Sunday, 31 January 2021

Good reads/podcasts/video: January 2021

One of my goals to ensure my personal growth this year is to listen to at least one podcast per day. And to ensure I am really "absorbing" the lesson, I'd like to document and share some of the insightful podcasts, as well as articles & videos (why limit myself to podcasts!) I've come across the month :) Hope you'll find them insightful too! 

1,273 People Share Their Best Life Lessons from 2020

"2) A Crisis Doesn’t Change People; It Amplifies Who They Already Are"

"People who thought they were extroverted realized they were introverted. People who believed they were introverts discovered they were actually quite extroverted. In both cases, people realized that much of what they thought was their personality was merely molded by social pressures."

I really resonated with some of the life lessons from the article, especially the life lesson above.

Having a lot of quiet time during the lockdown, I was able to properly reflect and was not able to "distract" myself by going out. 

I did the 16 personalities test and found out that I am now an introvert. (Though, a borderline one). This will probably surprise me if it was a year ago. I somehow find myself appreciating quiet time on the weekend more now. This used to scare me - and I realised that I was afraid of idle time, or free weekends without a plan, because I wanted to be actively engaging in something, to distract myself from problems I was facing. I've been allowing myself to feel bored at home and I find that my random drive to do something usually comes out when I'm bored at home. 

My current persona! I took the test a year ago and I was a Protaganist.

PS I don't swear by personalities tests, but I do enjoy taking personalities tests to try to understand myself better and read on about nsights and tips helpful for self-improvement. 

TED Talk: Adam Alter: Why our screen makes us less happy

"We're spending three times longer on the apps that don't make us happy."

Now that we're in lockdown again, I realise my screen time has been increasing, which is inevitable. Work is done on screen. Communication has to be done on screen. Most of my hobbies (eg: blogging, reading) are done on screen. 
(I am trying to find the meme that has been going around basically depicts how we spend both our workday and wind-down time staring at the screen)

Listening to this TED Talk made me more self-aware on how I'm spending my screen time. I believe that not all screen time is making us less happy - the danger starts is when we start deriving an unrealistic benchmark based on what we see on our screen. When we start comparing ourselves with others through what we see on social media.

I've compiled a list of my favourite social media accounts which I find beneficial to me, hope it'll be useful for you too :D 

I Started a Business out of Curiousity

This falls under this list as I was really inspired and amazed by this Youtuber. How she takes action on her curiosity. This video is also insightful, especially on the tax part of owning a company. Do check it out :D 

How to Be Confident, Not Arrogant

I struggle in exuding confidence, especially because I've decided to go on a career/industry switch in 2020 - I always feel that other people can do better than me. I allowed my inner voice to tell me that "I am not good enough" or "I need more experience". I feel that if I start showing I am confident, does it mean that I am being arrogant and complacent? 

If you're like me, this article/podcast is worth reading/listening to :) The article/podcasts helped me see the difference between exuding confident, and exuding "arrogance". 
"According to Psychology Today:
Confidence is a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life's challenges and to succeed—and the willingness to act accordingly."
"Confidence is knowing you don’t know everything and having the humility to recognize that other people's good ideas won’t dull your shine."

The article also suggested some key actions you can take to build up your confidence. Definitely will be mindful to try out these tips!

"The conviction that you have the ability to meet a challenge begins with being super clear about what challenge you’re there to meet. Before an important interaction, ask yourself: What’s my role in this, and what am I expected to influence or deliver?"

My personal next steps: Always understand my purpose and expectations on you at a particular time/event. Listen intently! Ask questions! 

How to Follow Up with Someone Who's Not Getting Back to You

This is definitely a problem everyone faces :p

Communication is more important than ever, especially now that we are all working remotely. I've always preferred follow-up in person when I don't get reply because when you communicate in person, you have your body language and tone of voice to set things straight without sounding like you're being overly desperate/accusing. However, as in-person communication is now 

I like how to article outlined clear, tangible steps you can take to follow-up. Definitely will be practising these steps when I encounter these situations! 

Which of these 6 time traps is eating up all your time?

Now that we all are working remotely, we should have had more time to ourselves, right? Since we save time commuting, getting ready to work etc. Despite so, I sometimes find myself not knowing where all these extra time went - I am still producing the same amount of work/output despite having more time to myself. This article is a reminder to all these teeny tiny time traps in our every day life that may seem teeny tiny but is actually not! 
"Time trap #1: Technology interruptions break our hours into confetti 
Technology saves us time, but it also takes it away — this is known as the autonomy paradox."
This articles also reminded me of the value of time, which I think we often overlook. The opportunity cost of time. 
"Time trap #3: We undervalue our time
Because of a cultural obsession with money, many people protect their money in ways that are counterproductive to time affluence."

I've to admit, I'd rather save money than save time. For example, I'd rather spend about one hour to go out and grab food, rather than paying for delivery services to get the food delivered to me. Time for me to reflect on how can I better spend my time if I were to spend money to save those time. Would I be wasting that extra time away if I do so? It's time to reflect!

Homemade ramen from scratch! 

I realise I spend a lot of time cooking, baking, and going out to grocery shops to hand-pick my ingredients. But this is a part of my time I don't regret spending at all - simply because I find cooking/baking/grocery shopping a way for me to wind down and relax :) I also get a huge sense of accomplishment from these tasks! 

Stop saying ‘I’m sorry.’ Research says it makes others think less of you—here’s what successful people do instead

I received a 360 feedback from one of the intern I work with at work stating that I say sorry too much - a lot of time when it is not required.

