Start by showing up!

Date posted: November 27, 2023

“It’s been a long day”
“I’m not feeling it”
“I have work to do”
“I should treat myself”

Those are a couple of reasons I tell myself to not go to the gym, BJJ practices or even in writing and my work which is web design and development.

To counter this, I usually say to myself: “I will just show up, I don’t even have to lift weights, I don’t even have to roll, just be there!”.

So when I arrived at the gym, magic starts to happen: I look around and see other people doing the work, the energy of the environment, muscle memory starts to kick in, inspire me to do something, make me want to apply myself. In some really rare occasions like if I’m injured and cannot participate, I can tell my instructor that I’ll sit out and watch everyone, that’d be okay too.

Try asking yourself: “Have you ever regret after a practice or a class, would you think it’d be better if you hadn’t come in the first place?” from there, you can sort out your priorities and put your temporary emotions aside to do the work that needs to be done!

Start by showing up!

Humility is the best teacher

Date posted: October 16, 2023

One of the things I found very helpful when learning new things is to be humble. 

Whether you are at the gym, in class, at work, or anywhere, learn to listen, be humble, undestand that some people knows more than you are, some are more qualified and more specialized, somebody always know something that you don’t.

Don’t be quick to talk or to argue or debate, start by listening to what they have to say or what you might have done wrong. From there, you have the option to learn from their feedbacks and input, understand that you don’t know everything is very liberating and inspiring way to learn, you must first open the bottle before letting the water in.

Be a student, be humble.

My bed got termites

Date posted: October 11, 2023

I got up later than I should have, and the neck pain still lingers and hasn’t gone away entirely yet, I can still go to Jiu-jitsu class today, but first, I need to deal with my bed that got infested with termites since Friday of two weeks ago. The exterminator had come and dosed everything with red powder which I can only assume is insecticide. At least it’s not the bed bugs on steroids that France is having. I hope they can handle that soon or we gonna have another kind of worldwide emergency.

Cleaning is not my favorite pasttime in the whole world, I’ve always got a plan to work or to learn something but I think that as a functional human being with a common hygienic standard, some cleaning time after time is good, a little bit of sweat and elbow grease, taking care of your living environment can come a long way, affecting the quality of your work and life in general.

I have to start with removing the infested wood from the floorboards, and the drawers beneath the bed that the termites got to, scrape off the trail of wood grain (or termite poop, I’m not sure), throw out all the books and paper in that drawer just in case there are still termites eggs and trails that they can repopulate. Most of the books are my college textbook others are unused notebooks that my mom doesn’t have to throw out dating back to the early 2000s. I stacked them into 2 big plastic bags just in case someone might find them usable or get some money recycling them. I swept up most of the debris with my broom, and I used my vacuum for the dust and the termite’s remains. I’m doing this all while wearing a mask, I can still sense the smell of dampened, damaged wood combined with the humidity, I can see the particles of dust and wood in the air, some of them landed on my glasses. Since my room is in the corner of the house and stacked with furniture and stuff my sister threw in combined with the fact that the room has no window and sunlight, it’s quite hard to counter the humidity as well as the claustrophobic feeling.

I listened to my running playlist while cleaning, the upbeat music helped the cleaning process go by quite quickly and was even enjoyable at times. Everything wrapped up within 4 hours, and I was even able to sneak in a lunch break in between. I showered and was tempted to take a nap but duty calls, I need to go to the bank to check why my card can’t pay for the Cloudways Invoice and reply to a warm lead asking for web design.

Some of my cleaning progress pictures:

I also found the old family film camera:

“Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?”

Date posted: October 4, 2023

I’ve got asked this questions by a mentor last night. I’ve always think that it’s one of those “cliche” hiring question that you have to ask on every interview. I never have a solid idea of how to answer that question since the future is hard to predict, who knows what’s going to happen. If you asked me that questions 2 years ago when I was just graduated as a pharmacist, I would never have guessed that I would run a web design business as a solopreneur, but here I am, living life, doing what I love, struggling through the hardship of finding new quality clients.

