Knowing your why reduce odds of depression

Making goals in life is a very human thing. A goal is something that allows one to live a better life than before or to be happy. It could be as simple as, “I want to make x amount of money by x”

However, what most people failed to realise is that a goal is finite. It’s temporary. Most people don’t ask themselves what would they do next after they reached their goal. As a result, when they finally achieved it, they feel like there’s nothing else in life for them to do. They are lost. This is when the people lose hope and slipped into depression.

But it’s important not to confuse this kind of depression with clinical depression. This is a situational depression. And yes, the symptoms are alike but the point of origin is different. You can get out of situational depression by reevaluating what you are doing with your life and taking actions to redirect yourself without relying on medication.

For me, I have been diagnosed with depression. Now I know it had always been situational and not clinical. I’m grateful that I never went on medication nor was I prescribed any. I managed to get out of those episodes by changing my perspective of things in life with the help of friends and family.

And you know what?

I can’t guarantee that situation depression won’t strike again. What I do know is I can minimise my chances of suffering from it in the future.

It is by knowing my “why”. To know why I exist in the world. To know what’s my purpose and my vision of the world. You may be wondering how does those help with minimising situational depression. Well, you have to know what’s the difference between a vision vs a goal? Having a vision and working towards it is a form of infinite goal. You don’t win the vision because the things you need to do is never one time deal. Sometimes you will fall short in terms of results and sometimes you will achieve better results than previously. But you will always have something to look forward to.

It’s like life. You have a finite lifespan. You probably would die anytime between now and one hundred and twenty-five. But you have to live an infinite life. Life still goes on despite whatever happen. Right? There’s no winning life. And when you lose life? It simply means you are dead. Or in other words, drop out of the game.

So now, do you see?

By playing the infinite game of life and knowing your vision for the world, you reduce the odds of suffering from situational depression. It’s all because there’s always something for you to do to achieve that vision of yours. You don’t lose hope nor purpose of life.

I’m sure you will be wondering how the hell do I know my “why”? Or know what’s your vision. I also didn’t know my why for a very long time. All I know is I was happy when I’m left alone to do my own thing, to create something for another person that make them happy. But I always forget about that specific aspect of myself when life hits me hard. As a result, I’m always making short term goals to feel good.

It wasn’t until I discovered the book called, Start With Why, written by Simon Sinek that I found out what’s my “why” and have been actively to keep it in focus while I navigate life.

Here’s one video that I have watched which I hope can help you to figure out your “why”.

In addition, I would recommend that you check out the book, Find Your Why, written by Simon Sinek, David Mead and Peter Docker, after you are done with the first book.

Too much of anything is bad

You love ice cream. So much so that you thought you don’t mind eating it every day and having it after every meal. Before you know it, your weight increases and start to develop sickness deep inside of you. If you continued down that path, the sickness will only worsen. Heart disease, diabetes, and various other issues will crop up.

It’s the same thing as everything you do in life.

In my case, there’s something I did that affected my writing although you may not see it given that I’ve published something almost every day. But deep down, I know something’s not right.

There isn’t much inspirations or ideas floating around in my head to write about these days. I had to sit at my desk doing a whole bunch of other stuff before I can settle down to write something. Even when I do start, the topic elude me until much later during the writing process. Instead of entering into the zone or flow state, there’s a lot of writing and editing on the fly. Lucky for me, I’ve honed my writing muscles far enough that I could do both without obvious slow down.

But it’s something that need to be fixed. So I did a quick audit of what’s going on in my life.

Turns out, I’ve spent too much time consuming content. Again. By that, it could mean watching videos, listening to music or playing video games. And the latter is the one that’s main cause.

Ever since I got Nintendo Switch, it would be in my hand at least once a day for a couple of hours. Because of the amount of time I’ve spent playing first-person shooter on it, specifically Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, I’ve gotten pretty good at shooting enemies despite the weird placement of joysticks (compared to the Xbox). I am able to have the crosshair follow enemies as they moved while another finger is on the trigger button. When I first started, I’ve a real hard time doing even basic shooting.

Sound great? Yeah, it’s good that I gotten a new skill. But it came at the expense of having ideas for writing.

And do you know why playing so much games created this sickness of not having ideas to write about?

