You Have to Do the Hard Things

I was thinking about this line over and over on this looong work week.

You have to do the hard things.

Many times, we see work as hard, stressful, difficult, challenging, demanding, etc. 

We see it as time spent away from family and a hindrance to a healthy social life.

Work becomes the center of our universe, what we do becomes who we are. 

Family events scheduled around business meetings and work deliverables. Quality time with family done in between work days (and nights).

Work is hard. And it will always get harder.

Such is the incessant reality wherever you go, whatever field you are in.

But – we have to do the hard things.

  • We have to work until our bodies are tired.
  • We have to work until we get the project done.
  • We have to work until we satisfy our client’s needs.
  • We have to work until we meet our financial goal.
  • We have to work until our kids graduate.
  • We have to work until we pay off our housing loan.
  • We have to work until we can finally retire comfortably.
  • We have to work until we get the business back in shape.

We just have to.

Amidst tired muscles, severe headaches, an acidic tummy and the feeling of getting down with the flu due to lack of sleep and extra hours spent looking at your laptop’s screen… think about what is it that you are working for, what is the reason why you wake up everyday? 

In the end, it is never about the work itself, but who you became because of work. What kind of person you turned out to be and what kind of character you developed throughout the years.

God will judge us based on what’s inside – our character, our point of view, how we were able to contribute to make the world a better place for other people, not just ourselves.

He will judge us based on how we were able to help others through our work and how we were made “perfect” by the many challenges we encountered.

He will not ask if you were able to save a million bucks but how you shared your gifts and talents for the greater good, not only of yourself but more so for other people.

It will never be about the title, but the role you played to others.

It will never be about the bank account, but the time spent doing kindness unto others.

It will never be about the KPIs but the KPIs to be met to qualify for His kingdom.

It is in realizing these things that we are propelled… propelled to always, always, do the hard things.

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I Promise Myself

When we think about the word promise, we think about promises made to others…

“I promise you…”

Seldom do we view it in context of what we need to promise ourselves. 

And we should.

So here’s a list of 10 things I promise myself, from now on:

  1. Manage your time. Every second counts.
  2. Pray everyday.
  3. Be kind. To yourself first then to others.
  4. Relax. Breathe. Be.
  5. See the world.
  6. Be unafraid to be yourself.
  7. If anyone makes you feel bad, walk away. 
  8. Love. And love some more.
  9. Money is a only a means to an end.
  10. Stay true to your core.

In the end, God made you who you are and what you are. Be unapologetic with what you think is right, as long as it is good for you and for others.

Stop pleasing people. Only aim to please your God.

In the end, you are only accountable to Him who is the start and end of everything.

Be not afraid. Be not afraid. Be not afraid.

What’s the worst that can happen? Die? Realize that there’s no such thing as death to one who lives his life in God’s ways. For the end is only the beginning of a reward that is everlasting.

And I promise myself to see beyond the labor pains of the now and start living in the beauty of the ever after, in God and with God. The one and the only.

And I will live this beautiful promise, starting today.

Stick to The Impossible

I pray to a great God whose power is only fit for what is impossible to man.

Here are my top 10 Mission Impossible, but not to Him who made heaven and earth:

  1. Travel to 50 countries before I die
  2. Earn five times more at half the time 
  3. Own a resort and live there
  4. Papa & Mama & Mommy & Daddy to stay in the resort for their retirement
  5. Own a condo for Manila trips
  6. Speak publicly and get paid for it
  7. Write a book
  8. Own a photography studio
  9. Milo to be a priest
  10. Jam and I to grow old together

    And I believe these will all come true, in God’s perfect time.

    On Judging Others

    I have always easily judged others.

    I find it very easy to sum up a person based on one or two encounters. 

    Background. Disposition. Intelligence level. Amiability. Likeability. World view. Friendliness index etc.

    Being in HR, it is my role to size up people in an hour or less, on all angles from functional fit to culture match. I need to as I don’t have much time to do so. 

    Such brazenness translates to unsolicitedly passing judgment on each person I meet – most frequently those I did not have a positive interaction with. 

    I immediately think that this person is type A, type B or type C. Sometimes type D and too much of a type E.

    Cut and dry. Quick, successive judgments. No room for error, or empathy. Just plain judgment of character.

    What I miss though is the reality that you can never get to know people in one interaction alone. It takes time. Just as people will never get to know you just by chatting with you for an hour.

    We all live in our own timezones, speak different languages, use different currencies. 

    We all grew up in different worlds with varying world views, teachers and brain-influencers. 

    We hold different temperaments and boast of different emotional intelligences.

    We have our own quirks, laugh at different kinds of humor, love assorted flavors and have different pet peeves as well. 

    And these innate differences only show that other people’s dispositions or perspective may vary significantly from ours.

    That is why  we need to provide people certain margins to be themselves and make an effort to find the gem in their uniqueness. 

    They have an opposing opinion? Hear it out. You just might learn something new.

    They are arguing with you? More like trying to make your ideas better. 

    They are disagreeing with you? More like showing you a different perspective, which may prove to be a better one.

    Suspending judgment is such a difficult thing to do.

    But hold your breath. Bite your tongue. Take a step back. Force yourself to view your ideas from the other person’s angle and you may just be opened up to a blind side you wouldn’t otherwise have seen without their perspective to guide you.

    In the end, no one can ever benefit from judging others too quickly. Just as we ourselves do not want to be judged quickly as well.

    For judgment hinders us from appreciating positive traits or attributes from others that we will only see if we allow them just enough space to be truly themselves.

