to experience special moments, you have to participate

This morning I turned up at my yoga class to see all of my yoga instructors whose classes I had taken before also showed up. That never happened before.

Turns out, this is a group of yoga instructors who used to take the same class or training somewhere, and the became really good friends. They took turns to give yoga classes at the university that I am attending but left one after one due to various reasons. They never made any references to each other, which explains my surprise to see them gather up and look so happy!

Those who left surprisingly still remember me. First, Sofia said Hi to me in the toilet. Then, Nathan gave me a big hug. And, Helen nearly screamed and gave me a hug. Suddenly, all my favourite yoga people happen at the same time, in the same place.

We all went to the class together. Taking a yoga class with professional yogis was kind of bizarre. At the same time, it felt so quite special. Perhaps, special as in one second, I become this little student, the Jenny that all the instructors know.

As usual, my mind didn’t stay still during shavasana and it played out an alternative scenario.

What if I never talked to anyone? What if I never cracked a conversation and just did my thing, came to the class and left, just like that? I might have saved so much time chit chatting and socialising (technically). In fact, I would have saved time and emotional energy this morning. I would be saving time not having to write about this thing right now!

However, I would not know that Sophia is German, Helen used to do marketing and is now doing yoga full time. I would not know that Helen’s son is Michael and she’s getting Michael and her husband to do yoga together. I would not know that Nathan is a fan of All Blacks, or he used to live and work in Australia!

And I would not have this warm and fuzzy feeling from being welcome this morning. It was a short moment, but indeed a very happy and special one.

I attribute this to the fact that people had participated in making social connections. At any point of time, any one of us could have decided they didn’t have to know who the other people are. But we all made an effort to talk, discover, remember, and catch up. All of that could have led to nothing, or it could spark a special reunion.

And I reckon, sometimes, little efforts can give you an experience that is so unique and unexpected that you would not otherwise have it if you don’t play a part.

Picture: It is another special moment when I was waiting at a bus stop and in front of me are two buildings. One corporate-looking filled with office lights that represent a fast pace, modern, energetic, competitive, stressful working environment. And the other one, a museum with no light, heritage, ageing, sleeping peacefully. It gives me an image of a young guy watching over his sleeping grandpa. To me, it’s iconically a generational representation of a buzzing* city.

(* compared to other cities in the country)

Advertisements

Handling more work

To start, note which of the four p’s holds the most opportunity for development. Find that section and pick one strategy (or more) to implement. Be willing to experiment. Make adjustments until you determine the strategies that really help you claim your time. And don’t give up — you owe it to yourself to have the time and energy for the activities and people that matter most.

PLANNING

Planning is about using structure and rituals to stay organized. Consider how you relate to structure and ritual in general. Do you enjoy processes? If so, you’ll be excited to try new ideas. Or do you cringe at the thought of too much routinization? If that’s the case, then find the balance of just enough structure without feeling bogged down in it. Below are organizing strategies and rituals that can yield fast, tangible results.

• Schedule power hours. Align your energy with things that require focus. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Block out two to three 90-minute blocks (“power hours”) on your calendar each week during your most productive times. You may end up scheduling over these blocks, but you have a better shot at keeping them if you’ve consciously put them on your calendar. If you work on weekends to catch up, use the same idea of power hours to set up guardrails between the personal and the professional. Go to a private room or close your door during power hours.

• Use look-ahead rituals. As your role gets bigger or your life gets more complex, it gets harder to work and live without more intentional planning. Looking-ahead rituals can build space into your schedule. On an annual basis, populate your calendar with future vacation blocks, key events, doctor’s appointments, etc. Get in the habit of scanning for upcoming travel, key deliverables, or especially intense periods every month or every week. For a daily scan, look ahead and pick one meeting for which a little prep work will go a long way.

• Be explicit about white space. When a free hour emerges, all too often we fritter it away or we’re paralyzed by all the possibilities of what we could do — and then we kick ourselves later for not using the time well. So decide in advance how you want to use free time. Create two lists of free-time activities: a “Productive White Space” list and a “Restorative White Space” list. When choosing an activity from the list, ask yourself: How much time do I have? What is realistic to accomplish? What would be most satisfying?

