After years of avoiding investing due to beginner mistakes in my early twenties, I decided to give investing a shot again. When I first started investing, it was after completing my internship in uni. I took $2500 and put it toward a Roth IRA, trying to take advantage of the savings since I didn’t owe any federal taxes from my limited income that year. I thought this was smart because I was essentially depositing after-tax income into an account that I could later withdraw from tax-free without losing any money at all (until later, which I will explain soon).
Back then, I thought investing in the stock market was all about picking the right stocks and profiting it. I looked into a stock with dividends and bought a bunch of shares without really knowing what I was doing. And months later, the stock price doubled! I thought this was amazing. And then, I became busy with planning to move to Korea and living there. When I looked over my account a year or so later, the stock had plummeted and I was no longer receiving dividends even. I had no clue what to do. I couldn’t recover the money. So, I just bit the bullet and left it as is.
From then on, I would be scared to invest in the stock market. I never really read about how to invest in the stock market. I just avoided it from then on, thinking I could just make passive income later on, and that would be where I would invest.
Fast forward to earlier this year. I remember a financial advisor tweeting something about 8% returns on investments vs. the situation that was going on with GameStop stocks. And then I thought, “Huh, 8% returns? Is there such a thing? Is it actually that reliable?”
And then, one of the eBooks that I was waitlisted on from the library was available to me (by the same advisor). I was absorbed and read the first two chapters. He didn’t even talk about investing yet, but I realized if he could simplify financial concepts for people regardless of age and make it simple and easy, surely I could figure out investing in the stock market in a way that I can make 8% returns too.
I had a chunk of savings in an account that also had different investment options. But, I always thought the investments were either risky, or I would lose money to fees. As I was reading more, I realized that there was a relatively small fee. And as history would show, the return rates were high, even surpassing 8% on the most aggressive option.
I also learned that the market does go down at times, but as long as you keep your money there, it eventually goes up again (for index funds). And you know, I was scared because I invested in an individual stock only to lose money, and it never went up again. I’ve heard of index funds, but I never really knew what they were. And, those index funds have a proven track record of interest gains. I don’t have to be monitoring anything. The work would be done for me essentially. I never realized making money through investing in the stock market was this easy.
Though, I just started re-allocating my resources today. I’ll only know for sure if it was a good idea months or years from now. I’m just glad that I took the first step in investing, and that I have a better idea of what I’m doing now.
This morning, I was browsing my second Instagram page, wondering how I could monetize it with over 5800 followers. It has a pretty good engagement rate, I would say 5-10% these days. So, I was wondering what I value I could provide in return for passive income.
Well, it’s not exactly passive depending on how it’s run. However, I could find myself enjoying being part of a community, depending on what it is. I’ve been part of several online communities in the past. Currently, the only one I’m really in is this Facebook group for Grant Cardone’s Launch 2021. Though, I find the content (aside from Grant’s webinars) to be pretty low value in general. I wanted to upgrade from that (and probably delete my Facebook since I get such low engagement from it).
So I thought about it. What exactly would I want from an online community? Do they have to fit a high standard? Do they have to align with certain values? Do they have to have a specific interest?
I didn’t want it to be super ambitious like ideas I’ve had in the past. I’m not looking for a mastermind group necessarily. To me, a mastermind group is laser-focused on achieving a set of goals and meeting those goals through accountability. For me, I’d rather focus more on mindset. I thought I could create something with the idea of achieving an ideal lifestyle. The lifestyle would be different depending on the person.
Originally, I wanted to create it for females. But then, I couldn’t really think of a reason not to include males too. I thought I would target women, but include men too. That’s what Marie Forleo does with her B-School, and I like that idea.
I feel like focusing on an ideal lifestyle makes sense to me more than focusing on goals. When you feel aligned with your core values, you are able to achieve meaningful results. And, I want to be in a community that supports each other in creating that ideal life, whatever it looks like to them.
Taking ideas from other online communities I’ve been in, I would probably do a Zoom call once every two weeks. I would take questions from members and probably go with the flow. It would be maybe 45 minutes or so. And, then I would check in every day (except for when I’m away) on whatever platform or forum we end up using.
I mentioned passive income earlier, as I was thinking it would definitely be a paid group. If you want quality, you have to charge to filter out all the trolls or abusers. And, I’d set rules too so that if anyone violates those rules, they get the boot and they’re not welcome back. I’m trying to figure out a good amount to charge. If it’s too low, people will have a reason to flake and fizzle out. And, do I want a monthly commitment or a yearly commitment?
I think to start with, I would set a monthly membership. I think I could charge $25/month. Honestly, even that is low. But, I think it’s not too high so people will check it out, and not too low that the non-committal people don’t flood in. It’s pretty much like gym membership, but more for the mind. 😄
Most paid communities I’ve joined have included bonuses. I don’t think that’s necessary, but maybe would be useful for initial traction. I could include PDFs of activities for achieving the ideal lifestyle and maybe some wallpapers for phones and desktops. And, I could add more to it as the months go by.
The more I’m talking about this idea, the more I’m realizing its potential. I can create it to be something that I enjoy, so it doesn’t feel like “work”. I’m reminded of Steve Pavlina, who created workshops and own online club to attracted the types of people he would like to interact with. That’s mostly where I’m getting the idea from.
