This is What I’d Do if I Had to Start My Investing Journey All Over Again

I started to expose myself to the world of investing as a university student 5 to 6 years ago.

Well, my ultimate masterplan back then was to crush the market like peanuts and make hell lot of money with it.

(p.s. Obviously, that intention did not end up well for me.)

It took me a long, long time before I eventually discover my sweet spot and investing style (more on this in future articles).

Looking back, I always wonder if I could have been much better with investing (and with money) if I were to put every piece of the puzzle in the right place – one by one, step by step.

Depending on how you look at it, this article can be more like hindsight, or more of a reflection.

But my goal for this article is simple:

If you are totally new and are thinking about getting started, I hope this post will be of great guidance & insight for you.

With that, this is what I would do if I were to start over my investing journey from zero:


Step 1: First, I'd learn about personal finance & build a strong habit around money

New investors be like:

Harr… but I just want to find the best stocks to buy wor…

Yes, boring, I know.

But this is exactly what I would do FIRST if I were to start over my journey, because honestly:

Who cares if you can spot the best stocks to invest in when you have no savings to invest?

Who cares if you have attended the best investing course when you still struggle to pay off your credit card debt every month?

Looking back, instead of splurging on food & entertainment in university, I would start tracking my finances and have a more consistent savings habit (regardless of how little it could be).

I’d also build a stronger foundation & understanding around money (ie. Financial independence, compounding effect, asset & liability) by reading more personal finance (not purely investing) related books.

With all these financial knowledge and habits in place, I am sure that I’d be in a better position to start learning how to invest at the age 21 years old.

Strong financial habits are CRUCIAL to sustainable investing.

Step 2: Instead of asking “What Stocks to Buy?”, ask “What Skills Do I Need?”

“Which company should I invest during this crisis ah?”

“Is now the right time to buy into the shares of XXX yaa?”

These are without a doubt the most asked questions by investors on investing forums, telegram chat & FB groups.

Looking back, I wasted my fair share of time indulging in discussions like these.

If I were to start again, I’d definitely spend NONE of my time consuming any content like this.

Instead, after building a sound financial habit, the next thing I’d do is to learn the skills needed for me to build a solid foundation in investing – be it from books or a mentor/coach.

Some crucial fundamental skills include, but not limited to:

  • How to extract important data and information from a financial report?
  • How to develop a set of investment rules on when to buy & sell?
  • How to construct a decision-making framework & thought process?
  • How to make independent investment decisions without succumbing to headlines and unnecessary news & content?

Can you see how these skills above, once mastered, will be able to answer your ‘What stocks to buy’ question?

Nowadays, most new investors yearn for shortcuts and/or the easy way to make money from the ‘exciting’ stock market – all without considering putting effort into building their foundational skills.

But hey, I get it. That was me once upon a time too.

Just telling you that, if you are new, you might really wanna consider building a solid foundation first before risking your hard-earned money.

The only short cut in sustainable and successful investing is effort and hardwork.

Focus on the skills that you need before even thinking about the returns - read books, get a mentor and get hands on.

Step 3: Setting my initial vision with investing

If I were to start my journey from zero again, I’d want to spend some time constructing a vision for my investing journey: a sort of picture-like vision of the outcome of investing in my life.

This is the stage where I would learn more about different financial stages in life (eg. financial independence, abundance) and set a vision to motivate me to keep honing my skills.

Now, you may disagree with me, but I would not set a fixed goal at this stage (eg. Financial independence by 30 years old).

Reason being, as a university student, there is simply no way for me to know what kind of circumstances I would be upon graduation. Hence, any form of fixed estimation is really inaccurate at best.

That said, as a start, having a conceptual understanding of what’s possible (eg. vision towards financial independence) is important and should not be overlooked.

However, it should also be noted that our lives will change as we move on to different stages in life – hence it is essential to be flexible with the vision and ultimately discovering our goal along the way.

Setting an initial vision of what's possible with investing is crucial in our investing journey.

Step 4: Hone my skills in a simulated environment

Learning the fundamental investment skills & knowledge is a thing, but it doesn’t mean that it is the end of the journey.

In fact, it is only the beginning of the journey.

So, what I would do is I will set up a simulated investing account via platforms like Bursa Marketplace so I can test what I’ve learned in a risk-free environment.

Now, this could be a very boring stage for many. I used to do it (and gave up) too back then as there is no fun at all buying stocks in a simulated environment.

But if I were to start again, I would spend at least 6 months to a year in a simulated environment so I am sure that I can follow my entry and exit rules consistently whenever needed.

No fun, I know. But I’d cut short a lot of my learning curve if I persisted with the practice 5 years ago.

Grow and practice in a simulated environment before using your hard-earned savings & money.

Step 5: Opening a Live Account (Finally!)

Now’s the time to finally worry about which brokerage account to open!

Or better, time to make some big money! *wink* *wink*

But is it so?

In the hindsight, what I would do as a beginner (regardless of my initial capital) is to set my intention right when opening a live account.

Instead of treating my initial few hundred bucks account as my immediate runway to become a millionaire, I would work on my ability to execute my plan/rules consistently without worrying about the returns as much.

By doing so in a small live account, it would build a very solid psychology foundation for me to handle my live account as it grows in the future.

Simply put, I would take my initial years of live investing journey to make mistakes and gain experience – not so much on making huge gains.

Honestly, what brokerage account to open is your least concerning issue when you first started.

Step 6: Continuous Reflection & Self-Discovery + Receive feedback

Remember that I talked about setting an initial vision in Step 3?

Now, with more experience in the market (and assuming I already graduated and started my career), I’d start to find a more solid goal and focus in investing.

This is because, by this stage, I would be more familiar with my financial commitment. Hence, it is easier to calculate and come out with a proper financial goal and action plan.