PEOPLE

People is about how you relate to others. Are the people in your life a source of positive energy, motivation, and support? Or do they drain your time and energy? Below are some tools for increasing the support you receive from others while also setting clear boundaries and reducing the amount of energy you spend on interpersonal issues.

• Create a delegation table. Explicitly map out who owns what on your team, since job titles don’t always make it obvious. Have a one-page snapshot you can look at so you’re less tempted to jump in and do things yourself. Let go of the need to control, and work to shift accountability to others. Your delegation table can include activities and requests both at work and at home.

• Know your confidants. The old adage “it’s lonely at the top” is true. Who acts as a sounding board when you need to think out loud? Who is the best cheerleader when you need a pep talk? Build a network of support, and your daily life will be a lot easier. Read more about finding the right people to help you achieve your goals here.

• Say no, but enforce boundaries with grace. As you grow in your career, things you once agreed to do (or even enjoyed doing) may become interruptions or drags on your time. Don’t put up a wall when saying no. Be gracious and acknowledge the person asking. Say something like, “I appreciate you reaching out,” “It’s so good to see you,” or “I hear your sense of urgency.” Be clear about your boundaries while showing that you want to find the best solution to the problem: “It would be better for Steve to resolve this, as he’s closer to the issue” or “You’ll get a speedier outcome by going to Kate on my team.”

PRIORITIES

Priorities is about intentionally deciding how to spend your time. Consider how you feel about prioritization in general: Are you ruthless about what matters most? Or do you love keeping your options open? The tough thing about time is that it is finite. Accept that you have to make choices.

• Take a trend-line view. The phrase “work-life balance” inherently sets us up to fail because no day can be perfectly balanced. So take a trend-line view. Reflect on the past six months or the past year. Rather than thinking of things as being in competition with each other, look at all the parts of yourself that you’ve gotten to express. Do you feel satisfied with the way you’ve allocated time to different areas of your life? Perhaps you’re doing pretty well but need to work on accepting the peaks and valleys. Or maybe something is wildly off and it’s time to name the issue and do something about it. A quick way to get an overview of time allocation is to color-code your calendar. Assign a different color to the 3–5 domains you want to track. Conduct periodic reviews to see if the colors are distributed the way you think they should be to achieve satisfaction and performance.

• Use a snapshot or scorecard. Write down what matters most to you. Laminate your list, and then carry it in your bag or post it next to your computer as a reminder of your priorities. Engaging in a lot of activity does not always mean doing work that is meaningful and adding value Speaker and author Pat Lencioni talks about having a “rallying cry”: a thematic goal that answers the question, “What is most important right now?” Within the context of an organization’s goals, it’s usually the one at the top of the list. Check out The Advantage for work and The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family for home.

• Name the trade-off you’ve chosen. Once you’ve made a decision to say yes to something, name the trade-off that inevitably comes with that choice. Owning when you say yes and no will make you feel less like a victim and give you a greater sense of personal power and choice.

BEING PRESENT

Being Present means paying attention to the people in front of us, focusing on the tasks at hand, and managing our emotions in the moment. It requires us to notice and tolerate feelings of discomfort so that we don’t engage in reactive patterns of distraction, perfectionism, procrastination, or rumination. Mindfulness is a popular strategy that I support. Other tips for increasing your ability to be present include the following.

• Accept and then act. Having trouble doing the less enjoyable things on your to-do list? Write down one thing you are resisting or procrastinating on. Now, accept that you need to do it. Say to yourself: “I know I don’t like to do this, but I am wasting energy resisting it. I accept the discomfort and the responsibility.” As with exercising — a challenge for many of us — the first 15 minutes are the hardest and require that we tolerate discomfort before getting into a flow. Acceptance does not mean being complacent. It’s exactly the opposite: Accepting the difficulty diffuses our angst and frees up our energy to do something about it.

• Give yourself permission. Have you finally gotten to the gym or done something nice for yourself, only to find that you couldn’t enjoy it because of the guilt you felt from being away from the office or your family? It’s important to recognize, name, and tolerate the discomfort of guilt. Notice it and remind yourself that your own self-care is important. As you give yourself permission more often, you may need to renegotiate with others. Let them know when you are or are not available or ask explicitly for their support.

