“Momentum” in Finlayson Green, Singapore, by Israeli scupltor David Gerstein. “The 18.5-metre tall painted metal sculpture depicts an upward cycle of progress, symbolising the energy and momentum of the district, Singapore and its people.” Somehow it reminds me of the tower of babel in Genesis.

Photo taken by me, one car-free Sunday morning in 2017, riding my bicycle.

Sometimes the context and the environment matters. Reading Laura Vanderkam’s “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast—to jump-start the day productively” travelling through Japan’s very efficient JR train system put me in the right mindset to track my time and wake up early.

It is not so much the what I can do.
Laura Vanderkam suggests that we can nurture self, relationships and career with the extra time.

1) Discovering that I am actually a “morning” person. I just need to sleep early.

2) My important chores can be done

3) I have time for meditation and reading the Bible which clears up my mind and thoughts. I am less angry.

4) More conscious of time wastage as I can plan my logistics. And mindless surfing at night.

5) Read books I have been putting off because I have more energy.

6) My bowel movements have improved.

7) More conscious of my goals.

Its a thin book and I highly recommend reading it as well as planning a holiday in Japan using the public transport system. It makes you track your time more consciously.


Tracking through Matsumoto’s padi fields and mountain range.


The art of confession – renewing yourself through the practice of honesty” by Paul Wilkes.


Photo entitled “Reflections” taken in Nagoya, 2018 by me.

My first confession is that I never thought highly of confessions. I was searching for a book on Stoics for my workshop on diary writing and journaling when I chanced upon it.

“Confession is self examination, an honest conversation with ourselves, stripping away the veil over our actions and thoughts, so that we see more clearly and act more justly” writes Wilkes.

Today we complain about stress, rages and provocations, but where is the problem? Perhaps it is our lack of self worth or nagging guilt. Did we lose ourselves somewhere?

One of my favourite techniques in the book is “praying backward through the day“.

The first step is to confess to the God of your faith. Repent of your sin and ask God to be gracious and merciful.

1. Observe, Judge, Act
Observe: Be specific about what you want to change

Judge: consider the consequences of your action

Act: Do something to rectify your situation

2. Consolations and Desolations
Spend a few moments to recall moments when you feel most alive and worthwhile and when you felt the opposite.

What did I do that made me happiest?
Where did I feel ashamed of myself?
What habits worked for or against me?

3. Praying backwards through the day
Jesuit priest Dennis Hamm recommends LT3F approach – light, thanks, feelings, focus, future based on the examen of St Ignatius.

What is helpful when listening to a confession?
Wilkes quotes Dr Thomas Mathew:
In psychotherapy, we can treat outward symptoms – depression, anxiety, ennui – with medication, which sometimes is very effective in itself.

In therapy, time allows a person to go deeper. Don’t judge, or jump in with a solution. Just listen.

Why am I interested in journalling?
An unexamined life is not worth living. -Socrates


1. 临渊羡鱼,不如退而结网。
lín yuān xiàn yú,bù rú tuì ér jié wǎng
《汉书·董仲书传》《han shū · dǒng zhòng shū zhuàn 》

Rather than admire the abundance of fish [opportunities in front] of the lake, why not retreat to sew your net [to catch the fish].

This proverb was used as a parable from 董仲舒, a politician and a philosopher, who warned the emperor to use systematic manner to govern a country.

Does having a grandeur vision or goal justify the means/process? While having a grand goal is important, the “how to” accomplish is equally important.
Otherwise, is it not like “building castles in the air”, an illusion.

This proverb is a useful reminder not to fixate too much on our goals but work also on strategies. Strategies need to be revised, irrelevant ones discarded and opportune ones devised to adapt to changing trends.



Source of Chinese meaning from

Tom Hirshfield’s Rules of Thumb

1. If you hit every time, the target’s too near — or too big.

2. Never learn details before deciding on a first approach.

3. Never state a problem to yourself in the same terms as it was brought to you.

4. The second assault on the same problem should come from a totally different direction.

5. If you don’t understand a problem, then explain it to an audience and listen to yourself.

6. Don’t mind approaches that transform one problem into another, that’s a new chance.

7. If it’s surprising, it’s useful.

8. Studying the inverse problem always helps.

9. Spend a proportion of your time analyzing your work methods.

10. If you don’t ask “Why this?” often enough, someone else will ask, “Why you?”

Roger von Hirschfield’s blog:

This is a neat trick to try while waiting for food to arrive at the restaurant.

Pick any digit and write it down three times. Perhaps you’ve chosen 333 or 888.

Add the 3 digits together:
3 + 3 +3=9 or
8 +8+8= 24

Now divide your original three digit number (333 or 888) by the sum of the digit (9 or 24).

You will get an answer: 37

Why is that so? It is a universal truth. 37 is a prime number.

From “Things to make and do in the Fourth Dimension” by Matt Parker


I recently bought a bag of wing beans from the market with the intention of replicating a dish I ate at Betel Nut, a peranakan restaurant. I found a recipe on the internet. It was an easy stir fry dish. A few days later, the wing beans turned black and had to be thrown away.

What happened? Inertia. I just could not get started.

What was I afraid of, that I could not start a project that took only 30 mins, including prep time?

If I failed, who would know? Just open the dustbin and throw away the evidence.


I signed up for a class, Cookery Magic.

Being in a class with hands on and a patient teacher certainly helped.

It made me think of Kurt Lewin’s Change Process. What prevents people from changing?

The first stage is unfreezing our old habits that are no longer effective.

That prevents unfreezing?
1) Inertia
2) Mistrust
3) Lack of Information

I am on a quest to improve my craft. It all started with a clipboard and a piece of paper and asking myself:

What are my goals?
Whats stopping me ?

Truth be told, my colleagues gave me a voucher for the Cookery Magic course in 2008 when I left INSEAD.

10 years to use the voucher. Bless Roxanna for still honouring the voucher as most organisations would only have a 8 mth validity.


Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
– Lewis Carroll


What’s your cure for overcoming inertia?