If you're like me - I'd highly recommend you to read this article. It outlines why you shouldn't say sorry all the time, and it gives tangible actions you can adopt to overcome this. (Spoiler alert: they even suggested a Google Plugin to help you overcome this problem!) 

I am trying to be mindful of when I use "sorry". It's definitely not easy, as I realised that saying sorry has someone became a habit to me. But definitely something I have to work on!  

How the pandemic killed your motivation, and 6 simple ways to get it back, according to science

Let's face it - working from home is hard. There are days when you really don't feel like doing anything at all.

I really like the tips given by the article. I swear by the little rituals and routines. Nowadays, I'd brew my own cup of coffee in the morning and this little ritual really do give me that satisfaction and strength to start a day, even if it's just a little bit :P 
Or petting my dog first thing in the morning 
Time to time after a long day of work, I'd reward myself with a little treat. 
The article mentioned something about identifying trigger points - I think I'm at the stage where I'm unsure what my triggers are, because time to time I feel as though I fall in a slump for no reasons at all. There might be a reason that I am not aware of, something for me to be mindful of.


That's it for this month's round-up of good reads/podcasts/videos :D 

Personal reflection: I realised that I tend to find "how-to"s articles/videos/podcasts insightful. Wonder if I'd continue this trend in the coming months.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Social Media Accounts I Love (& have learnt a lot from!)

Social Media to me is a double-edged sword. While it helps me keep in touch with our friends and family, especially now during this pandemic where face-to-face interaction is not encouraged, it is easy to make unhealthy comparisons about yourself with others, get absorbed in "doomscrolling" and not realising I'm letting time slip away through social media.

I do try to limit my time spent on social media, and try to make it as meaningful as possible. I've discovered many social media accounts which are insightful, which have led to me gaining new perspectives and knowledge. 

And hence, I've decided to compile a few of my favourite social media accounts which have helped me gain new insights and knowledge, and I hope that it'd benefit you as well :)

Personal Finance 

1. Suyin Ong (Youtube Channel)

Why I love this channel:

I love her videos as they are relatable, easy to digest and informative. As Suyin is a Malaysian Youtuber, her videos fit into the Malaysian context which makes it very applicable to me :) For example, her video about money advice which is no longer applicable to us, and I really like this video about how girls (& also guys) have to be good with money.

Besides personal finances, Suyin also publishes vlog where she shares about some of her personal reflection/struggles etc, which I have to echo, is not often talk about and it is definitely very refreshing to hear someone talk about it on social media :) 

One of her recent videos that really inspired was the one where she talks about how she started a business out of curiosity 

And oh, her videos are often bite-sized :D 

2. The Financial Diet (Youtube Channel & Instagram)

*PS: topics covered by this channel is actually quite broad, ranging from personal finances, personal growth and wellness etc. But they mainly pivot on personal finance (which is evident too from their channel's name)

Why I love this channel:

The content shared is very relevant to the young generation. I like how the content also takes references from the latest pop culture (eg: this video about life & money lesson from Emily in Paris).

I discovered about the sinking fund system through this channel. If you've read my previous posts, you'd know that I'm a hugeeee sinking fund advocate :P 

I've also gotten a lot of inspiration to improve myself from this channel (eg: a this video about distraction journal, and this video about quirky frugal habit the writer is not ashamed aboutboosted my confidence in sticking to my budget when I'm hanging out with my peers, as I often feel pressured to just hide this frugal side of me and "go with the flow", even if it means blowing my budget when I hand out with my peers. 

3. Ringgit Oh Ringgit (Blog)

Why I love this blog:

Similar to Suyin - personal finance made simple & localised content. Besides sharing about personal finances related topics, Suraya, the writer, publishes this "Weekly Links Roundups" which usually features really insightful articles/news. 

I also enjoy her blog posts where she breaks down costs of something (eg: her wedding), and her monthly expenses report. It is an eye-opener to me, especially because talking about money is somewhat a taboo in our culture. I do feel that we should really talk more about finance though - there's so much we can learn from one another when we're open to talking about budgeting and finances. 


1. Sean Tan (Youtube Channel)

Why I love this channel: 

I just discovered this channel like last week, and I've been binge-watching his videos non-stop lol! 

His videos are not only informative but extremely addictive and fun to watch! He does very comprehensive and informative on-site property reviews/virtual tour. He ends every property review with a "Sean Take 3 on 3", where he talks about the three things he likes about the property, and 3 things he doesn't like about the property, and he's honest about the pros and cons of each property he reviews.

I also enjoy his "Ask Me Anything" video series where he answers questions from his subscribers, mostly property-related. His video dissecting about the Sales & Purchase Agreeemtn (SPA) is by far one of the most informative content about SPA I've ever came across 

Personal Style

1. Audrey Coyne (Youtube Channel)

Why I love her:

Audrey focuses on "slow fashion" rather than fast fashion. I've learnt so much about styling from her. From finding one's personal style, how to pick a colour that would suit you, to creating a capsule wardrobe, repurposing your old clothes, how to shop less and so much more!

Audrey has such a soothing voice too and her videos exude this calm vibe :) 

If you've been reading my previous posts, you'd noticed that I've been dropping her name quite often. The video below was one of the first video of her I've watched and left a lasting impact on me :) 

Hobbies - Cooking/Baking

1. Delish's Host: June Xie (Youtube Channel)

OK I typically only watch videos on this channel that features this host, June Xie. 

Why I love watching June: 

1. She is probably the only Youtube chef out there that shamelessly reuse things (eg: parchment paper, produce bags, reduce, reuse, recycle people!)

