Pain has a weird way of knocking at my door and trying to change me. Her cold, colorless heavy air and her overwhelming, sheer weight would almost always slow down my pace, make me sit on my chair, and force to me my unwanted introspective questions.

My frustrated poetic expressions aside, I would like to think and write about the encounter I had with this one question:

“Is what I’m doing (i.e. starting, building, and running a startup) at this young age worth it?”

I’ve read hundreds of books and videos and I believe there would be people standing on two sides of differing stances:

At one side, there would be people who would discourage what I’m doing with a burning passion. They’d say I’ll miss a part of my life, I can’t enjoy my 20s, I’ll miss knocking opportunities, I’ll be different, probably even hated, I’ll “eat glass”, I won’t be able to enjoy a girlfriend, and so on and so forth.
On the other side would be the people that would say that I’m extremely lucky.

But to answer the question, I think we have to dig deeper than that. It was then I came upon three things that helped me answer this question.

 

Here are three things that I believe sheds light to this question:

Thinking in a wider and higher scope of existence.
Everything happened, happens, and will happen for a reason, or so that’s what my very finite understanding of the sovereignty of God stands to believe. Knowing that I’m only a speck of dust in the Universe brings me considerable comfort. And it brings me great hope of the things that happened, are happening, and will happen.

My dream is no longer my own.
It would be selfish to consider my dream as my dream only and no-one else’s; a dream that I can just throw away when I want to. That would probably be okay if I was still a child, but that is no longer the case. People have joined me in my quest. People who are significantly better than me, who are far more experienced, skillful, and talented. People have already spent their precious irredeemable  time, money, and opportunities because of me. I am no longer alone in this. Of course the weight of this responsibility is not light, but this is also something that I find I could always take great strength from.

Being mindful of the future.
I may not have the ability to peek into the future, but I believe that we have the responsibility to create a better future not for ourselves but for those who will come after us, our children, our grandchildren, our grand-grandchildren.

 

 

So is starting a company while in your 20s worth it?

To those who want to stand up and make a dent in the world: Yes.
To the dreamers and idealists who believe we should dream for everyone’s sake: Yes.
To the futurists who want to pave a better future for our children and grandchildren: Yes.
To those who would sacrifice present happiness for a long-term vision: Yes.
To those who are different: Yes.

To the crazy ones: Yes.

 


 

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People have been asking me how I’m doing so much with my finite time: having a full-time day job, a startup at the sidelines, music and songwriting, a fitness goal, a language goal, reading goals, and this blog to run.

To answer this, I have to be blunt upfront. I’m not the best at time management. On the contrary, I always feel that my time management skills suck big time. I often slack and procrastinate. I become too comfortable and overconfident. But looking at my plate right now, I now think, “Maybe my friends are right. Maybe I am juggling too much things compared to the regular dude next door.”

Firstly, we have to be on the same page. I think we have to consider time to be the most valuable resource, much more valuable than money. Once you spend time on something, you can’t get it back. And another thing is, almost every one of us are given the same exact amount of hours every day, which is amazing. Another thing that I also know is this: That my time is not permanent; I am not permanent. I could die the next day, or probably the next hour. But as Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus, I realize that a better way to see this is this: To make the best use of time, because the days are evil.

So now that we’re on the same page, hopefully, I’ll attempt to deconstruct the principles that I believe I have been following.

Here are the four keys to a better time management.

1. Value-based thinking

At this age, we are constantly barraged by an endless storm of information. But we should ask ourselves a question: Are these information presented to us really valuable, or are these just distractions designed to capture our constantly wandering bored mind? Do you remember that hilarious Facebook cat video that you just discovered? How about that wildly upsetting (fake) news you’ve just read? Or that series that has been eating away your days? Or that gossip about the guy next door that you barely even know?

As Stephen Covey suggested in his classic book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it helps to begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself this question: “What future do I want?” And if you have already have that end in mind, then ask yourself this second question, “Is this information/activity that I’m going to partake valuable? Is this going to contribute to the future that I want?”

It also helps to learn how to identify value when you see it since different things and activities have different values.

Spend time on the valuable things, and ignore the rest.

2. Invest in yourself

I’ve once read in a book (I forgot which book it was) that described the importance of investing in your self.

Let me illustrate by putting yourself in a different shoe:

Imagine that you are in a competition to take down the most number of trees in a single day. Each competitor is given an axe, and this axe could take down a tree with twelve swings. How would you approach the competition if you want to win at the top? Would you rush hacking down trees with a dozen of swings hoping that you’ll be the fastest? Or would you spend considerable time to sharpen the blade of your axe, just so to make it that trees would fall down the moment you bring down a single swing?

Now, know that you are the axe. You can try to go at life with your current sharpness (skill set, knowledge, experience, etc), or you can spend considerable amount of time to learn, study, and develop your self, considerably delaying gratification for the purpose of future greater rewards.

Investing in yourself does not need to be expensive. You can invest in yourself physically (exercising, having a healthy diet, etc), mentally (reading books, studying, meditating), building skills (hobbies, passions), and spiritually (connecting to The God in the Bible).

3. Distinguish the important and the urgent

One tool that I learned to be really helpful is the Eisenhower Decision Matrix.

Basically it’s a tool (or technique, or system, or whatever you want to call it) designed to filter tasks based on their urgency and their importance. It groups tasks to four quadrants: The Do (important and urgent), The Plan (important but not urgent), The Delegate (not important but urgent), and The Limit (not important and not urgent).

EisenhowerDecisionMatrix11

I will not go in-depth here because explaining this concept has been already been done before thanks to The Art of Manliness.

As what has been quoted, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

4. Aim High

I guess one reason why I’m juggling multiple things is because of the brutal standards that I set to my self. How can I stay comfortable when in my mind I’m competing against multi-talented world-class entrepreneurs? How can I not take risks when the bar has been set by history-renowned polymath individuals? And how can my heart remain peaceful when it has been called for perfection?

 

I hope we realize that time is a gift. And also, that our time is not permanent.

Our time will eventually come to an end.

So let’s use it well.

 


 

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