travel plans

Planning for future travel plans (that you know you definitely will embark on – not one of those oh, I’m sure I will do that one day moments) is an extremely exciting affair. The incredible amount of resources online make for hours and hours of fun. I spent countless hours staring my computer screen, and occasionally dropping a note or two on my travel planner (yeah I have one. I’m dead serious, guys). AirBnB, Workaway, MindMyHouse, Lonely Planet, Guidegecko, and so on have become my favorite haunts.


Admittedly, I found independent travelers’ blogs to be better reads. It’s always easier to relate to someone who has been there and done that – such as Lea Woodward from Location Independent or Mark from Migrationology. My favorite post was this – an amazing 101 guide to backpacking across Southeast Asia, which I am going to embark on in May.


The best part is that most of these resources are totally free. The only exception I have made so far was to pay S$37 for membership at Workaway, in order to contact potential hosts. We’ll see how that investment pans out, I have high hopes for it!


In the midst of my planning, though, I started to have one of those moments of reflection. You know, that moment when you’ve spent 12 hours researching on something exciting (I’m exaggerating, of course… I think) and you suddenly think, What am I doing all this for?


That’s exactly what occurred to me. What was my purpose of travel in the first place? To grow as a person; to experience the world and all it’s colorful cultures; to experience independence on the road; to find life’s calling. I realized that it was all about me, me, me! There should be more to it than just me, right?


At the end of the day, I added one more item to my list of aims: To contribute to the less fortunate in the world in a tangible way. Sure, I might not make a huge impact on the economy of Africa, or solve the political issues of Myanmar, but just by staying in one family’s house and helping with the chores, with their business, and with their lives – in this way, perhaps I could start a small ripple of change that could go far.


I could do my small part for the world.


definition of self

I will be graduating in a few months’ time. My plan initially was to quickly look for a job when graduation was nearer. I was taken aback, however, by the fact that some of my peers had already started looking for a job the year before. Say what?! Yes, one whole year before graduating. Talk about kiasu – but it’s a reality in our world today. Everyone wants to snag that sweet job that promises cash and prestige. If you don’t, you lose out. You are a failure if you fail to get a great job by the time you graduate. Really?


In today’s world, we are bombarded by a massive amount of Directions that tell us what to do, how to do, when to do, and so on. Our Self becomes defined by the Directions that we follow. For example, I want to be considered as successful – how? By being a doctor – how? By being a terrific student, and scoring well enough to make it into medical school. Why does being a doctor make me successful? Because I will earn lots of money, and being a doctor is prestigious. Why is earning a lot of money and being a doctor both considered as being successful? Well… That’s what everybody says so.


Therefore, my Self that wants to be successful becomes directed by my very definition of success, which, to a large extent, is molded by conventions. End result: I am defined by how I define success – and this definition is hugely influenced by the conventions and Directions of society.

definition of self

Except… Such definitions are losing their legitimacy. Having a degree no longer guarantees you a job. Being a doctor or a lawyer guarantees cash, but does not guarantee satisfaction. The nature of prestige has been subverted – traditional definitions no longer apply. Security in jobs is progressively falling in priority among job-hunters – passion and satisfaction seem to be the new buzz words.


Yet, we still drill our youth to follow the “tried-and-tested” – except that we’ve forgotten that the “tested” have failed. So we force our youth to follow the “tried-and-failed”, crossing our fingers and hoping that it will work out somehow. But youth nowadays are smart. They no longer take things at face value. They question, they debate, they rebel. And they are wise to the fact that the old ways are failing.


Some things don’t change. Hard work is still an integral factor in one’s success (however defined). But the rules are changing. No longer is it wise to work hard at something one dislikes – that makes for discontent and dissatisfaction in the long run. It is far more prudent to find something that one truly believes in (irregardless of the prestige level) and still work hard at that. 


The bottom-line is this: It is now necessary for one to define Self in terms of what one truly believes in. Following the wrong Directions would result in a dissatisfied and disgruntled Self. The only way to find the right Directions is to look deep within oneself – throw off the old notions, renew one’s mind, and find what the heart truly desires.


