I’ve spent more than month in Europe now, and aside from coordinating a crazy flight schedule, planning out logistics, staying in a city on the average of 5-6 days at a time and trying to get the most out of Europe with that extra bit of savings (and a little gift from Dad, thanks Dad).
Here’s a hint: jumping on a plane to Europe and hitting 9 cities in 48 days isn’t really the right way to travel.
Reflections in Europe
The biggest question that was in my head on this trip is a life decision I was considering before leaving Singapore.
Through the years I took a huge interest in psychology, it stemmed from my interest in the pick up artist/ dating advice industry. I also left my accounting degree in Singapore to dip my toes in a psychology degree last summer.
There are a couple of things that are clear right now. Even though I consider myself great at multi tasking and awesome at being left a lone to my own devices and obsessively figuring out things on my own. There’s a limited attention span that I have and what I am able to care about.
I started an SEO business, helped a couple of clients and shut it down for eventually. Firstly, I needed to rank my own site in SEO to prove to clients that I was worth the money. Secondly, I didn’t like the methods that Singapore agencies used to rank their websites. There wasn’t any actual depth or meaning into it.
Later on, I launched the dating business, something that I am more drawn to. However, despite knowing the statistics of the market size in Singapore, I still went into it, because I felt more ‘passionate’about it.
I marketed my website, outranking all my competitors in Singapore within half year. However, I slowly realized that if my marketing strategy was limited to Singapore, it was going to go bust.
I was depressed, because I genuinely cared about the business and my clients. However, instead of quitting, I doubled down and exposed myself to international SEO.
I also conjured out dreamy plans.
If I could write dating advice and monetize my material as a writer, set up the business, manage projects online, run around the world and chase beautiful women. Why the hell not?
I’m doing what I’m passionate about, PLUS I’m making money. That’s the dream right? So in my head, I conjured up a master plan. I was going to learn psychology, write about it, publish it, monetize it and travel the world.
It made sense in my head, however, in reality, it’s FAR different.
When I’m 21-23, dropping out of University and starting a business sounds reasonable. Purchasing a ticket and flying half way around the world sounds incredible. I’ve done both of that. However, I’ve also found out that cognitively and emotionally, trying to do everything and experience everything at a go isn’t possible.
Traveling through Europe exposed me to different perspective. Firstly, I’m always worrying and scrimping on my finances, I end up spending a lot of mental energy on budgeting, instead of enjoying the city itself.
Secondly, I also gave a lot of thought about my academic career. I’m 26 this year now, I can’t be irresponsible with my life choices. Should I go back to accounting, finance or should I take a leap of faith into psychology? There are generally two school of thoughts on this:
- FOLLOW YOUR PASSION
- FOLLOW WHAT PAYS
They are many simplified advice that don’t work for the majority of people because we’re all wired in different ways, with different life circumstances.
I got into finance because back then, there was a necessity to. My family faced financial trouble when I was growing up and that ruined a lot of things for everyone. I’m just wired in that way. I didn’t care about academics back then, because what’s the point of solving DY/DX when your house is going to be taken away from you.
There’s a cliché quote about not needing money for happiness. You can’t directly purchase happiness, but you sure can solve a fuck ton of problems with money.
However, through the years, things improved and I got a lot more leeway.
I took the leeway I had, and jumped into psychology, entrepreneurship, world travel and pursued many interests:
- Signed up for vocal classes and played in a band
- Studied in UC Berkeley for Summer, a prestigious University in the States
- Spent a fuck load on learning search engine optimization and digital marketing
I consider myself lucky to be able to travel to multiple parts of the world (albeit on a shoe strong budget) and had these many experiences.
However, on the other hand, I always say travel is a choice. Instead of purchasing a 300 dollars luxury bag, that can be a one-way ticket to Europe.
Western and Eastern Values
In my life, I often face a struggle between praticality and passion.
In my opinion, Singaporeans sacrifice the art of living for econimics and many other Western cultures sacrifice economics for the art of living. Which is the right way to live? I don’t know. It’s all dependent on what you value.
In modern culture, ‘passion’, ‘purpose’ and ‘meaning’ are the ‘IN WORDS’.
I was like that for years. I even dug deep into the whole idea of meaning. I chased meaning through cultures, philosophy and books. Eventually stumbling on Ernest Becker’s ideas. He argued everyone is afraid of death, and because of that, they do what they do because through their work, they have a chance of being immortalized. Despite struggling and going mad, their work gave them a sense of meaning.
I bought it. I quit my accounting degree and jumped into a psychology degree.
However, I eventually found out that when you’re learning and attempting to accomplishing multiple aspects of your life at one go, you’ll only end up accomplishing none, and end up miserable.