    Prayer:

    Lord, give me the grace to suspend judgment and to relentlessly allow people margins to grow and make their true selves known before me. 

    For it is through these that I will be able to appreciate other people I meet and allow them to see You through them.

    Amen.

    5 Things I Realized At Setting Realistic Work Goals

    I am addicted to “busyness”. Taking on too much. Not creating enough margins to breathe and prep for the next meeting I will go to.

    This “busyness” translates to spreading myself too thinly, doing a little of everything. Not really appreciating what I have accomplished. 

    Focusing on quick and many, instead of few and high value activities.

    Such is the trap of individual contributors. “Over-operationalizing” things. Doing things over and over, not thinking how it can be done better, faster.

    Being too “process” than “big picture”.

    Then I realize 5 things I can do to laser-focus on BIG, high-value, high-impact work goals:

    1) Think about ONE THING you need to achieve this year

    FOCUS on that goal, build your daily activities around it. The rest are just “need it now” or nice-to-haves.

    2) Know your role’s singular purpose

    You were hired for at least three to five main tasks. Find what’s common among these five, that’s why you were hired. Keep that in mind, daily, and be strategic with your work choices – does it align with your purpose?

    3) Know your company’s overall goal and build towards it

    If you know your purpose but not the company’s, your halfway there. At the end of the day, if you are doing your role but not appreciating how it is contributing to the company’s goal, there’s no point.

    4) Re-calibrate every day

    You may have busier days than others. But think about how you can do at least 1 task each day that builds into the completion of your answer to # 1.

    5) Last but not least, TRIM THE FAT

    Look at your to do list. Be brutal with it. Leave only FIVE to do’s for the day. Make sure at least ONE out of the five is done for your purpose for the year. If not, either delete or delegate. There’s no in between. Say no to meetings. Or ask to reschedule. Push back work deadlines on low value activities, but don’t forget to state why. 

    If you’re crystal clear on your goal and know what adds the most value to this goal, you can easily develop this 5-step habit.

    In the end, it will focus your energies on what matters most, build your brand equity as a professional who knows what’s truly important and leave you fulfilled at the end of the year knowing you added value and have aligned with the company’s purpose.

    Defining Sadness

    We mostly think about life in terms of milestones.

    • Year of birth (and every year after that)
    • Year we graduated high school, college, Masters, MBA, PhD, Law, Medicine etc.
    • Our first love
    • Our first heartbreak
    • Our first job
    • The first thing bought with our first paycheck
    • Meeting “the one”
    • Our wedding year (and every year after that)
    • Our firstborn’s year of birth (and every year we give birth after that)
    • Our first resignation 
    • Our first house, car, or any other major purchase with our hard earned money and/ or loan
    • Our first move to another city
    • Our first life failure

    And the list goes on and on and on and on…

    Majority of the above entails a positive impact in our life. It consists of our noteworthy “highs” while some consists of our “lows”, those times we were in the gutter, drowning in our sorrows and pain.

    Notice from the above that I wrote mostly highs and not lows. I read in an Anthony Robbins book that one of the fundamental human behaviors is moving towards pleasure and avoidance of pain.

    Truly so, and for good reason. Why would anyone want to relive a heartbreak? We’d rather reminisce those kilig moments with our first ever high school crush.

    It makes me think about those moments I felt the saddest, the deepest, darkest, gloomiest, roughest, soul-crushing kind of sadness where I feel the need to cry and tears roll incessantly down my cheeks…

    Those moments I listen to a purging playlist over and over and revel in the downcast state of my soul, where I feel like hope and happiness no longer exist.

    I feel that sadness, like in the movie “Inside Out”, is not bad in itself and should never be subverted in any way. It shouldn’t be forced out by happiness and should be allowed at the forefront, lived out to the point where we don’t feel sad anymore.  It should be made king for that particular period or moment or week or day or month or year where we feel like being sad.

    As the age-old adage goes, “Time heals all wounds..” and sadness is no exception. Time heals sadness, but before time can do so, sadness should be allowed to live, live in our soul, in our eyes, in our hearts. It should be followed at all costs. Cry those tears. Scream if you must. Grieve. Just be.

    Be sad.

    Don’t be afraid of it. Let it flow. Let it be seen. Let it go.

    For it is in sadness that we feel truly alive, that all our senses are heightened by that which made us sad. We feel more of who we are, what we need, what we have lost, what we hope to gain, where we want to go, and who we want to become.

    Sadness purges us of emotions that need to be heard, and more importantly, felt. Those emotions we try to suppress thinking that we shouldn’t be sad, that its wrong to be sad.

    It’s not.

    And if you’re feeling that sadness is creeping up from your insides, allow yourself that moment to cry, to lock yourself in a room if you must and just let the tears flow. For it is in allowing our sadness to wash over us completely do we give justice to it.

    For God made sadness too. And He made it for good reason, not to make us feel bad, but to show us our “truth”. The truth that not everything in life was made to be perfect and to make us feel happy. 

    God created us to experience loss and pain and suffering and sorrow and grief, because that makes us human. That makes us God’s kind of human – one who knows how to live through the highs AND also live through the lows. The kind of human who knows how to revel in triumphs and successes but also knows how to remain steadfast and faithful in failures and heartbreaks.

    And as I continue to define sadness, I think about God. And I thank God. For if He did not give us this beautiful emotion of sadness, the kind of sadness we feel all the way to our core… we may never really know how it feels like to truly live.