But somehow, last night, I can somehow see the answer quite clearly. I definitely still want to stay on the path of web design during the next 5 years, I would love to have my own creative agency by then where I can hire a couple of like-minded designers that can help me with client works. Ideally, I would love to have a stable client list where I don’t have to worry about financial. I want to focus on client-facing problem and help them in their business with website creation. I still want to open Figma or my notebook to sketch out wireframe and design whenever I like but it’s not because I have to but because of my love in the craft.

I guess by that time, my standard will be different from now and I would still want to improve and advance, challenging the status quo, striving to be like my role-models. I probably still stress out but with different problems haha. Now I have to get back to writing follow-ups email to the cold email prospects I outreached last week. I hope you are having a great week wherever you are!:)

Photo taken from a coffee shop I’m visiting today called Barista Collective in Hồ Xuân Hương, Hồ Chí Minh City, Việt Nam

Monday rain

Date posted: October 2, 2023

I woke up to the sounds of rain hitting my bedroom’s window. It’s a great excuse for me not going to the gym today as I have to take care of the dogs since my parents are away for vacation. It can’t remember the last time there was a morning rain. It has been raining since morning to the time I’m writing this, which is almost noon. I hope the rain will stop soon as I have Jiu-Jitsu class this evening.

Here’s a playlist for you guys to vibe with in these rainy days, my girlfriend and I was playing Risk Of Rain last night listening to this:

Pascal Campion’s Art – Late night thoughts

Date posted: October 2, 2023

A beautiful illustration panels sharing the story and inner thoughts of a father whose son is sick. I love how Pascal uses color contrast along with composition making each frame like a movie scene.

Follow Pascal Campion on Instagram:

Saying goodbye to Freeletics

Date posted: September 25, 2023

At around the same time last year, I was making a commitment by paying for a home workout app on Google Play Store called Freeletics. $50 a year subscription for an app is quite an investment for me at that time, so I planned to make the most of it as possible.

After a 46 weeks streak, I excercised from a small space in my room, ultilized bodyweight and dumbbells I’ve got at home, I’ve built a habit of working out at least 5 times a week without any excuses. Freeletics create your workout every day including the warmup, the workout itself and cooldown, you can even change the workout based on the muscle group you want to workout on and especially the time you want to workout that day starting from 10 mins to 30 mins or even longer. There are days where I don’t feel like doing anything, but still try to push through and do some excercise with Freeletics.

So why am I saying goodbye to Freeletic now?

For me, Freeletics is great for people who want to build their habits of working out or having a excercise schedule and sticking to it. Their UI design is modern and sleek, the achievement and streak system is great, but as you progress to a certain point, their workout is a little bit repetitive or you want something more, I can’t really blame them due to the limitation of the space in my room as well as the equipment I have.

So as the COVID situation is no longer a threat and a new gym just opened 5 mins away from where I live, I decided to signed up and be more serious in working out, have more access to weights and gym equipment (I used Fitness 22’s Workout Planner to track my progress). I also signed up to a new jiu-jitsu class 3 times a week so to balance that along with my new gym schedule every morning is gonna take me a bit of times to get used to.

Thanks Freeletics for all the time we have worked out together, I would highly recommend this app for people who want to workout everyday but don’t know where to start or simply want to build a habit of excercising every week!

When do you know that you’re ready?

Date posted: September 20, 2023

Whether you want to apply for a job or start your own business, you want to be prepared and have as much as knowledge and practice as possible before sending that resume or reaching out to a prospective client.

So, when do you know that you are prepared and ready to make the big move?

the short answer is: you don’t. While being prepared and anticipating what could happen and ready for that is a great mindset to have but too much of that will get you stuck in the repeating cycle of practice and planning. The more you learn, the more you realize that there are a lot of things you don’t know, and makes you even more insecure.

Once you have spent some hours studying and working on your craft, that has already made you a professional, at least well-versed in the subject more than your client. When meeting with the client, you both arrived at the table as equals, you as a service provider and the client looking for a solution that you can provide and help their business.

Let’s take my web design business for example, every project I’ve done so far has challenges, and problems I have never encountered before. The client might have some ideas or features that they want to have on their website. How did I deal with these requests? Should I just decline the project, go back to my room, and work on the skills I’m lacking?

The key is to listen and communicate. You have a certain set of skills that can solve a certain set of problems. When the client expresses that they want a solution that is outside of your skillset or some obscure ideas that can “transform” their business, at that moment, breathe in deeply, listen to what the client is saying, what exactly is the underlying problem they wanna solve and how is your skillset can help the client with their problem. 