There’s also Leo Babauta, who runs one on habit change. I thought about a habit change program, but I think lifestyle change is more appealing to me. It’s like forming your identity. Instead of making the habit of running, be the runner. Instead of making the habit of writing, be the writer. I could still talk about habit formation. It’s just that my focus is a little different.
I think I’m leaning towards this idea. I just have to figure out the execution. I’ve never done this before. It’s completely new to me. I don’t know how to build such a website. But, I’m sure I could learn if it’s something I really want to do. I wonder if people would even be interested.
For January 2021, I planned on hula hooping 5 minutes a day. That ended up not working as planned because the weight hula hoop hurt my abs after 15 seconds, and I couldn’t imagine continuing with that pain. So, I attempted to build up to 5 minutes a day. Though, I didn’t hula hoop every day. I hooped maybe 3-4 times a week. By the end of the month, the most I could hoop at once was 2 minutes before the pain would set in.
Then, I thought maybe I could make use of the set of dumbbells I had. I thought I could alternate days of hooping with reps of exercising with dumbbells, maybe even do squats, every day for 30 days starting February 1st. And, I could start with just 1 minute a day for the first week. Week 2 would be 2 minutes a day. Week 3 would be 3 minutes a day. You get the idea.
So today, I hooped for 1 minute with the weight hula hoop while watching a 1-minute timer video on YouTube. I hope to keep up the momentum. I tried to make it as simple and as easy as possible for myself. It’s a small start, but it’s more than what I’ve been doing. You have to start somewhere.
The hula hoop and dumbbells are in plain sight in my office room, where I go every day. And with COVID-19 still raging on, I doubt there will be a day that I will miss going to my office room. I have no travel plans. I’m in this room every day. And, one minute is not hard. You know, even if it seems hard, it’s doable. I can talk myself into doing it, like rationalize, “Well, it’s only one minute!”
I decided to do these activities because I stopped going for walks outside ever since the weather dipped in temperature. I’m still not motivated to go out for a walk, especially today when snow is still fresh on the ground.
I haven’t gone to the gym in over two years. And, I don’t intend to during this pandemic. Though, I will consider going back when times are better.
I considered other options such as planking, pushups, or yoga. But, I feel like I have to push myself to do those things. I wanted to do something that I could do with little willpower. I kind of enjoy hooping, and lifting dumbbells doesn’t seem so hard when it’s right there and it only takes a minute of my time.
It’s quiet sad because of how bad my fitness level is. I mean, I’m not crippled or anything, but I barely have arm strength. My abs are pretty much non-existent. I guess the only thing I have going is that it can only go up from here, right? 😂
In the past, I got frustrated because I would go to the gym frequently and feel tired or gain weight. I couldn’t even tell if I was gaining muscle. It seemed like fat to me since my body pretty much looked the same, with my round tummy going nowhere. I hope I don’t coincidentally gain weight and think that it’s related to this. I talked about it in a previous post, but I really don’t want to reach a situation where I’m over 160 lbs. That would be my breaking point. I would truly wonder where I went wrong. I mean, I wouldn’t complain if I had a toned belly and weighed more. But if I still have a round belly and somehow push beyond 160 lbs, I would feel so angry, confused, and betrayed. Like, somehow my body turned against me and decided, “Welp, now you’re going to be officially overweight according to BMI!”
Technically where I stand now, I’m in the upper normal range for my BMI. But, I definitely feel as if I’m already overweight. My stomach is not toned at all. I honestly wouldn’t care about the number on the scale if I had a toned belly. But if I want that, I know, I have to actually take steps to get there considering where I am now. And my first step is getting into the habit of being active, no matter how little it is!
In November, I did a 30-day book reading challenge (20 pages or more). In December, I learned a new word every day. This January, I was planning to hula hoop 5 minutes a day. But unfortunately on Day 1, I realized that this goal was too ambitious for my level of fitness. 😅
You see, I haven’t hula hooped for three years or so. So when I first attempted to hula hoop on January 1st, I could only get through 15 seconds before the sore stomach pains really got to me. So instead of doing 5 minutes a day, I thought it would be nice if I could work up to 5 minutes gradually over time.
Well, today I was able to do 2 minutes straight without stopping! That’s progress. It’s not even halfway to 5 minutes, but considering how I would only hula hoop 3-4 times a week, that’s something. I felt a little soreness towards the end of the 2 minutes. I thought I could keep going, though I wouldn’t have a timer. (I was watching a 2-minute timer YouTube video with music, so I didn’t have my actual start time from the clock to follow.)
I was planning on buying a regular hula hoop so that I could comfortably go through 5 minutes a day. Plus apparently, you can burn as many or even more calories with a regular hoop versus a weighted hoop. So I thought, what’s the point of extra pain when you can burn extra calories anyway with something less intense?
I thought you could find regular hula hoops for cheap in places like the dollar store or Walmart or even Amazon. But, a lot of hoops go for $20 or more, and they tend to be weighted. Or, they’re in bulk. Or, they’re kid sizes. I’m not sure why it’s so hard to find a cheap basic adult hula hoop.
So, then I thought maybe I should just continue with my weighted hula hoop. I don’t have to do any 30-day trial or anything, but just gradually work my way up to 5 minutes by hooping 3-4 days a week like I’ve been doing. I mean, I can already do 2 minutes, and I think I could have pushed for another 30 seconds or so. So, it’s possible.
