The Power of WHY

WHY do you get out of bed in the morning? And WHY should anyone care?

What makes you jump out of bed? What inspires you to do what you do? Have you ever given a thought if your career is aligned with a meaningful purpose?

Most people don’t have good answers to these questions. More so, a lot of us probably don’t even dare to ask this question. Maybe that’s why we often feel unfulfilled, restless or apathetic about our work … about what we do … about our daily lives. Today, people want to do more than to just simply make a living. We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

When we were kids it’s a common thing to ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Even in job interviews to this day, I still come across the famous question “How do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now?”

We often focus on the WHAT and the HOW but not quite getting our thoughts into WHY we even want to do what we want to do.

To be honest growing up I didn’t really know what I want to do except that all my life my vision was always to start a family, be a housewife and a good mother. Working abroad was never in my option but here I am living in Singapore for more than half my lifetime.

I didn’t even know what course to take when I was in college. I got in UP Diliman and remembered choosing my course BS Statistics just because my friend since pre-school is taking that same course.

Looking back, I may not have those specific wannabes growing up but I remember vividly how driven I was in school. I didn’t know WHAT I want to be but I knew for sure that

  • I always needed to be on top in school … WHY?
  • So that I can go to UP Diliman in college … WHY?
  • Because I believed that if get to finish college in UP I can land a good high-paying job … WHY? FOR WHAT?
  • For one and only one reason — So that I can help my family financially.

I came from a not so well-off family background. All my hard work as a student was all driven by that ONE goal — to be able to help my family. Back then I didn’t know if that was a right reason, but that definitely kept me going. That kept my focus intact. Every decision I make, small or big I would always think if it will affect my steps towards that goal.

I thrived working on a timetable. Even watching my favorite shows in my generation such as FLAMES, TABING ILOG, TGIS were all scheduled. My guitar practice and even sleep is jotted down in my organizer. If I needed more time to study and it means I have to sleep 3hrs I would. Whenever I feel tired and feel like giving up I would remind myself  –  “Arlyn, if you’re not on top, you cant get to UP therefore you can’t get a good job therefore you cant help your family”.

Even my career choice to pursue IT was mainly driven by that reason. I took BS Statistics in college and we had programming subjects. I HATED IT!. I recalled telling myself I won’t get into IT and I won’t work in a bank. The biggest prank –– my first Job was a Programmer in Equitable bank.

It wasn’t an easy road but I survived. I told myself, “just 2 years”. Then opportunity came to work in Singapore, still as a programmer. I was just 22years then, so I said, “why not? I’m still young, another 2 more years in a field that I HATE … WHY? So that I can my family more.

I wouldn’t want to get into every detail of my life’s account … maybe some other time. I didn’t know it back then but now in retrospect I realized that I have endured obstacles even the biggest roadblock of HATING MY JOB because I had a very firm and strong reason WHY I needed to do what I had to do.

Quarter-life came.  I began asking myself …

Year after year every time I celebrate my birthday these questions keeps coming back and I just can’t seem to find the answer. In my early 30’s I would say that I’m way past SURVIVAL – finished my degree, went to work and managed to help my family. Somehow I did achieve a level of SUCCESS – I may have “hated my line of work”, but hard work paid off.  I would say that one way or another, I’m living a life of SIGNIFICANCE – somehow privileged to take part in a cause higher than myself.

And yet somehow when Midlife came I still found myself asking the question …

This is when I realized that I’ve been too caught up in asking myself WHAT I WANT TO DO, forgetting WHY I WANT TO DO WHAT I WANT TO DO. Why am I too caught up in finding out WHAT  profession  do I want to pursue? Do I stay in IT? Should I explore putting up my own business? Do I pursue becoming  a professional speaker?

After 20+ years, I’m still in the field of IT but along the years I have realized what I’m most passionate about.

  • Beyond work, it’s how I’m able to relate to people. 
  • How I impact my colleagues in one way or another.
  • Mentoring people and pushing them to outsmart themselves and explore their full potential.

All these gives me utmost joy. Knowing that I have a positive influence to people around me be it at work, in my family, in the church, with friends or even with people who just happens to pass by my life for a time. 

Now that I have come to realize my strong WHY,  whatever I do, wherever I am,  i.e. if I’m able to one way or another add on to someone else … the WHAT and the HOW I believe just follows. And it brought me back to what kept me on track in my younger years.

The Power of W.H.Y.

It gives you clarity.

