Dec 9, 2008

A Quick Note Before Going on Vacation

Tomorrow is the day that I'm leaving for Japan (yea!). I think I've done enough thinking and researching for now to have a general direction as to what I'll try to do when I come back from my vacation (check to see if there's a full-time job that will allow me to do what I want to do, but most likely taking some kind of part-time/contractor/freelance job so that I can do what I wan to do on the side without killing myself), so I'm going to try not to think or worry about it while I'm actually on vacation.

So I'm thinking that posting on this blog will probably be less frequent for a while. We'll see.

But I'll definitely have some posts on my other blog from the Eco Products 2008 Exhibition in Tokyo. I think it'll be interesting.

Well, I'll go start packing now...

Dec 8, 2008

Reality About Working for Yourself

Since I started to think about freelancing to supplement income, I've been checking to see how it would really work. By this time, I had read a couple of books about starting a business, but they weren't specific to being a free agent - they talked about organizational structure, hiring employees, business plan, etc. that may not be applicable for one-person-doing-things-on-the-side format.

One of the books that I read, Working For Yourself, was specifically targeted for independent contractors, freelancers and consultants, making it very useful for someone thinking about doing some freelancing. It covered things that I would have never thought of asking:
  • How the form of legal entity impacts getting a freelance contract
  • How to price your service and how to get paid
  • How much you'd need to gross to get the same level of earnings that you'd get as an employee working for a company (tax consequences, expenses, etc.)
  • How to do record keeping and accounting
  • How to safeguard your self-employed status

Basically, while you may be able to charge more by hours than an employee doing the same job because employers wouldn't be paying your taxes/benefits, it may not result in higher earning because you'd need to pay those taxes/benefits yourself. You also need to be careful about maintaining your self-employed status in order to avoid issues related to how you are paid, etc.

It isn't straight forward (but what is?), but knowing what types of issues you'd need to deal with is definitely helpful in determining whether freelancing is the right option. It seem to me that those obstacles weigh less than being unhappy doing things that's not fulfilling.

So this stays as an option for me...

Dec 6, 2008

Happy Christmas (War is Over)

Christmas isn't a big deal to me personally (for me, New Year's day is a larger event), but I do like listening to Christmas songs. They always cheer me up and make me reflect the year. And the song that really makes me reflect is Happy Christmas (War is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

I'm not old enough to call myself the Beatles generation and I was still in elementary school when John Lennon got shot (I don't even remember the event). But one day, I happened to read All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. In it, John and Yoko explain what their perspectives were, why they did certain things, etc. in their own words. It truly conveys their strength in doing what they want to do regardless of what everyone else thought or said. It's not that they don't see or hear the public reactions - they just instinctively know that's not as important as what they want to do. John taking years off just to look after Sean, or John and Yoko separating for a while, and so on - reading what was behind those scenes was inspirational. After that, I started to appreciate John and Yoko's music.

What really ticks me about Happy Christmas (War is Over) isn't the fact that they are singing their message that war could be over if we wanted. It's not the Harlem Community Choir that you hear in the background. It's Yoko's singing. I never noticed that she was singing along in the background until I read the book. But when I realized that the woman's singing voice, which wasn't so great and didn't really go well with the Choir, belonged to Yoko, I thought: "Oh, she's just doing what she wanted to do and enjoying herself". I mean, if you listen closely, you can tell that she's having a ball! Never mind if she's good or if her voice goes well with the entire music! And that, moves me and makes me reflect my life.

Sometimes what moves people isn't perfection.

Dec 4, 2008

Inspirational Quotes

I'll be leaving for my vacation in less than a week, and it's getting hard to focus and think about what I'm going to do when I come back. So I was flipping through my daily planner that I mostly use to jot down memos and inspirational quotes, and thought I'd share what I had accumulated this year.