It is also time for me to start reflecting and discovering my own investing style to accommodate my other commitments in life.

At this stage, joining a community of like-minded investors (not a general Facebook/Telegram group) is hugely beneficial. It serves as a great & efficient way to leverage on great investors' insights and receive feedback to accelerate learning.

At the start, focus on the process of learning, not the outcome.

No Money Lah’s Verdict

As I write this article, I am fully aware of my own investing style – income investing (article coming soon).

That said, I honestly think that if I were to follow the above steps diligently when I first started investing, I’d be discovering my preferred style much sooner.

But the journey of investing doesn’t end at Step 6.

As both life and market are dynamic, it is a must for me to keep refining my skills and goals as I continue in my investing journey.

Anyone that says that they’ve known and learned everything is just another egomaniac with little time left in the market.

Ultimately, while I may not be able to time-travel to change my journey, there is one thing that I can do:

Focus on the right mindset, strive to keep improving, and most importantly, stay humble.


Rogue One: How to Know If You Are Improving?

Conceptually, many people know that making mistakes is part of the learning journey.

In practice, most people try to avoid it in any way possible:

You may be avoiding a leadership role because you do not want to be blamed when shit happens.

You may be looking for a high win-rate strategy in the market because you are sick of being wrong.

You may be staying away from a lifetime opportunity because you fear that it may be a wrong move.


Theoretically, we thought that improving means making fewer mistakes.

In reality, how would you know if you are actually improving?

First, you make bad mistakes.

Then, you make better mistakes.

It’s not the number of mistakes that determine the progress of our improvement. It’s the quality of mistakes that we make that decide the magnitude of our leap.


Rogue One is a new weekly 1-min article series where I share my random thoughts and ideas.


Confession: I Experience Social Media Anxiety Attacks At Least Once Everyday Since MCO Started

Hey everyone! First of all, so sorry that I have not been able to come out with new articles/content for the past month during MCO.

Ever since MCO started, social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram have become the only place where people can get connected with each other.

As a result, there has been an influx of content on social media for the past few months.

Whenever I log on to social media, I felt like I am served with a buffet of marketing, financial and investment-related FB Lives, ads, YouTube videos, and content.

While it was exciting at the start, it eventually became very overwhelming to me.

Simply put, just like how most of us would overeat and become too full in a real-life buffet, I realized that I have been suffocating from the ‘content buffet’ on social media as well.




A Blogger with Social Media Anxiety

Aside from being stuffed with content as a social media user, I also experienced major anxiety swings when it comes to content creation:


I am losing out! I should come out with more content every week! (FOMO)

I should start making Youtube Videos! (FOMO)

I need to go Live because everyone is doing so! (FOMO)

I am afraid that people would not like to read about this topic. (Self-doubt)

I am worried that people would judge me for posting about a certain topic. (Fear over criticism/judgements)

Without me realizing, social media has become my main source of stress and anxiety during MCO.

Be it a content consumer or a creator, I am overwhelmed with the urge to consume more and create more.

Soon, I started to experience social media anxiety attacks whenever I log on to social media. Any form of new content from a fellow creator friend can become a trigger of breathing suffocation: HOW are they able to come out with content so fast! The Watch Party notification that I cannot make it becomes a daily dose of self-judgement and mental abuse.

Despite already being a Work From Home person for 2 years, it is crazy how my routine and mental clarity can be demolished by a change in social media lifestyle.



Social media anxiety is real



Creation Paralysis

Throughout the whole MCO period, there were many times where I attempted to write something, which ended up as drafts that went into the recycle bin due to fear of judgement and self-doubt.

I do not lack ideas, but I have slowly lost confidence in my own capability to create and share.

Honestly, I think I have done a bad job adjusting to the new norm and the pace of the social media lifestyle.

 



Short-Term Escape

If the internet is the escape from the real world 10 years ago, now it seems like the real world is the escape from the internet.

For the past weeks, I tried to stay away from my phone whenever I felt overwhelmed by the virtual space of social media. Disconnecting from the internet helped me find peace and give me space to breathe.

That said, this only worked as a short-term escape as anxieties tend to strike again when I am back on social media.




Long-Term Solution: Re-evaluating My Relationship with Social Media & Creation

As I took a break from creation and minimize my time from social media, I got the opportunity to reflect upon my relationship with social media & creation:


(1) You do not need to consume everything on social media

Just like many, I experienced the urgency and Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) to participate in as many FB Live and consume as much content as possible at the start of MCO. As a result, I ended up overwhelming myself with those contents.

Moving forward, it is important for us to understand that it is impossible to learn and consume everything by ourselves in a short time.

By all means, go pick up new knowledge or skills, BUT stay focused and have realistic expectations.

Do not expect yourself to master investing AND digital marketing together by binge-watching all the FB Lives and content out there during MCO.

If any, skills take time & practices to develop and it is definitely not within a few weeks of MCO.

Most importantly, be selective on the content you consume and learn to allow yourself to miss out on certain FB Live or content that is not of priority to you.



You do not need to learn and consume everything.



(2) Focus on value, quality & consistency, not a sudden burst in quantity

In hindsight, I realized that I have likely drawn into the urge to compete when it comes to content creation during the past month.

In other words, I judged my ‘performance’ by comparing myself to the speed of content output by other creators – which really drove me nuts.

Moving forward, I want to focus my energy to produce consistent quality content that I either genuinely enjoy sharing, or find great value to learn and share with my friends and community of readers.

It’s not about competing, it’s about creating the most value to the people that matter: me and my community of friends and readers.



Focus on giving value.



(3) Be in peace & creative around my limit and boundaries

Ultimately, I am working on my own when it comes to content creation.

