Mental Association

Mental Association is something that you cannot ignore. I was going through a near meltdown just two days ago, because my holiday from work was ending, and I was going back to work. I had come to associate my work with a lot of negative stress. One reason is that I cannot cope with the amount of work.

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I still had to complete my work and there was no way I could run away from it. I went for a meeting before my break was over, and the bosses stressed how important meeting the deadline was and the quality of the report determined how our performance would be graded. I felt myself squirming in my seat. Another colleague showed us his report for us to take a look, way before the deadline.

Instead of going through the same problem that I face all the time, I decided to change my mental associations. It’s called mental disassociations. Instead of associating writing reports to high stress levels, I changed that. I decided to visualise how easy it was for me to find the information, and how easy it was for me to write a report based on the information. I also decided to break the steps down into easier parts, and get started. Usually, I faced difficulty in starting on my work because I had this mental association of how tough it was to find the information I wanted.

To my surprise, I found the information I wanted quickly. It was the second google attempt, and the first file I clicked on that got me what I wanted. Now that I have shifted my mental association, I am going to find the next piece of information as easily as I did, and I am sure I will complete the work by tonight. After all, I had already visualised myself completing that, and working on something else the next day.

Update: I probably need more practice. I took an extra day to complete that, but throughout doing this, my stress levels were extremely low, and I still managed to meet the deadline.

Find a Parking Lot Easily

Every time my parents ask me where I have parked my car, and I tell them somewhere nearby, they always seem to view me with suspicion, as if I have just told them the largest lie. The next question they ask will always be, “You mean there are parking lots here?”

My parents always seem to have the impression that it is hard to find parking lots, especially at crowded areas. When I used to sit in their cars, I would always feel the frustration they had and they would have to circle round the car park a few times and wait for some time before getting a lot. So whenever I wanted food from a popular hawker centre such as Chomp Chomp, the excuse about how difficult it is to get a parking lot will come.

Yet, when I go there on my own, I will find a parking lot no matter how crowded the place is. That’s because I use the power of visualisation and the Law of Attraction. I will attract that parking lot even in a crowded place. My parents used the same technique, but they had only visualised the crowded area, and felt the frustration in waiting. Hence, they got what they wanted!

Initally, I met with some problems. I would always find another car right in front of me getting the lot that I had visualised. After wondering why it was not working, I realised that I had not been clear about how I had visualised my parking lot. I only visualised an empty parking lot. That visualisation benefited the car owner in front of me. He got the empty lot I envisioned.

So the next time I visualised the empty parking lot, I added something to it. I visualised my own ice metallic blue car reversing into the empty lot. Instead of just any parking lot, I also visualised it to be near the lift lobby, so that I did not have to walk far.

It has been working great for 90% of the time, when I bothered to visualise, especially if I know it is a crowded area. So, I tend to spend less time at the car park, and the other car owners who were also waiting for a lot, but had chosen to wait elsewhere would fume quietly about my “luck”.

Outsourcing Your Life

I had been reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and some of the ideas simply astound me. Much had been said about outsourcing work to India and other countries, and people losing jobs as a result. Why not make use of this trend to your advantage?

It is rather affordable for individuals to hire virtual assistants to help you do work. If you need to find some research, they can do it for you. If you need them to help you select a few good places to eat near your place, they can do so too. Let’s say you need to buy an anniversary gift, and you want to find out which watches are nice and within your budget. They can do the research for you in table form, and even order it for you.

One man who lost his job due to outsourcing to India actually found a job by outsourcing his own interviews arrangement to India. Another one simply got the VA to call him to remind him to pay his parking tickets and drive slower.

The best part is when you are sleeping, they can do the job for you, so when you wake up, the work is all done.

80/20 Pareto Rule

I’m reading books on a vengeance. I bought a couple of books yesterday, and I bought 2 books last week. Currently, I’m reading the 4-hour work week by Tim Ferris. It’s pretty mind-blowing how a person can just clock in 4 hours a week and yet earn the same amount in a month which one usually makes in a year.

One thing that I have learnt is the 80/20 Pareto rule. I have read about this a couple of times, but I did not fully comprehend it. Basically, you will find that 20% of the things will cause 80% of your unhappiness and problems. At the same time, 20% of the sources will cause 80% of you happiness.

