Monday, July 24, 2006

What should I do with my life....

The brain has been thinking a lot in the past few days. Before I get to that, I just want to share about my weekend:

- Sat, met up with Will to go riding. Bumped into Darren. I missed the Fork of the Credit, the wind, the hills. The most enjoyable moment was riding up Hockley (without getting off the saddle), huffing and puffing, looking back and telling Will, "isn't this fun?"
- just registered for Ironman Lake Placid 2007. Darren had been creeping me out about hitting that register button. This morning, I just fill the form without thinking. Get it done and submit. So I pay 480 bucks for a lot of fear....(My occupation is Fashion and my job title is Professional Spandex Wearer). :) Ok so it ain't all fear.

Daniel from my Fellowship lent me a book, What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronson. The book consisted of short stories from people from all type of classes.

What I gather from this book is that there is no single set formula to this so call life. And in a way, it is confusing. Also in a way, I like the choas.

There are stories where a lady spend two years figuring out what she wanted to do with her life. Realize doctor was her destiny. Went to medical school and realize doctor is not her thing b/c she had to deal with sick patients.

There are a few stories of people who have great career but deep inside are never satisfy with life and see themselves as failures.

There are people who loves to jump from one thing to another. To them, life is about trying different things.

The more I read about different people and the choices they make and how they perceive life, the more I realize how 1-Dimension I am (or I was).

Three years ago, the only thing I will talk about is business. Money is the talk. I ain't greedy about money. After reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I focus on cash flow, reoccuring income, and financial independence. If you ain't in business or have some bold and ambitious dreams of making it to the top, I don't really want to talk to you. Not that I look down on people, I just want to associate with people who think just like me.

I started up a business with a friend. Didn't went anywhere. On one hand, I often wondered what I have done wrong. On the other, I am glad I wasn't successful at it.

Failure is all about perspective. In return, I become much humbler in life. Over the years, I start to wonder what I value and what other value.

Being 1-dimension reminds me of a chinese story about a frog living in a well. A bird flew over the well and had a conversation with the frog.

The frog loves the well. It is wet, lots of bugs, everything the frog wants. To the frog, the well is the best place to live. Since the frog only live in the well, he asks the bird how it is like to be outside. The bird describes the nature, the forest, the vastness of the sky. Since the frog only see the sky from the small opening of the well, he doesn't believe what the bird is saying.

The bird insisted that there is so much to life than just a well. The frog slowly get curious and wonder what is outside of the well. So the bird decide to take the frog out and see the real world.

To get the frog out of the well, the bird will hold on to a stick while the frog bite on to the stick. As the bird flew out of the well, the frog saw the beauty that the bird was describing. He was in awe, opened his mouth and drop back into the well.

Between my peers, there ain't a lot to talk about. Career, what do u do when you come out of universtiy, what do you study, what do you want to work, how much money can you make, will u get a MBA. Like I said, very one dimensional. In a sense, I am part of this one dimensioness. Most of my conversation is about career and work....

Po described the culture of New Orleans where no one cares what you do. Everyone just work only to a point where they can live off of then spend the rest of the time on their dreams. Wow. I can hear the questions and the criticism from myself and my peers..

What, don't you want to move up? Don't you want to retire early? What about taking care of your family?

Perhaps I am tired of staying in this dimension? If others fit well with this dimension, great. Stay with it.

I remember having a conversation with a friend. I told him you really need about 30 k to just survive. That is about how much my warehouse workers make and they have family and still survive. He gave me a strange look like it was too little.

I have been hunting for a number of jobs and slowly the money expectation is slowly creeping up. 40 k to 50 k. 50 k to 60 k. Granted, most of those high end jobs I apply I have little qualification for. On the other, if 40 k is sufficient, perhaps I should find any job that brings me more compatible with my training.

This opens up a new set of problems and discussions. Culture, family, peers, expectation... (to be continued)


Anonymous said...

Join the club. I'm in the same boat. I wonder what I could do with my career and at the same time wonder if I'd actually be happy with a big fancy career? What is most important to you? Happiness or your career? Do the two coincide? What happens later? All questions I have. Unlike yourself I'm not religious, I'm spiritual to a point but am in no way religious even though I grew up as a Catholic. So, they way I'm looking at it so far is this is the only chance you get at life, do you want to work your life away at a job that you don't enjoy or do you want to find some happiness in your life and life it to the fullest? I know it's not that simple but ie. I know of someone who just passed away because of a heart attack...dropped dead, no warning, the kicker...he was only 52yrs old!! I'm sure he was working hard to make sure he would have a great retirement but what good is that going to do him? And since he worked like mad all his life and neglected everything else around him he lost his only chance at being happy and living his life to the fullest.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Sorry for the long post...

Darren said...

"Get it done and submit" I'd like a t-shirt that says that.
Congrats on registering for IMLP 2007 Cliff!! It's a massive undertaking and you will think about it everyday for the next 364 days. The time will fly by and soon you'll hear those words: "Congatulations Cliff Tam! You ... Are .. An ... IRONMAN!

In regards to the rest of your post, I hope you find what you are looking for. I wise person once said: "I've never heard of anyone on their death bed saying 'I wish I spent more time at the office'. Sometimes you have to be content with life and other times you have change life to find contentment. The problem is knowing when to do each! :) Cheers

Cliff said...


Too true. :). I just know when i am in my death bed i would say "i wish i spend time with my bike" :D

Anonymous said...

Funny, my two reading addictions are tri blogs and academic blogs. As someone with an advanced degree who isn't currently working in anything even vaguely related to my field, I spend a lot of time wondering about work/life balance issues. My catch-22 is that if I want to live where my husband can work in his field, I can't get a tenure-track job in my field. To keep the family happy, I have to come up with a different approach to my professional life. The tri training can be a way of avoiding working on that, but boy, is it food for thought on my training runs. Good luck with working through these choices.

Steven said...

Congrats on signing up for IMLP 07, Cliff!

The next year for you will be all Ironman all the time - in your head anyway. From this point on every stroke you swim, every pedal you rotate, and every step you run will be towards the ultimate goal in our chosen sport!

Best of luck and enjoy the journey!

Anonymous said...

I've had Bronson's book on my list of things to read for quite awhile. I may need to move it closer to the top of the list. Thanks for the thought provoking post Cliff.

TriBoomer a.k.a. Brian said...

Ahh yes, Branson. That's a great book.

Can't wait to read your next post.

Stay tuned...

Fitness4God said...


Nice blog site.

Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24

Trifrog said...

Keep thinking and you'll figure out what's best for your life, not what others think is a good life.

You're right, it's very different for everybody unless you choose to follow the path that everybody else is going down.

Former economics, MBA/corporate-wannabe here, too. Found it's not for me and just put in my 8 in the cube, then get outta here to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cliff,

As a fellow TTC member (did the club ride at Caledon today)an older (56) but probably not much wiser Christian, I suspect that you will spend many years trying to discover your path. I believe that, as we age, our goals and the path change.I would never have known, a year ago, that I would be part of the triathlon world! I'll probably never do more than a sprint at my age, but I know that God has given me this physical body to use wisely. I believe now, that my purpose is to show others that you can't fulfill your purpose without your physical health. I currently work as nurse and have for many years, but I also believe that I am being led, by God, to something else. I no longer spend time worrying. I look on each small step as fruit for my future.

Congratulations on taking the big step to Ironman LP!