So 2014 is over, and I have nothing to show for it.

It was December 13th 2014. Relaxing in a pool during my Hong Kong trip, it dawned on me: 2014 is almost over, and I have nothing to show for it.

I sat there for the longest time, wondering where 2014 had gone. I had accomplished nothing. Nothing to showcase. Nothing to be proud of. Had I been so lazy? So ineffectual? So oblivious?

The truth is… in 2014, I traveled to a new continent. I met new friends. I learned scuba diving. I started my first job. I took one course on the US higher education system. I traveled some more. I visited waterfalls and island paradises and cultural heritages. I learned more about the environmental movement.

The truth ALSO is… that 2014 was not good enough for me. I did not travel the way I want. I did not grow as much as I want. I did not get closer to my dreams. A wise woman once told me: “Pete, you have to stop judging yourself by a higher moral standard than the one you use to judge others.” She is on point. I am my harshest critic. But I’m not really willing to lower my standard. I am simply striving to be the man I want to be. And is it wrong to hope that collectively the world will ascend to a higher moral ground? After all, our current one is destroying our planet.

I want my life to mean something. I want to always be in relentless pursuit of a goal and waste no time. One tiny problem – I have no idea what my goal in life is, and I was too tired to keep looking.

In 2014, I gave up. And now, as I judge myself with my lofty moral standard, I feel guilty.

Have you ever felt like this?

So in 2015, my resolution is simple: to keep fighting to be the best version of me, and to continue questioning whether my perception of ‘best’ can still be elevated.

Here’s to 2015!


0273 – Redefining Achievement

What does achievement mean to you? Money? Great job?

This came out of my mouth today:

“GPA becomes a number. Resume becomes a piece of paper. Experience becomes your life.”

I was… pleasantly surprised. It just sounds 100% like me. It came during a time when I was speaking too fast for my brain to plan what I say next (I tend to do that a lot – it’s a very hazardous habit. Use at your discretion), so what came out of my mouth was just unplanned.

The crazy thing is that this quote really sums up my exact thoughts on what education is all about. It’s really not about numbers, grades or how packed your resume looks. It should be about the journey – how much you learn, how excited you are. Achievement shouldn’t be tied to numbers or pieces of paper, let alone numbers that don’t really matter. By the way, if you haven’t seen Ken Robinson’s TED talk, it’s phenomenal. He claims that our school system kills creativity and steers students towards conformity.

“But GPA does matter”, you might say. “I wanna get into grad school.” Well, fair enough. That is true to a certain extent, but only because the system is broken. One of my favorite cartoons is this one above that describe what we call “rat racers,” those that are on an endless pursuit of achievement as traditionally defined. You work harder and harder to try to achieve a certain goal, but once you’re there or almost there, the goals are now set even higher. The fact that the system is this way does not mean that you blindly follow it. If you’re unhappy, why keep running?

This used to be my problem (still is actually, but less so now). You know… I always wanted to win all those achievement awards, honors, accolades and all the other flowery stuff you can say about people.

But… what is achievement without happiness? Or perhaps a better question – should you call anything achievement, if it comes at the cost of your well-being?

I’m not happy with the way it all works. Are you?

Let’s #redefine achievement.

0271 – You Vs The World?

Just wanted to share an image I found:

Ironically or not, it has a label on it. I actually find this to be quite motivational. Often times, I find myself in a situation when I feel alone: either I have issues with the way we operate (like how GDP doesn’t really make us happy), or when nobody seems to care.

The very least I can do…really is to make the first move. Who cares what’s next as long as I’m sticking to my values and doing what I love.

Happiness is the journey, not the destination.