2016 has one heck of a year. It has probably been the year that I have learned the most about myself, especially the direction and course of life I want to head towards.
Most people associate success as a numerical entity, mainly how much dollars they earned. However, if success was measured by experiences and happiness, then I would say 2016 turned out to be a very successful year.
Here is a summary of the critical moments of my year and the lessons I learned along the way
Climbing Mt. Tongariro
You may remember this mountain from the movie Lord of the Rings, also known as Mount Doom. This trip was planned very last minute as we decided to go the day before. Overall it took us roughly 24 hours, 6 hours to drive there, 12 hours to climb and 6 hours to drive back. We originally decided just to hike the trail but when we got there, we saw the mountain and just said “why not?”.
Why was climbing this mountain so significant in 2016? Because it was so freaking scary and it was very life threatening.
I’ve had people that climbed it say “what? it wasn’t that bad.” I think to myself “huh, did we climb the same mountain?”
There was no official path towards the top so we were just making it up as we climbed up. It was dangerous because every time you took a step forward, you would slide two steps back due to the loose gravel. The steepness also didn’t help because one small mistake and you would fall backward and tumble down the mountain. Even going down the mountain was just as bad. I was too scared to stand up because I just thought if I leaned forward even just a little, I would fall head first down the mountain. I also had to race against the clock as it was getting very dark and things would get even worse if the sun disappeared.
Aside from me panicking the whole time, the view at the top made everything worth it. You could say the view was simply to die for. Standing above the clouds with this insane view in front of me made me realise how we get too caught up in city life that we often forget what the world has to offer.
Lesson 1: Get out of the city every once in awhile. Appreciate nature for its beauty.
Graduate Civil Engineer Job
This was my first professional job. The job that I spent 4 years studying. Before starting this job, I kind of knew deep down I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing engineering, but I told myself I would try it out for maybe 5 years and reassess my life then.
It was only 2 weeks in that I realized that I did not like this job. Funny that, I spend 4 years studying and I don’t like it within 2 weeks. However, I only just started, so I told myself I should try this out for at least a year to know the full extent of the job.
My third week, I experienced working 12-15 hour days, and not just for one day but several days in a row. I thought to myself, surely it won’t always be like this. Boy was I wrong.
Some reasons why my job was crap:
- Managed civil projects with no help, previous experience or mentoring
- Worked day and night shifts, and also in-between the shifts
- Did a lot of manual labour work while also running around trying to coordinate activities as a project manager
- Worked with assholes in the office.
Yeah, maybe I’m complaining and whining a lot, but you can’t blame me.
Weeks and weeks go by. My life is consumed of just work. When I was not in the office or on the project site, I would be catching up on paperwork in my room. The only “fun” time I had was going to the gym for a quick hour session, but even then it was shit because I would get interrupted with work calls.
My stress levels were pretty up there. My only salvation was waiting for the weekend just to get drunk. I would repeat this every weekend. Imagine that, my “happiness” was counting down the days to the weekend just to escape work.
I was at an all time low. All my close friends could tell this job was affecting me in a negative way. They told me to seek help from the company or just quit. My response? No, I don’t want to look weak. And my response to “just quit” was that I wanted to stay for at least a year so that it wouldn’t look bad on my resume. Looking back, how pathetic I was. I was doing something I didn’t like for my resume and for future employers.
Lesson 2: Don’t take shit from nobody, no matter what job it is. Stand up for yourself if you feel stuff ain’t right. What you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Lesson 3: He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.
Lesson 4: Never say sorry. If you screw up, just make sure it won’t happen again.
Lesson 5: Don’t do something you don’t like just so it will look good on your resume or for someone else. There is an abundance of jobs out there.
Lesson 6: What you study does not define your future.
So, as months went on, I was making mistakes at work. One or two mistakes are fine, but when you make a few, especially the same mistake twice, time and costs start to add up. I wasn’t trying to do it on purpose, but my heart just wasn’t in it. It could also be the buildup of stress clouding my judgment.
One day, I just broke down. I cried.
This was when I knew this job was getting to me. This was the first time I cried since I was 12 years old. I cried in front of the head contractor (the people that hired us to do the job). This guy, a very nice guy outside the job, but when he’s doing his job, he is a total bitch. He’s been hammering me for months, blaming me for every little mishap. I remember I just told myself, “I’m done”, but I somehow said this out loud.
After the project was done, I returned to the office the next week. I was planning to hand in my resignation letter to the boss at the end of the day, but before I could hand it in, the boss pulled me aside.
I was fired.
I kind of knew this was coming sooner or later. The boss and I were just not getting along at all. Everything happened so quick. I just left my work phone and laptop there, walked out, and sat in my car. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to my site crew. I was not sad or anything. I felt as if nothing major just happened.
I let ego get to me. I told people I quit my job rather than being fired. I thought it would be shameful and embarrassing to say I got fired, but now that I think about it, no one gives a shit.
Getting fired was one of the best things that happened in my life.
Lesson 7: Work with people you like. We are going to spend a majority of our day and lives at work. You might as well spend that time with people you like. Spending and hanging around with assholes will only make you miserable.
If you have to work with people you don’t get along with, don’t let your negative attitude affect the people you hang out with outside of work. I spent a lot of my time complaining to my friends, spreading my negative vibes. This is one thing I truly regret.
Lesson 8: Don’t let ego get a hold of you. Being fired is not something to be ashamed of.
Two Months of Nothingness
After getting fired, I knew I did not want to go back to engineering but had no idea what direction in life I should head towards.
