we had to be extra careful. In particular those with ‘DG’ written on them (DG is Dangerous Goods). These must be visible and easy to contain should any of them decided to leak. It means we had to have spill container and granules (aka kitty litter) nearby.

Another hassle was those items with expiry dates such as disposable gloves or alcohol gels. Hah, who would’ve thought, disposable gloves have expiry dates! What would happen when they expire, have you ever thought about that? Maybe they go all wonky or change colour? Nooo, they got sticky and brittle!

After hours of struggle and perseverance, we finally did everything. All items were put away and labelled accurately. We made the impossible, possible, thanks to plenty of coffees and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

‘Busy’ was the word on the street back then. Our days were full of work, work, work (and back pain, back pain, back pain). The floor flooded with pallet wraps, cut cardboard, and metal straps. No kidding, if we let a mouse loose, it would get lost in no time among the jungle, and then died of starvation.

Well, we did have downtime, sometimes. We used these rare moments to enjoy extra cups of coffees while having in-depth discussions (among other things) about our customers. They kept us busy alright. Some of them pretty much demanded immediate attention when they rang. We should charge more for this ‘concierge’ services, unfortunately not.

Our super busyness though had left us with many little things unattended around the warehouse. For example, our toilet was not flushing correctly, sometimes not at all. Then what about that jungle of cardboards and straps, they were accidents waiting to happen. And then there was this small leak from the ceiling fan. Nothing major yet, just a little bit of concerns.


”What are you doing, Jim?”, I asked our loyal warehouse staff.

”It’s leaking again, boss, I am just rearranging things,” Jim said.

”You mean the ceiling fan?”

”Yup, a bit wet today.”

”Is it getting worse?”

”Probably a little bit.”

”I probably should call the agent to fix it.”

”Yes, you should.”

I helped Jim to move the stocks away from underneath the ceiling fan. Some of them were severely damaged already. Luckily we didn’t have too many perishable products down there – at least that was what I thought.

”So what is the damage?” I asked Jim.

”Well, some of the almost expired disposable gloves are now definitely expired,” he replied.

”What do you mean some?”

”What?”

”How much is ‘some’?”

”Two cartons boss.”

”All wet?”

”Yeah, all wet.”

”Is that all?”

”Yup that’s it. The Nitrile gloves are also wet, but they are water resistant.”

”I hate this rain.”

”You mean, the leaky roof? The rain is not at fault here.”

”Yeah, I mean the leaking roof.”

The rain did not stop that day. Our humble little ceiling fan was leaking rainwater like a beer tap. We put plastic buckets all over the place to contain the rain. I remember back when I was a little kid we used to do something similar at home. Leaking roof and plastic buckets, we couldn’t get away from them.

Unfortunately, things got a bit hectic afterwards, no agent was called that day, and no leaking roof got fixed. It was Friday too, and we wanted to go home.


It’s funny how things go a lot slower from Monday to Friday, and suddenly speed up on the weekend. And before you know it, it’s Monday! Back to work, folks!

Non-stop raining continued over the weekend. I was hoping our leaking roof wouldn’t spill too much water into the warehouse. We cleared the area underneath already and put together a circle of spill granules to contain the possible flood.

Jim was already there when I arrived.

”Jim, how are things?” I asked Jim.

”Not good boss,” he replied.

”Oh, no..”

”Yes ..”

”How bad is it?”

”Interestingly, the leaking was not too bad.”

”But ..”

”But some of them found their way into our chemicals drums.”

”How did that happen?”

”We forgot to close the lids boss.”

”Yeah, but the drums were not underneath the leaking fan.”

”Well, apparently it was leaking at other places too.”

”And they happened to be on top of the drums.”

”Yes, boss.”

Fortunately, none of the DG chemicals was affected. We made sure they were all closed properly. The concentrated dishwashing liquid and glass cleaner though, they were all ruined.

I knew it was my fault for not calling the agent sooner. But again, the primary damage was not from the ceiling fan. Even if I called the agent and got the fan fixed, we would still suffer significant loss from that leak on top of the drums.

Soon the season changed, and we forgot about the incident altogether. We finally fixed all the leaks. But we couldn’t sell our concentrated chemicals though, because well, they were not concentrated anymore.

