Different Dreams, Recurring Themes


I recently heard about a really interesting blog link-up on sharing our dreams by my friend, Akhila. Inspired by her post, I would like to now share mine.

Childhood Dreams
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Growing up, the possibility to do whatever we want with our lives seems limitless. We’re taught to dream big as children, and my childhood dreams were certainly grand. While others dreamt of becoming singers, actors, or pro-sports players, my dreams were a little different. At first, I dreamed about becoming a pilot. Later, inspired by Li Ka Shing, the Zobel de Ayala Family, and Donald Trump, I dreamed about becoming a property tycoon. After 9/11, I dreamed about becoming a diplomat, or fascinated by the Jason Bourne Series, becoming a spy. During the market boom of the mid-2000s, I dreamed about becoming a professional day-trader.

Living the Dream?
At the heart of these dreams are some recurring themes: freedom, to live a life on my own terms; adventure, to grow through exploration of the unknown; passion, to work on fun and meaningful projects. Living the dream to me means living my life according to these principles. I may not be carrying out my childhood dreams at this moment, but I can say with certainty that the experiences and decisions I’ve made throughout my life have each led me towards living a life based on these values.

My Dream Today
Before, I equated living a dream to a specific profession. My dream today transcends professions. In addition to freedom, adventure, and passion, my dream is to live a life of happiness while making a difference. These are certainly generalities, and at times I find the lack of focus on doing (re: career) to be foolish. That’s not to say I don’t have specific professions in mind: I still want to live out my childhood dreams of becoming a pilot-tycoon-diplomat-spy-trader.

Surfing the Sea of Uncertainty


The world is a chaotic place. Plans provide a guide amidst the chaos. In reality though, it’s impossible to control for life’s uncertainties. Uncertainty is scary, at least for me. How do you overcome uncertainty? Through planning. Not just one plan. A Plan B is an absolute must. It’s also worth thinking about a Plan C.

For most of my life, I thought plans were necessary in order to accomplish anything. Not just rough guidelines, but the whole works. Tasks. Checkpoints. Deadlines. All crucial to ensure goals are achieved. Sometime over the past year though, I’ve come to believe that plans, while helpful, should at best serve as a guide, not followed verbatim. Why?

Life happens. Current actions certainly influence the likelihood of future circumstances, but the future is never a sure thing until it is the present. As much as I’d like to believe, it’s impossible to ensure everything will run according to plan (or plans).

I haven’t completely thrown out the usefulness of planning. I still do it all the time. I still believe it’s better to have a plan than no plan at all. One of my favorite bloggers wrote recently,

“We are not walking a path, but surfing a sea.” Leo Babauta

I completely agree. Plans help us navigate the sea of uncertainty. They provide a path, at best a sense of direction, to our goals; however, life has a habit of throwing us off our compass. It took me a long time to realize this. It took even longer to figure out how to overcome these unforeseen challenges.

Book Review: “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl


Before I left for my recent adventure to Taiwan, a friend lent me Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Earlier this week, I finally got a chance to read through the book on my flight back to Los Angeles. Whenever I find myself engrossed in books like this one, I usually jot down the page number in my notepad and later write up the quotes that I found particularly interesting. Several quotes struck a chord with me:

On Living:

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time wrongly as you are about to act now.”

Whenever I’ve been faced with decisions, large or small, I find myself going through the pros and cons of each choice. This analysis can take days, weeks, if not longer. Weighing the consequences of the choices available is certainly important; however, after a certain point, evaluating options does little other than to further cause anxiety and promote self-doubt. At the end of the day, a (sometimes irreversible) decision needs to be made. I like Frankl’s advice of approaching decisions. Life only comes around once. But of course, going with your gut is far easier said than done.

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

This one’s pretty simple, but wow. Talk about deep. I think this statement truly gets at the heart of Frankl’s whole book. Life is constantly throwing new challenges that need to be overcome. Sometimes, it’s so easy to just give up. External circumstances are certainly one factor, but internal causes, such as self-doubt or the belief that things will never get better, are other reasons that might cause folks to throw in the towel.

 Having a “why” to live seems like a great way to think about how to overcome any challenging situation. The question now is discovering what that “why” means for each of us – I’m still trying to figure that one out for myself.

On Success and Happiness:

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

This got me immediately thinking about the chicken or the egg causality issue. Rather than thinking about the “path” towards success, or the “path” towards happiness, perhaps I should be thinking about what I want to do; in theory, happiness and success (however defined) will follow.

Overall, I’d highly recommend reading this book. It’s a really short read and doesn’t take much time. But wow, does it ever leave a mark. At least for me it did!

Redefining the Path to Success


Success is subjective. What one might consider an example of success might not be considered an example of by another. I’ve realized that being wealthy or having expensive things doesn’t necessarily equate to a sense of personal success and achievement. Rather than gauging success based on preconceived societal notions, I think it’s much more important to have a self-defined notion of success.

The path to success is not linear. Since success is highly subjective, the path to success is also highly subjective. In other words, there is no set path to achieve success. I’ve realized that it doesn’t make much sense to categorize decisions as a “step forward” or a “step back” towards the path to success. I’ve come to the conclusion that decisions and the results that follow are all growing experiences. Though certain decisions may help to achieve success more easily, choosing the “wrong” decision doesn’t necessarily mean achieving success is no longer an option.

Which brings me to my (current) definition of success: working in a field that you’re passionate about. Whether or not that passion pays well or is highly regarded doesn’t matter, at least to me. Passion doesn’t always pay the bills, which is why I find those who actually do seek it despite the fact are particularly admirable. Passion speaks. It’s contagious. It’s success.