The Best Life Hack I’ve Ever Known (I’m Not Bullshitting)

This post feels a lot like self-reminder somehow.

I read lots of life hacks. I love life hacks; thought it’s easy to do and could get immediate results (which is not true, sadly). Some life hacks are bullshit (maybe because I don’t put it into action), but some others are actually so obvious but never come across my mind so I’m just blown by it.

Since a couple months ago I’ve listened The Tim Ferriss Show, a podcast by Timothy Ferriss, the guy who always finds ways to maximise his productivity and basically can do anything I want to master (e.g. tango dance, foreign languages, and cooking). Anyway, on one podcast, he invited Adam Robinson to share what he learnt from Bobby Fisher, the best chess player back then (probably until now; I’ve no idea about world of chess). And here’s the best thing that he’d said:

I always create FUN, ENTHUSIASM, and DELIGHT for THE OTHER PERSON.

What gives you a well-living life: you don’t want anything–don’t expect anything from others–but you give everything. Basically you’ve got NOTHING TO LOSE.

People usually suffer when they’re too much focusing on themselves, when they expect too much from other people without changing what they can give in return. But, what if in everything that I do (e.g. doing job interview, teaching, or even buying something at the convenient store), I focus on others instead of myself? What if I don’t mind the results I’ll get as long as I can make them smile at least?

For example, when I did my first job interview, the interviewer asked me what I expect this company to give me in return (beside salary). It was the last question and it really caught me off guard. Seconds later I answered, “I have nothing to expect.” (I don’t know if this was me being nice or stupid.) But that was the truth: I just wanted to learn something new by working there, and it could be anything (I didn’t have any specifics target). He just laughed and asked me again, “Really? Don’t you have any?” No, I didn’t. Several days later I’d been welcomed to the company.

I also have bad days, and the worst one was when I became a part of the board in a student club. When facing obstacles, instead of trying to solve it one by one, I thought, “This thing doesn’t suit me. Others can do it better, so why me?” and other nonsense things. I focus too much on myself, to the uncomfortable feeling, and I ended up screwing up.

It’s been easy for me to feel happy when I connect with everyone I encounter and when I expect magic in every encounter. It makes life more exciting! Now I can be aware quickly when I don’t give positive vibes, and I’ll just fake it until I can be sincerely happy. Of course sometimes it’s hard to do so, especially after something really bad happens. If it happens, I’ll stay away from people for awhile if I can help it. Don’t want to accidentally spill something I’ll regret, do I?

(Uh, just realised I wrote too much “I”. Whatever.)

I’m not bullshitting myself; I’ve also still got much to improve. Yet I have some tips to make me easier to change my bad behaviour:

Don’t give yourself any labels.

It’s okay if it’s a good label. But if it’s not, it will be hard to change because you kind of accept what you are because you are just too lazy to change. Does it make sense? For example, I used to label myself as a shy person and I was usually afraid to start a conversation. That label made me think to myself, “Okay, I’ll just wait here until someone comes and talks to me. If they don’t, it’s fine because I’m used to being alone.”

Cut the shit. Don’t lie to yourself!

If I feel bad because of something, I dig in. I find out why I feel that why and how I can work things out. It’s not easy, but if you can tackle something that bothers you a lot, you’ll find other things feels nothing compared to that one. Eat the frog first.

My laptop is running out of battery. I hope you can get my points. Good luck to all of us, and see you on top (of the building? Of the mountain? No, of your career! ;))

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Win Your Friends Back!

Time flies, people change. I have had many friends, and lost them too. Very normal, right? That’s life. But, do I really want to just let them go and not doing anything about it? Well, it depends whether they are toxic or not. Even so, I have several ways to win my friends back.