Knowing your WHY gives you a clear direction on WHAT you should do. It makes it easier for you to decide which road to take, which choice to make. Having a clear WHY allows you to be selective of the advice you take. When you know your WHY, it becomes easier to focus on what matters most in your life. By keeping the focus on one particular goal you are able to find your direction and stay away from distractions. A WHY provides a filter for decision making.

“Filter your decisions through your WHY.”

If you have a clear objective – you don’t get sidetracked. You know your non-negotiables.

 

HOW – pertains to the actions taken to realize your WHY.

Knowing WHY, gives you the creativity on how to achieve what you want to do. When your live your life with a sense of purpose, you begin living positively and start seeking out new opportunities.

 

NO is NOT an option.

You don’t take NO for an answer when you know WHY you are doing what you are doing. Closed doors makes you find an open window and even if the windows are locked as well. you find a way to break it to pass through. You keep on keeping on.

People who know their purpose in life are UNSTOPPABLE.

The world came to know Nightbirde from AGT audition. A cancer patient who has 2% chance of survival and yet she was full of hope. Her lines have pierced through the hearts of those who have heard and have given a fight to those who feel like giving up … “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy”. Just today a friend forwarded me a news that Nightbirde’s condition has gotten worse and she won’t be able to participate in AGT. She posted this in her social media and as expected, there’s just no stopping her. There’s nothing that can bring her down.

“Life doesn’t always give breaks to those that deserve it—but we knew that already… You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy. I’m planning my future, not my legacy. Pretty beat up, but I’ve still got dreams.”

 

One of my favorite BTS songs perfectly depicts the fight of someone who  knows that NO is not an OPTION.

No, not today
Flowers wither eventually
But no, not today
Today is not that day
No no, not today
Not yet a day to die
Too good day
No no, not today
No no no, not today

If you can’t fly, then run
Today we will survive
If you can’t run, then walk
Today we will survive
If you can’t walk then crawl
Even if you have to crawl, gear up
Aim your gun! Ready! Fire!

Why do you get out of bed in the morning? and why should anyone care?

“If you need an extra boost to get out of bed tomorrow morning, something more than caffeine can offer, use this : PEOPLE ARE DEPENDING ON YOU.” – Daily Stoic

Breathtaking!!! … that’s what our dreams ought to be.

“If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough.”

The Walk

When it’s Wednesday … it’s our SG (small group) day. Tonight is one of the many chapter ender activities that our group is looking forward to. After finishing our discussion on the 4th indispensible people we must have – Timothy, we are to fulfil Edgar’s bucket list to eat Bulalo at Lucky Plaza and watch the movie “The Walk”.

I didn’t really expect so much from the movie. I saw the trailer once, well the story seemed interesting about a wire walker whose dream was to walk on wire between the then iconic Twin Towers in New York. Can’t imagine though how the movie can stretch for two hours just to showcase a man who will walk on wire.

Turned out the movie was quite insightful, not to mention stressful that my friend described it as more frightening than a horror movie. To me it’s breathtaking. I literally found myself gasping, shouting, perspiring, almost got into another migraine attack while watching the movie. So here I am just doodling some thoughts that keeps running through my mind while watching the movie and even up to this very minute that am typing.

One quote says that  “Dreams are often profound when they seem the most crazy.”  Here is a man who from his childhood already found a dream that kept his heart pounding and even thumping. For most if not everyone, it seems crazy. What would someone get from walking on wire aside from that engrossing feeling, but for Philippe Petit it was art. It was what makes his heart skip a beat.

Impossible

“It’s impossible, but I’ll do it”.

This is what Philippe said when he first got a glimpse of the World Trade Center’s rooftop.

That’s what dreams mostly are, at least at first … they seem impossible. Come to think of it, most of what we use now for sure was unthinkable years back. When I first held a mobile phone 20 years back , a Nokia 3210 model, I thought that was the most hi-tech discoveries of all time – a mobile phone without antenna. Touch screen was so far off from our minds back then. Someone had to believe that in the midst of that impossibility there’s a way it can be done.  Most often our dreams remain dreams because we are too scared to take that first step – to believe that we can do it.  For some they call it optimism, or for some wishful thinking, but to me it’s far deeper than believing in something,  or something that can be done or even believing in oneself, it is believing that there is that Someone greater than us who can make the impossible possible. We can take that step because we can say this to ourselves with utmost confidence that  …

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

When you fall

Epic fail is a step towards our epic success.