• Set a statute of limitations on people frustrations. Ruminating, fuming, or burning energy on tension with others? Set an explicit time limit for being frustrated. When the time is up, stop and shift to a more constructive action. Having negative conversations with yourself in your head, gossiping with others, or venting only drains precious energy. Go have a direct conversation, make a request, or make the conscious choice that it’s not a battle worth fighting right now.

Src

coffee affair

I’ve been drinking coffee more than usual lately. Actually, my mind has been always occupied with stuff lately. If it’s not about work, it’s study, or IY, or just many other things. People problems – it all comes down to that.

I figure I have been feeling upset today. A small thing happened in the day; however, it was resolved in the end. Now that the universe has gone asleep and I’m dealing with the delayed processing of bottomed-up emotions, thoughts start to kick in. Was I unreasonable? Was I not cooperative? Was I misunderstood? Was I not supported? Was I inheriting stress from others? Was I being shitty? Was I not understanding? Was I selfish? Was I not managing things properly? Was I too OCD? Was I not managing my own expectations? Was I asking for too much? Was I not able to put it to rest? Was I too much about myself?

Why am I even thinking about this? I accept that dealing with my own self is part of the process. Moving on – always easier said than done.

12825832_820715608072531_947288246_n

life on the fast lane

Stumbled upon this when browsing through 3,000+ photos on my Instagram. My life hasn’t been too much far from still being very much deadline-driven at work. On top of that, I also have study deadlines, a few assignments in every three month. Currently still trying to manage that. Whoosh.

so far

I haven’t blogged that much recently, compared to a few months back.

The main reason is perhaps due to the increasing workload after the fellow producer left his position. For two months – also the peak period, I was doing 2.5 people’s work – really busy at day, too tired at night. Good thing is a new producer has come and so the workload has become much more manageable.

Then, we were busy house-hunting.

Then, I took the plunge to sign up for a Master’s degree. The programme coordinator confirmed my place at 9PM on Friday and the first class started the following Monday.

Once in a while I read about someone else writing about their personal happening, I’m urged to do the same.

11008014_322573851199998_1683441559_n.jpg

An advice to young women #quote

Brzezinski: The best advice I’ve ever gotten is advice I give to young women … especially young women trying to get into television and this type of career, but any type of high-level, high-stress job: Don’t forget to get married and have kids if that’s something you want. A good guy is hard to find, and the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life. And for me, anything that I’m doing in my career is, for me personally, not worth it if I don’t have a family to share it with. And when I was fired and I went home, I was very proud of that decision because I would have been really upset if I had passed up on that opportunity.

But I think it actually is the best advice because I think nothing makes you better at what you do and who you are than having a partner in life and children to raise. That’s my opinion—some people choose not to have that. It is also the worst advice I’ve ever gotten. Because it’s hard, and they don’t like you back sometimes. Do you notice that, teenage girls … What? They don’t like you.

From A Candid Conversation With 5 Women Leaders of Advertising and Media The triumphs and trials of smashing the ceiling By Lisa Granatstein

I do think at the end of the day, family is the most important thing one can ever have in life.

coffee

After hanging out for lunch with my colleague today, we decided to grab some coffee. I ordered Mocha and my colleague took Flat White.

After the staff handed the coffee to us, I paid and was just waiting for the receipt, the staff hesitated:
– Hmmm, just so you know, I made it a little stronger yea?!

I was like:
– Alright, cool, no probs.

My colleague looked at me, concerned:
– Did we look so stressed?

LOL

Inline image 1Src

work-life balance

My boyfriend shared with me the article below, he knows this resonates with me.

I’ve always taken my youth as a privilege with a kiasu mindset that “whatever I can learn now, I have to“. Because of this, I think I have recklessly thrown myself into a lot of shit from which I can gain experience from, to the extent that sometimes I wonder if it’s me being sadistic?

Anyway, I have a set of beliefs which I have lived upon.

Because I’m so young,

– … I still can learn. Learning is much easier when one is young and has less expectation.
– … I can still make mistake, fall and bounce back.
– … I don’t need a lot of money.
– … I don’t have much of family commitments to worry about. Kids, house, car, kids schools, let’s think about all those later.
– … I can extend myself. Politics, long hours, crisis … I think I can handle it
– … I have time to train myself. I don’t intend to pick a shortcut and play any tricks to fast forward. I believe working and learning is the only way any youngster should be concerned about. For those who like shortcuts, this is for you.