This period of not knowing where I wanted to go lasted about 2 months. I knew I had to find another job, but it’s hard to find a job that I did not know what to look for. I was thinking of getting a job at a cafe, or maybe at the local bank. Imagine that, someone with a civil engineering degree and working a minimum wage job.
It’s every parent’s dream to have their son or daughter become either a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Okay, maybe not every parent, but it is for the Asian parents (a high professional profession represents success). Boy was my mum unhappy when she found out I didn’t want to do engineering anymore. She was so happy and proud when I was working and was always bragging to her friends, relatives, and even strangers. Sorry mum!
Aside from not knowing what to do, I was HAPPY. What’s crazy is my friends could tell I was happy even before I told them I stopped working. They could see a difference in me compared to when I was working. I think mainly because I was smiling and laughing a lot.
So the following is a summary of what I did during this 2 month period of being lost in life:
- Got a sales job for 3 weeks – Sales is hard. Respect to all the sales people.
- Got drunk a lot.
- Went to japan for 2 weeks – Basically running away from life.
- Became homeless for a month. I was living in my car and couch surfing at people’s houses.
- Moved back home as I ran out of money. I had about $12 left.
Lesson 9: It’s okay to be lost, just enjoy the moment.
A New Direction
After not knowing what to do for two months, I FINALLY knew where I wanted to head towards. I want to do Digital marketing. It was always right in front of me, but I was just too blind to see. Better late than never right? When I started my blog, I was always thinking, how do I get more people to visit my blog? I would read article upon article on techniques and strategies especially in my spare time when I wasn’t working my engineering job. I just never considered it as a job.
So how did I come to this realisation? Well, I asked myself two questions.
- What did I want from life? – Freedom.
- What does it mean to be free? – Time, location, money.
So, I need a job that will allow me location independence and I can work on it whenever and wherever I want… The search begins!
One random night I was scrolling through Youtube and these two videos popped up.
Engineered Truth – Salary in Digital Marketing (no degree necessary)
Digital Marketing fits all my criteria – location independence, time flexibility and ability to scale the skill up.
I FOUND IT.
Now that I know what to do now, I just had to upskill and gain some experience. I did not see the point of returning back to University as it just seems like a waste of time and money. I bought a bunch of online courses and studied my butt off.
Check out an interview I did for one of the courses I took where it got me to where I am today. I feel like I could’ve done a better job in the interview, I mean it’s in front of 160k subscribers…
Aside from learning a lot of content, I was still not getting hired, even after offering my services for free. The paradox of getting an entry-level job. How do you apply for an entry-level job that requires experience when you don’t have experience…
Things did not look too great in this period of my life. Pressure from the parents to get another engineering job, my friends progressing their careers every day while I stagnate. Hell, I didn’t even know if what I was doing was having any effect in getting a job in digital marketing. I was just making things up as I went along, but all I know was I wanted to get my foot in the industry. Things got pretty depressing. I even had my doctor diagnosed me as being depressed and wanted to prescribe me with some anti-depressant pills. HAHA WHAT!
Long story short, I got hired! And not just any job – my DREAM JOB.
Lesson 10: Everything happens for a reason. Don’t lose hope. Things get worse before it gets better.
Lesson 11: Don’t compare your progress with others.
Moving to Thailand
I moved to Thailand! Wow, this place is amazing. I won’t ramble on too much here as you will find most of the details in this post here
All I can say is, this place is paradise. I am surrounded by so many people that are where I want to be.
Lesson 12: Surround yourself with people that have are already at the success you want to be.
Digital Marketing Job
Won’t go too in-depth in this but all I can say is I love it. I remember in my old job, I would dread going to work every. I just wanted to stay in bed. However, with digital marketing, I love it. I love getting up for it every day. I even go to the office at night time because it doesn’t even feel like a job to me. That’s how much I love every aspect of it. When your job is something you do in your spare time, that’s when you know you have a job you love.
Lesson 13: Chase for something you are passionate about. Don’t stay in a job that you have very little passion for just because it pays well. Better taking the risk today going for it and suffering the hardship now than wishing you started it 5 years ago.
I’m truly glad I didn’t listen to other people and my mum to just find another engineering job.
Muay Thai Fight
One day, I was listening to an audiobook – HAPPINESS HYPOTHESIS. There was this one quote that caught my attention.
“People need adversity, set backs and trauma to reach the highest level of fulfillment, strength and personal development”
I was always passionate about martial arts but never considered to fight. I thought to myself, I’m in Thailand, the heart and soul of Muay Thai, why not? I won’t get into too much detail as I will most likely make a blog post about it.
Long story short, it is one of the most difficult things I have done in my life. Waking up early in the mornings to run, getting battered and bruised every day, only to repeat it all over again the next day. It’s more of a mental game than a physical game. However, I would not trade the experience for anything else. One of the best things I did in my life.
So, what’s the next step for me in 2017?
Well, for one thing, I am moving to Vietnam. This is why I love my job, I’m able to travel and see what the world has to offer while doing something I love. I may stay there for 6 months, or maybe 1 year. Who knows. But I know there are a few goals I want to hit and accomplish for 2017:
- Create an online internet business generating $2000/month
- Finish a book every two weeks
- Write 500 words per day
- Meditate 15 minutes per day
- Spend less time on Facebook
- Talk to one stranger a day – I need to get more social
- Visit another Asian country – maybe to live too
- Keep my blog up to date. At least one blog post per month.
- Vlogging – I always wanted to try this so this is a good time to document my adventures while in Asia
- Take more photos – I been so slack with capturing epic moments.
- Stop worrying – I worry so damn freaking much