2. She uses leftovers and expired condiments like nobody's business (expired sauce? Does it smells ok? OK? Alright in it goes!)

3. She explains a lot on the why(s) of a certain method

4. She's good at explaining the how(s) too

5. AND she's so brutally honest about her feelings sometimes in her videos

6. Her sense of humour! 

1 & 2 is so refreshing to see on social media.

Please, just do yourself a favour and watch some of her budgets eats video. Or her baking video shot in the Delish test kitchen. Her videos are often 30 minutes ~ 1 hour but I'll assure you, you won't even realise how much time has passed when you watch June videos, and you'll definitely learn quite a bit from her!

I personally learnt a lot too from June's personal Instagram account, where she'd share her views on some news, and also some food wisdom

I'd also recommend listening to this podcast where she was featured in below - one key message that I particularly love from her is to always eat what you love. And don't judge what other people eat. This is very true! I always find that food is very subjective, and sometimes, usually, unintentionally, we'd judge someone for the food they eat, which honestly shouldn't happen. I know I sometimes do that too - unintentionally. And we shouldn't be embarrassed of what we eat too :) 

News/Current Affair

1. Company Man (Youtube Channel)

Why I love this channel:
This channel deep dive into the rise and falls of certain companies, typically big names, and do in depth analysis of the how(s) and why(s). You can learn SOOOO MUCH from this channel. 


That's it for now - these are the social media accounts which I'd religiously watch/read whenever they release new content :) There are of course more which I did not include (eg: plants-related channel! But I follow too many of them and they're really good, worried that this post might be never ending:P) There are of course more out there which I have yet to discover, would love to hear what's your favourite social media accounts and why you love them too :D 

Monday, 18 January 2021

My Best & Worst Personal Purchases for the year 2020

I wanted to reflect on my purchases in 2020 and properly analyse which purchases have really impacted me in a positive way, and which purchases have been unnecessary. And hence, this post.

I'll start with the best purchases :) I'll try my best to best as honest as I can to myself. 

Best Purchases in 2020

(in no particular order) 

1) Kenwood Chef XL KVL4100S Stand Mixer

Price: RM1,956

I know. Me myself was utterly shocked at myself when I made this purchase. I bought this mixer there and then at a physical shop in a mall...when I knew I probably could have gotten it cheaper online. 

(Anyway - the price has dropped by RM200 ishh :((( but oh well this happens)
Dog to is a...huge mixer

Butttt. It just felt right after viewing and having the salesperson to answer my queries and concerns. I was worried that I might regret my purchase since it was done rather a haste. *trying hard to justify my haste purchase)*

Okay yes I admit it was bought off an impulse. A strong impulse. But I think this is definitely one of my best purchase in the year 2020. Owning a stand mixer has been a game-changer. Making bread and cakes has never been easier. I did a very brief review of this stand mixer and also documented how I chose a stand mixer in this blog post.

See how tot and tight the dough produced by the stand mixer is! 

I can easily make bread at home, even on weekdays as most time is passive! I'll just leave it on and do my work at a side and tend to it the dough is almost ready. The only downside of owning this machine is that I am using the oven really frequent now and my electricity bill has since skyrocketed...oopsie. But honestly, I felt much more confident trying out new recipes after I've acquired this stand mixer :) This stand mixer is like the fuel to my already burning bright hobby of baking :p 

2) IKEA Flintan Chair with Armrest

Price: RM289 

With the prolonged remote working arrangement now, having a proper chair has been more crucial than ever. I used a simple plastic chair from IKEA that costs probably around RM30 ss my work chair. It works fine, BUT, I realised that it wasn't ideal for working long hours after two weeks into the WFH situation and decided to invest in a proper chair. I opted for the Flintan after much research, because it seems to be the most affordable chair that provide ergonomic support. 

However, as I tend to slouch (unconsciously)...I still do get neck and/or backaches. But it's a lot better compared to when I didn't even use a proper ergonomic chair, as the structure of the chair forces me to somewhat sit properly. Not 100% properly, but at least better than before.

3) Foldable bamboo lap desk

Price: RM48.88

I have always wanted to buy one of these lap desk because I'm a lazy bump that enjoys using the laptop on her bed. I bought this the moment CMCO 2.0 was announced in October, knowing that we will be spending more time indoors, I thought why not try out one of these. 

In the end, I barely used it on the bed day my laptop slid and fell off the bed while using this. Ouch.

(Laptop is doing well so far. Hope it stays okay. Yes I know I am careless human being)

Despite so. This has been one of the best purchases I've made last year because:

1) It helps me ensure that my eyes are 180 to the screen. I now use it to level my laptop screen and my eyes on my desk. 

2) I've never used my laptop on the bed since (after a painful lesson huhu)

4) Cast Iron Skillet

Price: RM55
Having a cast iron skillet allowed me to explore recipes that I wasn't able to explore previously such as pork Carnitas, Dak-Galbi, baked pasta, Japanese Char Siew. I use my cast iron pan as a "steamer" too in my oven when baking crusty bread. 

I love that I can dump the cast iron skillet straight from the stovetop to the oven. 
Dak-Galbi on my cast iron (:

Note that you can still try out the recipes I've mentioned above without a cast iron pan :) I just love the extra "char" from the cast iron pan.

5) Getting my hair dyed professionally at Kimarie SS2 hair saloon

Price: RM259

I was surprised by the fact that I opted to go to a saloon, to be honest. If you know me I'm one of the biggest cheapskate when it comes to these kind of spending. I am the type of people who believe that it's much more worth it to buy a box of dye for about RM30-50 and DIY at home! Why would I pay like ten folds more when I can do it for cheap myself! 

