Michael Su's Blog

February Personal Progress Report

Two months in. One new goal and no big revelations but I'm happy that I'm progressing forward. I'm in the execution stage of my goals.

tldr; I lost 10 pounds total. I'm cooking but my fridge broke. It makes me happy to see my family and loved ones eat the food I cook. Waking up early is good, but I need to wake up a little earlier to do my morning routine. I'm going to travel the world while working at the very end of March. I'm going to enjoy the life journey, and spend quality time with people important to me.

Side Goal: One thing I think is becoming important to me — I'm learning to spend more quality time with the people I care about and love and tell them that. Sometimes if you focus on something in the future, even if that focus is for the benefit of your loved ones, it might become too late one day to tell them you care or spend time with them. The future you focus on may not ever materialize so focus on the now.

Progress report

The goals I've been working on:

  1. Fitness
  2. Learn Thai
  3. Morning Routine
  4. Cooking
  5. Becoming a Digital Nomad
  6. Being present (new)

Fitness

I've lost a total of 10 pounds since January through a combination of diet and exercise. Go me!

My muscle mass is increasing, fat decreasing, and water weight increasing so everything is looking good.

I've been doing Freeletics at home with the help of Corepower Yoga classes. Once I leave San Francisco (see Digital Nomad), I'll probably switch back to the Down Dog app or take classes in the country I'm in. It's been super helpful not to think of what exercise I need to do and just follow the app or the teacher.

Eating health has also been good. I try to either keep it low carb or portion control. It's been hard the last two weeks because my fridge broke for two weeks, but at least with portion control, I can bring down my weight.

Learning Thai

Overall learning Thai is progressing well. I've come across a lot of language learning theory that I'm interested in trying that fits with my beliefs in learning a language from my previous language learning experiences. I'm currently taking private lessons on italki 3-4 times a week in additional to some self study. Conversation practice is what I'm optimizing for since I think being able to communicate is the secret to staying fluent, not lots of vocab and theory.

One interesting side effect is that the language really teaches you a lot about Thai culture. For instance, Thai's say ไม่เป็นไร (mai bpen rai) all the time. It is translated as "no problem" but is more than that. It's tied to karma and the idea is that things that come around to you are meant to happen and take it with a smile. For instance, if you miss an exit on the highway, enjoy the new scenery rather than get angry or impatient. Or สบาย (sabai) which you can say twice as sabai sabai. It's translated to "happy", but its use is closer to "comfortable" or "relaxed". It's not the opposite of sad, it's more of a state of peace and tranquility. I really like the idea that happiness is a state of comfortable tranquility! Reminds me of "hygge" from the Danes.

Learning language theory has been interesting. A popular Thai teacher called Stu Jay Raj broke down why Thai letters are traditionally arranged the way they are. It's based on ancient Indian linguists and which part of the mouth make the tones. Once you realize that, it's a lot easier to remember what letters belong to high, mid or low tones based on where in your mouth the sound comes from. Also all the vowels can be easily broken out into a matrix of three types of changes applied onto a couple sounds. This makes the Thai sounds a lot easier to learn and understand.

I really want to learn Japanese too which I've forgotten a lot of, but from prior experience, I really need to focus on only one language at a time. It was nice to watch a video of Japanese language learners and realize I could still understand a lot of it though.

Morning Routine

The morning routine has been super helpful but as I'm shifting into being a morning person, I've scheduled things earlier and earlier which has made the routine harder to follow through on when I wake up at 8 or 9AM. I probably need to wake up at 6 or 7AM.

I started with a routine based on the Miracle Morning book I read last October, but now I'm experimenting with ideas from Justin Kan's happiness doc here.

Since trying to set boundaries on my work and doing early meetings almost everyday, it's been a lot harder to follow through with the full morning routine, but sleep early and waking up early has made me a lot happier. The boundaries were set because I realized when I was in BKK for 3 months, that I felt like I was on call and working all day and night and it really reduced my quality of life and affected my relationship. It'll be good to try to fit the whole morning routine in and wake up a little bit earlier in March.

Cooking

I took a short detour in February to bake a cake and cook something things for pleasure. And then my refrigerator broke! So now I've had to pause cooking for two weeks now. It looks like I'll need to cook while abroad to finish my cooking certificate, but it should be fine to do that during the periods where I'm traveling slowly. So I'm still only around one-third finished with the course but it's ok.

I also realize I feel a lot of happiness from making food for others, especially those I care about. When I brought a cake home to my parents and my family ate it, it felt really good. When my Dad snuck in the kitchen in the morning to eat a slice of cake for breakfast, I felt really good inside.

Digital Nomad

Last time I wrote it was a secret goal. But now it's official. I'm going to be a digital nomad!

I'm going to be traveling at the end of March and living out one of the dreams I've had in the past 5 years. I'm afraid I will get lonely but I also feel that if I don't try it, I will keep itching to try. Now I have the opportunity to really explore that side of myself and see what type of person I am.

Previously, I thought I might have to quit my job to become a digital nomad and it was stressing me out when my ex-girlfriend moved back to live in Thailand and I felt I needed to find a way to stay long term. Looking back, I should have tried to explore baby steps rather than try to have backup plans for all the things that could go wrong. Instead of stressing so long, I could have figured it out just by asking a few questions of my boss. Now that I'm single, I'm less tied to staying in just Thailand. I still plan on learning Thai in Thailand but will probably travel around a bit more. And for now the plan is that once I am happy with where my Thai is, I'm thinking of cleaning up my Japanese and getting conversational with it and maybe Korean after.

Being present

As I've reflected on my life over the past few years, I feel that I've been very focused on the future for the last three years and have kind of lost focus on what's important today.

You can be so focused on the future that you neglect the present which causes the future you're planning for not to exist.

This can manifest itself in a few different ways.

Taking care to spend time and be present with those you care about. For now, this is with my parents, family, and friends. It's not just sitting at the dinner table, it's taking a real interest in them and what they have to say.

There is some studies done that people are heavily influenced by "fairness". As humans, we like to compare with others and if we see other people using their phones, we feel its fair if we use ours. If people are late or use their phones, you feel like you should be late or use your phone too. I'm guilty of being pretty bad with being on time and using my phone when with people. I decided to try to just focus on what I can do and stop being so focused on being equal with others. This could be putting down the phone even if others are using it. Or being on-time even if you expect others to be late. Make the contract with yourself to stop this behavior and you'll feel better for doing it and will stop hurting those who are on-time and paying attention. For example, at work we have an issue where most people are late and some of it comes from the top. But if I hold myself to being on time for both work and personal circumstances, I can feel satisfaction that I am on-time even if others aren't. You can only control what you do and not what others do.

Being present is also taking the time to enjoy the journey of life and not being so focused on the end goal. Enjoyment in the journey is the only way to make the time before the end worthwhile. For this, I'm taking more classes, trying new things, visiting parts of the city I don't go to as often, etc.

Reflection

As I get older, big goals seem harder and harder to accomplish — but it's very inspiring to myself to be able to make progress on so many areas in my life. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the life and opportunities that brought me to where I'm at now. I'm curious with all the ups and downs in life, if my personal beliefs on life are becoming more Buddhist or some sort of optimistic Stoicism.

Gratitude

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