Sunday, April 26, 2009

Planning is not just for work

Coming out of school and have been working for 2 years now.  I no longer have cirriculum to follow.  It is no longer the case that if you do X, you get an A.  In life, I can't seperate my career/working goal with my personal life as easily as when I was in school.  

All of a sudden, I realize it is all about what I want.  The first step to be successful can be as easy as deciding that you want to be successful.  Then, make a feasible plan with lots of help.  Coincidentally as I am thinking about this, a good friend at work send me info on developing personal life time goal -

I do agree with Ben Franklin (1706 - 1790): "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

Can I do it?

Climbing taught me a lot of non-physical lessons.  Sounds a bit odd? 

One thing I learned is fear can be people’s biggest enemy.  Most of the time, people have the capabilities to achieve whatever the thing is that they want.  However, it is the fear of failure, fear of XYZ that holds a lot of people back.  Knowing to manage your fear can be the key to success.   Wining the mind battle can be 50% of winning the game.  

Climbing is awesome because……

What I love rock climbing so much is it is not just a physical exercise.  You work on your mind as well.  

Physically, I learn so much more about talking and listening to my body.  I didn’t know I can use my body the way I’m after I got into climbing.  You don’t just use your limbs; you engage other parts of your body as a team to achieve a movement you want.   For example, when I was really fit, I can hang my whole body weight with my one finger.  It sounds crazy but I don’t just use my finger.  I use my abs, my back, a bunch of other muscle to positioning my body to minimize work on my finger.

Psychologically, you’re consistently playing with your mind.  What I found is, most of the time, whether you are able to complete a route/climb is determined by your mind.  When I first started climbing, my friend, Dave, always told me (which I didn’t understand at that time), “Jo, you have to be committed to do the climb.  You are physically capable.”   There’re lots of psyching up involve.  Then, just go for it.  After a while, you become strong in your mind and know how to manage the fear.  It is all in your head.

Climbing, unlike a lot of other sports, it is a competition to you, not others.  Every climb, you are stretching your own limit.  You don’t need to compare/compete with others.

Climbing involves consistent decision making and problem solving, especially outdoor climbing – it could be a decision of your life.  Every move you need to plan, and you need to make a best decision for yourself at that time regardless of whether it is not to kill yourself, to complete the route or to try things out.  There’s also no one right way of tackling a problem.  It is not like it is the only way to finish a problem/climb this way.  Depending on the problem, your body shape, how fit you are and what you like, there could be hundreds of ways to solve a climbing problem.  I love it.

Why people grew to like Red Wine?

In a documentary I’ve watched, I’ve heard the first time that human taste buds get less sensitive as time pass.  My taste changes multiple time over the years.  This got me in thinking.  From my conversations with friends around my age, most of them prefer white wine over red wine.  Only in the pst year that I start drinking red wine that is not full body, such as Malbec.  I notice that more mature people prefer red wine over white wine.  Age seems to be a factor to people’s wine preference.  This information makes this observatioin in perfect sense.


Younger taste buds are more sensitive.  Mild taste of white wine is already enough to stimulate the sesenses.  As the taste buds got dull and less sensitive, we need stronger and fuller wine to have the equivalent stimulation.  Hence, as we mature, we grew to appreciate red wine.

Keep your day-to-day life as your travelling days

During one of my hours on a 36 hours bus ride to El Calafate in Argentina, my travelling buddies and me discuss how do we get back to our “routine” day-to-day life.  After a long backpacking trip like this with action packed activities day-after-day, going back home would be a big adjustment I’m definitely not looking forward to.   


Being used to be on the road for a few months in combination of temporarily moving to Toronto and this out-of-the-blue backpacking trip to South America, I’m not so sure whether this “on-the-road” life is my normal life.  It would be pretty sweet to have this exciting and ever changing life style.  Does normal life has to be routine and boring as I used to believe?  Can my life be action packed, fill with passion and overflow with surprises?  Why not?  I wish I could travel 365 days a year but, realistically, I can’t.  Then, how do I keep my every life like my travelling days? 


Side note.  One of he reasons I think that most people, including me, think “normal’ or day-to-day life is boring.  I believe everything is possible.  Don’t let other’s “that’s not going to work” or “your can’t have it all” to stop you from chasing after what you truly want and believe in is one big lesson I’ve learned.  People are generally afraid of things that are different from what they are familiar with as feeling that they are belong and blend in make them feel secure.  When someone tries to do something different, they will tend to discourage them because they are uncomfortable of difference but not that whatever your idea is does not work.  Most of the time!


