Sunday, October 18, 2020

Positive Changes during Covid 19 situation

Before I go ahead with my next stock analysis and portfolio update, I would like to share some of the lifestyle changes and habits I have built up over time as I grow my wealth.


I learnt about this concept in Tim Ferriss’s book ‘The Four Hour Workweek’. It means delaying in doing a specific task and letting them pile up until a specific point. Actually, we do apply it in some parts of our lives, like doing laundry: we wait for the dirty clothes to pile up and then wash them. When we do a task, there’s always a set up costs involved. To send an email, I need to turn on my laptop, load the outlook application before I start typing and click on the send button. When I check and send emails in different times of the day it means multiply these preparation time by that frequency. Contrarily, if I only do it once a day or less, I keep the set-up costs at a minimum.

Recently, I have applied the concept of batching not only in checking emails, but also checking my physical mailbox (weekly instead of daily) , update my expenses tracker (once a day instead of multiple times daily) and updating my investment portfolio in StocksCafe (weekly instead of three times a week). I was also addicted to checking Whatsapp message whenever there’s a notification, even while I was waiting for the traffic light to turn green, but now I learnt to hold on to the urge to do so by checking only at specific times of the day. Sometimes I do fall back to the old habits but it gets better with time and discipline.

After trying it out for some time, I felt that my concentration has improved due to minimal switching costs. Multiple studies have also shown that, if we switch from one task to another, it takes about a few minutes to fully concentrate on that new task, as our brain at time still think about the old tasks.

When I am driving these days, I will put my phone in the wireless charging compartment, lock it up and enjoy piano music.

Set Goals (daily goals, monthly goals, and 10-year goals)

 I have read articles on new year resolutions which talks about the sad fact that gyms are always packed at the start of the year with new faces but starts thinning out after February. New Year resolutions are indeed hard to keep as they failed to follow through their goals that they set since day one. I tried setting new year resolutions to blog every week, eat healthily, but as work started piling up, I tend to do the urgent tasks instead of focusing on my resolutions and blamed it on my busy schedule.

Since the start of circuit breaker, all my overseas trips were all cancelled and physical meetings become Zoom meetings. All the driving around and rushing for every meeting had come to a stop and I felt very unnatural and awkward at the start. However, having all the time at home has forced me to slow down my fast-paced life and rethink my long-term goals. I like the way Tim Ferriss put it: ‘Being busy is form of laziness- lazy thinking and indiscriminate action’ I was guilty of that as I kept myself busy at work and at home without evaluating and reflecting if I am being efficient at work or just busy and unproductive. 

With the time I have, I started reading books which had been sitting on my bookshelves and collect dusts for very long (books that I wanted to read but never had time to). I began to think about what I truly want to achieve in life and made it a priority to sit down for a few hours to set long term goals. I used Goals Journal and 10-Year Plan by Kikki-K. These books taught me to start by defining my core values, and to visualize my dream life and a monthly planner by setting 4 goals each month and a reward if I achieve that goal. It worked very well for me, and I think  the concept by Charles Dhugg on the power of Habit: Cue -> Routine -> Reward was applied. As I began to set goals, I made some positive changes in life to fit my goals: more sleep, exercise, meditation, intentional reading, visualization of goals every day, gratitude journal.

Setting goals also helped me came out with the chart below on how much portfolio value I need to attain to achieve 195k of passive income in 10 years’ time.

After setting 10 year goal, I proceed to think of ways to reach my yearly goal. Breaking down into daily and monthly goals of spending few hours each weekend to read investment articles, annual reports and investment books to brush up my investment skills and blog on a monthly basis.

To help visualize my success, I invested in a vision board, and it helps to get me fired up emotionally to work hard and complete my daily goals that every step in the right direction counts towards my long-term success.


Diversify my meaning markers

Recently I have been doing quite abit of reading and through the book titled :Before Happiness by Shawn Achor, I learnt that to define my core values and my goals should not be just financial success, but to diversify my meaning portfolio. Strange but true, the more diverse your portfolio, the more routes you have to steer to your goals. In the past, my life shrinks down to only one thing which is meaningful- building wealth. But as I read further into the book, I found out that if my happiness depended on one corner of my life, I am living a pretty fragile place. Because if things don’t turn out well, I don’t have anything meaningful to fall back on.

It took a Covid 19 lockdown for me to identify more meaning markers to see how they are all connected to my life and my happiness should not be entirely dependent on my wealth. So when my stock portfolio is not performing to my expectation at times, I still be buoyed by other parts of my life to still feel meaningful to keep moving forward. After reflecting and diversifying my meaning markers, my life don’t revolve around work, I catchup with friends more often, spend more time pursing my guitar hobby, playing badminton and spend more time with my family over a phone call (as they are living abroad)


Value sleep and keep a low information diet

The future is indeed uncertain and sometimes the problems in life keep us up at night. There are times I can’t fall asleep despite going to bed early and feeling tired the next day. On certain days, I slept early but woke up in the middle of the night, thinking about work or simply too excited about tomorrow.

 Planning my day ahead made me realize the need to be well rested to complete the daily tasks smoothly and forced me to make some sacrifice in order to sleep well. I began setting some ground rules close to bedtime and stick to it. These days I put myself to bed at 11pm and cut off screen time an hour before sleeping and spend that hour reading books with a cup of hot rooibos tea.

Overthinking at night could be attributed to my brain processing on what is going on in my day that affected my sleep. Hence these days, I maintain a low information diet, which means watching less news, turn of all unimportant notifications and deleting apps which are time consuming and irrelevant to my long-term goals.  That comes with a cost: missing out on shopping deals or single’s day promotion. However, I began to get used to it as the price I paid is nothing as priceless as a good night rest.

I used to own a bunch of credit cards to maximize the signup bonus and compare which is the best cashback card or highest miles per dollar. However, as my wealth grows, I learnt to simplify my life by holding on four credit cards. While I may not be optimising my credit card strategy that way, I get to free up that extra research time to spend quality time with my loved ones, and be more productive at work.

Here are four positive changes that I have made, and it makes me happier and improve my overall concentration. Circuit breaker is indeed a trying period for many (including me) and felt that time has slowed down; but I have learnt an important lesson that in order to go fast, I need to slow down.

What positive changes have you made during Covid 19? I would like to hear from you!

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  1. This is a very good reflection. Thanks for sharing. I'll give it a try too on some of what you're doing.

    1. Thanks Brian for the compliment. You are an inspiration to many in investing. Hope it helps in your overall quality of life! All the best to you!

  2. Great reminder. I will try to follow some of what you have done to improve my quality of life as well. Cheers :)

    1. Thanks BK for visitng my blog. All the best to you! Jiayou! :)

  3. Nice write up.

    I also wrote similar topic regard to COVID here:

    1. Thanks CompoundingDividendxDividend. Will check it out!