I love writing and sharing, but I can only produce and write so much content by myself.

This is a reality that I was not accepting the fact myself during MCO, which gave me a huge load of stress and anxiety.

As I take my time to reflect, I started to find peace with this fact. If I have all these boundaries, why not be creative around them?



Find peace and creativity in your limitation and boundaries.


(4) Specify Specific Time to Go On Social Media Daily

On a daily basis, set a consistent time for you to go on social media and participate in the virtual world.

I find this method extremely effective as it forces me to only engage what’s important to me in the virtual world, and filter out unimportant interaction and content on social media.

With that, I can spend more time in the work that truly matters to myself and my readers, while not overwhelming myself.



No Money Lah’s Verdict

Covid-19 has changed the way of living for many of us. If any, our relationship with social media in 2020 has definitely experienced a huge shift.

In one way or another, Covid-19 and an MCO lifestyle turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it forced me to re-evaluate my behavior with social media. As a creator, it also helped me recalibrate my purpose and mindset when it comes to writing and creation.

On the other hand, as social media takes up more of our attention & time in our life, I am very sure that health issues caused by social media are going to get more widespread and intense.

Like myself, I believe that more and more people are going to get overwhelmed with social media anxieties, which could lead to more problems if not handled properly.

Perhaps, another good question that we can think about is this:

Are you weak if you are experiencing anxiety issues due to social media?

No. You are not, and let no one tell you otherwise, including yourself.

What you need to do, is really to take your time, reflect, and re-evaluate your relationship with social media and online content.

 


Would we ever be ready in the pursuit of life?

It has almost been 2 years since I left my first job in a startup which paid me handsomely as a fresh-grad to explore my own path in trading and writing.

To be honest, it is one of the scariest decisions I’ve made in my life so far.

I knew nothing about trading at all when I first started.

I had no clue on how I could build a website at all, other than my neglectable experience with free website builders back in university times.

So, I did whatever I could – take a deep breath, leap, make tones of (noob) mistakes, and keep learning.




Fast Forward to Present Day

2019 has been a challenging year – and an amazing one as well.

This year, I had the opportunity to embark on many great adventures.

For one, after months of effort and painstaking mistakes, I finally made some significant breakthroughs in the skills & mindset in my trading journey (read: strategy with edge, disciplined routine & risk management, strong desire to succeed).

As someone with the goal to pursue a professional career in proprietary trading firms, this massively boosted my confidence to keep going.

Not only that, No Money Lah also opened me up to various great experiences.

First radio station interview? Done. First podcast interview? Done. First REIT investing knowledge-sharing workshop (and another 2 more after that)? Done.

Even better, I got to know and meet many like-minded readers and equally, if not even more enthusiastic folks of the personal finance & investing scene.

The best of all?

I learned a ton and enjoyed most moments in this adventure.


Gathering with other personal finance folks in 2019, courtesy of the StashAway team.




Outcast of the Norms

Whatever I am doing, I guess that made me an outcast of the societal norms with ever reliance on certainties.

I have a clear goal, but I can’t be 100% certain where exactly I will be by the end of 2020.

For sure, I can’t be 100% certain that I will have a fixed amount of income by the end of every month (Do you really think that No money lah is just my website’s name?).

When it comes to trading, it is even more obvious that I can’t be 100% certain of the outcome of my trade results every month.

In short, the only thing that is certain in this journey is risks and uncertainties.


REIT Investing Workshop – September 2019 Intake Group Photo




Lessons Learned in 2019

With that in mind, I have to take aggressive actions and mindsets to keep me going on this journey.

It is easy for one to slack off when you have no one to be accountable to. Hence, to progress in my journey, I have to:


  1. Follow a very disciplined routine to optimize my productivity (more contents about routine in 2020).
  2. Create a systematic workflow around my trading and content creation work.
  3. Be mindful of my personal expenses & financial decisions.
  4. Develop a very strong purpose and desire to succeed to keep myself motivated, and whenever needed, pull myself out of challenging times.

Most importantly, I have to embrace the fact that uncertainties are the only certainty in my journey, and make this to my advantage.


The Future Belong in Those Who Believe in the Beauty of Their Dreams.




What are your goals in life?

To be more specific, what is the ideal life that you visualize yourself in whenever you close your eyes?

For me, I want to give my parents a retirement life where they do not have to worry about money at all. I also want to have flexibility in time where I can explore the world of experiences.

Even more so, I want to be in peace and happy in my very own way of living.




Are we ever truly ready in this pursuit of ‘life’?

Why do I ask and share with you this, you might guess?

The reason is simple.

This is because I’ve seen and talked to people that want to wait for the ‘moment’ when they are ready to take the necessary actions to pursue their goals or ideal life.

But would we ever be ready for life?

If there is one key takeaway that I got in my nearly-2 years’ journey pursuing my goals, I am almost certain that most people are never truly ready for the adventure.

The fact is, you will always find hundreds, if not thousands of excuses on why you are not ready to start.

For me, it was the fear of not being enough. Not enough of a writer, not enough in knowledge, not enough in relevant experiences.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Truth is, you only need one of these reasons to make you feel overwhelmed to start. But since we are creatures with imagination, we flood ourselves with even more reasons for why we will not succeed.




You Don’t Have to Know Everything, and You Only Need One Reason to Start

Give this a thought:

Our parents never really asked if we are ready for school – we just adapt and learn along the way.

Our university never really asked if we are ready for that damn tough paper – we (most of us) just grit our teeth and went through it anyway.

Isn’t it obvious that for the most part of our lives, we have never really been fully prepared for anything at all?

Yet, we still make it through and conquered life like a pro – until now.

Now’s the time to decide if you really want to be ‘truly ready’ or ‘fully prepared’ to pursue that goal or ideal life in this new decade.