But somehow. Somehow. Not sure how and why. But when I saw a targetted advert on my Facebook account by Kimmarie SS2, offering a cut & wash + dye + hair colour lock treatment service for RM199 (extra RM50 surcharge for hair length that exceeds shoulder), I decided to give it a go. 

Good job, Facebook ad algorithm. Because I think that was one of the best decision I've ever made. LOL.

~SyOk sEnDiRi zone~ 

but hey! this little makeover made me feel good and confident about myself :) It wasn't a drastic change but I liked the change it brought to me :) 

My hairdresser was Chong Iu, he was really patient in explaining the types of hair colour that would look good and last longer with my hair colour, which was pretty jet black at that time. He recommended me to either go for Copper Black, which has a nice brown shade BUT is higher in maintenance as the colour tend to fade to a dirty brown colour, or ash brown, which would go lighter as time passes and is deemed more 'low maintenance'. I decided to go for the latter. 

It's been six months since I dyed my hair and the colour is holding itself strong. I still like how it looks till date, even though my black hair has since grown out. I quite like the change in the shade of colour from black to brown! 

6) New pillow from Akemi

Price: Less than RM10, purchased using vouchers given by my school as a farewell gift

I've had my old pillows for...god knows how many years. I've gotten myself a contour pillow from Akemi and I absolutely love it, been sleeping much better after the swap :) ! Pillows are an investment worth splurging on as it ensures a good night sleep! 

And my little Aussie get to inherit my old pillow

7) Reusable Face Mask from Aeon (A Mask Story) 

Price: RM15

I love these masks from A Mask Story so much! Despite being 5-layers with filters built-in, I find them comfy and breathable :) They fit nicely and the straps are adjustable.

I am currently using my second face mask from them. I've read somewhere that it is recommended that we change our reusable face mask once every six months or so. I've tried Uniqlo's one but I find that Uniqlo's one is not as breathable and it doesn't fit me as nicely as this one from A Mask Story :) 

Reusable mask = reduce the usage of disposable mask! 
You may get these mask on Aeon online store or in-store :) You'll see them everywhere around the payment counters. Wow it's only RM9.90 now on their online store :O 

8) This RM10 dress I thrifted

Price: RM10

I love this dress so much. It fits me just nice. I love the design. AND it's RM10. It's from H&M. This dress brought me so much joy! Bought it from 2nd Street SS15!

9) Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earbuds Basic 

Price: RM39 (thank you 11.11 sale! Original price was RM129)

Wireless earbuds are an absolute gamechanger. These wireless earbuds gives me the freedom to walk around, perform my mundane everyday mundane task (Eg: put the kettle on, make coffee) while listening to podcasts.

I used to have a Jabra wireless earphone many years ago but I don't use it often as it doesn't fit comfortably on my ears, the Bluetooth connectivity was kinda slow, and the battery life was short-ish, even though that cost me almost RM200+! (PS this was like back in 2016, and I believe wireless products now have much better connectivity and battery life)

I was a little sceptical when I first purchased this, I only bought it because it was on sale, RM39, from RM129 :P Happy to report that I'm loving it! The fit of Xiaomi's one felt much better, the Bluetooth connection has always been fast an on point and battery life is not bad, a full charge typically last me around 4 hours :) 

I have to say though last week one side of the earphone just stopped working, despite my numerous attempts of trying to restart it. It then miraculously started working again after. a few days...hmmm, let's hope it stays like this! 

10) These linen shorts 

Price: RM9.84 each

I WAS RATHER APPREHENSIVE WHEN I BOUGHT THESE. Because it seems too good to be true. Linene shorts??? RM9.84??? Whattt???? Reviews were also mixed, but I decided to give it a go since it's only RM9+

I bought four pairs at once just to qualify for free shipping. And my gosh these shorts the comfiest pair of shorts ever. I'm so glad I bought four of these in different colours. I wear them at home as my house wear, wear them to jogging, and sometimes I wear them out too. 

The only thing I don't really like about these pants are the pockets - they are made out of polyester which feels flimsy. But hey, they're not visible AND they cost less than RM10 each AND I wear them at least once a week which makes their average cost per wear super worth it.


I'm trying to deduce if there are any patterns I can observe from my best buys of 2020, and it seems like cheap but good quality clothing is one of them x) Also, things I use every day (Flintan chair, bamboo foldable lap desk, pillow & face mask) and things that support my hobbies (cast iron skillet & stand mixer) are other trends I notice :)

Now let's move on to the worst purchases I've made for the year 2020.

Worst Purchases 

Disclaimer: worst purchase doesn't mean that they're horrible items. It may be things that are great but just that I didn't really need it or it doesn't fit my lifestyle. 

1) Suit from G2000

Price: RM200+

Don't get me wrong. G200's clothing is great. I love their styles and their fit is tailored more for petite Asian built body. It's not that the quality is bad, but I've only worn it once just because...we went into lockdown one month after my purchase. And hence, one of my worst purchase.

I was rushing to do a complete overhaul of my wardrobe last year, probably due to peer pressure and also I felt that my closet was too cikgu. I remember spending hundreds on new work clothes during the first two months into my new job. 

From this experience, I learnt to not rush into buying clothes. 

2) Cheap earphones 

Price: RM10-20

Note: Cheap doesn't necessarily equate to bad. I know there are cheap earphones that are well-built and of good quality but somehow...I've been unlucky T_T 

I bought a couple of pair of earphones for RM9.90 on Shopee and Lazada...and in just about 2-3 of them failed on me after a month or so of usage :( One of them got snagged on something when I was jogging and one side just stops functioning.