I’m curious to know what long-term hula hooping would do for me. I’m talking about hula hooping every day for 10 minutes or more a day. Would my belly tone up? Would my abs be stronger?
Aside from hula hooping, I thought about also trying to jump rope again. Though, I don’t really have much space at home to do so. If I did jump rope, it’d be easier to do it outside. I’m not really motivated to work out in the cold. I know you can warm up by working out, but I tend to avoid the cold whenever I can. 😅 I think when it gets warmer, like during the springtime, then I will buy a jump rope and time myself doing that. Maybe I’ll even do a 30-day experiment with jump roping.
I wanted to get into some sort of physical activity that’s fun. That’s why I decided to try hula hooping again. We had a hula hoop for a while, but I didn’t know where it would fit in the house. I ended up being able to make space for it.
I eventually want to join a gym again and try some classes, probably zumba. And if I do take classes, I’ll make sure to only do as much as I can handle. If the class is an hour long and I can only handle 20 minutes in the beginning, I’ll do that. I don’t want to burn myself out like I did in the past when I would attend intense workout classes.
Anyway, I still have a prominent belly. My body is not toned at all. Some people think I look skinny, just because of the way I dress. Like obviously if I were wearing a crop top or a tight shirt, you’d see my round belly. I mean, I don’t have the most overweight body or anything. It’s just obviously, I could be healthier and do better.
I don’t really watch what I eat. I’m trying to cut down on sugar though. I usually have breakfast and dinner, unintentionally intermittently fasting out of convenience. I used to eat cereal every day, which is funny considering I used to condemn cereal, again out of convenience. And then, I tried having healthier breakfasts with vegetables or fruits for the past month or so. I didn’t realize how much sugar was in the cereal, or how much sugar I’d consume outside of breakfast and dinner if I just felt like having a snack. If it’s fruit, it’s fine. But, it’s usually not fruit, so that’s no bueno.
I know people have been gaining weight during the pandemic. But, to see my weight constantly going up for years was so frustrating to me. I remember when my goal was to be less than 120 lbs, and now I’d just be satisfied with being less than 150 lbs. I’m scared that it will somehow go beyond 160 lbs. It’d be one thing if my belly were toned and it’s just muscle weight, but to reach that weight and still be out of shape, that’s just my limit. I’d be so angry.
I don’t really believe in dieting unless it’s part of a lifestyle. For example, eating vegan makes sense because it’s about not exploiting animals. And, cutting out foods that you’re allergic to makes sense. But otherwise, I don’t think restricting calories is the way to live. Or only eating green foods.
Aside from eating vegan or vegetarian during parts of my life in the past, I’ve never considered dieting. I’ve always eaten as much as I felt like eating. And before, that worked fine. I was generally around 120 lbs or so. Sometimes, even less. And then after I had been put on meds, I consistently gained weight. It didn’t matter the dosage. I’m actually at the lowest dosage, but pretty much at my highest weight. So if it’s not the meds, I don’t know what else it could be, because my weight in the past was not really an issue.
I thought about returning to a vegan lifestyle one day, for ethics and for health. Like honestly, there’s no reason for me not to be vegan. I’m not lacking any nutrients, and it might even help me to lower my bad cholesterol.
Anyway, I’m thinking about what I should do for my next 30-day trial, if I should do one at all. It’d be nice if it were health or fitness related. I just don’t know what. I want it to be simple so that I will actually do it every day. Even if it’s not health or fitness related, that’s okay too. Maybe I could try a songwriting challenge, or a journaling challenge, or even another blogging challenge. We’ll see…
2020 was a relatively stable year for me. It wasn’t my best year, but it definitely wasn’t my worst. And if anything, it was better than the two years prior to that. Admittedly, I didn’t achieve much, but it went a lot better than I expected despite the pandemic still going on here in the United States.
In 2018/19, I didn’t use a planner or an agenda. I kept reminders of my appointments on my phone’s calendar app and I’d keep notes in my Evernote app. But this year, I wanted to try using a planner again just to see if it helps me in any way.
I bought my planner from Five Below. There’s a note page in the beginning followed by monthly calendars. Each monthly calendar is followed by a page where you can write lists, notes, events and priorities. And then after all that, there are weekly spreads. After each spread is a page to write more lists, notes, priorities, plan for the upcoming week, and a weekly habit tracker. There are a few more blank pages at the end followed by stickers that you can use to remind you of days when you have appointments, birthdays, lunches, etc. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for when searching for a planner, but this seemed good for me.
At first, I wasn’t really sure what to write in my planner. So, I marked important events/appointments. I wrote a list of states I’ve traveled to, though I’m not really sure why since this will probably be an odd year to travel. And today, I wrote a list of possible goals I could work on. I came up with more than I expected actually. And, I didn’t really create stretch goals. I tried to keep them reasonable, something that I felt like I could easily achieve. For example, I read 3 books last year (towards the end of the year, and one book was really short). I haven’t really kept up with the habit of reading, so I thought 5 books seemed achievable.
Here are the list of goals I came up with:
– See what it’s like being off meds completely and continue if sustainable.
– Consistent body weight of under 150 lbs.
– $1K+/month in passive income through music streaming/downloads.
– One year in Conscious Growth Club.
– Read 5 books.
– Grow my one Instagram account to over 10K followers.
– Release 2 more songs on Spotify.
– Finish Success Triggers, an online course.
– Finish DAI, a webinar series on living an abundant life.