Philippe’s first wire walk was on a small town festival was an epic fail. On his first attempt to wire walk he fell on a swamp. When we fail on our attempts to pursue our dreams sometimes we either quit or think that “this is not for me” or “I’ll explore something else” worse if we get stuck in that failure that we are afraid to try again. For Philippe, it excited him all the more and made him go for a more dangerous attempt to wire walk between the cathedrals of Notre Dame de Paris.  We will fail at times in our attempts towards our goals but in failing comes learning so that we can do better the next time. You fall. Get back up. Try again. “Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success”. In Jeremiah 8:4. Jeremiah say this to the people of Judah: ‘This is what the Lord says: “you know if a man falls down, he gets up again … “’

Know your terrain.

Another aspect that amazed me was not just Philippe’s determination in reaching for his ultimate dream. He’s not just a crazy dreamer, he prepared well. In the entire 3 months of preparation, every day he will go to the twin towers, take photos the building, getting to know every inch of it. When we want to reach a destination we cannot just walk blindly, we’ve got to know our terrain.

We need a team to reach our dream.

Philippe couldn’t have walked that wire without his “accomplices”. As part of his preparation for his lifelong dream, he needed a team. Just like Philippe, we cannot walk the steel wire of life by ourselves. We need a photographer who will capture and document the fulfilment of his dream, someone who can give a picture of the highlights or glitches of our journey. He had a Jeff who may be afraid of heights but is good with numbers, thus instrumental in calculating the details that he needed for the walk, someone who can help us calculate the risk ahead. We need to  have an Annie who will constantly believe in us and give us courage when doubts starts to creep in. We need to have a Papa Rudy who had walked the wire before us. They are people who have lived life ahead of us and have pieces of themselves to share to us.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. I guess the aftermath this movie has brought me is the fact that it is a gift for one to do what he loves to do. One of the best gift probably one can have on his life here on earth is finding a profession that he enjoys. My birthday is few months away, I wonder if that long awaited gift is on it’s way?

Stress-free zone is just a decision

Had a chance to catch-up with a good friend in my recent vacay back home. I’ve known my friend as someone who’s very light-hearted, jolly, life of the party, someone who causes an uproar of laughter every time we hang around. I noticed though that he wasn’t quite the way he used to, he was a bit formal and looked quite stressed out. I even teased him that he looked like a congressman bearing too much burden on his shoulder and then he answered me back that made us all laugh … “ah yes, because they took away the pork barrel already” (it sounded funny in the actual rather than reading it though). Well at least he can still crack jokes.

I asked him seriously why he was like that and he said that he is stressed out with work and that he’s been like that for 2 years now. I couldn’t really say much as I didn’t want to sound insensitive of what he was going through. Just told him in a light manner that he should just accept that work is really stressful but he has to snap out of it especially when he’s out of work already.

Thinking about it on the way back to Singapore, well life is really stressful, in my 12 years here in Singapore, I can say that stress is our staple food here. Stress does get into me every once in a while, but I would always remember a book I read when I was young, “Being Happy” by Andrew Matthews. One thing that I have carried from that book are the lines “Happiness is a decision”. It may be an off topic in itself from stress but somehow I have managed to apply that learning in different situations, even in handling stress at work. For me if I would allow stress to pull me down or to deal with it objectively is just a decision.  That’s why that book has been very influential to me in how I deal with what life offers me, whether stress, heartbreak, storm or blessing. It’s all about DECISION. As a famous quote says “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”.

 Why wallow in stress if we know that no matter how tough our situation may be, there is a God who is willing to help us, a God who can comfort us and turn things around for us. Decide to live a stress-free life for we have a God in whom we can place our trust.

 

John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me”

 

 

Even when it HURTS … even when it’s HARD

Fitness-motivational-quotes1

“Even when it hurts… even when it’s hard … but You’re here, You’re real, I know I can trust You … You steady my heart”.

These lines from one of my favourite Kari Jobe songs automatically pops in my head and keeps on playing every time the WOD (Workout Of the Day) at CrossFit is tough. I find myself singing this song in my head over and over whenever I go through the ordeal of 400m run, frog leaps, burpees, 1 min plank and prowlers (this is the latest workout in my “hate list”), among many others.

I joined CrossFit since Feb this year and yah I got hooked from day 1. I’m not really an exercise fan to begin with. I remember paying for a 2year contract in a gym and I had a good 6months habit. I drop by for an hour run at the threadmill and 30mins of cycling 2 to 3x a week and just like a lot of those who sign-up for a gym, I got bored and found myself skipping for a session or 2, then skipping for a week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks … and for 1 and a half year what’s left of me is a good exercise of paying for the monthly fee. Then finally there’s CrossFit.