Perhaps the problem is in me, the end-user, for being rather careless. But I can't help but feel that I've just wasted money and resources when I had to change earphones every one month or so when they fail on me :/ Perhaps I should invest in one that is much more sturdy, shock-resistant one. 

I am currently using earphones from Xiaomi (bought at RM39) and they've been serving me well for about 2 months. Please let it last long. 

3) This blue off-the-shoulder top from Jin Hayari

Price: Somewhere between RM50-70

Sneezing in 3...2...1...

Now similar to (1), don't get me wrong. I absolutely love Jin Hayari. I've a pair of skorts I got from them that I adored greatly.

In fact, I bought the skorts along with this top because you can get 50% off the second item you purchase. I bought the top feeling 50/50 about it. 

I've only worn it once since my purchase in July 2020. Somehow I feel that it doesn't really resonate with my personal style and hence I am kinda regretting this purchase. 

4) Kitchen Timer from Daiso

Price: RM5.60

It went bust less than one month after purchase :(  Again, it might be just me. Because I've bought their kitchen timer before and that one lasted me for at least a year. 

I also realised that I can't change the batteries for these? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't seem to remove the batteries from the battery slot.

I'd prefer to buy one that is sturdier, knowing how clumsy I am as a person. ANd preferably one which batteries I am able to replace to reduce wastage. 

5) CHILIPULVER Plant watering sensor

Price: RM19.90

This is a neat product - this watering sensor starts flashing when your plant needs water - perfect for fussy plants.

The watering sensor is helpful for fussy plants like the calathea, they act out dramatically when you miss watering 

HOWEVER. I've stopped using it after it ran out of battery, and I have no idea where I've place it...

It is a good product, just that nowadays I learnt how to gauge whether or not my plants need watering. Or perhaps it's because I'm home much more often now so I can roughly tell whether my plants need watering. 


My Takeaway

1) Never rush into buying things

Unless they're essentials that you need (eg: food, medicines)

Do your research. Try to compare the different prices on different platform or shops. 

Things typically will go on sale. Be wise when you want to make your purchase. If you know there's a sale coming up (eg: 9.9, 10.10), you might want to check out if the product will have any additional offers, or your card provider/bank might throw you some additional coupons/vouchers! 

For example my stand mixer. I could have waited till 12.12, or Black Friday to steal some deals. I admit that was rather rash of me to rush into the purchase and I was feeling quite down about it for a while, which lead me to my next point

2) To not beat yourself up for "bad" purchases

It happens. No point beating yourself up. If you really regret it, check the refund policies (but please don't abuse it!) and see if you can make a refund. 

This is why I am extremely careful with my clothes purchases, especially online. 


Definitely, I want to be more mindful when buying stuff. To properly think through whether I need that item, will I be using that item every day, would it bring vast improvement to my life. 

Here's too more mindful shopping in the future!

Sunday, 17 January 2021

2021 - Personal Goals

Most people would be ready & geared up with their new year's resolution and goals before the new year starts. I needed more time to consolidate my thoughts and think through what I really want to do/achieve, and how can I get there, and hence the late new year's goals post. But hey, better late than never! 

My goals for the year 2021 are definitely a follow up from my learning/growth from 2020I have broken down my goals into three major aspects of my personal life I want to work on, that is: Finances, Personal Growth/Learnings & Relationship


I have three personal finance goals I'd like to work on & stick through this year. 

1) Save at least 40% of my income every month 

How I plan to achieve this goal is to ensure that I:

- Only buy items listed on my long and short term shopping list 

Having a long and short term shopping list helps me plan ahead of what I want to buy, which has helped me to shop wisely, especially during sales period (those 9.9, 10.10, 11.11 sales!).

I categorise my shopping wishlist into essentials & wants, and the timeline I need it (immediate/short term/ medium term)

I have installed Chrome extension, AliPrice (Both for Shopee and Lazada), that tracks the historical price of an item up to 9 months! This is helpful for me to gauge if a "sale" is truly worth it. And would help me make decisions if I want to stock up on non-perishable essentials such as shampoos when it is on sale. You can also save the item to your watchlist and the extension will send you a push notification when it goes on sale :) 

I really do recommend you check it out :D But of course with this extension, when you're buying something you need there and then and you see that the items were once upon a time might feel quite sakit hati.

- Adopt the bucket system/sinking fund for big purchases 

Before this, there are months where I don't save much as there are big tickets spending such as car servicing, renewal or my car insurance, and so on. 

Thanks to the bucket system/sinking fund method, I don't get a big blow on months where I expect to incur huge expenses, and I can treat myself to something I've been eyeing a while by saving using this bucket system/sinking fund.

Check out the video below to learn more about this system :) 

I have sinking funds to save for travel, splurge on something I really want (keyword: want), car servicing, renewal of car insurance and so on. 

- Drink AT MOST once a week

I used to (and still do, albeit a lot lesser nowadays) spend a lot on socials. Going out. Going out = spending money. Because once you step out of your house, you will be incurring costs such as petrol, tool, parking, food...etc etc. Unless say you're going out for a run. That one's free. 

ANYHOW back to the topic. I don't want to restrict myself from going out just because I want to hit my savings target. While my wallet will be happy, I don't think my mental wellbeing would appreciate this. 

Which is why...I've decided that I should really cap my weekly drinking.