Imagine you going to the hospital, asking for drugs to help with their ailment and the doctor simply gives them what they asked without question. A doctor must diagnose the problem and prescribe the correct treatment that fits the patient.

Similar to the doctor, after we listen to the client saying something that we cannot do at that moment, we have 2 options:

– Yes, we can help but with a different approach.

– No, we cannot help at the present moment.

– Maybe, we need to consult with outside help for this problem you are facing.

This is where communication skills come into play, be transparent with the client, and let them know your capabilities as well as limitations. The worst thing is different expectations between you and the client while working on a project. You don’t have to stress out, keep in mind that every problem has its solutions and you can figure it out either with time or money! Even if you can’t do it, consider outsourcing that to 3rd party vendor and you manage the project and communicate with the client. 

So when you feel you are not ready, or not experienced enough, just take a deep breath, gather your confidence, stay calm, ask the client what they need, learn on the job, and learn from your mistake. You can only grow when you’re uncomfortable.

My girlfriend and I tried Jiu-jitsu for the first time

Date posted: September 19, 2023

As we were looking for new physical activity to do together, we had a look into a Jiu-jitsu class recommended by a friend. We really didn’t know much about Jiu-jitsu, we just know that it looked like wrestling. Here is what 90 minutes in the trial class looked like for us:

– We had our warmup where we ran in a circle then practiced rolling and some other exercises that I don’t remember the name of…

– We then begin to learn the basics of Jiu-jitsu such as how to keep your distance, defense, and back away from the opponent

– The most exciting part is to learn how to Closed Guard, Scissor Sweep then Take Down

– Finally, we had our 1-on-1 practicing take down with the instructor.

Overall, it was a fun experience. Our instructor was very encouraging and considerate knowing that we are new to the sport. From what I’ve seen, Jiu-jitsu is more of a mind game and whoever keeps a cool head will likely win. We watched a few rounds of people practicing and could not guess who would have a submission, the girl with her back on the ground might grab her opponent’s shoulder and put it in a lock and win.

We’ll have our 2nd trial class before making our decision to sign up for a membership. I’m looking forward to learning more and maybe spending more time in the sport!

Primitive mind vs Higher mind

Date posted: September 18, 2023

I’ve recently come across “What’s our problem” by Tim Urban on Blinkist, in which he shared an interesting idea that all of us have a primitive mind and a higher mind constantly at odds with one another. Here is the summary from Blinkist, the emphasis are mine:

Your primitive mind wants you to eat the whole bag of Skittles. Your higher mind tells you that it’s probably a bad idea.

These two minds are constantly in conflict, and whichever is winning out decides the way that you think; how you make your decisions and form your beliefs. Think of it as a four-runged ladder.

When you’re on the top rung, your higher mind is in complete control. Here, you logically observe evidence and reach conclusions with a clear emotional detachment and a desire to find the truth –no matter what it is. Let’s call this “thinking like a scientist.”

Go down to the next rung on the ladder and your higher mind is still in control but your primitive mind is having a bit more of a say. Let’s think of this as “thinking like a sports fan” – you know and respect the rules of the game, but you really want your team to win. You’re no longer impartial and you’re subject to the confirmation biases that a first-rung thinker would avoid.

The third rung is where problems start. Here your primitive mind has a much greater influence. Now you’re “thinking like an attorney.” You’ll argue or defend a point no matter how truthful or logical it is. You’re not just motivated to be right, you’re obligated. On this rung, you’ll see people claiming that the earth is flat or the CIA is after them, with no amount of evidence changing their minds.

Finally, on the fourth and bottom rung, your primitive mind is in full control and you’re “thinking like a zealot.” Your ideas and beliefs are your baby and no one can tell you that they’re not perfect. You don’t need to do any research to prove that you’re right, you just know you are. Any agreement is accepted unconditionally, and any challenge is seen as a personal attack.

When you apply this ladder to the world, you can start looking at divisive problems in terms of how people think, instead of what they think. Whether the issue is climate change, abortion, or whatever drama is going on in politics, if you look at it in terms of what rung the person is operating on, things start to make a lot more sense.

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Thoughts about life, relationship, health, finding balance.