Monday, September 19, 2016

Celebrating Freedom - Day 10

The part that I enjoy most about the 10-day Freedom Lifestyle Challenge is the systematic approach of developing the plan. At first, I was a bit anxious about writing a blog every day. That was not a habit of mine. Now it has become a habit and it does not take as long to put my thoughts “on paper”.

My favourite day was Day 7 Beating Procrastination and Overwhelm. The cliché saying of “You are your biggest enemy” is true once again in my case. I thought I had the “discipline” to lead a freedom lifestyle and the ability to deal with extraordinary tasks. I felt very accomplished when I came up with a plan to restructure my daily routine to complete the task of preparing a complex business plan. Instead of setting a deadline, I threw in a couple of incentives.

I have always been interested in personal improvement, and often look for new tools. The Pomodoro technique is now a new tool in my toolbox. I like it so much that I have shared this take-away with a couple of friends. By participating in the 10-day challenge, I am encouraged to continue with my itinerant lifestyle plus some modifications and the full knowledge that my tribe is getting bigger and bigger by the minute.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Location Independence - Day 9

Depending on what time zone and industry that I am going to be in, my daily routine would vary. For ease of reference, I would choose Bali, Indonesia and day trader as my reference points for today’s challenge. Bali is in the GMT+8 time zone. I would only do my trading in New York Stock Exchange which is GMT-5.

Since the time difference between Bali and NYC is 13 hours. My work week starts at 10 pm Monday night in Bali and ends at 6 am on Saturday. Sleep time is approximately 7 hours per day from 7 am to 2 pm (Bali time, GMT-5). I would have my only meal of the day at 3 pm. Exercise for an hour after the meal. Around 5 pm, I would read, watch videos, play computer games or run errands for a couple hours. Then I would start trading at 10 pm. Hence, a typical day would not be much different from having a job working for a boss who is based in NYC and telecommuting is allowed.

Day trips, shopping, and visiting museums/art gallery can happen on the modified weekends. I do not have to set aside time for doing chores such as laundry and housecleaning because these services are readily available in Bali.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Choosing My Adventure - Day 8

Seldom do I get a chance to play tourist in my hometown. I went out to one of the touristy neighborhoods in Vancouver. I had my Ethiopian shawl on. Strangely enough, my Ethiopian outfit was not a show stopper. Other than a few stares from the very young and very old, I blended in well with the visiting crowd.

Last month I tried out a new recipe twice and was unsuccessful both times. I tweaked it a little bit this time and voila, I did it. I suppose doing a visualization exercise prior to cooking really helped.
Last week I was helping a few people with various tasks and errands. I had many loose ends because of the disruptions in my regular schedule. Today I was able to catch up. I felt particularly accomplished when I finally finished reading a book about recent social phenomena.

Our society prefers outgoing, extroverted people. People often carry the misconception that introverted people are sad and lonely. I am introverted and prefer to spend time by myself. I believe that personal development comes from the periodical practice of reflection and conscience examination. Today I am happy to be able to do just that. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Beating Procrastination and Overwhelm - Day 7

My name is Rowena and I am a procrastinator. I can give you at least a dozen reasons why I keep putting things off until the very last minute. Knowing that I am deadline driven, I always set a deadline earlier than the actual deadline and then stretch it many times. I am going to deploy a different strategy this time and do not set a deadline. The task of writing a fairly complex business plan will be finished as soon as I possibly can. Even though I can still write the plan while traveling six months overseas, I want to finish it here in Vancouver, Canada.

Instead of playing computer games while listening to radio for three hours a day, I will use that time to work on the business plan six days a week. Every day I will wake up at 7:30 am, have breakfast and start working at 8 am. I will not answer phone calls and texts, check emails or organize my files while working on the business plan. I will work 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break for the duration of three hours. This regime will commence on September 22nd, 2016. I do not have anyone to hold me accountable. I will, however, promise to only book my flights after the first draft is in place. In order to depart in early April 2017 at an advanced booking price, I have to finish the first draft by the end of this December.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Finding My Tribe - Day 6

Finding a mentor these days is a tremendously difficult task. The paid coaches often would just provide a standard template for you to work from. Sometimes they could not even be able to comment on specific challenges, let alone helping you to solve a problem. Even though I do not have a mentor now, I, during the early stages of my former work life, had two persons that influenced me a great deal.

My grandfather was a visionary and a man of perseverance. He opened the first hardware store in a new subdivision in Hong Kong in the late 1960’s before half of the buildings were occupied. When he owned a vegetable farm in the suburbs of Vancouver, he experimented with new farming practices and seeds from parts of Asia that have similar climate as Vancouver. I probably inherited his adventurous spirit and learned from him courage and persistence.