The goals I came up with are within the scope of the current circumstances I inhabit. I have other goals in mind, but I’m not sure if I’ll achieve them this year. For example, I would like to move out to someplace with relatively warmer climate. I would like to lose weight, but I’ve been consistently gaining over the past 3+ years while being on antipsychotics. So, even losing 5 lbs this year would be amazing for me.
I thought about learning another foreign language, or continuing to learn Korean. But, I don’t know if I’m really interested in that. I did purchase a cheap Udemy course on Spanish, but I’ve only dabbled into it here and there. I’m not entirely opposed to learning, just kind of on the fence about it.
I thought about doing more 30-day trials of various habits. One idea would be to make music every day for X amount of time with the goal of coming out with a song at the end. Another trial would be, if I find myself drawn to the idea again, to spend 5 minutes learning a foreign language. I mean, it is only 5 minutes, so it wouldn’t be so hard.
This month, I was actually going to hula hoop 5 minutes a day. Unfortunately, I could only last 30 seconds the first day because it hurt more than I expected. I used a weighted hula hoop, that’s why. And, I haven’t hula hooped in forever. However, I’m tracking it as a habit to see if I can build up to 5 minutes. I haven’t been doing it every day though after realizing how painful it is starting off. 😅 I mean, that happens. Sometimes, you have to reject an idea when it doesn’t go as planned.
I want to do more 30-day trials this upcoming year. It will take me some more brainstorming to come up with some good ideas. I could even repeat previous 30-day trials such as blogging every day or reading books every day. I just thought it’d be more interesting to try new habits.
Steve Pavlina did a few 365-day challenges. He exercised every day for 365 days, and he blogged every day for over 365 days. He said it serves as a positive reference point. It sculpts your character. I’m not even used to 30-day trials, so I think I’ll hold off a few more years before I attempt a meaningful 365-day challenge. It’d be interesting to try one time though.
Beyond 2021 (after COVID-19 subsides), I thought about traveling to each state in the United States. I’ve been to 19 of them for sure. Though, some states I just stopped in for maybe an hour before moving on to the next state (such as when I went by bus to Florida with family for a cousin’s engagement). I want to spend at least a week in each state. That’s achievable in a year, though I thought I’d want time in between to just chill at home. So, I thought in the future, I could achieve this goal within 2 years. I imagined vlogging/blogging about it or sharing pictures to capture the experience. Maybe I would go with a friend or with family.
I don’t know about this year, but eventually I would like to try to become vegetarian again and then even vegan. I stopped just because I thought maybe I’d stop hearing voices if I ate animal products again. I thought maybe I was missing something. But you know, it’s been over a year of me eating meat again, so that definitely did nothing for me other than blending in with my family more. These things happen when you get sick, so I’m trying not to be hard on myself. But, I’m realizing that I don’t have a real reason for eating meat other than it just feels convenient now. The reason I say I want to work on this goal beyond 2021 is because hopefully by then, I’ll have moved out and it’ll be much easier to work on as a goal living by myself vs. living with other meat-eaters.
I thought about writing a book a few months back, but I’m not really sure about the idea now. I could write about my life experience with hearing voices / being possessed, whatever you would like to call it. Maybe I could do this in November with NaNoWriMo. They challenge you to write a novel, but I could just write a non-fiction. I’ll hold off from the idea for now.
I think once I join Conscious Growth Club, maybe I’ll be able to come up with some more aligned goals. I was briefly in CGC back in 2017 when it started, and I opening myself up to new ideas I never thought of before. I had to quit shortly after unfortunately because that was the year I became “sick”. But now that I’m feeling relatively stable, I’d love to give it a shot again and see what I could learn.
I think buying the $5 planner was worthwhile. Right now, I have a tab open for Success Triggers. So after I publish this blog post and drink some water, I’ll watch the next video and review the study questions. I only have 9 more lessons to go, so if I continue doing this every two days, I can finish by the end of the month. And then finally, I’ll know if it was helpful or not.
I think if COVID-19 subsides by this year, I’d like to travel downtown and try going to a new place once every week with one of my friends. I was doing this at the beginning of the year. My friend and I went to Reading Terminal, then Chinatown, and then suddenly we heard the news about COVID-19 and we cancelled our plans. But if things turn around, I’d like to visit as many places as I can downtown.
Anyway, those are my plans for 2021. It’s not anything crazy. Nothing super ambitious (at least I don’t think so). Just simple goals, aligned with what matters to me, and that will benefit me both in the short-term and long-term. Most of my goals are experiential in nature. I don’t know if I’ll have materialistic goals this year since I’m trying to build up my assets first. Maybe in the future, I’ll have a goal of buying a car or buying a house. But, I don’t see a real need for it now.
Recently, I completed my challenge of reading 20 pages or more of books every day for 30 days. It wasn’t always easy to stick to the challenge, but I made it through. I’m not going to mention any particular books I’ve read, because I don’t really recommend them. They were just okay.
The first week was fairly easy. I used a tablet. I chose a book that I thought about reading for a while, and I guess because of my curiosity, I was able to read a fair chunk of the book in the first week. Each chapter was roughly 15 pages. So, I would read two chapters every evening usually. I figured it would be better to complete a chapter rather than read a third of the way through and then have to refresh my memory of what I read.
By the second week, I was getting bored with the book. I thought I’d find some interesting insights by then, but the story seemed to be dragging for me. So, I’d read one chapter, and then would switch to another book to finish up my 20 or so pages.
