2022 Q3 review

Reinforcing my detachment, managing my psychology, and doubling my focus yet again

2022 Q3 review
I made a few goals back in my Q2 review post for Q3. Here’s how they went:
  • I’ve interviewed with a few companies, but got turned down. I’m still looking! The job hunt burnout is real, though.
  • I haven’t been surfskating as often as I’d want, but I’m getting better at smaller bowls while polishing my existing technique.
  • I wrote 2 issues for my Slice of Life newsletter, my q2 review post, and a paid article for a local sustainable fashion brand.
  • I’m Notion certified! I got a Notion Essentials badge! I haven’t figured out how to turn it into a side consulting gig, but more on what I’m interested in this post.

Reinforcing my detachment

In late Q2, I struggled at work because I was concerned about keeping a certain image. Because it was a small team, it was easy to sense if something was off. So I didn’t want to be labelled in any manner (useless, incapable, incompetent, fraud, not good enough) and I didn’t want to disappoint or betray people’s expectations of me. I wasn’t a “cheap hire”, after all (quote unquote from someone in the team, though thinking about it now makes me want to punch a wall because who the fuck even says that in front of your face). In my final days, although I was still stressed about certain tasks, I did what was only needed. I still didn’t want them to think of me as someone indifferent who’s only thinking of leaving. But even if I was, should I have cared anyway? It repels me that I still think about it, especially how I felt disrespected and humiliated. The camaraderie existed at first, then there was none. But there is no point in me worrying anymore, especially those who don’t deserve my attention. This comes across as overly dramatic of me, but I didn’t want to reveal too much. I still admire the work they’re trying to achieve, but it had become a place where I didn’t feel at ease anymore. Of course these weren’t the only reasons I left. I also felt like I couldn’t grow in the role in the foreseeable future anymore. Knowing I was rational after speaking to friends and ex-colleagues restored my faith in myself again. Even while the bitterness persists (and I still need to find time to grieve), I’m using this occasion to strengthen my detachment towards work. Whatever I felt in my previous job shouldn’t invalidate the actual work I do. I still care, but I shouldn’t let the work dictate the value I place in myself.
“He said, ‘Remember, your feelings about the work don’t determine the value of the work.’ If you feel like you open up your files and everything looks like shit and you’re upset, that mood is going to make you want to invalidate your whole project.” — Maggie Nelson
It’s no different from job-hunting; it’s still a constant challenge to separate my worth to the job. Maybe that’s why I burned out from it. There is a tangible monetary value to work, so it’s natural to assume its importance and necessity for every day transactions. So it seems reasonable that I should validate my worth in the form of a salary. So if I don’t get a new job soon, I have no value as a person. Right? Yeah, no. I could have waited until I secured a job before leaving, but I couldn’t bear the notion of staying another 3 months or more. I’m being selective, because I have specific criteria for my next job, such as having no desire to return to an office full time. If you can, you should have a list of requirements for a job. If there are job requirements for candidates, we should also have our own requirements for a job. But it restricts my choices, especially when the job market now looks uninspiring.

Managing my psychology and energy

I should have taken advantage of the extra time to rest and do the things I enjoy while looking for a new job. Instead, I wallowed in self-pity. I was overwhelmed by factors beyond my immediate control — the job search (what’s ideal?), new career (is it time?), personal work (what to focus?), and relationship woes. I’m in the position to choose what I want to do next — should I continue doing product management full time or freelance? The former provides more security, while the latter allows for more time to do personal work. I definitely want to save up more savings and gain more experience from a full-time role for my next “passion”, but I sensed that I’m doing it out of the fear of losing out rather than the love or learning of it. I’ve already put in many hours and years, so I should continue to hone my craft before moving onto the next. With my relationship, I made my overthinking worse what with the constant reminder that time is “running” out and I need to make a decision soon or it will be made for me. What’s the “right” decision? What would my family and friends think? It doesn’t help that I was thinking about how the future things I want to do might affect the people around me. It definitely didn’t help when traditional-mindset families questioned about when I’m getting married. All these thoughts about the future depleted my energy. There was a lack of progress (it wasn’t enough) and lack of result (not the ideal results), which dropped my motivation to do anything. Things were moving too slow, despite reminding myself that some days will be slow and that’s okay. My victimhood mentality kicked in, resulting in an even lower productivity. I distracted myself with consumption and wasted time doing… other things that don’t contribute back to the “productive” culture. It turned out I wasn’t paying attention to my needs. I was at home in front of the computer, and forgot about the vital things: getting enough sun in my system and exercising. I was skeptical that working out can energise you, but now I wholeheartedly believe it. At least throughout the month of self-doubt and misery, I discovered more sources of energy:
  • 5-10 minute daily breathwork
  • 1-2 sets of a mini workout (sun salutations + warrior, weighted squats, weighted lunges, bicep curls)
  • Balance of consumption and creation, e.g. read my favourite writers’ works and write my own
  • Allow myself to believe that I have INFINITE TIME — This is a GREAT HACK for me.
  • If something is too overwhelming, then it’s a project. Make it into a smaller to-do task, e.g. it’s NOT “read a book”, but “read at least 5 pages every day” sort of task.
It’s okay to have unproductive days, because usually my productive days follow soon after. Once I’m aware about my cycle of productivity and unproductivity, I know what to expect and what I can do about them. Mine usually looks like this:
Uncertainty and dread → Capture energy → Just do the work anyway quickly or in smaller bites → Hey this isn’t so bad, maybe I can just keep going then
I haven’t fully figured out my Q3 woes, but at least I’m a bit more equipped to manage my emotions and energy.