The second mentor was my friend’s mother. She was a highly educated lady who was an accountant. Mrs. Chen was well known for her generosity and willingness to share knowledge. When she saw that I was running into many roadblocks looking for a job in Beijing after I got my MBA in the mid-1990’s, she took me to see a high ranking company officer in the state-owned company where she used to work. I always try to emulate her generosity in helping the next generation.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Setting Myself Up For Success - Day 5

Being single and not having any dependents enables me to pursue a free lifestyle more easily. I do not have family obligations to attend to. I enjoy solitude more than the company of friends; however, I do understand the importance of networking when I am building my business. Socialization in my case is strictly on an “as needed” basis. I am an assertive individual who is clear in setting boundaries in all my relationships. Once the boundaries are set, time management skills could be developed subsequently.

Another key success factor is realizing what your strengths and weaknesses are. For instance, I am strong in the area of problem-solving and weak in marketing. I would look at my circle of friends and determine who the marketing experts are. If I cannot afford to pay them for their service, I would set payment in kind with them. As a matter of fact, there are online communities set up for the barter system in major urban areas of developed countries. When my business is more established, I would be more able to employ people to do those location specific jobs.

Having the proper tools and equipment is critical to a successful business. For many start-ups these days, it is a matter of purchasing a reliable laptop and having access to high speed internet. For some industries, the initial investment could seem insurmountable. Moreover, there are many ways of getting around obstacles. For example, if it is a new product that I have developed, I would consider getting a patent for the design and process, and then outsourcing the production. Crowd-funding would be an alternative way in raising the capital.

Unlocking My Superpowers - Day 4

No problem is too big for me. I am an excellent problem solver. When a problem is complex, I can always break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. I see problems as opportunities of sharpening my analytical skills and coming up with innovative ideas to improve status quo. I have a rare combination of scientific training and creative thinking. Even though I am pragmatic by nature, I am adventurous enough to experiment new ideas constantly.

I have a phenomenal memory. I can even remember things from my early childhood. I don’t plan on writing my memoirs. But if I ever do, this incredible talent of mine would come in handy. I have yet to discover other useful applications.

The other amazing skill that I have is to write technical reports and business plans. I can explain concepts in everyday language and present data in an easy-to-understand way. With the advent of internet research, I can collect information and data from anywhere in the world to write reports and plans. Nowadays most verbal presentations can also be done over the internet.

Certainly, the list of my superpowers is not limited to problem-solving, memory and report/plan writing. But these three are the most relevant to the 10-day freedom plan challenge.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Creating A Vision For The Future - Day 3

My vision for a typical day in my completely free life is not to have a typical day at all. If I feel like visiting an art gallery and a museum, I should be able to do just that, and not have to worry that I have not done my work. Yet I would not squander my time away by sleeping the whole day or engaging in idle gossips.

Life-long learning is very important to me. I would like to set aside time to learn new stuff everyday by reading or surfing the net. I do not necessarily want to pursue another degree; however, I want to be able to feed my inquisitive mind regularly and be up-to-date with my surroundings. Quiet contemplation is another essential activity for me to maintain a healthy soul. I would also set aside time for long strolls, preferably along a sandy beach with my faithful companion. Water energizes me and walking keeps my body healthy.

I like helping people. From time to time, I want to help out where help is most needed. It could be as simple as cooking a sick neighbor a meal or as technical as teaching entrepreneurs to write business plans. Life should be as beautiful for me as it is for other people and future generations.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Why do I want the freedom lifestyle? - Day 2

Why do I want the freedom lifestyle?

What it boils down to is the ability to choose. Depending on the individual’s personality and life experiences, having lifestyle choices might not be for everyone.

For many cultures, living an independent lifestyle is frowned upon. It is so much easier to conform to the standard way of thinking, values, beliefs and habits. People sometimes do not realize that they forgo free thinking to feel accepted by society, and be considered as “normal” and “successful”. These people usually are lacking the knowledge what they really want in life or they have not done sufficient soul-searching.

A tiny group of people are lucky enough to have found jobs that they love within the parameters established by the existing society. Work is not just a means of making a living. I say to these lucky people, “Work ‘til you drop.”

Over the years, I have taken numerous personality tests. The results have shown over and over again that I am an introverted person who is happiest doing her own thing. Conforming to a society’s way of doing things will suffocate my spirit and creativity. My goal is to find a lifestyle that when I wake up in the morning, I cannot wait to start another day of adventure. I want to live 'til I drop.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

What is holding me back from the Freedom lifestyle? - Day 1

What is stopping me from pursuing things that I am passionate about?

I am turning 54 in two weeks’ time. Age is undoubtedly an important factor in my decision to try something completely different from my comfortable, effortless routines. I grew up in Canada where youthfulness and high energy are preferred over experience and wisdom. Now that the Boomers are retiring more rapidly, the society has developed more tolerance and provisions for this group of senior citizens. Being unconventional is not perceived as weird as before.

I used to have fear of failure. Not having a family or being a social butterfly helps to alleviate that fear. I am only responsible for my own living expenses. Nobody would have to suffer if I have a financial setback. If and when I fail, hardly anyone would notice, especially when I become less of a threat to my competition. I have little desire to be the most popular and envied person in my social circles. These days I only do things that make me happy without harming other people or the environment.

Though I do not have answers to all the questions, I am willing to rely on my ability to overcome obstacles and lead a care-free and meaningful life by breaking free.