Eventually, I finished the first book (thank God). I mean, it wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t as great as all the hype I’ve heard about it. And, I was just glad I could finally say I’ve read it, and could decide whether it was good, okay, or just plain bad.
The second book was more interesting to me. It was a self-help book. I didn’t really learn anything new about myself per se, but I thought some of the exercises in the book could help me in the future if I ever decide to embark on ambitious goals or dreams again. It helps you solidify plans and take action. And also, the chapters were longer, so I could finish my goal of reading 20 pages easily by just reading one chapter. So, that was a relief.
And then eventually, I started on my third book. There was one particular day that was stressful for me. I was feeling tired earlier in the evening, but I didn’t want to go to sleep yet. I knew I had to finish reading 20 pages. I really struggled this day. As some of you know, I experience something like hearing voices, but more intense. Basically, the voice kept distracting me from the text. I would read a sentence, and not even comprehend it. And at one point, I was reading each word one at a time, really emphasizing it in my head. But the next second, I would literally forget the last word and would not correlate any connection between the words. It was horrible.
But still, I didn’t want to fail just because the voice was getting in the way. So, I soldiered through. I hardly understood the text, but I kept going and finished the 20 pages anyway. And no, I didn’t go back to re-read. I don’t really find that necessary, unless you’re studying something, or unless you think that you will gain some valuable insights.
Speaking of not comprehending the text, there were some times when I would read the first book (an autobiography) and would either zone out or just not really absorb what I was reading. I didn’t go back to re-read those parts either, for the most part, unless I felt like I missed something interesting. I like to just power through and move forward. If it’s a text I really enjoyed, I might re-read it. When I just continue reading the next thing, I feel like it might teach my brain to focus and if it misses something, oh well. Maybe that’s not how the brain works… But anyway, that’s just how I read. I’ve heard others advise something similar, of not going back to re-read something, but just to move on.
After the 30-day reading challenge, I think I read the very next day, and then missed like two days of reading. The first day was because my hearing voices experience felt intense and I didn’t really feel in the mood to try to concentrate on reading. So, I didn’t push myself. The next day was Thanksgiving and we were out, so I was tired and didn’t feel like reading. I thought this was strange because I thought the habit would stick, right? Why wasn’t I in the mood, even if I was tired? Like, I didn’t even have a thought of, “Ooh, maybe I should read, even just a little bit.”
Well, I guess it had to do with the tiredness because the next day (Black Friday), I felt the urge to read. I felt pretty stable, not tired or overwhelmed by voices. It’s still too early to tell the overall effects of this reading habit and what it has done for me after, but I’m hoping it’s like a habitual urge or something. Does that make sense? I mean, I just hope that I feel more inclined to read than to just play games or to just watch videos in the evenings.
I’ve mentioned this before, how if I could re-do the challenge, I would read less pages, maybe 10 or 15. Even 15 is ambitious, considering I was barely reading a book a year. 5 pages is an easy goal. Maybe that would have been nice. Though, I did finish 2 books within the 30 days by setting a higher target. I don’t even think I would have finished a single book if the target was a measly 5 pages. I might have just gotten bored with the first book and abandoned it altogether. But because I was reading at least 20 pages a day, I thought, “Well, I might as well finish another chapter.”
I’m not officially doing another 30-day or any kind of challenge for reading. But, I think on days when I’m doing fairly well, or even if I’m feeling a little tired or overwhelmed by voices, I can set a soft goal of reading 5 pages a day. It’s not a lot to commit to. I remember pushing through, struggling to understand what I was reading when the voice particularly distressed me one day. So, I think it will help me build up strength and power through, doing a task despite how I’m feeling. And, maybe it will teach the voice, “I’m not gonna give in just because you’re acting out.” I think of the voice as a child. So, maybe reading like this every day despite how it acts will discipline it. That’s my wishful thinking.
I’m not a disciplined person or anything when it comes to these 30-day trials or challenges. I try to make them as simple as possible. I actually tried to tag coloring to my reading habit, which I did do successfully for I believe 24 or 25 days in a row. But then, I had a bad day of just feeling tired and overwhelmed by the voice the next couple days (after finishing reading for 30 days). I added coloring days into my challenge, so I thought I’d spend a few extra days reading and coloring together. It didn’t pan out that way. I should have just stuck to reading. That was me not keeping things simple, which I should have done.
I recommend, even if you think you can do more, keep a baseline. Don’t push yourself to do more. Don’t tack on more goals needlessly. I thought I was being clever by planning out evening activities to distract me from hearing voices. But, it became a checklist of things to do in the evening before sleeping. And, it kind of took the fun out of those two activities (reading and coloring). I think it’s better to stick to one goal or one habit at a time. Because then, even if it doesn’t seem fun in the moment, you eventually grow to enjoy it or learn more about it or just naturally do it anyway. But when you’re juggling two or more goals, you never fully focus on doing your best with just one. Eventually, you could build up to do more. But when you’re first starting off, it’s better to choose one goal to focus on.
I was trying to read every day as a coping skill, and also I guess as something “productive” to do. And honestly, it worked pretty well for me. The voice didn’t bother me most days. Though, the voice still bothered me when I was tired. In my head, I’m thinking, “I don’t want to fail my goal.” But, the voice will play devil’s advocate and say, “Sleep is a priority!” I hate when the voice tries to justify doing things differently. Neither option is wrong per se, but if I want to read, let me read in peace. I take a while to fall asleep anyway, even when I’m tired, so I might as well accomplish my goal. That’s my line of thinking.