Explore your city as you will travelling to a foreign one

The first thing is to figure what you want.  Then, believe that you can make it happen.  There are so much to do and so much to see in your own city.   Most people just don’t explore their own city.  Foreign cities always trigger higher curiosity out of people.  I don’ know how many times I got commented or I commented other that “I can’t believe you haven’t been to XYZ place after you’ve living here for X years!”. 


  1. Check out the tourism site of your city.  Plan to visit these places on your weekends. 
  2. Stop going to the same restaurant week after week.  Pick up a magazine on the hottest restaurants in your city.  Try them out.
  3. ask your co-worker what do they do and try them out.  Shake up your routine life.  Live someone’s else for a weekend might be interesting.
  4. What outdoor stuff do your tourism office promote about your city or cities around you.  Do them.  You might be surprise what your city has o offer.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ability to Be Curious and Ask Questions.

It is great to have young people and have fresh ideas. I heard that a lot when I just started working everytime I join a new team. Then it would cross my mind, "Well, I am a fresh grad. I don't know much and am here to learn. I'm sure you have a lot more capable people with experience working here. I certainly hope you do as that's the reason why I'm here."

As I worked a bit longer, I soon realize that as you work in the same place for a while, it is hard to maintain your ability to question things. You will start taking things for granted and accept the way things are.

It is such a simple skill but so important. Asking questions allows you to uncover new ideas, make improvements, and better your planning. However, isn't it sad that a lot of people loose their ability to ask questions as they grew older.

After learning about this, I, then, started to observe people around me in their ability to ask questions. I found that people who are successful at the place where I work all hard questions. They can absorb information on the spot, analyze them critically, and ask critical questions. That's why they are being paid the big bucks. If it is true, everyone of us has the ability to do so as we learned how to ask questions when we were in grade school.

Wouldn't it be so boring if you lose your curiosity, ability to ask question, and accept the world the way it is? But, what's the best way to preserve your ability to ask question?

What do you get out of your backpacking trip?

It is the second most commonly asked question from friends, co-workers and family following "How was your trip? Was it fun?". Backpacking is so great for me because I get exposure to new things at a down-to-earth level, unlike traveling with arranged tours. I got interaction with locals, learn about their lives, their day-to-day personal challenges, and their culture. Seeing how others live their life, and how their culture, attitude, and thoughts are differed from mine keeps me from being content blindly to a life I am comfortable with. It also exposes me to options how I can choose to live my life more fully and happily.

A lot of people I observed are so busy living their life through different life stage that they don't take the time to ask themselves important questions. During different life stage, we will have different needs and wants. What make us happy when we were 16 might not do it when we are 25. At least that's what I found. I found it is awfully important to keep asking yourself questions.

After I finished school and started to work, no one tells you what you need to do anymore. I can do and accomplish anything I want as long as I want it. At first, it felt great to have this sense of freedom and confident. However, I soon found out that I don't know what I want. Some people in their 20s or even 30s never ask themselves what do they want. They set their goals base on what the society or the "Norm" consider successful or the right thing to do. This going with the flow approach to live life is not my thing. I think not asking yourself what you want and spend time to reflect early in your life ( should ask your self every now and then as what you are looking will likely change over time) would eventually get you lost your direction. You will eventually search your purpose of living. If your base of doing what ever you are doing is on what the Norm of the society does and is not our of your own need, your fundamental drive is flawed. You do all these to accomplish "your goals" because this is what other people think is the right thing to do may not satisfy your needs that you never take the time to uncover.

Backpacking gives me the space and time to reflect and explore myself. I remove myself from my comfort zone, all the distractions and excuses that hinder me from seeing what's truly important. By being in a unfamiliar environment, you will be more observant; you will notice things that you missed out in your familiar environment; you will see and listen to things you don't have time to be aware of. Truly questions that are important to you and answers from your heart will come to you. That's what I like about backpacking. Everytime, I grew.

The effect of my backpacking trip don't usually come until after I come back home. Sometimes I come home with answers. Other times, I come home with questions. No matter what, backpacking brings me closer to myself. It is a weird statement but there are so much I don't know about myself. it is funny how we can suppress ourselves from talking and we got so used to it that who we think we are are not we who truly are but it is the self that we think we should be.