Random photo I took during one of my recent night cap. I really do appreciate drinks with friends

I know, some of you might think that even drinking once a week is a lot. But hey, a goal has got to be realistic! 

- Stick to my personal style personal policy

What a mouthful

Only buy clothes I can try on. Constantly pay attention to my personal style. Long-term plan my wardrobe and clothes shopping list. 
Not part of my long term plan, but found this dress a few days ago and instantly took a liking to it. It was RM25

Have got to admit time to time I will still feel like getting clothes...that are not on my long-term shopping list. But by trying it on first BEFORE buying, I will ensure that I buy clothes that I truly like, and will keep wearing them. Maxing out the average cost per wear. Minimise impulsive purchases of clothes. Or further buying more clothes because I have nothing in my closet that can match the clothes I just bought. 

2) Establish a side income stream

I spend a lot of time, money and effort on my hobbies, especially in gardening and baking, I figure I should try to start establishing a side income. 

I fall into this trap of always feeling "I'm not good enough", "I need more planning" and I strongly believe this is me giving myself excuses and procrastinating. 

My Carousell listing - shameless self-promo teehee

I was selling some of my self-propagated plants on Carousell, though my income from this aspect is pretty negligible but hey, a little is better than nothing at all! 

Stay tuned for more. I have NO PLANS as of now. But A THING BEGUN IS HALF DONE.

2) Invest at least 20% of my income

I have set up an auto-debit every month using Stashaway to ensure this goal is met :) so this is more of a passive goal, 

Personal Growth / Learnings

1) Listen to at least one podcast every day

Since the whole WFH situation started, I am trying to stick to a morning routine/'comunte" before I start work as a "commute" transition to start work. After all, we all used to have a commute to work where we can mentally prep ourselves for work, so why not recreate that even when you're working from home? My morning routine/"commute" comprise of taking care of my plants, listening to podcasts, scrolling through social media (it's how I keep abreast with the news), and also doing some mindless scrolling. 

Listening to podcasts allows me to learn something new, or even open up my mind to different perspectives :) 

I listen to podcasts using Google Podcasts. I love it as it allows me to play on x1.3 speed (tee-hee), and it gives me recommendation based on what I subscribe + topics I might be interested in :) 

My personal favourites podcasts are NPR Planet Money, NPR Hidden Brain, The Indicator by Planet Money, and of course, TED Talks :) 

To ensure I am learning, I want to consolidate my learnings, and share newly acquired knowledge I find useful/interesting on this blog on a bi-weekly/monthly basis, depending on my capacity :) 

2) Read at least one paragraph of non-fiction/fiction every day

Most of the time I know I can manage more than one paragraph, but I want to set it at one paragraph because I want to be realistic, and there are days where I might be swamped, and I want this goal to still be attainable!

Current reads: Night by Elie Wiesel and Anxious People by Fredrik Backman!

3) Participate in at least one online events and/or online courses every month

This is to ensure that I

- always learn of new and different ways people run thing

- keep myself updated with new knowledge 

With the shift of online/hybrid events due to the pandemic, it is worth checking out how others run their online event and try to learn their best practices as much as I can :) 

Online courses that I'm currently taking: The Science of Wellbeing by Yale University on Coursera!

4) Cook/Bake at least one dish per week

Yes recycling my goals from last year, but I really want to keep the momentum going. I'd like to challenge myself to incorporate more local ingredients in my cooking/baking, to try out different flavour palette. 

One of my most recent bakes -Rye Sourdough

Baking/Cooking has been a wonderful outlet when I'm stressed, and also it makes me curious about the science behind it :) 


1) To be present with people (ie put away phone when hanging out) and actively engage with people I know 

I know this goal isn't measurable. But I'm not tooooo sure how to make it a SMART goal at this point but let me just make my point here. But essentially, I'd want to be more intentional in maintaining my relationship with friends and family. To be present when around them, be it in a virtual or face to face setting. 

At the start of MCO, I felt as though I was drowned in work. I spent whatever free time I have indulging in my hobbies. Which isn't a bad thing. But I have forgotten to socialise. To reach out to people. To talk to people. I've felt extremely distant from people. I've always been the initiator, asking people out for hikes, meals and etc. And I was afraid of who I was going to become.

Sounds funny but I probably interacted most with my dog during MCO. Which. Is not a bad thing either butttt.

And hence, this goal. Which serves as a reminder to be intentional in maintaining and building relationships. Maintaining a relationship takes time and effort. And with the pandemic and social distancing measure in place, this is I feel, more crucial than ever.


Similar to last year, I believe my goals will be adjusted/modified as time passes. For now, these are what I feel are needed and achievable :) 

What are your goals for the year? 

Sunday, 3 January 2021

2020 - A Personal Reflection on What I've Done/Achieved/Gained/Grow From :)

AND I thought I could have combated 2020 with some cockroach spray. Oh, how naive I was - we were clearly underprepared to face 2020. But we survived.

2020 was definitely a really tough year. 

I have to admit - I have been through many downs. My emotions were seemingly unstable most of the time in 2020 - one minute I'm fine, and the other minute I feel as though the whole world is against me. It might be because everything was uncertain - there's the pandemic going on, that no one is able to predict what will happen and when it'll end. There are constant streams of worries.

With that, I'd like to celebrate the little successes and write on the aspects which I've gained/grew in 2020 - to remind myself to constantly reflect and adapt, to continue to work on what helped me to grow.