Playing games, most of the time, is actually pretty mindless. Especially if it’s a shooter game where all you need to do is kill enemies, reach objectives. Rinse, rise, and repeat. So where’s the thinking in that?

But not all is lost.

The moment you realise something is wrong, you can take control back. The one thing you could do is to cut back on the amount of time you spend doing that one thing. Yes, it’s painful when you have to cut back because you have been getting all those dopamine coursing through your mind. But it has to be done in order to achieve something you want in your life.

With that, I end off with something any minimalist would say, “Less is more.”

Meet short term goal or minimise long term pain

Every day of our lives, be it professional or personal, we’ve got to deal with situations that require us to deal with it now with quick solutions or come up with a better solution and taking the time to implement it to minimise long term pain.

Ideally, there should be a balance between the two but reality tends to force us into coming up with an immediate solution to deal with the current pain. Usually, it’s because someone above you, your customer or that a life depends on it made the issue a high priority.

And it takes someone with experience in certain situation to be able to make a decision that seemingly strike a balance.

As a software creator (I don’t call myself an engineer or developer but that’s a story for another day), I lost count of the times when I have to sacrifice the solution that’s good in the long run to deal with something that the customer wants it now. And then there’s always this “we are behind schedule” speech by the management. So much so, it makes you want to roll your eyes. It can make one feel like the management is always reacting to something and not preempting and executing on a plan.

Of course, perspective matters here. More time spent in doing something means more money spent. The manpower could be better utilised to work on something else that deliver on more value (money) to the company. Not to mention, to the customer, it’s like they don’t get their money worth of goods or services on time.

However, cutting corners on a solution just so that you can deliver on time can lead to long term pain that ultimately translate to time and money wasted.

Let’s take something that I’ve experienced at work as an example.

The system my team and I are working on requires a constant patching of data in the database. It can be either to insert new records or to fix old records with updated information. As the system is still undergoing development and deployment, the data is constantly in flux. And the customer will send us spreadsheets of data for us to do matching and patching.

And instead of spending maybe a week to build the user interface and implement the business logic that not only validates the data but to allow us to upload those spreadsheets and update the database in a few clicks and change existing data all from one UI window, my colleagues have to take the time to review through those spreadsheets. Sometimes, two persons are involved. What any one of them will do is use their eyeballs to scan through the records in order to determine whether to match and update existing records or to insert. Then they will manually write the SQL scripts to insert or update the data into the database.

No doubt the scripts run fast and the database will be patched within seconds.

However, what the project lead and management didn’t take into account of the time and effort needed to validate the data manually every time, prepare the scripts and run them. And that’s not forgetting humans can make mistakes. If the data is patched wrongly, the whole system may not work as intended and then we will need to “rush” someone down to the customer office to fix that issue. Time spent at customer office is time not spent on delivering features.

And if you are someone who panics very easily, and you have to deal with such high pressured situation, more mistakes will happen.

The management of course have a defence. Their stance is that this kind of data patching doesn’t happen often. By my last count, it has happened five times since the project started and we aren’t even at the end yet. And I suspect this data patching will repeat several more times until the end of the project. How many more, I don’t know. In fact, I’ve just recently spent half an hour to de-associate the relationships between two datasets because it wasn’t patched properly. Mind you, those de-associated relationships need to be rebuild again once the data has been reviewed and cleaned up again.

I may not be in a management role but it’s obvious to me that taking the time to build that user interface and implement the necessary business logic to help us match the data, validate the data and update the database in as few click as possible is the better option here.

And given what I know about the future plans of the company with regard to this project, the current way of doing things is just not scalable. Oh, I raised the point a lot of times but I’m always overwritten. Well, mostly.

This is what I mean by meeting short goal or minimising long term pain. There are many other examples that I could think of but this is the clearest one to me.

In conclusion, always strive for the mid-point between meeting short term goal and minimising long term pain by evaluating as much data point as possible before making a decision. It’s especially the case if it’s something that affects your persona life and you don’t have a higher up to answer to. And depending on the culture of where you live and work, you can either fight to the death for what you believe to be the right course, find a compromise or swallow your pride and let the other party win. In an asian context like the one in Singapore, you are better off choosing the last approach if you are an employee at the bottom of the ladder or an underling. Or management will make your life miserable.