I want to do more of these 30-day trials or challenges so that I can build up some discipline, and also assert my power over the voice. I want to show it, “I’m gonna do this thing, and whether you agree or not, it’s gonna happen.” I’m so tired of the voice influencing me just because I don’t want to deal with it. It’s my body, my mind, let me do what I want.
Honestly, I don’t really feel accomplished after reading for 30 days. I mean, it is something because I have had trouble sticking to habits and goals in the past. And, I finally completed an intentional 30-day challenge. I feel satisfied that I read a couple of books and will probably finish one more by the end of the year. But, it’s not anything great. I don’t feel elated or surprised. I’m more so like, “Yeah, that’s a thing I did.”
I am glad that the voice did, for the most part of this challenge, calm down in the evenings. Though now the challenge is officially over, it tries to convince me that I don’t have to read. And yeah, it’s true, I don’t have to read, but I still want to read. I still want to have a long-time habit of reading, so that I can finish reading all those books I was curious about or will be curious about in the future.
December is approaching soon, and I don’t yet have a 30-day challenge set in stone. Maybe I will research a few ideas. I did think about writing a book about myself and my experiences with hearing voices, so I thought of doing something like NaNoWriMo but for non-fiction and in a different month. I thought though that maybe I should give myself more time to plan it out. Some other 30-day trial ideas include some form of exercise, practicing piano again, producing music, livestreaming, drinking more water, and blogging (again, because I did do this last August to September, but it’s no longer on the web). I’m not really leaning toward a particular goal. I do want to do something though.
As I’ve been going on with my 30-day reading challenge and have been keeping up with Steve Pavlina’s NaNoWriMo challenge, I’ve been thinking more about writing a book of my own. I hesitate to start it early or to make it too challenging. But, it’s been a goal of mine for years to write a book. Just over time, my ideas on what I should write have changed.
Currently, I’m thinking of writing about my life experiences with and after having psychosis. I don’t know how much of the past I’ll really include. I think my focus will be on how I’ve handled the challenges of dealing with psychosis when it first happened and all the changes it brought since then. When I compare my life from after psychosis to before, they almost feel like complete different worlds in terms of the way I’ve operated. I want to focus on what’s relevant to me now. So, I have a general idea of what I’ll write.
Writers usually set some sort of goal to write a certain amount of words or pages per day. I’m not sure when exactly I’ll set aside 30 days to write, but I thought I could write 1000 words per day. Though, then I wondered if this would be too ambitious given my current difficulties in keeping up with my reading challenge. I thought 1000 words was achievable because of how much I write in my blog posts. But, maybe writing for a book would be different. So, I thought maybe 500 words would suffice. It’s little enough that I can free write that much, but big enough that I would have 15000+ words by the end of the 30 days. That would be a significant chunk for a book. The only problem is if I want to guarantee that it’s longer, then I’d have to continue writing beyond the 30 days. But I guess after 30 days, it would be more ingrained in me to continue writing, right?
I thought about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. On one hand, traditional publishers, especially if they’re focused on mental health-related books, can help me reach a wider audience. Though, I might not make much money this way, especially as a new author (well, if you don’t count the short eBooks I’ve published on Amazon).
With self-publishing, there’s the well-known Amazon KDP. However, they take a large commission (30% for eBooks priced $2.99 – $9.99 and 65% for books priced outside of this range, not including the small fee for each time someone downloads an eBook based on its file size). So, I looked into other options.
One idea is to sell direct. I’ve been looking into PayHip. I haven’t tried it out yet as I do not have a digital product prepared. But from what I’ve read, you don’t have to pay any monthly or annual fee to use it, and they only take 5% of your sales. Plus, you can set your own price. I thought it’s worth a try. I’ve seen other YouTuber authors use similar services to sell their own eBooks, and they don’t always have a large subscriber base either. So, maybe it would work for me.
I was watching a YouTube video last night about how this one guy advertised his book and made about a $300 net loss. But then, he ended up converting those readers into $100,000 in other digital product sales and coaching calls and coaching program sales. So then, I thought I could set up something similar. I might add a coaching service to my website for example. I would try to start something simple, something that I could easily implement and build up from there.
I have a few different purposes with writing a book. One, it would help me to reflect and understand my experiences better. So in a way, it’d be kind of therapeutic. Two, I’d connect to and possibly help others who are either going through a similar experience themselves or are curious about these topics. Three, I’d create another passive income stream for myself, And four, there’s the possibility that this could open up other opportunities for me.
The part that I’m concerned about with writing this book is the potential criticism or ridicule I’ll receive. I think I can generally handle it. I have dealt with negativity when I started a body hair positive Instagram. For the most part, I get a lot of positive feedback. But sometimes, there are those who are plain ignorant or stupid (that’s how I label them). So, I guess if anything, I’ll just be more so annoyed/angry at the negativity then fearful or sad. When people spew their idiocracy, it usually has less to do with us and more to do with their twisted beliefs.