About being true to yourself and finding what you want:
  • Telling a lie is to deceive others; Not telling a truth is deceiving yourself

  • The question is not what you want to be, but what you want to do

  • Seek what you would want to do before deciding that there's nothing that you want to do

  • Death is not the greatest loss in life: The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live

  • When you believe it, you'll see it

  • You are not going to be happy with what you want, if you are not happy with what you already have

  • The trick isn't just to survive; it's to live with yourself

  • We all value different things - winning the competition, making a record, having a great experience - and all that is a right choice. The wrong choice would be to go for not getting any complaints from anyone

  • Your mind is the only person what can ever bind your spirit

About living the present moment:

  • We make plans because we are afraid. We cannot control the future and we know it - that makes us afraid. Live in absolute NOW and we won't be afraid.

  • You cannot move faster than the speed of light, and you wouldn't want to do that anyway, for your hat will be blown away

  • If it's not going to matter 10 years from now, don't worry about it

  • Present exists for present moment; you shouldn't use it only for the future

About making efforts to better yourself:

  • Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity

  • Change is easy; thinking about change is hard (Your hesitation keeps you on the emotional roller coaster. All that energy spent and you produce nothing.)

  • You are never going to catch up; catching up means that you are stopping

  • Focus on the progress; not the perfection

Dec 2, 2008

Cracking the Millionaire Code

As you know, I'm more into doing something for a cause than becoming a millionaire (though I wouldn't mind being one!) at this point of my life, so I probably wouldn't have pick up Cracking the Millionaire Code just by looking at the title. I read this book only because Eric Plasker, the author of The 100 Year Lifestyle, recommended it. Well, I'm glad that I did because it turned out to be a pretty interesting book.

Mark Hansen is the coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and in this book he promotes what he calls "Enlightened Wealth" - wealth that's imagined, created, earned, and distributed in enlightened ways. What does that mean? He means you should:
  • Leverage what you love or who you are in determining what you do
  • Utilize assess that you already have - like your experience, sense, perspective, network of people you know, etc.
  • Give to causes that you support
  • Trust your spiritual destiny, which is fulfilling
  • Practice stewardship of wealth as opposed to ownership - you just control the flow of money for the rest of human kind

He's basically saying that if you trust your spiritual destiny, select what you care to do, and start looking at things in different perspectives, you'll get an idea to generate wealth. And when you start giving and practicing stewardship over the wealth that you created, it grows. This is definitely different from other get-rich-quick kind of books out there, and it's actually inspiring.

After describing the concept, he and his co-author Robert Allen outlines their 101 day process that involves setting up a team and creating a business plan. This, too, is very interesting approach, although I didn't really care for what they had put on the website (full of Robert Allen's money making stuff; very little Mark Hansen's inspirational stuff).

The book itself has a lot of "codes" to crack, so it's kind of fun to read through while solving those codes, too. It's worth taking a look.

Dec 1, 2008

So November is over...

And I only have a little over a week before I go on vacation. So I've been doing a lot of "stuff" around the house and getting ready to go on vacation. I'll try to do a little more research on how doing freelance might work (or not work, for that matter), but nothing else would probably happen until next year when I come back from vacation.

In my original plan, I said that I hoped to have a direction before going on vacation. I think I have that - going through my market options - although they are not as narrowly defined as I had thought it would be. Oh, well.

But I can honestly say that I've done some serious thinking during November. Nothing material happened as far as finding next income source is concerned, but how I think about it changed dramatically. I just hope that I can stick it out after I come back from vacation and not end up compromising.

Blogging daily has been, so far, very helpful in sorting out my thinking and keeping me motivated. Doing something everyday is something that I'd recommend everyone to do. It's hard to make it routine (I'm still struggling to make this blogging routine in my life..), but if you continue, you'll one day come to a point where you say "I've done all this and came this far??". And you can build self-esteem and confidence upon that.

It has been said that if you can keep doing something everyday for 10 years, you can become established in that area. I think about how I managed to become a decent marketing analyst in the past 10 years working in the corporate world - it's true that you can become pretty good at anything if you keep at it for a long time. And I think, I can certainly do that again.