Doubling down my focus (yet again)

In the beginning of the year, I was adamant about finding a means to monetise one of my projects so I can turn it into a side hustle. It was one of my 2022 goals. But it took me some time to admit to myself that my motivations weren’t entirely to help others or earn extra income. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I’m capable and competent like many others on the internet. I managed to convince and coerce myself to do something I didn’t like that much because I wanted external validation, not out of doing it for myself. One day, I want to make that happen but today (this year) is not the day. But I’ll revisit it during my 2023 planning. I always had an interest in productivity but I didn’t buy into the idea of using many tools, systems, and the hustle culture behind it. And I’ve always been fascinated with “wellness” but I couldn’t quite define it. I want to take better care of myself through self-care methods and yoga, but I couldn’t piece them together with the theory and practice. Twitter helped me to draw some conclusions about what I could put together to do. Eventually I want to help people who feel stuck and unable to motivate themselves to be productive. Many times, it’s mostly managing your emotions. I’m still not the ideal role model, but it’s something I want to work towards to. Many people inspired me; Visa and Dan being one of them.
It’s why I’ve been exploring the mind-body connection in the past month. At first I tried to read up about anything related to the mind and body (psychology, the brain, meditation, feelings), but they were such broad subjects. I doubted my studies and even the interest because I got overwhelmed with too much subject areas. I even considered taking up a short course in counselling or psychotherapy. It only clicked to me later that instead of learning new things, why not build on what I’ve already learned so far? Learning new things entails learning how to continue from your existing knowledge. It’s also another practice for me to be boring first to become interesting. For me, it will be my existing experience in yin yoga from my 50 hour teacher training (back in April this year) and nervous system regulation via breathwork (last November), for now. As always, my writing practice will always be present throughout every quarter. But in the coming quarter, I’d like to rediscover and find my joy for writing again by writing a few short fictional stories (cough fanfics). I hope to honour the adolescence me and make her a little bit more proud that I continued. Good luck with the last mile of the year! See you all next year.

Other Q3 highlights:

  • Quit my highly paid job that provided no psychological safety and learning
  • Got a new haircut (wolfcut / mullet)
  • Got a new tattoo
  • Read a LOT of great manga, e.g. Kusuriya no Hitorigoto, Chang Ge Xing, Otoyomegatari, Akane Banashi, and Fool Night.
  • Redesigned and reorganised my private digital garden and made a lot of progress
  • Started a new project on mind-body connection
  • Started a daily breathwork practice (via Othership app)
  • Reworked my About page
  • Set up my bf’s mini personal site
  • Helped organise my mum’s big birthday party
  • Flew to Singapore for one of my close childhood friend’s wedding
  • Went back a couple of times to my hometown for a few big celebrations

Q4 goals

  • Continue my mind-body connection project: With a focus on yin yoga and nervous system regulation via breathwork practice.
  • Rediscover my joy for writing:
    • Write and publish >3 more blog posts or newsletter issues and >2 short fictional stories
    • Be more involved in the Foster community
  • At the time I’m writing this, I might be able to secure a full-time role by this month. But if whatever reason I don’t, I’m going to start freelancing for the time being.