Michael Su's Blog

April Personal Progress Report

tldr; I lost 20 pounds total (5 per month) but this month I'm eating carbs and sugar and am still managing to lose weight. Big focus recently has been balancing nomad life with work and enjoying life regardless of whatever life throws at us.

I paused cooking as it's difficult without a consistent kitchen but I've been taking some cooking classes instead.

The goals I've been working on:

  1. Fitness
  2. Becoming a Digital Nomad
  3. Enjoying the present
  4. Learn Thai

Fitness

I've lost a total of 20 pounds since January through a combination of diet and exercise but this month I've focused less on diet and have been eating rice, noodles, and a some sweets. Instead I've been trying to portion control and still eat all the interesting foods in the countries I'm going to. I think if I lose 5 or 10 more pounds, that would be around my ideal weight.

I ended up taking a ton of classes this past month in Thailand mostly at Absolute You. I also did a few exercise with the Freeletics and Down Dog app.

Digital Nomad

I'm now a little over one month into being a digital nomad and it's been great. A lot of people don't get why you can't see all the sights or go to all the tourist destinations, but I really only have weekends. For the week, I'm basically just a lost foreigner working in the city which is fun for sure, but not what people expect when they know I'm from abroad (unless they're also nomadic).

As someone who's more than a tourist, I feel like your priorities shift a little bit from focusing on how little time you have to try to run around the city and soak up all you can, to more of a slow broil where you want to see how the locals live, enjoy the day to day life, and experience a way of living that's a little bit different than where you're from. (Although some people just stick to english and stay within the expat/nomad circles)

Being nomadic also raises the question: "How and why do you choose to live where you do?"

It's been interesting to think about traveling. First, I think you realize that it's not a permanent choice. You can "rent" a country to live in for awhile and get a taste of whether it's the right place for you for now or not. And you can always go back to where you came from.

Second, once you're in a country, why are you there? I feel that for me, I absolutely need to have an interest in learning the language and culture otherwise it's just a temporary place you're passing through.

But the problem with passing through, is that if you intend on being nomadic for any length of time, and you keep passing through the same country, at a certain point, you can't treat it as a temporary place anymore. Even now, I'm developing a sense for what countries I am interested in living in for an extended period of time, versus what I call "vacation countries" which are places I want to see but not live in. In this category, there's another subdivision: the places I'm interested in learning more about but am not sure if I want to stay there long term (usually new cities in countries I like) versus place where I have no intention to stay (but sometimes you end up liking it anyways).

Ultimately, I feel that if you're not interested in the language or culture, eventually every place is almost the same and the only difference with staying at home is probably cost of living and the fact you're in another country.

Enjoying the present

Recently this has been mostly about the duality between what I want, and being happy with what I already have. It's exciting to try to learn something new or want to be better or want to do something, but it's guaranteed not to always happen the way you want and to stay even keeled you really need to be able to switch to appreciating what you already got instead of always being dissatisfied and wanting more.

For example, being patient with language learning. I want to be conversational in the five languages I know but three of the five I can just read some letters and understand some vocabulary. Hardly functional, but rather than rushing, I just spend a second executing toward the goals but appreciating where I already am. Same with work and success, I'm by no means very successful, but I make enough, I have the opportunity to be remote, and if I look back towards my previous work related goals, I've already hit them, but I'm giving myself pressure and making myself unhappy by only looking forward at goals I haven't reached rather than appreciating where I've gotten. I want to start my own startup too but in the grand scheme of themes, I have a pretty good position at a startup and have the experience of being a super early employee twice.

It's kind of unnatural because I feel like the struggle to improve and hit goals makes life interesting and provides some level of purpose. But at the same time, to stay happy and optimisitic you need to not let failure or slower than expected progress bring you down. You need to appreciate what's already happened and what you've already achieved.

Learning Thai

Learning Thai was progressing well in Thailand but I anticipate it to slow down while I'm in other countries. I'm continuing my lessons with the same school but through Skype now. Slow and steady progress -- based on the lesson plan, I should hit an intermediate level in a few months after which I'll see if I feel like I still need to learn more to retain it or if I can pause for awhile.

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