  1. Reach them first and ask how they are doing. Are they good?
  2. Catch up. Tell each other stories and pretend for a moment that everything is okay between us.
  3. Tell the truth about how my friends and I feel toward each other. Be brutally honest. Hurt each other, scratch the wound, and accept it.
  4. Start healing each other’s wound. Be supportive, be forgiving, and be kind. After all my friends and I used to be living life together for a while.
  5. Hug and laugh with them. Joke about the old times and learn something from that together. I never let my past define what I am now. I am the one who choose who I want to be; I am the one who choose myself.
  6. Remember important days, like birthdays, and celebrate it. Or at least congratulate them for it. Every person likes to feel recognised by others.
  7. Catch up with them again randomly. What happens out of the blue are often remembered for a long time that the ones which are not.
  8. The most important thing: I’ll show my true colours. Once again, tell and show the truth throughout the words, the gestures, and everything. I’m about to win my friends back. It’s going to be useless if I’m being fake.
  9. If being with them makes me down or makes me hate myself again, I won’t bother hanging out with them. Why should I? It won’t do me any good. I won’t punch myself too hard anymore when I’m making mistake; there’s no use. And if having them around makes me feel like I’m punched in the gut, why bother?
  10. Mentally prepare to all those things.

Now if you ask: did you do that? Nope, not yet. Will you do that? Maybe yes, maybe no. I don’t know yet. Having friends around is fun, but being alone is fun too. Besides, it’s perfectly normal to lose friends because, eventually, my way of thinking will be different from my old friends. I will make new ones (and already did), who have the same goals or interests as I do. I’m going through that transition, when all my friends are now reaching their dreams. I’m doing that as well.

Losing friends is okay.
Winning them back is awesome.
Separating my way with theirs while knowing we are all running toward our own version of happiness is perfectly heart-fulfilling.

Why I Go To College (and Why You Shouldn’t)

In my last year of high school, mom, dad, and basically everyone asked me, “To which university will you continue your study?” “What major will you take?” and so on. I had no idea what I want to become back then, so I chose a major that I thought I would enjoy studying.

All of it happened so naturally and no one questioned why everything goes this way. It’s like a pattern that people expect me to take. It’s like when I go home with the same route over and over, unconsciously, without wondering why I should take this route and not another.

I was reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki when I found myself thinking, “Why do I go to college?”

Why? Why? Why? To get a good job? To satisfy my parents? To devote myself to study more?

I asked deeper to myself:
Why do I want to get a good job? To be financially secure? Will getting a job make me financially secure? Why should I get a job? Do I want to be someone else’s slave? (Pardon my language, but that’s what I think.)

I know I want to make parents proud, but is going to university the only thing I can do to reach that?

And why should I spend a hell lot of money (it’s IDR10,000,000 in my campus for one semester) to study, while in this era I can get all the resources from internet? How about joining a community or volunteering for something and learn something real from that? Am I that close-minded and uncreative to not consider other options?

So why do I go to college?

Frankly, I’m just following the path.

Oh my, it’s very hard to admit it out loud, but yes, I had no idea what I’m getting myself into when I was in my last year of high school.

No one asked me why I wanted to continue my study to university. As I previously said, it’s kind of obligatory for me to get a bachelor’s degree. The pressure from family, friends, and,  even society is very high—they will consider me as stupid if I don’t get at least bachelor’s degree.

It is very conservative and close-minded to think like that; I believe my education doesn’t necessarily define how smart I am, how successful I will be, or what kind of person I’ll become.

Had I known earlier what I would be facing if I go to college, maybe I would take a gap year. Or start a biz, learn new skills and become so good at it, travel, write a book… I don’t know. The option is limitless.

There are three kinds of people: the poor, the middle, and the rich. My parents are the middle. The middle usually get high education,  go get a job, spend money on consumptive goods, unsatisfied with their current salaries, get higher education and expect pay raise, get promoted, spend more money on what they think is assets but actually liabilities, and work until the rest of their life. They work mainly to pay bills, get a vacation for a few weeks in a year, and then fall back into routines.

The pattern is set; it is called Rat Race. Does it look familiar, that pattern?

Do you often hear a story that someone is rich and a leader of many people smarter than him, meanwhile he’s just a college dropout or his highest education is only high school? Isn’t it unfair for us who have spent so much money on our education, and yet people who are lower than us can boss us around? Don’t you think you can be more than them?

Then why does it happen?