Ideally, I’d find a way to redirect that anger into something more productive. I’m reminded of Earthling Ed, a vegan activist who can get his views across without sounding crude or demeaning. Like if someone asks “but where do you get your protein”, which is sometimes considered to be a stupid question in the vegan community, he calmly suggests sources of protein in plant-based foods rather than rolling his eyes. I’d like to develop this kind of mindset myself.
So as you can see, I’m still in the process of planning how I’ll write the book and how I’ll publish it. This is a goal I’d like to reach before I turn 30. There’s no specific reason other than giving myself a deadline to accomplish my goal and make it a reality.
I think that the journey of writing the book will be enjoyable in itself. It’s like writing a blog post, but lengthier. I feel so relaxed and thoughtful when I write, especially when I type. And then, I enjoy going back and reading what I wrote in the past. It’s interesting to compare your past and present, and to track a moment in time.
I will probably hold off from writing my first draft until next year, 2021. I’m thinking about embarking on a different 30-day challenge (or well, trial) for the month of December. I want to build the momentum of completing 30-day trials so that when I get down to writing, I will actually commit to the 30 days. I don’t want to stop in between and give up. I want to ensure its success.
I know a few people personally who have published books of their own. And honestly, some of them are not even the type to write. Some of them have never even written anything online in the past. So if they could do it, then I certainly can with my writing experiences.
Before I embarked on my 30-day reading challenge, I thought I could start with reading 15 pages a day. Eventually, I settled on 20 pages. Even if this was doable, I think I should have chosen a less ambitious habit to build. If I could go back, I would have started with 5 pages. I know, that’s 25% of the goal I set. But, the point is consistency. If you’re not hitting your goal daily, you’re more likely to drop the habit and not commit to it long-term. It might even end up demotivating you.
The reason I initially chose 15 pages a day (and the increased it to 20 pages) was because I wanted to guarantee that I could finish a book within the 30 days. I ended up choosing 20 pages so I could finish it in less time. But, I didn’t really think about the fact that I haven’t finished reading a book within a month in years. This is quite an ambitious goal, and for someone who has not executed ambitious goals for a few years now, is it really a good idea?
As I continued with reading every day, I thought about how much easier it would have been if I chose to stick to 10 pages instead. And now, I’m saying that I should have set it even lower, to 5 pages a day. Why? Simply because 5 pages seems so accessible to me. It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes, it’s easy to get started, and most likely I will continue and end up reading more anyway. It’s like telling yourself to walk around the block once, but you end up going two or three times once you start moving. Or floss just one tooth, and you end up flossing all your teeth. You want to start off so small that you will definitely not say no.
If I didn’t read more than 5 pages a day, I would have still finished reading 150 pages that month. That’s more than what I’ve been doing for years. And after getting used to that, I could increase the goal by a page each time. I could slowly build up from there.
The biggest problem I’m facing now is, how long can I continue reading 20 pages a day without giving up one day? It feels like a struggle. I had to start finding ways to make it easier for myself without reducing the number of pages. I want to stick to the goal I set. I don’t want to compromise.
So, I’ve been reading multiple books. I read a chapter of the book I started with, and then switch to a newer book that has more of my interest and that I consider to be a “lighter” read. I also sometimes read books earlier in the day so I don’t have to read too much in the evenings. It kind of goes against what I originally planned. That’s because another reason I set a goal of reading more pages is because I wanted to see how effective it was in terms of my mood and my experience with hearing a voice, especially in the evenings. If I read only 5 pages, I might not see much of a difference. And if I read earlier in the day, I’m not really going to experience the potential benefits it would yield to me in the evenings when the voice is more active. So, there’s a toss-up.
Still, I could have set a goal of 5 pages, read more when I started off, noticed the results, and decided to read more or less depending on the upcoming days. Now, I feel stuck with this goal of 20 pages per day. I want to complete it because I want to have that sense of accomplishment of sticking to a goal no matter what. Even if it’s boring or I’m not feeling particularly good one day, I want to be able to see through to the end of it.
A lot of times, I give up on a goal because it seems too boring, or it seems to take up more energy. I think if I can stick to a goal despite it not being exactly how I want it to be, it can help me to become more disciplined in other areas. For example, I’ll be more willing to take on certain tasks that I might have to do in the future that I might not be interested in but will benefit me. Or, I might get into other activities good for my health such as exercise, even if I’m not into it at first.
I think it would have been better if I also built up more accountability or a more social aspect to the challenge. Sure, you’re building up your own knowledge. But, there’s something about sharing and connecting with others that helps you to stick to the goal. It’s like having a workout partner, or a study buddy. Even if you don’t look forward to the goal, you’re likely to look forward to hanging out with that person.
Right now, I’m reminding myself of the reasons why I started this challenge:
– I wanted to find a long-term habit that I’d like to develop in the evenings beyond just playing games on my phone.
– The habit might help me better deal with my experience of hearing a voice.
– My sleep might improve if I’m reading in the evenings before I go to sleep.
– I could gain more knowledge.
– I could develop better communication, coming up with more ideas based on what I was reading.
– I might develop a skill.
– It could help me with eventually writing a book of my own.
– I could share what I’ve learned with others.
– I could build up discipline.
– My mood could improve.
There’s a lot of potential benefits. I’m hoping that the more I remind myself, the more I’ll want to continue sticking to the habit.
I want to note that in the first week, I had no trouble sticking to the habit of reading 20 pages every evening. The second week was harder. I was starting to get bored with what I was reading. And also, I was not feeling particularly well one day.