At least I learnt a few lessons from this.

Number one. Always do what you can do today, not tomorrow. If I did, I would have got the leaks fixed, and the drum lids closed. But I didn’t, and I paid a hefty price for that.

Number two. Water is so powerful even its drips can ruin the whole drum. It reminds me of an old proverb: “One drop of poison infects the whole tun of wine“. I should never underestimate the damage that small drops of water can do.

Number three. There is no point in blaming the past because it already happened and there is nothing I can do to change that. This one I needed to learn the hard way. I have now accepted that instead of crying over what has happened, it is better to learn from my mistakes and try not to repeat that.

Wait, there is one more lesson to learn from this saga.

Interestingly, this lesson is the culmination of all three.

It is the classic concept of ‘grit’.

Grit is about doing what you can and not procrastinating (lesson no.1).

It is also about persevering in doing little things at a time, and never underestimate how they could affect the more significant things (lesson no.2).

Finally, grit does not worry about the past and focus instead on the future (lesson no.3).

***

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up” —Babe Ruth

Finding Fire

For mere mortals life is nothing but a short passage way. Massive global collection of information only shorten the memories of those who went before us. In this short time we have on earth we speed through life almost like it is not worth our time to live it.

Or maybe we are too afraid to live our lives differently. We are afraid of what people would think. Maybe we have let others to live our lives for us.

At the end of our lives what would be our biggest regrets?

What is it that we couldn’t forgive ourselves should we fail to accomplish it?

What are we here for?

The fire that used to burn inside, maybe we should find it again. It was the moment when time stood still, when we disappeared, absorbed into ourselves. It was the moment when we knew what we were supposed to do.

It is too late, some might say.

It is never too late.

The fire that burns is worth a lifetime of searching – even if it only burns for a while. A lifetime of coldness turns into a breath of warmth, and then you’d know that you’ve done what you should be doing all this time.

What does your heart tell you?

What keeps you awake at night?

What give you goosebumps like you are on top of the world?

What is your fire?

Maybe we could stop our busy lives and ponder for a while.

Maybe life is worth our precious time on earth to live it the way it should be lived.

 

“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis

Delusional Weaknesses

The time will come for those who keep saying the ‘impossible things’ to come forward and admit their insecurity. These are the ones who keep saying, “It’s impossible”. These are the same people who figure out deep meaningful excuses and convince themselves of the impossible-to-climb walls.

What about those ‘impossible’ situations?

This begs one simple question. Is the situation impossible, or our perception of the situation, or our focus on the situation?

The first two cases are quite simply, easy to solve. If a particular situation is impossible then we just have to admit it. It is quite frankly, just not worth fighting. If however, it is our perception that insists on the impossibility, then we can be sure that it is in fact possible. And hence, we can continue on fighting.

Quite often a situation possesses both factors. There are certain areas where it is impossible for us to do anything about, but there are certain areas where it is possible for us to tackle.

A quick example is someone who plays chess. When it is his turn to move, he is faced with many possible action steps. Some of which might send his king to the grave while others can move his queen forward to victory. There will be instances where he is cornered and all his moves will spell doom. However, this situation rarely happens unless off course he is very unlucky, or his opponent is very good.

Life is much more complex than a game of chess and it is very difficult to determine if we have any moves left or not. Before we make the ultimate decision that we are cornered and our every moves will result in disaster, shouldn’t we take a hard look at our situation and figure out another way to move our pawns?

Once we have made our mind that our end is definite, our efforts for sure will end.

When we say we can do the impossibles, we are not delusional. We simply refuse to defeat ourselves. Have you ever thought that those who refuse to try and keep saying ‘it’s impossible’ are delusional?

Why would we spell doom to ourselves?

Are we focusing on the situation or just on the impossibles?

Maybe if we only just focus on the possibles, on the things that we can do right now.

If we just do what we can do, then before we know it we’ll be doing things that are difficult, and finally we’ll be doing the impossibles.