You will find strong mental resistance and excuses as it would be deeply uncomfortable.

But you only need one, and only one strong ‘WHY’ to go take the leap.

I wish you the very, very best – and I would love to hear your journey someday. 😊



2019 has been a great year, and it would not be possible without my supportive parents, 2 of my lifelong friends (Victor & Eddie), and of course – you.

Thank you for being such a great supporter and motivation to me – be it if you are a reader and/or attendee of my REIT Investing Workshop in 2019.

This journey is much more meaningful and fulfilling with all of you, and please accept my gratitude from the bottom of my heart.

Wishing you a great year, and the decade ahead!

Yi Xuan

 


Always Remember: Live Your Own Life, Walk Your Own Pace (No Money Lah’s 1st Anniversary)

Always remember: Live your own life, Walk your own pace. 

The past 1 year or so has been like a roller-coaster ride for me. As a start, No Money Lah’s growth as a passion project has been amazing. I have always like to write and share my learnings and thoughts with people, and No Money Lah allows me to do just that in my new stage of life – adulthood.

As an added bonus, No Money Lah has opened me up to various opportunities and the chance to meet many fantastic people behind the entrepreneurial and personal finance scenes.

Furthermore, my little goal to share what I know about investing also comes true. The tremendous support from the friends and readers to my Breakthrough Your Wealth – REIT Investing workshop have made all 3 workshops, so far, a fully-occupied (and fun) one.

My June 2019 Intake Group Photo :)
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That said, there are times where I just got overwhelmed with fear, doubt, and uncertainties.

The overwhelming fear that people would dislike what I write. The miserable self-doubt where I couldn’t even convey my feelings in words. The struggle against uncertainties towards, well, everything – from my career, my future, time and basically stuffs that could choke one out of breath.


Remember the Times Where You Kinda Messed Up Everything?

Can you relate?

Looking at your peers rising to the ranks in their jobs while you kept on hitting bricks. Or maybe, when you start to receive (more) wedding invitations while you are still getting your own life sorted out. How about those friends who seem like they got everything under control when you are literally losing them?

If you do not feel any of these, good for you. But I feel right about all these emotions playing in my head every now and then.

Have you ever feel like a loser in life? I do.
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At times, they come and go just in a blink. But there are times when it hits, it breaks down even the strongest mental barrier within myself. It is suffocating. Suffocating, knowing that all these efforts could be going nowhere.

But despite all circumstances, these are the times where I felt more alive than ever. Alive, knowing that I hit bricks, yet I am progressing whenever I overcome them. Alive, knowing that I feel these emotions, yet I am not running away from them. Alive, knowing that I am vulnerable, yet I do everything to pursue my beliefs regardless.

Being alive means acknowledging both the good and shitty part of the journey - and still living a kick-ass life.

Here's the thing:

We'll never be perfect in the face of norms. Any attempt to do otherwise is never a smooth journey - filled with uncertainties, fear, and self-doubt.

You are 'lagging behind' if you take a one-year gap year in between college.

You are 'too slow' if you haven't become a senior manager by 25.

You are 'too late' if you haven't get married by 30.

You are 'too old' if you decided to start your own business by 45.

Everyone is different. But norms expect us to walk the same pace in life.


It's Never About People Outrunning You (or Otherwise), It's About Discovering Your Own Pace in Life

I used to run half-marathons (21km) quite frequently (until I have some knee issues). And unless you are the top Kenyan runners, chances are you will be outpaced and outrun by people along the journey.

At first, it sucks whenever someone outpaced you. The feeling is especially real when the person is someone you know, and I experienced that first-hand when my best friends just outpaced me during the journey.

Then, I’ve come to a realization that being emotional when someone outpaced you is not just physically tiring, but even more so, mentally exhausting at the same time.

Slowly, I started to run at my own pace, being totally okay with people getting ahead of me. When I do so, I enjoyed my journey a little bit more. I made some new friends along the way. I challenged myself to outpace not anyone else but myself. Most importantly, I appreciate the fact that for each step I take, I am still moving forward towards the finishing line.

Not all paths are smooth - you just got to believe that you will eventually get to where you want to be. 

The more you run a marathon, the more you'll realize that it is not a race between you and someone else. Rather, it is a race between you and yourself - just like life.

Your Life, Your Path, Your Pace

If that’s not clear enough: Yes, I Do.

Whenever I am not mindful, I will still get overwhelmed with emotions. I will still get anxious about uncertainties. And at times, I could even mess things up.

But it is at these times that, I get to learn to acknowledge my vulnerabilities, strengthen my self-belief and intuition, outgrow myself – all at my very own pace.

And I hope you do, too.


No Money Lah is now 1 Year Old!

If you haven't realized it already, No Money Lah turned 1 last month! 

If you are reading this, I would like to extend my full gratitude to each of you. Your tremendous support has been one of my main motivations to keep writing throughout this year. Regardless of how you got to know No Money Lah, I am hopeful that my articles will keep bringing new insights and values to you, just like how your support kept me going in this amazing year.

Here are my 3 Books Recommendation to Massively Transform Your Life:

Before leaving this article, I thought of sharing with you 3 books that have transformed my life in one way or another throughout this year. If you are looking to a massive breakthrough in life, I cannot recommend these books enough for you:

From left: 

(1) The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, (2) Atomic Habits by James Clear, (3) Grit by Angela Duckworth                  


 

 

 


Knowing WHEN to Pat Yourself on The Back is the Key to Personal Breakthrough

As a table tennis enthusiast, I have been coaching on and off since my time at university. Now, as a certified coach by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), my focus is mainly on coaching children during the weekends.

Having interacted with children for more than a year now, I have come to realize that acknowledgment, when done properly, could be one’s key to lasting breakthroughs.


