Why Boxing?

Why Boxing?

I admit, I am not a very active person. I would rather read a book or play a game than take a walk outside. But I have a “hobby” that I was doing for years now: boxing. Even though I don’t have other physical activities, boxing helps me to keep a reasonably healthy body.

So what do I like about boxing?

You are on the same ground as the greatest

What I mean is: you have the same basic equipment as the all-time greats. All boxers started with the same equipment and the same routine that you are doing in the gym.

Wherever you go, every boxing gym has these three tools: the speed ball, the double end, and the punching bag. read more

Smelting Yourself

Smelting Yourself

While driving towards home with my family, my younger sister asked me (to make sure I don’t fall asleep), “What is your New Year’s Resolution?“. I paused to think, then replied “I don’t have one and don’t believe in it“.

Explaining further, I told her that changing ourselves should not be tied to a specific date or time. We can start changing ourselves the moment we determine that it is the best course of action.

I do understand the logic behind New Year’s Resolutions: the new number on your calendar is a daily reminder of the things you promised yourself at the start of the year. However, if you find yourself procrastinating on those changes and saying, “I’ll just wait until the new year comes around”, then that is not a good habit. read more

Should you take an online course?

Should you take an online course?

The internet can be used as an effective learning platform, usually done through an online course. One of the most commonly-touted advantages of an online course is convenience and accessibility. The ability to study a material in your own time at any place sounds amazing indeed!

I enrolled in an online course offered by the University of California, Berkeley called Foundations of Data Science. This is an actual university course that they converted into an online course format. As the topic of data science interests me, I decided to give it a shot.

The course is composed of three parts with each part lasting for 5 weeks. To learn the material, you need to watch video lectures about a topic every week. A free online book is also available to supplement the video materials. At the end of the week, you need to finish a practical test (laboratory) using a Jupyter Notebook.

After 4 months, I have successfully completed the course. Here are some things that I learned about my experience completing an online course.

Technology is wonderful

As this is my first time taking an online course of any kind, I was wondering how they can assess what I have learned. Surprisingly, technology has advanced far enough to make it easy for teachers to assess students online.

In the data science course, we use Jupyter Notebooks to run examples and to take exams. This is basically a web application that allows you to run Python code in the browser and display the results in real-time. This allows the student to experiment using actual code and actual data without installing Python or any additional software on the computer.

The web application also allows teachers to use auto-grading software to assess the student’s exams. This means that they no longer need to manually check each individual student and instead the application handles it for them automatically.

The best part of this is everything is done in a web browser! For students, this means ease of use and accessibility. A modern web browser is an integral part of computers nowadays, and having it as a web application means that students can learn and take exams anytime and anywhere that has an internet connection.

Paying for it has advantages

One dilemma that I encountered when I was enrolling for the course is whether to purchase a certificate or just do it for free. The course is also offered for free to the public so there is an option to learn the same things without paying for anything.

Online course providers list several reasons why you might want to pay for the course. Main reasons are to support the teachers and making sure the service is running smoothly. For me however, I opted to pay for the course due to the following:

  • Motivation – unless you are a self-disciplined autodidact, there will be times when you will not feel like studying or taking exams for the week. Paying for the service helped me to curb this feeling by thinking about the money that I spent. I admit that this helped me more than anything to push through the end of the course. Looking back, if I had taken the course for free, I would have quit mid-way as I don’t have that many “chips on the table”.
  • Verified Certificate – another reason for me to pay for the course is that they offer a “verified” certification for completing the course. This will allow me to link the certificate in my resume or my portfolio and an external service can verify my accomplishment.
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    Do what you don’t want to do

    Do what you don’t want to do

    I learned a trick in life, and that is to do what you don’t want to do. Picture this: you wake up one morning and its time to go to the gym. You look outside and saw that it is raining hard. The air is cool and you want to go back to sleep. Finally you decide that you don’t feel like going out right now and you will just go tomorrow. Sounds familiar?

    What you don’t want to do

    We all experience times when we plan to do something but a minor inconvenience happens and we suddenly feel like no longer doing it. Oftentimes not doing the things we plan does not affect our life significantly. But it may influence how we view obstacles in the future.

    As we discussed in the Consistency Beats Intensity philosophy, success is not a random event or just “luck”. Instead it is the result of small, deliberate actions that compound over time. These small, deliberate actions are what we experience every day. Our decision on how we deal with these events will determine our future no matter how insignificant they may seem today.

    Excuse as the default

    I believe that if you don’t feel like doing a task, that is just what your default mind tells you. Have you thought that the same feeling might the universe’s signal that it needs to be done and it is important?