The answer is very simple: they are financially literate. The rich knows how money works and finds thousand ways to make money works for them. The middle, on the other hand, doesn’t understand that. Therefore they work their butts off for money, which is just an illusion by the way.

Financial literacy is extremely important; yet no one teaches it in school or university. Don’t ask me why; I have no idea.

One more thing, what people tend to forget is specification also means limitation. The higher your education, the more limited your options will be. Your mind will be trained to think that way, in a way you’re already familiar with. It won’t happen though if you read books or meet people from different backgrounds.

Hey, cheer up! I’m also a college student you know, haha. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to college at all; my point is do it with a good reason. A great, fantastic reason, and only you who know what it is.

Also don’t forget to educate yourself financially.

Cheers!
Asri F. Septarizky

10 Ideas about How to Improve Cokotetra

Cokotetra (Coklat, Kopi, Teh, dan Sastra or Chocolate, Coffee, Tea, and Literature if you don’t understand Indonesian) is a small cafe at Dago area, Bandung, Indonesia. I always like chocolate more than tea or coffee; it really made me happy when my friend brought me to this place! It was founded in 2012, so the place has been there for nearly 4 years. Long enough, yeah, but sadly some people will frown in confusion when I say I like to visit the place once or twice a week.

“Where is it?”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

Come on, guys!

But, then again, I wouldn’t know that Cokotetra is an acronym if I didn’t searched a bit about the place… and I’m a regular customer.

I don’t visit Cokotetra that often, but I know baristas and waitpersons who work there. I talk to them if I come there, and sometimes I even try to make my own coffee or chocolate with their guidances. Cokotetra is a nice place to talk, meet someone new, or just sit alone and have a me-time. But, after hopping from one coffee shop to another and come back to Cokotetra again, I feel some things are missing.

I don’t know what Cokotetra has been doing so far, but here’s my ideas about how to improve the place, to make it more lively and get more customers. (Anyway I don’t write this in exact order; I just write what comes to my mind first.)

  1. Redesign the place.
    Cokotetra is dominated by brown colour which is good because, in my opinion, brown expresses warmth and welcoming vibe. The place is small and compact, with not too many tables and a close distance to baristas so it’s possible to talk with them from your table.However, after several times coming there, I feel like the place needs a refreshment. The place needs to be brightened, either by repainting the wall with lighter brown or changing the lamps so it will be brighter and customers can read books comfortably.

    Adding some decorations like painting, typography, or plants would be good too!

  2. Retrain the staffs.
    My friend told me that staffs in a company where he works always get training every some time (I forget how often). The point is, staffs need training so they can learn something and improve themselves. Furthermore they can give better services and the company will get more income in return.Cokotetra also hired a new staff. It will be good if they have a good quality control over their staffs, so each of them can reach the company’s standard (maybe have a same vision or something. I’m not an expert about this kind of thing).
  3. Add more coffee variety and ways to brew it.
    Maybe Cokotetra’s main selling point is its chocolate and there’s not so many people who are interested in which beans the cafe use to make their coffee, but some people care about it. I think a good cafe is the one who can accommodate each demands from customers even though the demand isn’t that high (of course only demands which are related to the cafe. You wouldn’t give a massage service in a coffee shop even though some customers beg you to). Adding more coffee beans selections would be perfect!And also ways to brew it… I think it has got something to do with the former point of this list. More training means you can push your staff to stretch their limits, so you can improve and give varieties about what you can give to customers.
  4. Find ways to make all foods and drinks on the menu available.
    It is disappointing to know that some of the menu (especially foods) are not available because the suppliers are no longer producing the products, etc. Although it is not restricted to bring foods from outside and eat it there but it’s just, well, weird. Cokotetra should find ways to make all the menu available to order. They can seek for new suppliers or change the menu to the ones which they can cook themselves.
  5. Advertise more.
    Cokotetra is a kind of cafe that you will never know of if your friends don’t tell you about it. Even though the place is located on a main road, there’s a huge tree in front of it that blocks the view. Cokotetra needs to do more advertising in order to attract more customers (or maybe cut down the tree).Publishing promotions in social media is not enough because the followers of social media are mostly regular customers and they can’t just rely on them to share the info (some of them most likely only will hit “like” button). I think Cokotetra can create Line Official Account because it’s easier for people to read it (young people in my city rarely use Facebook or Twitter; most of them use Line instead) and the post can be indirectly shared by clicking “like”.

    Giving brochures or fliers to campuses and local communities also will do because that’s how I know Cokotetra. I know Cokotetra used to do that before, and I also read that some communities held a meeting there back on their golden age, but I rarely see any nowadays.

  6. Ask testimonials and photos from customers and post it on instagram (or any other social media).
    Posting testimonials or photos of their customers (after granted a permission) can be a way to say thanks to customers for visiting Cokotetra. Moreover, by doing so, people who never visit Cokotetra at least can get an idea how Cokotetra is like and the owner also will know what his customers think about the cafe.It’s very different to see testimonials from cafe’s official account and read it from someone else’s blogs. It gives personal and thoughtful image of the cafe if they post those testimonials themselves.
  7. If the concept is to make people talk with each other every Saturday night, initiate it!
    Wifi password of Cokotetra is unique: “malamminggutanpawifi” or Saturday night without wifi in English. Why? Because they want people to drop their gadgets and spend the night talking and sharing stories with each other.I came to Cokotetra once on Saturday night, but it was raining so the cafe wasn’t crowded. Still, there were customers there, and I think it would be great if the staffs initiate the conversation with customers! What I mean here is more than just say hi and ask the taste of the coffee, but an actual and meaningful conversation. That would be unforgettable.
  8. Hold a book club, a writing club, or anything.
    As I previously mentioned, Cokotetra used to be a place where communities hold their meetings, events, etc. They should do it again to make the cafe more lively. Crowded cafe attracts more consumers as people tend to follow the crowd and crowd also makes them curious.If the communities don’t contact Cokotetra first, it’s okay to be the first to contact. Offer the place, make some arrangements, or give them discount if they can bring 10 people to the cafe.
  9. Give ways for customer to keep in touch even though they cannot come.
    Cokotetra has accounts in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (maybe there’s more) and that’s great. They just need to be more active and post more things such as promotions, testimonials, facts about coffee or something new about the cafe, and so on.Cokotetra also can open a funding or book donation (for the library) for those who wants to contribute for Cokotetra to grow. Or maybe a donation for coffee, tea, or cocoa farmers, so customers who buy something at the cafe know that some of their money will be given to those who need it the most. After all most people likes to do good and feel good about themselves.
  10. Think of another selling points (and strengthen the current ones).
    I have mentioned selling points which Cokotetra can use to improve:
    – variation of coffee beans and ways to brew it
    – interaction between fellow customers and staffs (initiating conversation, actively posting on social media, asking for feedbacks)
    – be a connector between customers and worlds of chocolate, coffee, or tea (donations)There is one more idea for me for the third point beside donation: in order to make customers more connected to what they drink, offer customers a chance to make the drink themselves if the baristas are not busy. Trust me, I have done that and it was very interesting and exciting! Don’t worry about them stealing your recipe because it takes more than once to perfect the coffee/tea/chocolate making process; they won’t be able to do that. It will make customers know more about what they drink and coincidentally Cokotetra will contribute to educate people about worlds of coffee, tea, or chocolate which aren’t really well-known among people. 🙂

That’s all I can think of how to improve Cokotetra to be more than just a small cafe in a city which is full of coffee shops. I really like Cokotetra and all people in there, and I hope Cokotetra can grow, able to make people more open and carefree, and serve a hell cup of chocolate!

Cheers!

Asri F. Septarizky

10 Ways to Screw Yourself Up

It’s very hard to improve our lives so it can be better, so why don’t we screw ourselves instead?

I have read writings (either books or blogs) about self-improvement. Most of them say that I need to change myself in order to achieve what I want. But, I think I have a freedom to choose because I don’t need to change myself if I don’t want to.