Melvin is one of my youngest students during my weekend session. At 6 years old, Melvin has been with me since early this year.

As a relatively new coach, I have been facing one major challenge when it comes to interacting with kids:

Being pretty new with children, my initial assumption was that the more you acknowledge them, the faster they’ll improve. In turn, I have been using words like “Well done” and “Good job” too frequently during my coaching session.

As a result, I actually ‘Well-Done-d’ and ‘Good Job-ed’ Melvin way too much, even when he was only hitting 3 rallies in a row while he could already do more than 10.

In short, what followed was a series of stagnation in progress and improvement.

Praises & acknowledgment are like sweets - as much as we like them, too much of them are, well, not exactly helpful.

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Frustrated with my initial approach, I started to give fewer to none praises. I thought by being more critical, Melvin would eventually improve.

Well, as it turned out, Melvin did not achieve much progress. Even worse, he started to show less interest during the practice.

Luckily for me, I eventually found a crucial balance between when to acknowledge and provide critical feedback for Melvin.

So, knowing that Melvin could hit at least 10 rallies in a row, I set goals that are a little over Melvin’s comfort zone (eg. 11 rallies).

Then, I proceed to acknowledge him whenever he managed to achieve his goals. On the flip side, at times when he is unable to hit his goals, I will provide more constructive feedbacks rather than overpouring him with unconstructive praises.

When that happened, Melvin (along with the other kids) have been able to show steady breakthroughs and interest during the practice.

Finding the right mindset and balance between constructively critical and acknowledgment are the key to breakthroughs.

Alright, so what does that mean for us all?

You see, very much like the story of me coaching Melvin above, we tend to face similar ironies in our daily life:

As a human, we tend to be over-critical with ourselves when it comes to our goals. It could’ve been the failure to achieve your yearly goal of losing 5kg in weight, or missing an important career mark for the year.

Regardless, we tend to self-talk ourselves into thinking that we are ‘not good enough’ when we make some mistakes or fail in our attempt to achieve our goals – a.k.a. demotivating ourselves.

Being overly critical is killing our morale and motivation - don't you agree?

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On the other hand, on a daily basis, many of us are also prone to making it too easy for ourselves when it comes to the effort of pursuing our goals.

Remember the days when you tried to convince yourself that you have ‘done a good job’ for swimming 3 laps instead of the pre-planned 10? Or the times where you call it a day when you just made 1 presentation rehearsal instead of a decent 3?

In return, so many of us are denied our full potential – not by anyone else, but ourselves.  

In life, you become what you tolerate.

Now, let's face it: In life, we don't always get what we want, but we are most likely going to get what we tolerate. On the flip side, being overly critical to ourselves could also lead to demoralizing self-talks.  

Essentially, everyone's tolerance towards mediocrity and desire towards breakthrough is different. As such, we got to find a balance and the right timing on when to acknowledge our own effort – and pat ourselves on the back.

The problem is, it is easy for us to know when to acknowledge and be constructively critical to someone else. However, it is definitely not the case when it comes to ourselvesYET it is not impossible to do so:


Pat Yourself on the Back to Personal Breakthrough

  • Set realistic goals that are a little over your comfort zone

Firstly, whenever you set to start something – be very realistic with your current capability and dedication.

If you are new to running and you can only practice once a week, you cannot expect yourself to complete your first full-marathon below 4 hours, right?

That said, you could always test your capability by starting with a 5km run, followed by 10km and then 21km before really pursuing a full marathon.

Setting mini targets in line with your final goal is a great way to achieve breakthrough in stages without being overwhelmed.

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  • Strive to do your best – every single day

I consider this a mindset and attitude in living our lives. Imagine the satisfaction if you end your day knowing that you have given it everything you got – at least it feels much better than the opposite.

Regardless of the outcome of our effort throughout the day – we could have the best day ever, or we could screw up here and there, yet no one could deny us from giving our best.

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  • Keep a journal on your progress

Very important. Keep your goals in writing and your action plan towards achieving them.

On a daily basis, write down what you are on to do before starting your day, and check them out throughout the day – it is very satisfying!

Keeping a written journal will ensure your focus with your own progress – and appreciate your own effort along the way.

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  • Once you have done your best, give yourself a pat on the back!

Last but not least, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!

Repeat this daily, I am confident that you will achieve some form of breakthrough in terms of progress, skill or mindset real soon.


Hey Wait…

Here’s the thing:

You do not always have to be making huge progress every day. In fact, you should not expect yourself to do so.

At times, there are circumstances where things are simply against our favor regardless of our effort.

That said, doing our best is a mindset. Doing our best is our attitude towards life. Doing our best is a promise that we made to ourselves that, no matter how things turn out to be, we make it a point to not disappoint ourselves by giving everything we got.

Live up with that attitude, and you deserve a huge pat on your back – including the personal breakthrough that follows.


5 Money Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s

I have spent the last 2 decades in formal education. Now that I think about it, there are so many things that schools should have taught us, but they didn’t do so.

Of all, how to manage money is one of the most crucial life tools that is unfortunately left out in our education system. As such, it is not without explanation that many of us tend to make irrational money mistakes in our 20s.

Being a 20s myself, and having observed my peers of the same age group and talking to people of older age, here are 5 money mistakes that I think should be avoided in our 20s:

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(1) Never bother to invest your money (AND learn how to do it properly)

One thing that I find particularly ironic about our generation is that we do not mind the hassle and time wasted lining up for milk tea, yet we never bother to spend time to improve our future lifestyle.

We love instant gratification, yet many do not really care about planning ahead for the future.

As a result, so many are either (i) finding excuses to NOT learn how to invest properly and/or (ii) becoming a victim of ‘Get-Rich-Quick’ money games and illegal MLMs.