All the beliefs above only come to a single-minded objective that I want to be damn good at what I’m doing.

This doesn’t mean that work-life balance shall be neglected though. I guess everyone has a different level of expectation on the life department. Some think life must be weekly hanging-outs with friends, clubbing and drinking until drop dead. Some take life as quiet time to simply enjoy a book. Some think that they work to have a life. Some others think that they live to work. So, I will say, it’s all in your mind, a balance and moderation of each and everything would be nice, but it’s your choice to prioritize.

***

Work-Life Balance My Foot

by Ben Leong

11 July 2013 at 02:38

It is a pity that I was not able to attend this year’s Commencement because I was away on business in China.

Just landed a couple of hours ago, but something that I read in the Straits Times on the plane really bothered me, and I mean *really* bothered me. The title of the article was “Undergrads’ top priority: Work-life balance”.

I am writing this note to you, my students who are graduating this year, as a final warning — in case some of your also subscribe to this grand notion that there’s more to life than work.

Actually, it is indeed true that there is more to life than work. However, if you should step out into the working world thinking seeking this thing called work-life balance then I fear you might be setting yourself up for a perilous future.

It is possible to achieve work-life balance. Many have done it.

But what many young people fail to understand is that it is privilege, and not an entitlement. In other words, you have to earn it. This is a mistake I hope you do not make.

And the way to earn it is to become so damn good at what you do that your boss has no choice but to tolerate your work-life balance — or for you to become your own boss.

I am not sure how to be more subtle, but none of you — yes, none of you, not even the First Class Honours — is currently so damn good that you are completely indispensible.

If you put in enough work and effort, then maybe, just maybe, in 10 years, you might find yourself in a position where you can actually have enough control over your work that you can have your “work-life balance”.

Another inconvenient truth of life is that age is rather unforgiving.

When I was young(er), I once worked 100 hours a week for almost two whole years — and frankly, it was quite okay. I complained yeah, but I could actually take it. Such are the benefits of youth.

Fast forward 10+ years, and I found myself teaching a summer course in Suzhou last week.

Unfortunately I did not manage to prepare well before I left for China and I ended up working probably 100 hours last week. Let’s just say that I don’t actually know how I survived last week.

You are now in the prime of your life. I have to admit that I’m rather envious. Really sucks to grow old I tell you.

While you may have graduated, keep in mind that this is only the beginning. There is probably good reason why they call it “Commencement” and not “Conclusion”.

The next 10 years of your life will be even more important than your last 4. The habits that you will be forming will dictate your future: http://elitedaily.com/life/motivation/the-20-things-you-need-to-accomplish-in-your-20s/. Not kidding.

If you want to lead a reasonably secure life (and earn your right to work-life balance), the next 10 years is when you must really work at becoming good at something. Anything.

We are fast entering an era where those who do not develop marketable skills and competencies before they reach their 40’s will risk losing their jobs to those who are younger and hungier.

Some will bemoan that it’s age discrimination and clamour for the Government to do more. The reality is that very little can be done.

Let me explain the harsh truth about this “middle-aged squeeze”.

We live in a very hierarchical and seniority-based economy. It is “normal” for people to be promoted as they stay longer in their jobs, not necessarily because they are more competent or necessarily good at their work.

As people get promoted through the ranks based on seniority, Peter’s Principle eventually sets in and some people will lose their jobs.

Because there are fewer jobs available at middle and senior management levels, some will be forced to apply for “lower level” jobs — and many will be unsuccessful.

There are many reactions: shock, disbelief, bewilderment, and perhaps anger. They cannot understand why with their so-called “vast” experience, they are not even considered for these jobs.

The truth, while inconvenient, is however rather sobering: the line managers who are hiring for these jobs will likely be younger than the displaced middle-aged workers. It is sadly natural that most managers do not like managing people who are older than them.

Hiring decisions are almost always delegated to the line managers (as they should be), so there’s really no solution to this problem. No legislation can address this phenomenon.

My point to you: forget dunno what work-life balance for the next 10 years. Work like there’s no tomorrow and strive to become damn good at what you do. Please take advantage of your youth to master something and to develop good work habits.

Life is full of choices. The choices you make today will eventually determine the person that you will become in the future. Choose wisely and lead a good life. 🙂

To conclude, I will leave you with something I must have said a hundred times: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you strong”. 😛