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  • William Seah

New Beginnings and Good Old Habits

2023 has begun. How do you feel?

Since 2020, life has changed so much. Circuit breaker, restricted movements, a new work-from-home environment, “a new normal”, and a shortage of fresh chicken. Even today, Covid-19 reminds us of its presence, either in newspapers or the fact that we have to put on masks each time we board public transport. But we persevered, found solutions, and overcame challenges, and as a result, we grew stronger.

Most of us start the new year by reflecting on the past and planning for the future. For me, I started to build the future. Literally.

We recently renovated our house and moved back in. Because our kids are growing up, we decided to get them a new double-decker bed. And since IKEA charges close to $200 to assemble the bed, I decided to do it myself.

It took me a day just to assemble it, while my friend who bought the same bed told me the IKEA guys took only an hour.

I also proudly installed my own toilet tap. Two hours later, my new tap was up and running (albeit causing the floor to be drenched with my sweat).

Through all these, I learned how limited my handyman knowledge was. I found myself redoing many steps, or trying to fit the different parts together. I struggled to attach certain pieces together. But I got it done.

That's life, isn’t it? To get something done, either we have to be willing to spend more time, effort, and money to get the necessary tools to do it, or we spend more money and get someone to get things done. In the case of the bed and tap, I had a drill, spanner and hammer to put things together. I could have saved myself quite a bit of time to pay someone else to do it, but I found it worth my while to do it myself - simply because I could save $200 and learn together with my children how to fix things ourselves. These lessons on resourcefulness and perseverance through difficult and challenging moments are priceless.

Likewise, this applies to all areas of our lives, whether it be food, or even managing and achieving our financial goals. The trade-offs? Time, effort, and money. There are some things we would prefer to pay for someone to do; if we could afford the time and effort, we wouldn’t mind doing it ourselves.

By now, most of us have at least started working on our goals and resolutions. We all work towards starting the year well. This is a routine we probably picked up from looking at what others do, or in schools where students are taught to set SMART goals. In the course of this year, life will happen. Some plans that we set at the start of the year get left behind, and we start pursuing alternative goals. The life we planned for at the start of the year morphs into something different. The life we leave behind, and the life we envision will change.

Is that problematic? I doubt so. This has happened to most of us at some point, and we still continue to grow. What matters is not that we achieve our goals - though if it's possible, achieve them anyway. What matters is that we don’t stop growing. And that means investing in yourself. Set aside resources, time, and money to go for courses. Read books that help expand your worldview. I quote Arthur Ashe again,

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” - Arthur Ashe

Worry less about past resolutions that have yet to be finished and focus more on the journey of growth.

To my clients, I would like to continue deepening my relationship with you. Thank you for your trust and support over the years. It has been a privilege to be able to journey with you. I have been working on developing new strategies to empower clients like you to grow, achieve your dreams and improve your life. I firmly believe that if we set aside our resources wisely and take care of the seemingly mundane things in our lives, we will have the courage to pursue a full life. I hold fast also to the idea that we need to plan for the unknowns by building up our assets. With assets, we can survive the curve balls life throws at us and the black swans that may plague our lives. And the underlying habit of any financial plan is the ability to live within your means, which does not mean having no debt, but rather, spending well below our income and building up our assets.

I pray that 2023 will be a year of challenges. Yes, hard challenges that you can overcome, and look back with pride knowing you have grown. I pray we will make the right choices each day, for “every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become”.

God bless you.

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