Writing achievements 2018 – year in review

2018 is coming to an end in an hours’ time as I write this and it’s my hope that this post goes up before the arrival of 2019.

I for one isn’t someone who like to brat to the whole world about what I have achieved and tend to keep a low key. In fact, I’d probably reject any awards that requires me to collect on stage.

But it’s also important to acknowledge how far I have come when it comes to writing.

When I restarted this blog, it was supposed to be just for me to vent my frustrations, let me jot down what happened in my life and help me process all my emotions. After reading lots of articles about self improvement and writing, I came to the conclusion that I’m not going to do that anymore. This blog isn’t going to be about me ranting about life, the misfortunes and whatnots that I have encountered. So I decided to expand my writing into various other things.

With that, I also came to learn that there are only two metrics that matter to a writer. Everything else is just not as important. The first metric is how many articles or essays you have published in a year. Doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. Hitting that publish button is important as a writer. The second metric is how many followers that you have. The more follower you have, chances are it indicates your writings, especially the underlying message, have somewhat captivated readers and they want more. And it doesn’t matter if they are genuine, fake or bots. It’s important to be very very grateful for those followers and keep publishing new content.

Even so, I feel like celebrating what my blog have achieved in 2018 alone. And I’m going to keep doing what I do, keep working at my writings, interact with the blogger community in whatever capacity I can and grow myself further.

In 2018 alone, I have published 110 posts for a total of 101,270 words compared to 67 posts for a total of 42,420 words in 2017.

Now those are the metrics which are more important than anything else I’ve got to list below because these numbers prove to myself that I can write. A lot. And despite the occasional but overwhelming feeling of failures, I pushed forward. I acknowledge my failures in writing and seek to do them better next time.

And now it’s time for the not so important metrics.

Compare to the year 2017, my blog has gained 1.8x views and 2x the amount of unique visitors. In terms of likes, it’s 3.49x. I couldn’t be more happier. I’m deeply grateful to everyone.

Thank you all so very much. 😀

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

When you neglect your body, everything else suffers

The market moves very fast because of technology. It has given people access to things almost instantly. In the past, they had to wait for days if not weeks before getting their hands on it.

Because of that, as a creator, you find yourself working almost non-stop just so that you don’t get drown out by the market.

Or maybe that isn’t even the real reason or excuse. It could be the fact that you are just lazy and couldn’t be bother.

In either case, the one thing that gets neglected is the body. You eat junk food because it’s cheaper and faster to get. You don’t exercise because it requires a lot of willpower for you to get out of that chair, couch or bed.

Over time, the body becomes weaker, prone to sickness and pains. Not only that, it gains more weight. With more fats, the body becomes inflamed. Before long, your body is fighting off infections and inflammation. And that affects your brain and mental health. You get depressed easily. You can’t tolerate work and life-related stresses well anymore. Tiredness and sleepiness also become very common.

And making things even worse is age. By the time you get to your thirties, your metabolism drops even more, compounding the weight problem. And failure to take care of your body leads to even more problems.

I know because I’m dealing with them now.

My lack of physical activities the past few months (especially ever since I turned 29) has given me a ton of allergies. My tummy and overall body size have become rounder and bigger. I get tired more easily. My body aches and hurts like there’s no end because of the amount of time I spend in front of a computer or a digital device. And it’s nobody’s fault but mine.

With those issues, I find myself sometimes unable to concentrate on my tasks, lacking excitement in what I do and I just want to sleep more. Now even my fiction writing also grind somewhat into a halt because my brain just isn’t able to work efficiently.

And I know now it’s not the holiday season that’s making me so lazy. Being overweight and lacking physical activity is what make me lazy and sick more often. It’s a vicious cycle really.

So what I have to do is exercise more. Get out more.

And it’s important to set goals that are more sustainable.

So my goal won’t be about losing certain amount of weight by certain time. And I know that alone isn’t sustainable for me because I tried. My goal now is that I want to feel better about myself in terms of energy level and overall health so that I can do my best work.

Now you see, don’t ever neglect your body. Treat it well and treat it right. In turn, it will treat you good.

P.S. I’m actually using the lump that is my tummy to prop up the laptop I’m using to write while I’m lying down on my bed because my back, especially the neck, is hurting. It’s embarrassing really.