    It is natural for us to be lazy and want to exert the least amount of effort to go through the day. However, if we always follow that natural instinct, then we will also reap the default rewards for our actions. If we want to be successful (no matter what your definition is), you need to fight that natural urge to procrastinate and instead push forward in the task.

    Dealing with excuses

    One habit that I do is to try to catch myself once I start having these thoughts.

  • “I don’t feel like going to the gym today because of X excuse (weather is gloomy, my back is aching a bit, I have a little bit of a headache).”  – I spend extra effort to make sure I go to they gym even if its later than usual.
  • “Tomorrow will be the day that I write. Today I have a writer’s block and I can’t think of any ideas!” – Opening up my editor and trying to write a single sentence, whatever is floating on my mind, helps a lot. I often find that this single sentence is the catalyst to get me to write several paragraphs in one sitting!
  • “How can I love this person when he/she did something bad to me?” – I try to gather up forgiveness in my heart and focus on the good things about the person rather than the bad ones.
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    Keep Moving

    Keep Moving

    One night after a few bottles of beer, a friend asked me about finding your passion or mission in life: “Do you search for it or does it just stumble towards you one day?“. I said to him that I think it will eventually stumble on you, but in order for this to happen, you need to keep moving.

    Where are you are going?

    Steve Jobs once said in a speech:

    You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

    I have confirmed this as well and I am pretty sure you can too if you think about it. Imagine yourself 10 years ago. Back then I resigned from my first job, depressed, without any significant savings, not knowing what I want to do with my life. Forward to 10 years and now I have a beautiful family, work that I love, and a good financial foundation.

    Looking back, I had no idea that the actions that I took then will land me in where I am today. I left my first job only to find that its difficult for me to find another job that will use my previous experience. That prompted me to “start fresh” again and went to software development. This led me into a string of jobs and opportunities that eventually resulted in a time-independent, fully remote work where I have a significant impact in the company. Along my journey I also met my future wife and new lifelong friends.

    During those years when I was switching jobs it certainly did not feel like premeditated actions. I am just going through the flow, taking in changes and opportunities as they arrive. There is no thought on what may happen in the future or if what I am doing is right or wrong.

    Being “Lucky”

    When we hear about someone who landed a good career, won a prize in a game or a contest, we often say “that person is lucky!“. What is luck anyway? According to a dictionary definition:

    luck (noun) – success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

    Note that the definition says that it is only apparently brought by chance, which means that it may not be the whole truth. On the surface, these successes or failures seem to just happen randomly on the individual but as we think about and analyze the situation, their actions did have a significant impact on their “luck”.

    Like a roll of the dice, you can’t expect the outcome to be exactly what you want it to be. You have to roll it a couple of times (often more than you want) before you finally get the result that you desire.

    Other people may seem to be “lucky” and get their results in just one or two rolls. But you may never know the number of rolls they have already done in other games that you were not in.

    Searching

    Instead of just aimlessly wandering around, hoping to find your destiny, wouldn’t it be better to just search for it?

    Searching for something triggers unconscious biases. If you search long and hard for something, you may find it eventually. However, the results that you get are greatly affected by your mindset.

    Let’s say you are madly in love with someone, or have been through a break-up. Suddenly the world seems to constantly remind you of the other person. The radio suddenly plays your song. You play a random game and one of the characters has the same name of the other person, and so on. In reality these events are just normal occurrences, but since your mind is fixated on the other person, anything that remotely reminds you of him/her gets front seat in your head.

    If you want to convince yourself that you want a certain path, you actually don’t need convincing at all.

    Letting it go

    Instead of actively searching, I think it is better to just let life unfold. Trying hard to aim and grasp at something sometimes result in tragedy. This may sound fatalistic, but it is better for your mind if you learn to let go and let the events happen as they should be.

    If you suddenly have an opportunity in life, don’t think too much about it. If your gut tells you to move forward, then take the opportunity. It may result in a failure, but when you look back decades from now, that opportunity may be the key to land you where you want to be.

    To see opportunities, you cannot just lie down and wait for the universe to hand your destiny to you. Opportunities (and “luck”) happen only to people who are moving. Even if you can’t see any obvious signs of an opportunity right now, continue where you are on. Continue working at your job. Continue doing what life has been giving to you right now. Eventually, a path will open up to you but you need to keep moving to see that path.

     

    For weeks I have been struggling on what to post this month. I have been thinking of topics that I want to write about but I can’t seem to get any ideas. Then one random night with a friend solved my problem when he asked the question: “Do you search for it or does it just stumble towards you one day?“.

    Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash