"NOT SUCCESS BUT WONDER" | JOURNAL
This is not one of those articles that help you to build your business, form habits like a millionaire or increase your productivity.
This is my case and ambition for a simple life.
SUPER SIZED SUCCESS
Modern life has driven me deeper into my faith when I started to realise that the values preached to me by the world also possessed the side effects of stress, insecurity and fear. The model of success for us is that of an entrepreneur with a polished look of power and money, who commutes in luxury cars, is peppered with branded items or a very expensive watch, has a jet as a taxi, is named in many business magazines, preferably a millionaire by 30, or the owner of a successful chain by 25, frequently traveling to beautiful places in the world and staying in the fanciest of places living the life. Next to this super sized version of success, the old school Singaporean 5Cs (Cash, Car, Condo, Career, Credit Card) pales in comparison.
“Next to this super sized version of success, the old school Singaporean 5Cs (Cash, Car, Condo, Career, Credit Card) pales in comparison.”
When I first heard about the Minimalists from their Ted Talk and how living a life with less benefited them so greatly, the story of the Rich Man in the Bible came to mind. It is about this young rich man who goes to Jesus and asks what else should he do to experience eternal life eternal life: the fullness of life God meant for you from now till eternity and Jesus replied him, "Sell everything you have and give it away to the poor..." Well the minimalists kind of did that. Seeing the parallel made me more convinced that the values Jesus preached actually held so much practicality and power to living a fulfilling life.
I started off my new business with the best of intentions, that I may experience a life of adventure with God. I kind of forced myself to lean on God's provision and guidance because I knew I lacked the know-how to actually run a photography business. God led me to the right training material, hooked me up with the right people (without me intentionally seeking out these relationships) and led amazingly supportive clients to work with and the business grew.
At the very beginning of my business, I didn't earn a lot and was constantly reminded of how far from the ladder I am from my peers with those stupid newspaper articles of the income range of new graduates from different universities. I on my own was really happy, I lacked nothing that I really needed but those comments bugged me and I realised I did not deal with them intentionally because a couple of years in, slowly and unknowingly I started to aim for that income range just so I could feel "secure" or "successful". Or so I thought.
MY ILLNESS OR "JUST SAY NO" CARD
“The illness, it turns out, was my “JUST SAY NO” card (anyone plays monopoly deal? hee) to say “No.” to the rat race with courage and conviction.”
I took on more jobs and I worked a lot. I worked too much. I couldn't switch off. Halfway through, my body protested with inflammations that grew and spread across my face. After every wedding I would also suffer from migraines almost guaranteed. It caused me a lot of anxiety knowing that there was something wrong with my body and yet the doctors did not know how to help me. I remember a retreat we had with friends and I had some time alone with God and I brought my illness before Him and in that quiet space He assured me that He would heal me. The illness, it turns out, was my "JUST SAY NO" card (anyone plays monopoly deal? hee) to say "No." to the rat race with courage and conviction.
Having to focus on my health allowed me to slow down and focus on living, not just making a living. I had to learn to say no to projects, which is still really really hard (because FOMO, fear of missing out). I had to learn to be content in a world that constantly tells me I'm not enough or I don't have enough;
"It's very expensive to live in Singapore...."
"You'll definitely need a car and a maid..."
"Are you sure one/two weddings a month are enough?"
"You see this person, Vice President of Blah Blah Blah."
"So and so are high flyers you know..."
And I don't care.
“Having to focus on my health allowed me to slow down and focus on living, not just making a living. ”
I'M READY TO BE INSIGNIFICANT
I have told myself, forget about the model of success that is advertised and blown up in your face. I am ok if my life seems insignificant. I am ok if my business doesn't grow into a MULTI MILLION DOLLAR COMPANY-NY-NY (echoes).
Actually, try telling yourself that - "It's ok to be insignificant in this world.". When I gave myself the permission to forgo this expectation, I felt a huge sense of relief. It granted me the freedom to do what fulfilled me instead of what others will praise me for. But it is not to say I am passive or lack drive. Not at all, in fact I strive hard to live a simple life.
"Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more (referring to acts of love), and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and worth with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12
EVALUATING THE FRUITS OF THE LIFE ONE CHOOSES
The Bible grants a simple way to evaluate if a value or principle or way of life is good by the fruits. Sometimes it is hard to know if that value or principle or way of life is a good one, but the Bible says that you will know the tree by the fruit it produces. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. A good tree will always bear good fruit. So a good value or principle or way of life will always produce good results. The passage then goes on to explain what good fruits are - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galations 5:22,23
“When I gave myself the permission to forgo this expectation, I felt a huge sense of relief. It granted me the freedom to do what fulfilled me instead of what others will praise me for.”
These are what I will base my life's value on. I want the good fruits. I don't want resentment, despair, anxiety, insecurity...these are the fruits I get when I chase what the world asks me to chase - fame, wealth, recognition, power.
I'm sorry world but I've tried your product and it kind of sucks.
I'm exercising the Lemon Law and returning to you your "idea of success";
I want my life back, please don't contact me anymore.