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Inspiration KFit News

8 Common Facts That I Grew Up With (That Were Wrong) by Joel Neoh

We want to share with you the inspiring birthday note KFit Co-founder Joel Neoh penned down on his birthday. We hope this inspires you, and you get a feel for the man behind KFit. 

Thank you for your birthday wishes and the cake at midnight! As I reflected earlier today, thought I’d share 8 facts that I had to unlearn over the past years – to be a better person and entrepreneur.

1. Accomplish all goals : We’re not supposed to accomplish all our goals

  • As we spend the first two decades of our lives in schooling systems that conditions us to have intense result focus about everything; we set out to do A, B and C; and either we accomplish them or we don’t. If we do, we succeed. If we don’t, we fail.
  • In my 20s I learnt that life doesn’t actually work that way. 10 years ago, I sat down and wrote down a list of goals I wanted to accomplish by today. The goals were ambitious and I took this list very seriously.
  • Today, I’ve accomplished 1/3 of those goals. I’ve made progress on another 1/3. And basically done nothing about the last 1/3. But I’m actually really happy about them.
  • Growing up, I’ve discovered that some of the life goals I set for myself were not things I actually wanted, and setting those goals taught me what was absolutely not important to my life. With other goals that I didn’t attain, the act of working towards them for the past 10 years has taught me so much.

The value always comes from the process of failing and trying, not in achieving.

2. Big things matter: The sum of little things matter much more than big things

    • Last year, an interviewer asked me what it felt like to be an entrepreneur that had achieved “overnight success”. Pausing 2 minutes, I reflected back on all the long nights (including weekends) for 10 years straight – overnight success, no. Over many many many nights, yes.
    • We often assume things just happen as they are. As outsiders to the journey, we tend to only see the result of things and not the hectic process (and all of the failures) that went into producing the result.
    • We have this idea that we have to do just this one big thing that is going to completely change the world, top to bottom. We don’t yet realize that those “one big things” are actually composed of hundreds and thousands of daily small things that must be silently and unfashionably maintained over long periods of time with little fanfare.

3. What the world thinks is important: The world doesn’t care

Frightening thought at first glance: “No one cares about me???”

      • It becomes liberating as we understand its true meaning: “We’ll stop worrying what others think about us when we realize how seldom they actually do.”
      • You, me, and everything we do, will one day be forgotten. It will be as if we never existed, even though we did. Nobody will care. Just like right now, almost nobody cares what we actually say or do with our lives. And this is wonderful news. It means we can get away with a lot of mistakes and people will forget and forgive us for it.

It means there’s absolutely no reason to not be the person you want to be.

4. Friendships are forever: Friendships cannot be forced

There are 2 types of friends in life:

              1) The ones that when you go away for a long time and come back, it feels like nothing’s changed

              2) The ones that when you go away for a long time and come back, it feels like everything’s changed

      • I’ve spent majority of the last five years in a number of different countries. Unfortunately, that means that I’ve left a lot of friends in various places.
      • What I’ve discovered over this time is that we can’t force friendship with someone. Either it’s there or it’s not, and whatever “it” is, is so magical that neither one of us could even explain it if we tried to. We both just know. We can rarely predict which friends will stick with us and which ones won’t.
      • For friendships which don’t stick – it’s not that they were bad people or bad friends. It’s nobody fault. It’s just how life works.

5. Our parents are responsible for everything : Our parents are people too

One the most disillusioning realization is seeing our dad and mom,

             1) Not as the all-knowing protectors, like we did as a child

             2) Not as the obnoxious and uncool authoritarians, like we did as a teenager

but now as peers. As just two flawed, vulnerable, struggling individuals doing their best despite often not knowing what they’re doing.

High chances our parents have screwed some things up during our childhood – and we’ll start to notice all of these screw-ups in our 20s onwards. Growing up and maturing to this is always a painful process. It can kick up a lot of bitterness. Our first step is to acknowledge, accept, and (perhaps) forgive these mistakes or flaws. They’re people too. They’re doing their best, even though they don’t always know what the best is.

6. Relationship goal: Settle up

“When are you planning to settle down?” – after your 25th birthday, this question will steadily creep up to the top of your FAQs list. While friends and family are not asking out of any bad intention – this is a bad question. “Settling down” means “to move downwards, sink, or descend,” that also means the “opposite of up”. We’ve seen this with friends and family, who rushed to “settle down” – accepting mediocrity, and are now struggling in unhappy complicated relationships.

      • Settle up

Be in relationships that inspires us to discover our better selves. We deserve someone who does not only make us feel better, but makes us want to be better. Think, 1 + 1 = 5. When we’re with the right person, we’ll treat them as an equal partner – as a person with equal voice (and equal value). Shoot the next person who tells you to settle down with someone who loves you more.

Only accept being with an equal.

7. Possessions are important: Possessions are worse than worthless

      • Possessions are worse than worthless — they’re harmful.

They add no value to our lives, and cost us everything. Not just the money required to buy them, but the time and money spent shopping for them, maintaining them, worrying about them, insuring them, fixing them, and more. I’ve bought many things because I thought I wanted it, but after I bought it I lost interest within months. Our possessions will only make us temporarily happy, while enriching experiences are what we’ll remember forever. In 30 years from now, I’ll remember the amazing Boracay trip last month than whatever I bought this year.

      • Now, when it comes to experiences – we will miss a ton! But that’s really OK.

We often get caught up in trying to do everything and try not to miss out on anything important. We forget the fact that we cannot experience everything. We forget that our physical reality dictates we’ll naturally miss most things. We cannot read all the good books, watch all the good films, go to all the best cities in the world, try all the best restaurants, meet all the great people.

But the secret is: life is better when we don’t try to do everything. Enjoy that slice of life we experience, and life will turn out to be wonderful.

8. Know everything : I know almost nothing

After many years of learnings and self reflection – I still have a lot more to learn. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I know almost nothing, and that I’m often wrong about what I think I know.

Life has many lessons to teach, and I’m looking forward to them all.

Comments (12)

  • One of the best articles I’ve read so far here.👍
    Totally able to relate to all 8. 🍀

    Reply
    • Thanks Sophia 🙂

      Reply
  • Well said.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jennifer!

      Reply
  • Dear Joel, thank you for sharing a realistic view of life based on your experience. Too often we are bombarded with smart nuggets about life on social media, and they are usually too abstract for real people with real life issues and who are absorbed in their daily grind to connect with (and a lot of times they sound the same…). Cheers.

    Reply
    • You’re on point about ‘smart nuggets which are too abstract’. Keep this blog close to heart, and practice ’em 🙂

      Reply
  • hi there,

    thanks for sharing! it is simple n blunt to e point but it’s great! from yr sharing,it re-emphasize some stuff that I already knew n understand some new stuff.

    thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Sharing is caring Corliss!

      Reply
  • Excellent reflection! Truly impressed by your “8 common facts”….ahhhhh….if only I’d known when I was that young….and I hope my kids will realize these too…thank you!

    Reply
    • Share with your kids! It’s never too late ;P

      Reply
  • Great article! Makes me feel very inspired to do things differently and step out of the norm. Make, create and innovate. Hope I can share my dream app with Joel Neoh that can revolutionize our golfing and club house industry here in Asia Pac.

    Reply
    • Keep it up Brian!

      Reply

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