Sunday, December 13, 2015

Year 2015 is a Challenging year

The year 2015 is closing soon. This had been a rather 'challenging' year for me because I issued a lot of personal challenges to experience growth in as many areas as possible. I think for me, it's important to be a better person this year than the last, and I try hard to do that as well.

Here are 4 major challenges that I threw on myself:

1. Career challenge
2. Body challenge
3. Mind challenge
4. Spirit challenge

Career challenge

My career is linked to my savings challenge, which had been on going for years, way back in 2009. I chronicled the journey in a post here. This year had been rather exceptional in the sense that it's an outlier. I had never worked so hard in my life before and thus accumulated quite a fair bit of savings. The month had not ended yet so I still don't know my expenses, but I think my savings will be about 60k. I don't expect next year to do as well, so I'm aiming for just 50k. In terms of work load, the extra 10k savings from 50k to 60k can actually be more tiring. Diminishing returns, so to speak. Rationally, it's not worth it, but sometimes, we work not just for the money. I have problem saying no to students when I know I can help. Still working on that, haha

I'll give myself 5 out of 5 for this, for working beyond my normal work hours. I didn't know that I had it in me to work the crazy hours this year. I pushed my limit and emerged stronger.

Body challenge

Somewhere in the January this year, I decided that I wanted to do pull ups. I just went to a pull up bar station to do it. Then I bought a pull up bar at home and continued doing. Slowly, I progressed from doing pull ups to home weights, and then to push ups. So now, my weekly routine is 5 days of pushups from Mon to Fri, then Sat is my pull up day and Sun is my rest day. This newest routine had been on going for about 4 months, but for this year, I think I'm practically doing some form of exercise every day. This is so far the most active year that I ever had.

I want to progress into jogging, which I think will benefit me more than the arms training. People had been commenting that I've been putting on weight, which is generally a good thing for me.

The other aspect of taking care of my body includes my diet. Since my wife is on a low carb diet, I'm also doing it for solidarity. I'm taking about half a bowl of rice per day, compared to 2 to 2.5 bowls of rice in the past. Lunch and breakfast, I'm trying out just eating fruits.

For the sheer amount of positive habits I adopted this year, I give myself 5 out of 5.

Mind challenge

I think if the body needs good food to sustain itself, the mind also needs good books to nourish your thoughts. My perennial challenge since 2007 is to read 52 books a year. Some years I didn't do it, some years I tried to reduce the amount, but after a while, the correct dosage is still the slightly uncomfortable 52 books a year. It challenges me to always make some time each day to read a proper book, and not articles or essays online. I think it's important. You feed your mind with proper books, then good and creative thoughts will come naturally.

I'm down to my 52nd book (currently reading it) so I considered this challenge passed successfully. The last month I've been catching up on my readings because I've been slacking off, so I had to do 2 books per week to make up. 2 books a week means I've to finish about 33% of a book per day. That's about 2 to 3 hours a day. Once you set this up, you just enjoy the book. It's never a chore!

Since I hit the challenge with some more weeks to spare, it's a 5 out of 5 for me. The bonus is that this year I hit so many good books, it's fantastic. Look out for my book reflections and recommendations in the coming week.

Spirit challenge

Around March when our founding father passed away, I read several articles on newspaper and the internet about his life. One of the things he did to cope with the stress of life is to meditate. I always wanted to try it so I read more about it and started to do it seriously. From Mar to Nov I've been doing it on and off, and I don't like my lack of consistency. Hence, I wanted to try applying my discipline and system and started to challenge myself to see if I can meditate every day, continuously, for 100 days after reading this article. It had since been 34 days

Immediate effect is that I sleep easier, more aware of rising emotions (meaning I can catch myself feeling angry faster), calmer and generally happier. Recently added a time factor of 15 to 20 mins per sitting to push myself deeper.

Meditation is interesting. I can discipline myself to do better on almost every field but I can't do it for meditation. It requires another approach - that of letting go. I think a prolonged period of practising will provide a good balance to my more orderly side.

On a side note, my 'fruit-bat' diet also helps in keeping myself focused. Less sleepy, more energetic also. I'm reducing my food intake not because of cost or even health, but more for spiritual growth, though it does bring with it many health benefits too. I heard monks in monastery eat 2 meals a day only (breakfast and lunch). Well, if they can do it, I can do it also, and so I thought.