Back then, I didn’t want to change myself. I was happy with what I was even though I knew I didn’t do much to get closer to what I want to be in the future. In short, I chose to screw my life and I enjoyed doing it. After all, it was easier to do what I wanted to do rather than do what I needed to do.

These were what I had been doing for months (not in exact order):

  1. Looking straight to the front when I walked.
    Everywhere I went, I didn’t look around my surrounding. Chances that I may walked past my friends were high because I also did that when I was in campus. Sometimes I didn’t bother to look around and said hello to my friends or acquaintances. It always depended on my mood back then.This also had to do with me being irresponsible. Later about it on number 9.
  2. Being late.
    Whenever I attended classes or made appointments, I usually came few minutes up to one hour later. When I arrived, they would shake their heads in disapproval, complain, or simply didn’t recognise me at all. It hurt, but it was my fault.
    (Note to self: coming late means I don’t respect the person enough to waste their time waiting for me.)
  3. Procrastinating.
    Keeping myself busy was (and is) the worst kind of procrastination because I was caught up in a delusion that I did something useful, while actually I had something else that urgently needed to be done. It was on the top of my to-do list, but I just didn’t want to do it because it seemed overwhelming and hard to tackle.
  4. Watching TV series.
    I couldn’t stop watching Friends when I was in my third year. I even skipped my classes (yes, I was that pathetic) just because I couldn’t take my eyes of Joey, Chandler, etc. It was sad to lose friends because I watched Friends.
  5. Reading comics (webtoon for me), novels, and any kind of stories excessively.
    Again, I couldn’t control myself.
  6. Do not look at people straight in the eye when talking.
    I just didn’t feel comfortable when I looked at them straightly. I think my religious background has a great influence on it, although I didn’t understand why. In my opinion, not doing so means that I position myself lower than my talking partner. For me it’s not effective to avoid looking at someone in the eye. How will others value myself if I don’t even value myself?
  7. Do not exercise regularly.
    Exercising is very tiring and not all the people are looking forward to exhaust themselves. Sleeping on my bed and snuggling under the blanket are very, very preferable.I have been exercising, but I didn’t do it regularly. I only did it whenever I wanted to. For instance, I swam on Sunday with my sisters when my sisters asked me to accompany them, or I ran because I didn’t want to be late.
  8. Do nothing for a very long time.
    How long it would be depends on your perspective. For me all day long was long enough, and sometimes in a day I didn’t do anything beside sleeping, eating, and peeing. Every now and then I couldn’t even tell what’s the difference between me and the cat outside my house.
  9. Being irresponsible.
    Ditching everything I had to do because I just didn’t feel like it. Abandoning my friends because I just didn’t feel like meeting them right now. Turning them down by not doing something they expected me to do (for instance, doing my role in an organisation) because I just didn’t feel like it. Skipping classes and just laying around all day. Oh, joy.
  10. Do not believe in myself.
    I hated myself for what I did on previous list. I didn’t even do what expected myself to do. I felt low, depressed, and helpless… and the saddest thing was I didn’t realise that it was me who made me feel that way. (In the end–after several months!–I realised it though, thankfully.)

It was very easy to screw my life, feel lonely, and be an ass. I had done it for almost a year if I’m not mistaken. It was very easy to do anything that I want to do, ignore others, and pretend that I didn’t need anyone but myself and my very close friends.

Then again, it’s just a mere choice. I can choose to be anything that I want. It only depends on my goal, what I want to achieve.

Just a month ago, I realised that my willingness to do something equals what I achieve. When I looked around my surrounding and I saw that my life isn’t changed at all for God knows how long, I realised that my willingness to change my life, to achieve what I want in life was very weak. I was like a kite without string; wandering around the sky, just following whichever way the wind tells me to go.

It’s okay if that’s what you want in life, but I don’t want that. I have goals. I have dreams. There are 100 things that I want to do and I am going to cross my bucket list one by one.

In the end, I choose to do the exact opposite of my former list. The result is really rewarding. Things that I listed before seems like not a big deal; those are just small things anyway.

But small wins make me feel great. It makes me want to accomplish more and more and more.

Cheers!

Asri F. Septarizky