For example, you may have toxic relationships with 2 out of 10 people. 80% of the time that you are unhappy or stressed, it is caused by them. If you could eliminate them from your lives, you will be much happier. At the same time, 2 out of 10 people will let you feel happiest when you are working with them. If you concentrate on them, your value and earnings will increase a few folds.

Hence, go and find out what are the things that work well most of the time, and what don’t, and then try to eliminate them. Don’t think you need to catch all the fish in the world. The two fish you catch may be the piranhas you want to let go.

Ultimate Success Formula

I’ve introduced this Ultimate Success Formula to many people, and they found it useful to achieve success. I first learnt about this model from a course I attended at AKLTG. I used it to apply to my fitness plan, and I reached my goal of running in a race.

First of all, you must believe in something. Perhaps you believe that you can succeed in this field, or achieve something in some area. It could also be a universal belief. Perhaps you believe that you are going to a great success in your work. For students, their beliefs could be something to do with their academic success and their ambitions.

Next, what we do is shaped by our values. Do we do something out of passion, or out of fear? Perhaps, some people fear being looked down by others if we do not make a name for ourselves. Or we could want to work hard in order to support our families as it is our responsibility to do so. We could also do something out of love or fame.

The next step requires setting a goal. The goal should be as specific as possible. Stretch yourselves and move forward. Perhaps you want to get promoted to a specific possible within two years. You could also want to publish a book by the end of this year. It would be great if you could decide what type of book you are going to write.

After setting the goal, we have to come up with strategies to ensure we take active steps to achieve our goal. The strategies must be specific. It should not read like New Year’s Resolutions which we know we seldom keep due to its vagueness and ambiguity.

Finally, we have to take action. Don’t end up like NATO – No Action, Talk Only. You can incorporate the Magic Rule of 21 and work on each strategy for 21 days in a row.  If we achieve success, then we can move on to other Ultimate Success Formulae. If we do not achieve success, then we have to take a second look at our goal. Is it something achievable? Strategies may have to be fine-tuned. Get a pen and a piece of paper, and start writing your Ultimate Success Formula.

Take Action, Don’t Regret

I retook an exam last year after being hung up about my results many years ago. I did not need this exam result at all, but it was more to prove to myself that I can succeed. I got the best grade possible which was a huge improvement from my previous grade.

While results are not everything, the reasoning behind taking the examination is important. When we want to motivate ourselves and succeed, we have to set out a clear action plan to succeed. Some people may talk about doing something constantly, such as learning French, learning driving or going on a dive trip, but do not take any action to see it through.

The grade I got was not important. It was just a reflection on how determined I was to improve myself after so many years. By going for the examination itself and ignoring what other people said about me (yes, a number of people who found out actually laughed at me), I was challenging myself to get to greater heights. In addition, I did not want to regret things that I did not do so well. It’s futile wasting your time regretting something. By taking action, I attract better things in life as well.

This little achievement helps me to improve my confidence in one area and I plan to use this achievement to help other people succeed.

Change The Environment To Suit Yourself

Many donkey years ago, George Lam, a famous moustached singer, appeared in an advertisement for Guinness Stout. He said, ‘Some people tell you to change yourself to suit the environment’, then followed by, ‘Why not change the environment to suit yourself’ and he went on to turn the picture upside down to display a glass of stout.

I never gave much thought about that. Many people feel upset with their job and they keep on complaining, but they do not take any action to make things better. While we cannot expect to keep our bad habits and still survive in the working environment, sometimes it may be just easier to change the environment. There is only so much you can change about yourself within a short period of time. It’s just like being a square peg in a round hole. It is really hard to fit in.

Before changing to a new company, I was rather miserable in my previous workplace last year, and I became very negative and demoralised. I thought I was in the wrong vocation totally. However, after making a change to a new workplace, not exactly by choice, I realised that I had been the square peg for the longest time. Despite having to put in longer hours, not that the hours were short at my previous company, I had a greater sense of achievement.

True, it may be too early to tell, but at least I’m happier. That was the same I felt when I went to my previous workplace for the first time. I was utterly miserable at my first workplace, and I had even thought of breaking my bond. It turned out that the environments had simply been not suitable for me.