How do I rate myself? 5 out of 5 for trying out new ways to be cleaner spiritually. Also extremely pleased with my meditation practise and secretly happy that my wife is following me to do it every now and then.


Wah, so good ah? All 5 out of 5? I happened to know some of the annual review that the other financial bloggers are asked to do at work. Some are chastised for giving themselves too high rating and asked to redo again. I guess this kind of review affects performance bonus, hence it can't be too low nor too high. It's silly being asked to grade yourself and you can't grade it honestly, lol! Well, I'm honest and I think I did a freaking good job this year, so I deserved a good praise by myself!

Well done! Attack of Takeshi castle - SUCCESS!


Createwealth8888 said...

Well done. Bro!

Budget Babe said...

Gosh where do you find the time for so many things! Your balance is truly zen. 60k of savings exceeds my annual income by far already!

Kevin said...

The moment when I saw Takeshi Castle and the fact hitting me that I know what it is - I'm not as young as I used to be. A tiny speck of realization and awareness. I give myself 5 of 5 for my highlight of the day. Lol. Congrats on your achievements in 2015!

Kyith said...

thank you for the pull up bar. its been very very very big highlight of my year.

Sillyinvestor said...

Hi LP,

Throw yourself a social challenge in 2016. Up to I to define social.

I lead a decayed life when I work. So I told myself to at least do 2 things for myself this holiday since I am not so stressed up.

1) social - spend my quality time with my parents instead of just dinner and lunch. Catch up with colleagues and friends, and I think all are happening or planned for

2) physical - cut down on sugar and jog everyday. I jogged consecutive for 4 days. Until I give me legs a break this weekend. The distance covered increased. From 5 min to 10 min to 15 min. And from sending my car to workshop and jog and walk back! It took 30 mins!! Almost died

3) work - I am still working short hours of 1-3 a day to clear my work, and prepare my lessons for next yeAr since I know unlike yesteryears, time to plan lessons is a luxury

Spiritually, hey I thinking of starting meditation too! But I losen my mind and lead an decayed spirtual life thus far LOL

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Thanks! Living life to the max!

la papillion said...

Hi BB,

Haha, you know my savings is not fixed one lah...i'm a salesman with volatile earnings :)

la papillion said...

Hi Kevin,

Haha, you not young then I ancient already lol! But if you know Takashi castle, then we're about the same era ;) So funny, one of my fav reality tv shows back in those days. I think out of so many, only 1 will succeed, and it's out of pure luck!

Practicing mindfulness, I see ;)

la papillion said...

Hi Kyith,

Good stuff must intro ;) Wow, you must be what, hitting 50 pull ups now? Haha

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

Hmm, interesting that you've mentioned 'social'...I never really thought of that before. I wonder why not. Maybe I'm more of an introvert so I'm always thinking of inside rather than outside. I'm seriously consider your suggestion!

Looks like you're training up for a fulfilling life as well! I think we all need to put some time into our long term important but not urgent goals. It'll be good for our long term happiness and fulfillment ;) Oh, pls try meditation. I think it really works wonders for me, and I think you'll benefit greatly from it as well.

Frugal Daddy said...



la papillion said...

Hi FD,

Thanks for the encouragement :)

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


When reading your meditation part, was going to say there's no "pushing" in meditation.

Then you wrote about "letting go".

OK, you knew you can't apply the goal setting trick with meditation ;)

la papillion said...


Hahaha, I knew the irony of putting discipline into meditation - it's just like trying to discipline yourself to fall into sleep. We can be disciplined around the sleep process, like setting a fixed time to get into bed, do some bed some reading before sleeping and switching off all mobile devices 2 hrs before going to bed. But when our heads are on the pillow, you can't say you need to sleep by 10pm sharp. You just have to let go ;)

Rolf Suey said...

Hi LP,

So u have been pushing and pulling! haha...

Of course is 5 out of 5 for yourself. Nothing wrong to pamper yourself mentally if not materially!

Keep up the good work!

la papillion said...

Hi Rolf,

Thanks for your encouragement! This year is really quite fulfilling for me :)

SG Physiotherapist said...

Wow your discipline to read one book a week is inspiring. Can't wait for your book recommendations! (=

la papillion said...


Haha, coming soon coming soon!