What is CrossFit? CrossFit — “Forging Elite Fitness”; “Making People Better”; CrossFit’s textbook definition can be summed up as functional movements, constantly varied done at high intensity. Renowned CrossFitters would define it as “a way of life; it’s not just a workout but a lifestyle”. You hear Crosfitters say “You never wanna quit”, “It’s making me happy”, “CrossFit has changed my life”, “Community, Family – that’s Crossfit to me” … I couldn’t agree less.

My journey into fitness (in the area of exercise) started last year when someone offered me the “reserved seat” at the MRT. Do you know who gets priority to these reserved seats? If you fall into either any of the following categories: Sick, elderly or pregnant. I don’t recall looking sick that time, and I’m far from being mistaken as an elderly which only leaves one explanation why the person offered me the seat, he must have thought I was pregnant! From then on I told myself I need to lose weight! This realization was long overdue. We have been hearing messages on wellness from our life coaches for the longest time and in 2009 I started getting all sorts of illness such as acid reflux, lumps, regular migraine attacks, gastric pains, bloated stomach, vocal cord nodules, name it, I seem to have it. Everything has its own time I guess, and it was in 2012 when I finally got my wakeup call and so I prepared for it. Yes I had to prepare for it, (1) because it’s quite expensive, (2) because I know it’s high intensity, I wanted to prepare my body a bit. I remember a friend of mine told me before when I signed-up for my gym, she said that money may not be an issue in paying the monthly fee, but what cannot be bought is the habit and so there, I pushed myself to build the habit of exercising 3-4x a week at home. I started doing push-ups, burpees, sit-ups, etc until I felt I was up for it!

I recall my very first workout at CrossFit, I was a bit shy coz I didn’t know anybody there and I didn’t know what to expect. The WOD that night was 21burpees, 150m run, 15burpees, 150m run and 9 burpees, 150m run. I barely finished the 21 burpees and already wanted to give up. Add to that, I’m not much of a runner. I almost always feel like having a cardiac arrest whenever I’m running. I was so touched that night with one of the trainers who looked after me because he never left my side and he kept on cheering for me. Not only did he cheer for me, but at the brink of giving up, he stood by me and did the workout together with me until I finished the WOD. So that was the community that they have been talking about. That’s what makes CrossFit different (among many other things) from gym or other fitness groups. Another one of my unforgettable CrossFit moments was when I was doing 8 rounds of 10burpees. At the 7th round I was really in tears already and the head coach was yelling at me to go on and finish strong. I was begging off and I told him that I cannot finish it anymore. He just wouldn’t listen and just keeps encouraging me to finish strong. While I was doing my last set of 10burpees what kept me moving was a scribble on the wall in front of me that says “Death before Defeat”. Every one count of burpee I was telling myself “Death before defeat”. Before I know it I completed the 8rounds, I’m glad I didn’t quit. CrossFit has pushed me to my limits. There are things I can do now that I never imagined I can do like lifting heavy weights or finishing an 15minuter breathtaking WOD. I just find myself keep coming back for more.

It’s been 10months since I joined but it doesn’t get easier, I guess because in CrossFit, you just keep on going to the next level. If you’ve been able to do an 8kg KB (kettlebell) swing, you can never be satisfied with and 8kg KB swing. Your next target will be 12kg, 16kg, 20kg and so on. It’s never easy and the pain is always there. Our coach always reminds us when our faces are getting deformed during tough workouts that Pain is just weakness leaving the body.

I vividly remember starting to sing this song “Steady my heart” in my head during a workout was when we were asked to do 6rounds of 45seconds planking. The first round was bearable, the second was a struggle not to drop, the 3rd round onwards are too impossible for me at that time and what saw me through was the song “steady my heart”. On the 3rd round I started to feel that 45 seconds seems like forever. While I was trying to keep myself from dropping, the chorus of the song suddenly popped into my head … “even when it hurts … even when its hard” … Coz it was really hurting really bad already. I started to sing it in my mind, thinking that If I finish 1 verse until 1 chorus that means the 45seconds is done. Since then, whenever we’re having a tough workout I just find myself singing this song in my head. I find it very helpful especially for 400m runs.