I made this realisation when I realised that the people in my company were more artistic and cultured. Every time I went for lunch at the cafeteria, there were always people playing the piano. Some were young, but they played the piano extremely well. That’s the type of environment I want to be in. With the Law of Attraction, I’m able to find people who are more like me, and I also start to focus more on the positive side. I do not like to be in a place where basic discipline in the people was lacking.

Because of the new environment, I found myself returning to the piano. I had spent twenty years on the piano, but unfortunately, I have little achievement to boast of. Those talented people simply played extremely demanding pieces on the piano by heart. I dug out my old music books, and started playing over the weekend.

That simply reminded me of my days in my secondary school, where I could play on one of the many pianos that were available for students to play. I liked this type of environment, and I strongly feel that with culture, the world will be a better place.

So, why not change your environment instead of constantly complaining about the current place? Sometimes, it’s not the vocation that’s wrong; it’s simply the environment. It’s also no wonder why Menscius’ mother moved his house three times just to let her son grow up in the best environment.


The Japanese have a philosophy known as kaizen. It has to do with making small improvements to something everyday. If you are able to improve your technique in tennis by 5% each day, then by the end of 20 days, you will have made vast improvements.

As part of my job, I have to repeat my presentations to different clients. Each time I present, I will improve it by a little, and using this idea of kaizen, I find myself being able to grasp the time better, and I am able to link my points better with each presentation.

That’s why parents love to nag at their children to play the piano everyday and practise the scales. The more you practise, and by improving 5% everyday, you get better quickly.

The people at Toyota did the same thing, and their cars are well known in the world. They constantly improve little things that appear to be unnoticeable in short term, but they all add up.

So, think of something you can add incremental changes everyday. It’s easier than making a huge change at one go.

Calling Her Stupid

I’ve been following a Hong Kong drama serial, Heart of Greed, starring Moses Chan and many other top actors and actresses and one of the characters, Alfred, kept scolding his girlfriend, Tsueng Choi Sum, stupid. He did not like her borrowing money from people or lending money to her brother, because the brother always raked up debts from failed business ventures. Granted, there was reason for him to feel that borrowing or lending money was bad, but he should respect her enough not to call her names.

I had a friend who complained about her then boyfriend calling her stupid and other names. She was extremely upset and despite telling him about how she felt when he did that, he continued whenever he was upset with things.

No matter how angry you are with somebody, do not call the person names, or say the person is stupid. Words can hurt and they may affect one’s self esteem.

However, I also thought the lead actress was silly to constantly allow him to call her stupid. They quarrelled over this matter, but she would always take him back. If he couldn’t respect her, she should not continue the relationship.

It goes the same for how other people treat you. If your parents or boss say such mean things to you, do not allow them to do so. You should control how you feel and not let others control your emotions. More importantly, do not allow them to undermine your self confidence. Stand up for yourself and say in a polite but firm tone that they should treat you with respect.

Psychological Test: Garages

I’ve once used a psychological test to determine the personality and the family situation of teenagers through drawing of a person, a house and a tree. By just letting them draw without any further instructions, except to add in as much detail as possible, and not letting the lack of any drawing talent deter them from drawing, these people just drew.

I had a book that I borrowed from the library that analysed the personalities of them. Some of them were vain and self-centred, or some of them had a dominant parental personality, or some face family problems. All these were easily shown on the drawings. If there is violence in the family, it is quite easy to see from the shape of the tree. It could also tell me whether they have any plans in the future or they are thinking of taking a break.

One of the analyses focuses on garages. The larger the garage is, the more freedom the teenagers want. The garage is a place for cars, and cars symbolise freedom or a means of escape. How does your garage look like in real life, if you have one? Some people simply have concrete flooring. However, the garage is a place where you park your car, and how it looks may affect how you feel.

There are many types of flooring for the garage available. You can choose to have designs similar to a chess board. What’s important is the grip. You don’t want your car to slide. Some of the floor tiles can be interlocking, so you can simply just lock them together to form a pattern. Or you can have epoxy flooring, where a coat is applied over the concrete and it can last for years. Currently, I see some older places with cracked tiles. It’s time to get a change. My friend’s place has nice floor tiles that goes with the entire design. The only problem is I can never park my car inside because there is no space for me.

When you can take care of your own garage floors, perhaps you are better at taking care of your own psychological needs. Is it time for you to look into your own psychological needs?