In this case, investing is the total opposite of instant gratification. It is where an individual delays his or her current spending impulse and put that hard-earned money into an investment that will grow exponentially in the future – if done properly.

In other words, time is of the essence in determining your investment returns – the earlier you do it properly, the better. As shown in the example below, investing RM1,000 compounded at 6% yearly at 20 years old will make up to 80% MORE in total return when you reach 50 years old compared to investing the same amount at 30 years old.

In short, not learning how to invest your money properly at an earlier age is a costly money mistake that many tend to make in their 20s.

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The Science of Delayed Gratification: The earlier you start investing, the bigger the return. (Note: 6% return is on the basis of investment vehicles such as REITs and EPF)

(2) Being ignorant about financial protection

Let’s be fair: regardless of your opinion towards the insurance industry, all of us need to be protected financially from unexpected life accidents and events.

Another personal observation is that my peers that are in their 20s have extremely little understanding and awareness of financial protection – even when it is one of the most important aspects of their life.

Being protected financially is like a financial defense line that all of us tend to pay the least attention in, and let’s be honest:

Most of us do not know how well-covered we are financially. You will know what I mean when you are trying to reject an insurance agent, yet you cannot answer their simplest question of:

What is your coverage right now?

That aside, you do know that insurance premiums get more expensive the older you get, right?

Hence, stop being ignorant. Be mindful of how well-protected you are by reassessing your coverages constantly with your financial planners.

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Financial protection is the most fundamental financial decision in your life - the earlier you get it sorted out, the better.




(3) Acquiring assets (especially depreciating ones like cars) that you cannot afford

Having stayed in the Klang Valley for all my life, I know first-hand that not having a mode of transport like a car pose a huge inconvenience. As such, it is of no surprise when the first huge purchase by a lot of young adults is in fact, a car.

That said, many tend to overspend on the model of cars that they simply could not afford. In other words, instead of getting a car that they can financially afford, many young adults in their 20s tend to get a car that matches their IDEAL lifestyle.

As an example, with a starting salary of RM3,000, a second-hand Perodua Viva may be a practical and financially rational car to own since the loan payment is still within a controllable range of less than 10% of your salary. Yet, if you go for a whole new Toyota Vios, you would be paying nearly 30% of your salary just for your car loan payment!

Do I have to mention that you got to pay for your petrol, road tax and maintenance (which, without doubt, become more expensive with the size of your car) aside from your loan payment?

No one really cares about the car that you drive, really.

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Car loan calculator courtesy of calculator.com.my

(4) Obsessive spending on alcohol, drinks, and entertainment

Just scroll through your IG stories on Friday nights (or even other weekday evenings), you will always see the friend that will never miss his or her drinking or clubbing night.

 You do know these stuffs are not cheap, right?

Being obsessive with drinking or any form of similar entertainment is one of the easiest ways for you to flush away your hard-earned money. While you are not mindful of it, these expenses could compile up to a huge amount – which could be used to buy yourself a better protection plan, to learn how to invest, and heck, even to pay a few months off your loans!

Look, I have no problem at all with young adults in their 20s having some form of entertainment or drinking once in a while. However, if those are the only things that you are looking forward to every week – to the point of being obsessed, perhaps you got to stand back and start reflecting on your life purpose.

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Obsessive spending on drinks and entertainment - the fastest way for you to flush away your hard-earned money.

(5) Poor money management and habits

Let’s go right into the point:

Not tracking your expenses, have no idea of where your money is being spent, weak control towards buying impulses – do any of these sound familiar to you?

Having a poor money habit and management is, without doubt, the most common money mistake that people tend to make in their 20s. That’s why, among the 100,000 people that were declared bankrupt from 2013 to 2017, 60% of them are aged between 18 to 44.

If you are in your 20s, it is still not too late to change your financial habit right now. Start with baby steps, at least by tracking your expenses on a daily basis (I recommend MoneyLover).

Stop looking for lame excuses for not taking your financial life in control just because you do not have time or have no background in finance or accounting – it is a matter of priority after all.

Remember, as Tun M said:


No Money Lah’s verdict:

If there is anything about adulting, managing money is definitely one of the biggest challenges in this process. However, it is a responsibility that we have to take on eventually regardless of how much we dislike the topic.

As such, I strongly urge you to stop making the money mistakes above and start taking action to reach your financial goals by managing your money habits, learning how to invest (and start young) and taking proactive steps to build the defense line of your financial protection.   


Learn how I build PASSIVE INCOME in the stock market with MINIMAL RISK! More details HERE.


How I got into the verge of breakdown & self-rescued myself out of it.

Last month (March 2019) was a really challenging period for me. I was in the midst of preparing for my very first Breakthrough Your Wealth (BYW) – REIT Investing Workshop for 20 of my close friends and readers, and it was not easy by any means.

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Let me explain why:

First of all, since the workshop was (and still is) a one-man show, I got to handle everything from syllabus design, agenda planning, communication, marketing, logistics (food & venue) and printing on my own. Besides that, I also had to spend time to practice what I got to say during the full-day (9am – 6pm) workshop.

To add on to the challenges, the progress in designing the workshop syllabus was also slower than my initial expectation, and they were for obvious reasons: Instead of pouring everything that I know out into the PowerPoint slides (like any classic university tutorial presentation), I have to approach this process from the participants’ point of view:

“If I say X, would they understand?” “Would they be confused if I use Y jargon during the workshop?”.

As a result, the initial workflow of getting my syllabus design done during the Chinese New Year week became a month-long project (obviously, I underestimated the process).