 

Not forbidden passion fruit

Us humans are complex creatures. We walk in time yet there are moments when time seems to speed up only to slow down again. There are times when we believe we can change the world and yet we fail again and again. We eat, sleep, and play, within the 24 hrs constraints of our daily limit. When we are excited, passionate, full of spirit, we can charge ahead no matter what the hurdles are. Our passions turn us into wild beasts, capable of moving mountains and splitting oceans. Have you ever felt like certain things in life whisper to you? Calling you to act, prompting you to give your best, and to fill your lives with meaningful moments.
Note #1 – Real passion never dies
It’s alive! It exists within us, always surfacing when discovered. It empowers, yet it needs to be fed. Our real passion is always there, however long it’s been dormant. A little bit of attention from us will nudge it awake from its long sleep. Our real passion will take over, moving us forward, to do things we never thought possible. Spend time with it, and it will be defining our steps, shaping our future.

What are those things you always have in your heart? They move you to places you dream about, and often scare you that you push them back. When you spend time with them you know you are in your own special moment.

Note #2 – Passion speaks through your daily life
Passion can be difficult to spot, it doesn’t have tangible forms, it doesn’t have smell and it doesn’t move around. Yet it is lurking in every aspects of your life. It fuses itself into your daily activities, often into your somewhat dull routines. When you sense it, the feelings of accomplishment will overcome you even though you haven’t done a thing. It speaks a language only its owner understands. It will draw you closer every time you listen to it.

Look at your daily activities, including the dull ones. Are there instances when you feel a sense of deep accomplishment? Are there moments when you feel like you are drawn to it? Are there things that you love so much you just couldn’t stop doing it?

Note #3 – It is a never-ending free energy which only you can use
We eat and drink to replenish our physical strengths. We read to replenish our intellectual prowess. We sleep so our cells can repair themselves. Nevertheless, we often feel empty, unmotivated, and even frustrated. Maybe we hate our jobs, we long for coffee breaks, we wait for 5pm. What about those times when we feel tired, heavy, and looking for an escape? Is it true that our passion can fuel our lives? Is it true that if we work for something we love we will never work for another day in our lives? Passion is a free energy, given to each of us, for specific things, for certain people. It just keeps giving.

Watch for things that exhaust you, your real passion will do the opposite, it will empower you instead. When was the last time you found yourselves working through breaks, lunch, dinner, and everything else, and not dropping a single ‘sigh’?

Note #4 – Beware passion imitators
It is elusive, it is often mistaken with an escape from daily routines. Only when it becomes a routine that we know what it’s really made of. Time will tell whether your real passion is true. When we know for sure what it is, hold on to it. Real passion is like a treasure that never loses its value in the market. The more it is used, the higher the value it offers to its owners. Never let it go for it is more valuable than gold and more durable than diamond.

Watch for things that might be a fake passion. These are the things that you like doing but only last for short period of time. Real passion will empower you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Time is your examiner, it will let you know if your passion is real or not. Real passion will grow over time, turning you into an impossible over-achiever.

Note #5 – Enjoy it and it will repay you many times more
Passion needs to be fed, just like a child who demands attentions. Focus on it, spend time with it, feed it, and it will grow. It will flourish and mature into highly powered energy reservoir. It will reward its owner with never-ending mental prowess. Work with it, learn to use it, nurture it. Your passion will repay you many times over, and you are the only person in the world who can maximize it to the full.

Learn to do daily activities which lead to greater sense of fulfillment, where you know your passion is being nourished and fed. Look for specific things, focus on the important few. Fight the temptation to get instant results. It takes time to build your life around your passion. Enjoy it and it will reward you many times more.

 


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Still finding those goals?

In business we sometimes wonder whether we are doing what we’re supposed to do.  Especially in the midst of economic uncertainty like now, more and more people are anxiously waiting for the next big news.  More and more people are wondering whether they should be selling their businesses before it’s too late.  The other half is undecided, not sure if their strategies are the right ones.

All these “unsure, anxious” activities can take up a lot of time, draining every single drop of energy we have.  We can push them aside and just focus on what’s in front of us.  Accept our place in the world, in the business community, or in the corporate ladder.  Then try to pour our best into what we’re doing now, treating them like they’re our callings.  At the end of the day, they might very well be what our goals supposed to be in life, and in business.

Maybe we are already in the right place, at the right time, we just haven’t realized it yet.

“If you search everywhere, yet cannot find what you are seeking, it is because what you seek is already in your possession” Lao Tzu