Humans are walking creatures habits, from the way you speak, think and perceive the world. To change itself is difficult and to change fast is impossible. Change also rarely happens overnight. That’s only to be human. Life also happens to you, you aren’t in control of the universe and can only do accordingly to the information available to you at any one point of time.
I consider myself a trialled and tested specimen of personality development, I went from skipping classes 3 times a week during my Junior college years to Ac-ing my grades at a summer program in Berkeley.
However, if I turned back the clocks, there are some things that I wished I started earlier on. I might seem a little harsh on myself, however, it serves as a constant reminder to continually seek improvements.
1) Do What I Really Wanted to Do and Stop Doing What I ‘Needed’ to Do
If you’re Singaporean and Asian, you probably are told that you need to fulfil X, Y and Z such as University, a good job and etc in life. If you don’t meet all of that, you’re a failure.
I took an interest in psychology in my military days because I was reading up on pick up artist techniques, evolutionary, social psychology in an effort to learn how to attract women. However, on the other hand, I had an accounting degree that I ‘needed to do’ because society or some role model told me it’s good to do. I found myself dreading accounting class, yet, I signed up for an accounting degree. The results weren’t pretty and I barely got through my first-year diploma program.
On the other hand, in my Summer program, I went to the States to sign up for psychology and music modules. The results were of the complete opposite.
I wished I took the leap of faith earlier on, did what I was interested in (and more likely to succeed in) as opposed to what I was ‘required’ to do. I also wished I spent more time on side hobbies such as taking music classes and exploring my own personal interests.
In my entrepreneurial career, I shouldn’t haven’t taken or started projects that I wasn’t ‘passionate about’. One of them is SEO consulting. I hated my clients. I hated all of them.
In my ‘job career’, I once took up a general insurance job that offered me good financial prospects. I was sitting beside the CEO of a major bank’s insurance division, dining in restaurants that bills ran up to $300 per meal. I was the ‘nephew’ of XYZ. Life seemed to be good. Yet, I didn’t give 2 fucks about insurance. Going to work was dreadful. Look, getting rich is difficult enough, you might as well pick something you enjoy. It definitely wasn’t insurance.
Money is a tool after a certain point.
2) Be More of a Leader
Through the years I started reading about psychology and philosophy. I quoted writers like Ernest Becker, Freud, Jung and Twain whilst everybody else looked at me as if I grew out another pair of nose They were spending their time trying to ace their University grades. If people didn’t take to my ideas, instead of persuading or being patient with them. I shunned them away. Through the years, I might have unfairly pushed people away from being opinionated.
Slowly, I built an identity of an ‘intellectual outcast’.
Instead of being an intellectual outcast, being somewhat rebellious in my demeanour, I wished I was more of a leader: softly persuading people to different modes of thinking, instead of taking an opinionated approach.
I guess you can’t have everything.
I also wished I understood that most people don’t mean harm when they react negatively to your ways of thinking. Sometimes being opinionated can rub against deep seat beliefs, they all can cause social tension. It’s unhelpful to take personal opinions too seriously. They are mostly said in the heat of the moment. Letting it go and ignoring is a lot more helpful than feeling resentful over it.
3) Be Less of a Perfectionist
I’ve been both an A student and an F student. In my experience, they are both the same sides of the coin. The A student is afraid of failure. Hence, he obsesses over failure and studies hard. The F student is afraid of failure. He avoids it and doesn’t study. They are both somewhat perfectionistic.
The enemy of growth is perfectionism. When I started, I spent a year redesigning my website instead of putting out content. I wasn’t open-minded to other marketing strategies such as paid strategies and stuck to organic methods.
In the arena of relationships, I spent months deciding on the best shoe to wear, what best hairstyle to get before finally approaching a single girl.
Fuck perfectionism, it slows you down.
4) Figure Out Who You are Going to Serve and Not Going to Serve in Business
In my freelancing days, I bumped my head against the wall for YEARS trying to get traditional SMEs to adopt digital marketing. They didn’t value digital marketing and wasn’t willing to pay a premium price. First, they didn’t value my work, secondly, they paid peanuts. I was discouraged.
Fast forward a year later. In my own dating and life coaching company, I generated paying clients solely through digital marketing efforts. Nothing else.
The company I’m currently working with turns-over a million dollars purely through digital marketing strategies. No flyers. No roadshows. No door to door sales. Working with them is COMPLETELY different from working with these traditional SMEs.
I’ve also never acquired a client that wanted to solely stick to online dating channels. Fact is, I suck at online dating. I also don’t advocate it. Yeah, I know, ironic for a ‘writer’. These days, I actively tell clients if you’re going to stick to online dating, my programs aren’t right for you.
I wished that I figured out who I was going to serve and who I wasn’t going to serve much earlier on.
5) Figure Out Who is Going To Have Similar Values as You, Fast
Three months ago, I was about to go on a date with someone who expected me to wait an hour for her. I told her no. I do not operate that way. She got offended and told me ‘no guy has ever treated me like that before, you’re the first’. Yeah, she’s hot. So what?
Fast forward a couple months later. I had lunch with a female friend and she said: ‘Marcus, it’s great that you’re the outspoken type, as oppose to…’
These days I get quite a bit of polarizing comments and feedback on how I conduct my life and my business. I once banned someone from signing up for my course. I make fun of financial ‘experts’ and I’m disagreeable on certain topics to an extent.
As I’ve said, you can’t have everything.
Ultimately, I am going to appeal to a certain demographic and I am going reject a certain demographic. The key is to get there in the fastest time possible. Is it difficult? Maybe. Is it impossible? Not really. They can be achieved by expressing your personal values in a painfully honest manner.
I wished I spent less time and effort on people that I’m not going to get along with anyway and spend more time and effort that buy into my ideas.