This can happen with any 30-day challenge. Imagine if you set a goal to go to the gym every day for 30 days. Then one day, you feel sore. Or, you get sick. Or, you just lack energy. Do you still go? It’s easy to excuse yourself and skip a day when you think of those situations.
Sometimes, there’s a legit reason to quit. For example, if you get injured and you need to rest to heal, of course you should stop exercising for a while. However, boredom is not really a good reason to me, at least for a 30-day challenge. You have to stick to the 30 days to see the real benefits, and to maybe grow interest if you’re lacking it. Some people find learning a foreign language to be boring in the beginning, but once they’re able to actually communicate with others in that language, suddenly it becomes a whole new world.
I initially told myself that if I read 100 pages of a book and didn’t find it interesting, I could stop reading that book and move on to another one. My bored feeling didn’t come 100 pages in, but 200 pages in. I still wanted to finish the book because I thought maybe I’d find the later parts interesting. Plus, then I could say for sure whether this book was worth it or not.
Also, I think about all the time I spent playing games in the past. I spent so many hours on it, only to stop and not really gain any benefit from it. If I could do that with games, why couldn’t I spend a little more time finishing reading something and seeing where that leads? Worst case, I don’t learn anything new and dissuade others from reading it.
I do want to continue sticking to my 30-day reading 20 pages a day challenge. I have about two weeks left. I wish I was more disciplined, but hey, it is what it is. I have to accept where I am right now. If 20 pages becomes too difficult, I might reduce the number of pages. I somewhat feel as if I shouldn’t be lenient with myself. But, I don’t want to stress myself out. The whole point in the beginning was to find a relaxing activity to do before bed. At the same time, I don’t want to fall short of my goals. Ah, what a dilemma…
Next time I embark on a 30-day challenge, despite it saying “challenge”, I will make it easier on myself. It’s more like a 30-day trial, not a challenge. I guess I’m using the wrong word here. Trial is more fitting because you’re testing something out to see how it is. Then at the end of the 30 days, you decide if it’s right or not for you. I think a challenge is more like pushing your limits, and that’s not what I’m seeking to do.
Well anyway, I surpassed 10 days of reading 20 pages a day. I don’t know exactly what day I’m on now, though I should hit 2 weeks. That’s an accomplishment, even if I don’t hit 30 days (though I still hope to hit 30 days!). Even if I fail, it’ll be a lesson for me in the future. I will have a better idea of how to form my future 30-day trials.
Don’t be afraid to start over, because as they say, you’re not starting from scratch this time; you’re starting from experience.
I revamped my blog, partially out of convenience, and partially because I wasn’t satisfied with my old blog posts. I figured I could rewrite them or repurpose my old content if it had any potential.
Of course, I thought about the downsides. I wouldn’t have my old posts published on my page proving that my website existed for many years. And, it would take me time to build up content again.
However, I realized that those downsides were not really much of a problem. It’d be nice to start over with the idea that the quality might be higher than if I left all of my old blog posts up. And if I had to show anyone my old blog posts, I could always show them my saved archives. (I highly doubt that I’ll need to pull my archives though.)
People start over all the time. They embark on new careers, retake courses, move to new places, or end long-term relationships. In some cases, it can be scary to lose what’s familiar or feel disappointed that you’re “not moving forward”, but you only have everything to gain by trying something over again.
When you start over, you have previous experience to guide you. You are aware of the mistakes you should avoid. You are more in tune with your values.
It’s not a failure to start over. It’s a journey that never ends. It just changes and transforms. When you are trying something over again, the experience is different. So, it’s not a waste. You are always learning something new.
For weeks, I’d have the itch to write. I’d think, “I want to blog, but I don’t know what to write about.” Then, I’d try reading other blogs or my old posts to see what I could write. Usually, I’d end up with nothing.
Yesterday though, I wrote three blog posts and scheduled them to post on three consecutive days. I don’t know exactly how this surge in writing happened. But when it does happen, it’s rather nice.
I guess when you hold onto an intention, eventually you yield results. (I also started reading books daily recently, so perhaps that has got the wheels spinning in my head.) I would write, even when the idea seemed insignificant. I even wrote a blog post on coloring. Most people might disregard it, but I published it anyway. It might be helpful to someone someday. Who knows.
If you have a goal of posting on your blog daily, it’s nice to sometimes write several posts a day and save them up. Then, you can take breaks in between (if you want). You can go back and review what you wrote, to make sure it still seems good. Or, you can focus on other content creation such as YouTube videos or social media posts.
I suggest that if you write a bunch of blog posts in one day, schedule them out. I spread mine out to one post per day. Some people might schedule the posts farther apart, like two or three days, or even a week. There’s been some debate on how frequently you should post. I think daily is okay, but some people say weekly is better for increasing readership. You can always experiment. I don’t mind posting daily because I feel like most people stumble across my posts through searching Google anyway.
Usually the more you practice something, the more you improve. I can notice some improvement in quality between my old blog and my revamped blog. I remember at one point more than two years back, I was posting frequently, just whatever was on my mind. I still do that now. But when I look back at my archived posts, I don’t see much content or value. I was pumping out content, like some social media influencers would suggest. My ideas seemed somewhat unclear. If it seems unclear to me, I can only imagine how it comes across to you as the reader. I still focus on quantity, because quality is something that is improved over time, especially with writing. But, I try to make sure that I have some point in what I write.