Personal Growth

 1. Established routines

Amidst the stay from home order, I've managed to set a few routines and stick through it. I've established routine which I'll break down into monthly, weekly and daily routine

Monthly routine

I've managed to consistently review my monthly goals (which you can see my monthly goals review posts published here on my blog, as a way to keep myself accountable), as well as doing a personal monthly reflection on Evernote (reflecting on things I was proud of in that particular month, things I want to work on and achieve in the coming month), and reading at least two books per month. (EXCEPT for the month of December, where I only read one book). 

I definitely want to carry forward these routine - doing a monthly review of my goals was definitely helpful to see where I am, and what I should work on/put in more effort. It also let me see what I have done/achieve for the month :) 

Weekly routine

I've managed to assimilate these activities into my weekly habits/routine since the start of MCO back in March 2020: room cleaning, plant care, cooking/baking one new dish-per-week, exercising at least twice a week & creating a checklist of things I want to get done in the weekend. 

It all started with these two dishes I made using the air fryer (Air fryer sweet potato fries & fried chicken) only did I realise I was so out of the game in cooking ._. and hence my journey & resolution to cook/bake one dish per week started. 

I really like creating a checklist. It is particularly helpful during this quarantine period when one might feel like one has done nothing at all. The checklist serves as a reminder of what I have done, and also prevents "I'm bored and I have nothing to do" moments, and ensure that I get what I need to do done! 

Daily routine

Note: My daily routine typically only apply to weekdays

I have established a morning routine of listening to podcasts and tending to my plants. At the end of the day. I try to do a reflection on the work front - what went well, what are my priorities for the next day and how can I improve myself the next day. I also set two mini personal goals just to ensure that I feel accomplished the next day.

I have to admit though I am not 100% consistent with the daily routine I set, but I do try my best to fulfill it. Some days you just don't feel like doing anything and I feel it's important to be kind to yourself. 

2. Picked up new hobbies, and revived old hobbies

Back in 2019, I was struggling to make full use of my free time. I was staying in Johor, away from most of my friends and family. I was busy throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019. When my schedule started to clear up around the second half of 2019, I realised that I didn't know what to do with my free time at home. I enjoy going out with friends, exploring new hiking trail, food to eat, travelling. But. What do I do with my free time? 

I realised that was quite unhealthy, as going out was 1) expensive and 2) I realised that it was a way to distract myself, and knew I needed to find time to be alone with myself, and be comfortable with it. 

I also struggled in thinking about my personal identity - who am I, other than my job as a teacher, who likes to travel and eat and hike and work and go out with friends? 

Which was why I resolved to explore around for new hobbies. Hobbies that allow me alone and enjoy what I am doing. I managed to pick up some new hobbies in 2020, as well as revived some old ones. 

New hobbies: 

1) Gardening

I'll always remember the feeling when I picked up my very first plant from Taman Hati back in February 2020. Little did I know I'd get really into gardening, and no doubt the pandemic spurred it further! 

My very first plant - the Fittonia! 

I became curious to learn more about plant care. About other plants. About landscaping. I've gained a lot of knowledge from Planterina, Swedish Plant Guys, Summer Rayne Oaks & much more on Youtube. I've DIY-ed a coconut planter and also made some terrarium, both open and closed terrarium during MCO. I began to appreciate nature and landscaping. 

Two closed terrarium I made

I've also began to share a little plant care tips on my plant Instagram account, @pot_tosynthesis

2) Video editing 

This one was quite accidental - but as my job required some filtering of videos, I began explore how to use Youtube editor, and subsequently learning how to use iMovie! Ok so buying a Mac was not completely a waste :P 

I was quite resistant in learning how to edit video at first but once I sort of get the hang of it, it becomes quite addictive I have to say!

My video editing skills are still pretty novice, as I am doing it "for fun" and learning as I go :)

These two videos are the only videos I have listed as public so far :p too embarrassed to share any more as I feel that a lot of work could be done to improve. 

Old Hobbies:

I also found joy in things I used to find joy in :)

1) Blogging

I've been writing about food places again :) And also exploring new food places to eat. I realised blogging makes me more "alert" and perceptive - I'd pay attention tot he food served, service, the service from the moment we made a reservation (norms of CMCO - always make a reservation to avoid disappointment), to when we step into the shop, to tasting the food and so on

I've also noticed that my old Cuti-Cuti Malaysia posts have been gaining traction - probably because we are only allowed to travel locally as of now. This motivates me to write more of my Cuti-Cuti Malaysia experiences on my blog :) 

Like this post I wrote about Cameron Highlands. Interested to find out where? Click here to read about this place! 

P.S. compiled all my Cuti-Cuti Malaysia traveling post here, and a list of hiking destination in Malaysia here

2) Cooking and Baking

This one is really obvious especially if you have been following me on social media, or at least this blog. 

Most recent cooking venture (as of time of writing) Dak Galbi! 

Morrocan-inspired chickpea stew with homemade artisan bread

I am inspired by myself from moving on as an air-fryer cook (as mentioned at the second point) to like...a proper home cook now haha :D 

I gain inspiration and learnt a lot from Youtube as well, mainly from June Xie from Delish, America's Test Kitchen, Food Wishes and Cupcake Jemma

So now I am someone....with a very strong identity hahah :D Someone who loves cooking, baking, gardening, hiking and travelling! 

3. Planning & curating my wardrobe for the long-term, establishing my personal style (WIP)

I made a promise myself to embark on a personal styling journey at the start on this year when I shifted from working in a school environment to corporate - I realised that my old styles didn't really fit the environment I was in, nor I was too satisfied with my personal style.

