Making decisions: Are they aligned with your values and goals?

"Go study in the best school or university...",
"Go find a job that pays well in a bank or at some conglomerates...",
"Go get yourself a flat with your boyfriend first to enjoy govt grants, get married later",
"Earn a lot of money. Be rich..."

"...and you are successful."

Voices, news and rules are shaping the road we are taking everyday. I am glad that since I was young, my parents let me choose my own path. But sometimes I do wonder, is that true? Did I really make my own decision and chose these paths? Am I living my life to be me?

Ever wonder if decisions you made may be influenced by voices around you? Subconsciously your friends, family, news, that google search results or that influencer's article/video you came across may have shaped you a certain way, and therefore you were making decisions based on what you are influenced to be?

Technology may be a distraction. Voices you hear may be influencing you. Rules may have dictated how you live. 

Influence from others may make you regret your decision

I went on my dream work and travel holiday in New Zealand after I've saved enough money from my 1st job. After I got my working holiday visa to go on my first solo personal trip,  a few days later, a guy I was dating shared that he just did the same and got his too. We went on the trip together. My plan was to stay for 9 long months while his was for 2 months.

After his 2 months ended and he returned back to Singapore, his mother was calling me everyday saying that I should spend Chinese New Year back at home, I shouldn't be away from him too long cause it will affect our relationship, it's too dangerous for a female to be travelling alone.

During this period, I may have chat up some travellers who have planned to go home for Chinese New Year.  I may have came across a social media post about what others are planning for reunion dinner. Or a friend may have casually agreed to what his mother shared, or that news article about a solo traveller's mishap, without me realising that all these encounters have directly or indirectly influenced my decision.

Kaikuora: My last few days in  NZ.

I went home after 3 months in New Zealand...

Few years later, we are separated and my decision returning back home then doesn't matter anymore.

Cutting short my trip is one of my biggest regrets in life. I would now never get the chance to experience New Zealand the way I wanted it to be. The way I planned for it to be. 

Evaluate your decisions if they are truly your decisions

I made many decisions that I regretted later. I then decided I need to find ways to stop myself from making decisions that I'll regret later.

I wish that back then, I checked in with my priorities, values and my goal.  If so, I may have made a different decision. I've planned for my dream trip for 2 whole years and it ended in 3 months.

How I made MY decision, finally

Last year, I was working in company that I enjoyed working at, until changes happened within the company. These changes affected me and I started to feel really stressful everyday. I would drag myself to work, I kept thinking about what happened at work day and night, I was never truly present when I spend time with Russell when he's battling cancer (Even though i was there right in front of him), I would cry at home often thinking about what happened at work thinking the world isn't far to me. 

I talked to many of my colleagues who were supportive and most of them advised that I should stay longer, as things may change later. And I see other colleagues who are affected by this change taking the courage to stay on. A friend warned me on how bad the job market is, and that I shouldn't care about what happened at work, just take the money and mentally separate myself. Another friend thinks that I should take this opportunity to improve on my skills to deal with situations like this. Mum, as always, supportive of decisions I make, and would want me to be happy. That's all she asks for. 

The book I brought and wrote my values, priorities and goals
 I went on a trip to Kuching to think about my next steps. I needed to find a path that means me, truly my decision. I brought along a notebook which I wrote down my values, goals and the options I have. I think about the opinions what people around me shared with me, and together with my options, I checked which are the ones which are most aligned with my priorities then. 

My priorities then were my dog Russell, my parents and my general health and well being.

My values is to do something with a sense of purpose.

With this job, I was eating a lot of junks and eating a lot of expensive food because the more stressful I get, the more comfort food I need. And the more stressful I get, the more I feel the need to frequent the massage centre and the more I am spending too. 

The place I sit to reflect @Kuching
Russell was battling cancer and I was leaving Russell at home alone often even though he's sick and sometimes would vomit, and needs to be fed 5-8 times per day. 

I no longer view this job as bringing me the sense of satisfaction as the challenges were too overwhelmed for me, and it has affected what truly matters to me - my dog and my health.

Even though it was too risky to lose my job, and with my savings are running out and I spent so much on Russell's medical bills, I made the decision to resign. 

This job is not aligned to my values nor my priorities.

Living the life aligned with my values

Russell at his favourite beach

I am so grateful that I made that decision. I eventually get to spend a good whole 2 weeks at home with Russell, before he left on 13 November 2019. 

I am earning at least 3x lesser now but I am happier and it appears that I am spending less to make me happy :) Money doesn't buy happiness.

I started my travelings again as a digital nomad staying at each city for 1-2 weeks, and hopefully longer in months in the future. 

I get to spend long 1-2 weeks with my parents back in Ipoh every single month! 

I've got time now to work on introducing new habits into my life - those which are more aligned with my values. Bad habits that I was trying hard to get rid of. 

I am also working on what I find great purpose in:

- Building a startup together with a group of friends - one that I believe will benefit many businesses and employees from better job and culture match. (Better match = Happier employees and employers). 
My "work desks" in Bandung

- Freelancing for companies I believe their product would bring positive values to others, and would who need my help in business development. (Currently working with 1 now for the past 4 months!) 

I still hear voices of distractions every now and then: 

"It's a waste of talent that you are not working for a company now." 
"You need to work again so you can have the money to keep up with my lifestyle and to plan for retirement"

When these voices pass by, I open my book and look at my values and goals. Is money one of them? Is working for others aligned with any of them? Nope! 

What lifestyle? My lifestyle changed now for better because I no longer need those expensive food or massage.... And I get to spend more time with my family which is one of my goals now. And I contribute better when I find a sense of purpose in what I do - another of my priority. Not money. 

Tips to making sure your decisions are aligned with your goals

So the next time when you are making an important decision, try keeping a book that reminds you of your values, priorities and goals. I'm not saying that you should stop listening to any of those voices. But rather, always check in with your book if they are aligned to what you truly believe in. Your choice. Not one that is influenced by others. 


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