Singing this song gives me the extra strength I need to finish off a WOD. Just like in my workout earlier. The WOD was 12, 9, 6, 3 Thrusters (45lbs) and then 400m run at each set, capped at 15minutes. Whenever it was the time for the 400m run, my mind is almost always reaching its failure point and I was tempted to bail out and not finish the workout, but I just kept on singing this song in my head thinking that if I finish the entire song, by that time I’m also finished with the 400m run. In the last set, there was no one running with me anymore coz I was the last one left behind and I’m tempted so bad to just cut the run since nobody is seeing me anyway. But I remember one of the lines of Yushin in the Korean series Queen Seondeok when he was practicing his sword which goes something like “I have to do it all over again because even if nobody knows that I made a mistake, I know I did”. So while I was so tempted to cut the run short, I kept telling myself, I won’t be cheating anybody but myself. So I kept running and as I struggled with every step, I kept on singing this song. Finally I made it! I may have not finished the entire WOD in the allotted time of 15minutes (I finished at 6mins 30secs), but I did make it!!!

It’s a lot similar in tough real life situations. When we encounter a difficulty or when life throws so much pain at us, we tend to worry, we tend to give-up and worst is we tend to quit. We cannot run from pain, we will go through it one way or the other in our lifetime, not just once but twice, thrice … a hundred times, most likely even a thousand more. But as we get hit by life’s lashes, one hit after the other, we should be reminded always that in all these things God sees us. He may not spare us from the hurts but His hands are always ready to carry us, comfort us and heal us.

Just as in CrossFit, while going through the WOD, it sucks! you want to quit, but people are cheering you on to finish strong and when you do you are glad that you kept on going. The pain is not remembered anymore and you leave the box feeling satisfied that you made it!

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

“Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe
Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy
Why is pain a part of us
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You’re here
You’re real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart (x2)

I’m not gonna worry
I know that You got me
Right inside the palm of your hand
Each and every moment
What’s good and what gets broken
Happens just the way that You plan

And I will run to You
And find refuge in Your arms
And I will sing to You
Cause of everything You are
You steady my heart (x2)

Dating or Marrying God?

Image“Are you marrying God? or are you just enjoying having a date with Him?”. A friend of mine shared that this was one of the lines that struck her while listening to a recorded preaching. This too made me think and re-think. A quaint comparison indeed.

What is dating? How does it feel to go out on a date? Haven’t done that in a while, but let me try to recall … going out regularly, dinner together, watching movies,  giving gifts, caring for the other, endearment, expecting sweet nothings, committing time with the other person … yes there is a sense of commitment. These are just some of the things one can visualize when we speak of couples who are dating. As I scram through the net for a scientific/formal/technical definition of dating, this is how Wikipedia has put it :

“Dating is a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two people with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. While the term has several meanings, it usually refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple.”

Most if not all will agree to me that dating is fun. Some singles find it a highway to “happiness” even. There is I would say joy of course when you are in that stage, sharing your life with another person, sharing your thoughts, experiences, having someone and being there for someone. And as Wiki put it “there is some mutually agreed upon …” — there is thus a certain level of commitment.  Up to what extent?  As we put it in trending lingo  … “date date lang pag may time”, “dinner dinner  pag may time”, “watch movie pag may time”, “kwentuhan pag may time” … lahat na lang “pag may time”, for some they do find time.

Marrying someone on the hand as I would imagine and as most of my married friends would attest, would not be able to thrive with “pag may time”. I remember one of those showbiz couples who got married and unsurprisingly got divorced in no time said this in an interview while in tears “we tried our best but it just didn’t work”. I will not forget what one of our life coaches said about marriage – “Marriage is not about trying, it’s about dying.”

I pondered on this last night and began to think about how I am walking with the Lord these days, am I just going out on a date with Him? Attend Sunday services, special events like crossroad 201, plan on different ministry activities? Am I trying? Or am I dying for Him?

Dating God? or Marrying God?

 Luke 9:23 – And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 

Starting with a doodle

Image

3:53am on a Monday & still wide awake. Probably too much thoughts running in my head … the work that awaits me, family matters and a whole bunch more. Instead of tossing and turning, oh well why don’t I just do what I’ve been planning to do since I don’t know when … Write a blog. But what do I blog about? Hmm, I used to write since I was a kid, poems, lyrics of a song, essays and I’ve always kept a journal, writing down how my day went, how I felt, even the prayers I had in heart. Then  I got busier than usual and realized I haven’t done that for a while now … for a long while in fact. What they say I guess is true “what you don’t use you lose.”. Putting my thoughts into words and actually writing them down is quite a challenge for me now. So I guess I’ll just start with a doodle and looking forward that slowly i’d be able to pen down thoughts running through my mind and be able to inspire those who may randomly come across my doodles.