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Stress Piled Up as Time Went By

As March came by, the need to get everything perfectly prepared for the day (the workshop was going to happen on the 30th of March) was overwhelming. Every day, I can literally feel the urge to fulfill every participant’s expectation piling up on my shoulder, and it almost drove me to the verge of breaking down.*

In short, I was way out of my comfort zone and was pretty damn stressed up.

(*Everything happened while I was also juggling between my full-time trading activities and producing content on No Money Lah)

Luckily for me, with some personal hacks and methods, I managed to brace through the stressful month and the workshop ended up pretty good – according to the participants. In this article, I want to share the 5 practices that I used to keep myself from screwing up while I was on the verge of breaking down:

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My very first REIT Investing Workshop successfully held on 30th of March 2019 - along with 20 of my close friends & readers. :)

(1) Whenever you feel overwhelmed, take 3 long, deep breaths.

The earliest symptom that you are experiencing a panic attack or about to breakdown is the feeling of being overwhelmed with the work in hand. Hence, whenever I felt overwhelmed (or the tension on my shoulders), I will go for 3 long, deep breaths.

As common as this hack is, taking long, deep breaths are extremely useful. As such, taking mindful, deep breaths help in activating part of the brain to release neurohormones that inhibit stress-producing hormones, thus triggering a relaxation response throughout the body.

In other words, long, deep breaths help to calm your nerves.


(2) Whenever you feel stuck, plan & write things down.

In my work with syllabus design for the workshop, I was often met with times where I got clueless and stuck on how to proceed with some sections.

Whenever I felt like hitting a wall and not sure what to do, I will take out a piece of paper and start writing. I will always start with my end goal and start working backward.

eg. In my case, my end goal always starts with the question of “What do I want my participants to learn from a particular section?”. Then, I will derive an approach to achieve my end goal on paper.

Identifying your end goals and planning them recalibrate your mind back to the mission/project, while writing things down on paper gives your mind a clearer picture of what you should do.

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When in doubt, plan & write things down.

(3) Whenever you feel as if your mind is messy & overloaded, focus on one thing at a time.

There will be times when you may feel like there are too many things to be done. In this case, try method (2) by listing down the tasks that you have to do.

In addition, use the Eisengrade Box to grade those tasks with 4 different priorities:

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The Eisenhower Box, courtesy of jamesclear.com.

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Then, focus on doing the one thing that is the most urgent and important to you, then only proceed to other tasks after you are done with them.

Another tip is to stay away from social media while you are overloaded – you will only distract yourself and wasting your time while not getting productive in your work.


(4) Whenever you feel unorganized, commit to at least one health-related routine.

When you are overstressed and overworked, chances are your life will start to go upside down. If this happens, you will start breaking down sooner than you expect.

For me, no matter how stressful the day or month might be, I will always organize my life around a set of morning and night routine – so regardless of how chaos my day is, I will always start and end my day in a positive note.

So if you are feeling unorganized in your life, try to pick up and commit to ONE health-related routine (eg. Exercising, meditation, yoga)

Surprisingly, my daily meditation practice (morning & night) has kept my life from falling apart many times, especially during the workshop preparation.

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No matter how stressful your life is, commit to at least ONE health-related routine.

(5) Whenever you feel that you cannot do this alone, get help.

I remembered fondly at the night before the workshop, I had to get all the printed notes hole-punched and filed properly. At the same time, I have to rehearse what I am going to say the next day during the workshop.

At that moment, I got really tight in time and resources. Hence, I got 2 of my best buddy – Eddie and Victor to help me out with the files.

No matter how good you think you are, there will be instances where you cannot get everything done on your own. So, put down that stupid ego (or ‘Asian Paiseh-ness’) of yours and go get help!

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My 2 best buddies for life - Victor (left) & Eddie (middle)!

BONUS: At any moment of time, always remind yourself on your purpose and goals

In the toughness of time, always remind yourself of your purpose and goal.

Why do you do what you do?

Keeping your purpose and goal intact will help you endure even the most challenging moments in your work and life. Just like how petrol fuels our cars, having a solid vision and purpose fuel our actions and keep us going at the lowest point and the steepest hill in life.

If these practices saved me at the verge of a breakdown, I am pretty sure it will help you too! All the best!


 


What Steve Jobs taught me about Life & Death

If there is one defining individual that has a heavy influence towards some of my biggest life decisions, it would be Steve Jobs.

If there is a trigger point, it was Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address and his last words that have helped me made up my mind to pursue the realm of uncertainties as a learn to trade full-time and start No Money Lah.

With that, here are some key pearls of wisdom that I’ve picked up from the legendary Steve Jobs:

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(1) Death is a destination shared by everyone.

If you know that you are going to die tomorrow, what would you spend your last remaining day doing?

As hypothetical this question might be, this may be the hardest question that you’ve ever have to answer in life.

And if you have this question answered without a second doubt, chances are you have found the most important purpose in your life – the answer to your miseries and doubts all this while, may be just right within you.

The moment when we truly acknowledge and embrace the fact that we are going to die, our priorities in life will change drastically:

All of a sudden, the morning jam to work isn’t so frustrating anymore.

All of a sudden, getting a new luxury car may not be so important anymore.

All of a sudden, expressing your feelings towards the important someone (with the chance of getting rejected) may not be as intimidating anymore.

All of a sudden, having to have dinner with your family members every day become a precious moment in your daily life.

Once you embrace death as a part of life, things that you used to think were important aren’t as big anymore. In contrary, things and people that you have taken for granted all these while become the most important thing in life.

If knowing that death is a destination that we all share together, what would you do differently compared to what you are doing right now?

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No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there.

And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.

Steve Jobs


(2) When in doubt, follow your heart and intuition.

The irony of all misery is, deep down, we already have a decision or answer within, yet we still do the exact opposite in reality:

When you do something that you truly have no faith in, you will suffer within.