Back to the Fundamentals
I enjoy reading, writing, psychology, travel, self development and all that good stuff. However, over the years, I realized do value safety and security as well.
Entrepreneurship is over glamorized, I can’t begin to tell you the number of hours I’ve spent sitting alone in apartments, Starbucks and coffee shops all over the world writing articles like this one.
Secondly, in the working world, I can argue all I want that I have the work ethic and creative ability to perform well in any job in spite of holding only a Diploma in Economics.
However, how many job requirements write:
- Minimum Bachelors in X
- 5+ years work experience
So, it’s safe to say I still value my minimum Bachelors in X.
There’s a quote saying that if you’re not a liberal when you’re young, you don’t have a heart, if you’re not a conservative when you’re old, you don’t have a brain. I still consider myself young. However, I’m trying to make a point that I can’t behave like I’m 21 anymore.
In order to have the sanity to write and publish articles like this and hope that one day I might be recognized as a writer. There needs to be food on the table.
Good Learning and Bad Learning Processes
I’ve also realized that across multiple disciplines and problems I’m facing in my own life, I fail because I don’t focus on the fundamentals.
In modern culture, you’re marketed on a daily basis that there’s just one magic thing you need to do to get good at something.
- In my academic career, I was more concerned about getting the right notes than the actual practicing of exam papers itself, as if just by accumulating the right notes is going to magically help me ace my results.
- I was more concerned about buying a pair of 300 dollar shoes than actually going out to talk to girls when starting out
- In SEO, I choose to rely on short term quick fix strategies instead of learning the crux of SEO: Great content and backlinks
Through these processes, I realized there are fundamental principles in every discipline in life, and once you filter those fundamental principles out, constant repetition and slight tweaking of variables is a much better way to learn.
For example, I got my butt handed to me in my first 2 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition because there were no variables that were controlled in training sessions. However, it was only when I had a different coach that I succeeded. He adviced me to train like an athlete, with controlled length of sparring time and body conditioning.
I only managed to hit green in my investing account after I stopped actively trading like a mad man, mostly options spreads with funny names and parked my money in low cost index funds and ignored it for 2-3 years.
I do what I do for a multitude of reasons, and one of them is: my own immortality project.
Ernest Becker, in his book Denial of Death, argued that every human being has an innate fear of death. That leads of to deny death through having a family, having our names written on spines of books, memorials, statues and leaving a legacy. This pursuit of our own immortality project drives innate happiness and meaning into out lives.
I loved the idea. I also took the idea seriously. How did I want to be remembered, I asked myself?
However, it can also drive one misery, when you sacrifice everything for this immortality project. You’re basically living in your future: in your own death. You’d rather be remembered and immortalized through your immortality than to actually live at all. Or you’d rather start a war in your name, murdering millions, just to be remembered: in the case of revolutions and wars.
I figured it’s pointless to drown myself in philosophy and psychology while I worry about the daily needs of life. You can’t put food on the table with pithy wisdom.
Ernest Becker also argued that the motivation to pursue an immortality project at all cost is the problem itself. The only solution is to look at one’s own eventual demise, and be okay with it. This ties into Buddhistic concepts that I’ve been reading recently: of being mindful and aware of the present, as opposed to be living in the future, hence, not having lived at all.
There’s an opportunity cost for EVERY life decision. I figured that if you value everything equally, then you value nothing. I don’t see myself spending my 26-30 years in an academic setting. whilst I perspire over the opportunity cost of safety and security. I’ll most probably be going back to finish my finance degree.
For my coaching practice, I’ll probably stop coaching for a bit. Firstly, it’s because there’s a small market in Singapore, and the effort, reward ratios isn’t worth it. Secondly, I’m interested in getting my audience from a global audience, not just Singaporeans. The skillset to publish and get a global audience is going to take some time. Thirdly, it also is because I want to become a student in success with women again. I’ve plateaued for years. I realized that. The one way to improve is to step out my guru shoes and continue learning.
I updated my date coaching page and wanted to be more honest about success with women and mastery in this area of my life. In experience, the majority of the businesses, advice and authorities out there do NOT have anywhere close to mastery in success with women.
I consider myself above average, however, I don’t consider myself having complete mastery in this area of my life. Okay, I’m humble and honest enough to admit to myself that. It’s nice to sit behind academic credentials, podcasts and blogs and publish articles about attracting women, and it’s another whole other thing to actually do it. Much less in another continent.
I know, I’ve tried, I’m in Europe, remember?
Okay, not to worry, if you’re a fan of my work, I’ll still write and publish. Through more informal articles like this, instead of an article of telling you what to do and how to do it from a guru perspective.