Clothes that I tried on back in January 2020, in search of my personal style

I was worried that being in a new profession might require me to do a complete overhaul for my wardrobe but thank goodness I did not take it to that far, thanks to the videos from Audrey Coyne! With her videos, I have gained some inspiration and now have a few personal policies when it comes to shopping for clothes, namely:

1) I'll only buy clothes I can try on. 

This helps remove a lot of temptation to shop online - I realise when you shop online its more of a hit and miss. Sometimes the clothes fit you well, sometimes the clothes look good, but it just simply doesn't fit you.

Exhibit A: Loved the cutting & look of this dress but when I put it on...only did I realise it was a complete misfit on me! 

This also helps ensure that the clothes I buy are pieces of clothing that I truly covet, and will wear time and again :) 

2) I'll try to only buy clothes that are on my long-term planning list

This also helps me ensure I buy clothes which I can mix and match easily with my existing pieces of clothing I have. 

key word is "try" because time to time I'll find a very beautiful piece of clothing at a shocking price...which I really can't resist. Like this dress I bought for only RM10 from 2nd Street!

This is definitely a work in progress, and it will take time and conscious effort to curate my personal style. :) Definitely something I want to bring forward in 2021!

4. Shopping consciously 

This is a little similar to 3. When I moved back home for good at end 2019, I was aghast with the amount of stuff I had accumulated, even though I've always thought that I'm someone who is already very conscious in what I buy - aim for cheap items, think through for a few days before making a purchase. 

Similar to my clothes, I have a long-term planning shopping list which I separate into "essentials" and "others" (ie, wants, or things that can potentially make my life better, but are not considered "essentials"). This really helps me think through what I need in the short term, as well as long term, and is extremely helpful when it comes to sales such as 11.11 and 12.12 sales :P

5. Mustered up the courage to do things/activities alone

Of course, this died down because of the pandemic - but I would like to recognise the few activities/events I've joined in 2020 alone! I have always preferred to do activities with someone, but I didn't want not having company to hamper me from trying out new things or doing activities I may enjoy :) 

Closed terrarium making class @ IKEA, Cheras in Feb 2020

Joining my second Jane's Walk in Feb 2020

Joining my very first clothes swap in Jan 2020 - really look forward to joining more clothes swap in the future, but with the pandemic, it is probably hard :/ 

Volunteering at Free Tree Society (Bangsar) in August 2002

6. Started pot_tosynthesis

I started an Instagram account dedicated to plants back in July 2020.  The initial plan was to start up a plant business but because of my busyness at work, and also how I choose to spend time in other parts of my life (especially in my newfound & rekindled hobbies), the plan got stalled.

I now use the account to share about plant care and interesting plant places in Malaysia (mainly nurseries for now!). If you're looking for affordable places to buy plants, check out my stories highlight! 

I am however selling my self-propagated plants and some pots on my Carousell account, do check it out if you're interested :)

7. Writing book reviews 

I revived my hobby of reading in 2019 when I was having a tough time and I realised that books can help me carry through a tough time.

I resolved to write a review for books that I've read so that I am able to properly articulate what I've digested, and also I can share the joy and love with others because I often find books that I'd love to read through other friends' review too!  

Check out books that I love and what I think about them on my Goodreads profile

Professional Growth

1. Change of job, change in roles, change in industry

I went through a (voluntary) job change 2/3 way through 2020. Never have I ever thought I'd experience a change of career in 2020 but it happened, after many long and detailed consultation with friends and family and thorough considerations.

I remember taking this photo on the very first day of my second felt so sureal

I did not go through a vertical progression in my career (ie a promotion) in 2020, especially since I switched industries. However, my career change definitely contributed to my personal growth immensely (eg: new friendships that I truly cherish, learning about culture-building in a company/team, having a job that I enjoy = improved well-being, and much more).

I definitely learnt and gained new skills and knowledge from both jobs, though it does not directly lead to linear career growth as of now, which I will detail below

Learnings and Takeaway from my First Job

1) Structured thought process

I did notice that I am more conscious about the flow of an article I am writing. I am also more aware of the consistency of the terms I use in an article, as well as whether or not I am using BRITISH ENGLISH or AMERICAN ENGLISH

2)  Google & research skills

As my first job in 2020 requires me to conduct in-depth research of a particular industry, equipping myself with Googling skills was vital. I found this Power Search with Google free online course during the first movement control order and I must tell you, this is an extremely useful online course.

Learnings and Takeaway from my Second Job

1) How to manage and host an effective online event and meetings 

I've learnt about the various tools we could use for online meetings/events, such as Mentimeter, Padlet and so on. How we should set expectations and norms at the start of a meeting/event. 

How to make full use of breakout rooms. How to host a live event. How to engage people in an online event. And so much more! 

2) Delegating and asking for help 

This is definitely one of the biggest takeaway/learning in 2020. I have always been someone who is afraid of asking for help. Who would rather suck it up and do everything on my own. I am afraid of burdening others. I am afraid of being seen as "weak". I am afraid of being rejected.

I faced an immense crunch time in my job. I learnt to ask for help. I learnt that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, nor it is burdening others - you are giving others the opportunity to learn and grow too :) And you as the delegator, or leader, learn how to lead and direct a team. I have received so much helpful input through delegating and asking for help. Things that I wouldn't have thought of myself, aspects which I had overlooked...and so on.

I know I definitely still have a lot to learn and grow on this :) 


Writing this blogpost was...refreshing. It made me realised that I have grown quite a bit in 2020 :) Despite the pandemic and so. Despite feeling useless time and again. And those mood swings. Celebrate little successes! Definitely, there were things that...ahem I need to work on and grow too, will probably leave that for another blog post :) 

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