At the end of the day, I decided – I will be spending a year travelling and exploring work in various places after graduation. No rush – it is far more important to find Self first.


From Daniel: Ryan Rivera used to suffer from panic attacks for seven years.  He now dedicates his life helping those who suffer from stress, anxiety, panic attacks and depression through his writings.  You can read more of his articles at Calm Clinic.


This article brings up the oft-mentioned topic of work-life balance (previously mentioned here). Enjoy Ryan’s refreshing perspective!

work-life balance

Have you ever felt that you are overwhelmed by the work load that you have? Do you feel that it becomes an effort for you to go to work? It seems that you are having a work-life imbalance. Unfortunately, it is easy in this modern-age for you to get burn out through stress and anxiety. Smart people try to carve a work-life balance as a sort of tactical retreat. Luckily, there are many ways for you to bring back your work-life balance.  Just check out the following helpful tips.


Adhere to your schedule

Make sure that you work within your work schedule. Extending your work is a sign that there is an imbalance. If you work longer it exposes you to more stress which can become harmful to you. Exert effort to finish everything within eight hours so that you will no longer have to work extra. The more time for relaxation and less time working is a sign that you have balanced work-life effectively.


Put some downtime in your schedule

Planning your week should include downtime. Make it a point that you have time allotted for relaxation and bonding with family and friends. Put some time to allow you to do some exercise or any physical activity such as weekend games of baseball or basketball. Getting more time to bond with family will be beneficial to increase the feel-good chemicals in the brain. Remember that life is not just all about work.  We also need to have time to bond with our families and loved ones.  Otherwise, your main objectives for working so hard may be in vain.


Don’t fall in love with adrenaline

Okay, adrenaline will surely keep you going. The extra energy will tempt you to work longer which will prove detrimental in the long run. Too much adrenaline will make you more stressed which will make you want some more when adrenaline levels slide down. If adrenaline levels are not sustained it can lead to depression, inability to relax and could lead to sleeping problems. Be a keen observant of your own adrenaline levels.  Make sure that this will drag you towards making a slave of yourself as you work form sun up to sun down.  Remember that all of us need some down time.


Ask for other’s help

Asking for other’s help to accomplish something will ease tensions. It is a good way to wiggle yourself out from stressful situations that you may face every workday. Pride sometimes hinders people from asking help. Some people don’t want to bother other people. These reasons keep people from asking help which can overwhelm you and lead you to a stressful situation. Asking for help from other people will not make you less of a human being.  In fact, it is when we ask for help that we realize that we are indeed humans who are social beings by nature.  Not to mention the fact that as you ask help form other people you are in reality making them feel that their presence matters a lot to you.  So, go ahead and never hesitate to delegate those extra loads you have.  Asking for help and delegating some tasks will greatly relieve you from much stress and anxiety.


Just say NO

Learn to decline anything that other people ask you to do which you feel is unimportant and not urgent. Politely tell them that the tasks that they are asking you to do will not create an impact to your productivity and does not add value to the business. However, do not be abrasive or rude. Say it straight and true.


Keep your Smartphone away

A large car manufacturer asked its employees not to respond to emails after work. The result was better productivity and happier workforce. Smartphone made people more connected to the office. It proved very disastrous in keeping the right work-life balance. Being exposed to the activity at the office even if you are at home extends the stress which the workplace exerts on the worker.


Work-life balance simply means you don’t have to work long and hard. Sometimes working just right will prove more sustainable and improve productivity. Healthier employees are able to work more and call in sick less. Healthy workers are happy ones that have balanced work-life.


From Daniel: Emily Larder is a writer specialising in health and wellbeing. She aims to improve people’s lives by opening up discussions regarding different areas of health and well being and explaining different options. She currently works for the Academy of Holistic Hypnotherapy.