When you sell a product or services that you do not believe in, you will not find fulfillment within.

When you go for a career or degree that does not connect with you, you will not be happy within.

If you are struggling between your inner voice and what you are doing in real life, always follow your heart and intuition. They somewhat already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

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For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"

And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Steve Jobs


(3) Embrace love.

At the final moments of death, the only thing that we can bring with us are the memories precipitated by love, not all our physical riches and wealth gained throughout our lifetime.

Hence, be generous with love.

Love the people that are important to you. Spend time with them. Talk to them. Listen to what they say. Never take the people that you love for granted.

Even more important, love yourself. Be genuinely happy inside and out. Take care of your health. Fill your heart with purpose and fulfillment. Make self-love your biggest priority in life.

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Nonstop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me. God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.

The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love. That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on. Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands.

Steve Jobs


Side note...

This week’s article is truly a hard piece to produce. Seeing the tragedies happening around the world (Shootings, Plane Crashes, Earthquakes) saddened me, and I can genuinely feel the fragility of life in the moments of death and crises.

If you are reading this, I hope that this article could ease some of the pain and misery that you are going through in life. If you feel any better, even by a little, it would be the happiest thing in my life.

By any chance, do SHARE this article with your friends and family members if you find that they could benefit from it!


Read This if You Feel Miserable in Life

Do you feel miserable in your life most of the time?

As a SPM/STPM leaver, don’t you feel directionless while deciding your next pursuit in life?

As a university student, don’t you feel that you do not belong to the degree that you are pursuing?

As someone in the workforce, don’t you feel that work is, well, just work?

No matter which stages of life you are in, let me ask you this question:

Why do you do what you do?

This sounds like a question so simple that people would have simply shrugged it off with a standard:

“Nah…no specific reason.”

Or… is it so?

If, for most of the time, you have been miserable with life, chances are, if you have yet to ask this question enough – and not being honest enough to face the right answer within.

So let me ask you this question again:

WHY do you DO what you DO?


Are You Doing This for Others, or for Yourself?

For a big part of our early life, many of us have been living it in a pre-arranged manner.

Remember the piano classes on Monday? How about those badminton lessons on Saturday morning? Don’t even mention the drawing classes on my beautiful Sunday mornings (of which, I still got a ‘D’ in my Art (Seni) in my high-school years).

School was even more rigid – “Ah, you scored well in PMR/PT3, off you go to the science stream.”

If any, I hated science subjects more than ever!

Wait, there is more:

“Wow, you did a great job in SPM/STPM, you gonna do well studying law!”

If you haven’t noticed yet, we have been living our early life that is very much planned or as according to our parents’ arrangements and societal norms. Here’s a problem with this way of living:

While it may have helped us established a sense of how to live our life, it may not be the best way to live it – for the rest of our life.

Hence, for most of us, it goes without saying that a lot of our life choices that got us miserable is heavily influenced by the norms (or expectations) set by our parents and the society.

Look, careers like lawyers or doctors may be prestigious in the eyes of society, but are you in your career because of societal status? Or are you pursuing your career because it is your passion to uphold justice and save lives?

Are you doing what you do for the sake of meeting people’s expectation on you, or are you doing it because that is what you truly want to do?


Be Selfish with Your Purpose

Now, this may sound counterintuitive but hear me out:

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You have to be selfish when it comes to the purpose of doing what you do.

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Too many of us, when asked of the reason for pursuing certain life choices, we put too much weight on societal norms and expectations.

“I studied dentistry because my whole family is in the business.”

“I work as a consultant in Big 4 because all my peers are doing the same thing.”

“I got to find a partner and get married by 28, because that’s usually the case for most people.”

If your primary purpose in doing what you do is to fulfill your family and society’s expectations, it is hard not to feel miserable especially when routine gets boring and when times are tough.

Having a purpose that comes within yourself make tough times and repetitive routines more bearable. You know that you are in charge of making things work. You know that you make a particular choice willingly.

You know that you are doing it for yourself.

“I studied Chinese Medicine because I want to help to treat more people.”

“I become a comedian because I enjoy putting smiles on people’s face.”

“I agreed to Joel’s proposal because I wish to build a family with him.”

Whatever you do, do it for yourself. Having a selfish purpose in what we do prevents us from burning out of societal expectations.

The question is: WHAT do you REALLY WANT to do?

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Spend some time to think about WHAT you REALLY WANT. Getting clear of this will help you tremendously in getting out of a miserable life.

Be Selfless with Your Goals

This is weird. You’ve just asked us to be selfish with our purpose, yet now you are asking us to be selfless with our goals?

You see, while your purpose or intention should come from what you want or desire to do, but your actions and goals could be as big as making the world a better place. In other words:

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You can be selfish with your purpose, yet selfless in your goals.

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Of course, a selfless goal does not mean that you have to change the world. It could be to make the community around you - your workplace, your local club/society, your home, a better place to live in. 

It could be as small as sharing your recycling knowledge online to help raise more awareness towards the environment, or even as big as a global movement to encourage race and gender equality all around the world – all because you WANT to do so.

If having a selfish purpose prevents you from unnecessary burnout, then having selfless goals give you a sense of fulfillment in what you do – something that many miserable people do not find in themselves.


The key to getting out of misery

To be honest, it is simple to say whatever I’ve said than actually doing them in real life.

This is because whenever we try to move out and do something out of the norm, we would normally be met with resistance, not just externally but also within ourselves. Changes, well, are never meant to be comfortable.

In this instance, some people turn back to their comfort zone and continue to live their miserable life, while some break out of the zone to find their WHY in life. For you that need help in finding your WHY, I leave you with this formula:

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Remember: Be selfish with your purpose, be selfless with your goals.