A distance runner’s most potent weapon is not his legs, or even his lungs – it is his mental endurance. The brain is capable to far more than we could ever imagine. A positive mental attitude could go a long way in helping us deal with whatever it is we face in life. Read on… and remember to smile.

positive mental attitude

Positive mental attitude (also known as PMA) can help you achieve many life goals, do better at home or at work and create a happier living environment for you and your family. Those who manage to achieve a constant positive mental attitude, no matter what their situation, seem to succeed in a lot more than those who are always looking at the negative side of things. Finding and maintaining PMA can be quite difficult without the right knowledge, which is why this guide aims to look at some of the ways you can become more positive in life:


1) Choose to embrace life

This may seem like quite a hard thing to accept, but once you embrace life and everything that comes with it, achieving a positive mental attitude will come a lot easier to you. It helps to understand that there will be ups and downs, which you cannot change, but that will turn you into a stronger person.


2) Stay cool, calm and collected

Feeling upset or angry are some of the more negative emotions that people can go through, especially in stressful scenarios. Try to see the times that would normally make you scream or cry as just ‘one of those things’ and realise that we are responsible for our own actions and emotions.


3) Learn to love yourself

Getting annoyed at things you do, the way you look or the choices we have made in life will not be beneficial for you or your family. Learning to love yourself is one of the key steps to achieving a completely positive mental attitude. When you love yourself, you will find that you are happier and more confident, which can reflect positively on your home and work life.


4) Leave your work at work

Try to ensure that when you go home, that it is home time and not work time. Leave all of the problems in the office behind to deal with another day. It is no good getting home and stressing over things that cannot be changed until you go back into work. Remain positive and understand that tomorrow is another day.


5) Relaxation techniques

There are many different types of relaxation techniques that will help you achieve a more positive mental attitude. You can try yoga or pilates, meditation or hypnotherapy which is one of the most popular techniques for those aiming to achieve PMA. A good hypnotherapist can ensure you feel relaxed, before talking through the reasons that you stress out, get angry or upset and just generally feel negative. Hypnotherapy can also make you understand all of the four points that have already been covered in this guide, but in more detail.


There are many different ways that you can achieve a positive metal attitude, although some of them may be easier than others depending on the extent of your negativity.


From Daniel: Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer.  She writes for various online establishments and currently partners with in raising awareness about the importance of health and fitness. Her works can also be seen in one of the most famous health communities online –  She is also blogging about health and fitness here.  You may follow her in twitter @empressofdrac.


You may recall that this topic of exercise = positivity has been touched on before (ahem!). This post is here to drive home the point.

running on a treadmill

When you start running, you may feel awkward or out of shape. You may find it difficult to jog for even sixty seconds, and the idea of running for a longer period of time may seem impossible. If you are running outside, you may feel embarrassed by the people who are passing you, and you may think that they are staring at you.


If you are feeling these emotions, you are not alone.


Many people feel like this when they start to exercise, and the important thing is to keep trying. It only takes a couple of weeks to get into a routine, and once you have established your exercise routine, you will feel better than ever.


If you are worried about running outside, you can hide inside on a treadmill until you feel confident enough to get back outside and hit the trails. Running on a treadmill also offers you a degree of consistency that you simply cannot get while outside. When you run on a treadmill, you never have to worry about inclement weather, and you can always exercise.


One most important things to keep in mind when you start running is that you will get better. If you increase the duration and intensity of your workout in small increments each day, you will improve. Eventually, you will be running two to five miles easily, and you will hardly even remember that you once struggled to jog for sixty seconds without getting winded. A good treadmill works like a trainer. It can help you to track your workout goals, and it can inspire you to meet new goals every day. When you are setting and meeting goals on your treadmill, your self-esteem will improve.


Whether you are on a treadmill or outside, running will make you feel more confident and more relaxed. When you exercise, your body releases natural chemicals that boost your mental state and make you feel happier. You will feel less tension, you will have more energy, and you will sleep better at night. You may notice that you feel less angry, and study after study has proven that exercising on a regular basis makes it easier to make healthy choices.


If you are ready to feel better about yourself, you should turn on your favorite music, and you should hop aboard your treadmill – right now.