Do things differently for a happier life (YOUR life, your rules)

After having so many people expressing how shocked they are at our short engagement, this episode is a reflection of why I’ve always done things differently than others in order to prioritize my happiness. The belief that one path will bring you happiness is a lie, and you must find the courage to pave your own way. Be brave and be confident, YOU make the rules.

What makes us stick to the status quo? What even CREATES the status quo? This week I’m delving into how you can create a mindset to push past society, life, family and even self-created expectations to design a life you actually want to live.

Prefer To Read? Here’s The Blog Version…

Hello my loves. Welcome back to the podcast! Next week is wedding week, which means this weekend I’ll be going up to London to meet up with my parents, my younger brother and his girlfriend.

I have a fully packed itinerary for them for the weekend. And then we will all be traveling down to Cornwall together via train. It’s such a beautiful scenic ride along the southern coast from London down to Cornwall. And I’m just so excited for the families to meet because my parents have never met Ragz’ parents before. And I think it’ll be quite the culture shock, but I’m really looking forward to it because they’re all just such lovely people. 

Choosing YOUR Happiness

I am recording this episode today around doing things differently in YOUR life for a happier life. And this is because the number of times after telling people that we are having the wedding three months after getting engaged, the number of times people have exclaimed or have been so shocked and they think it’s amazing, but it’s just unheard of because usually weddings take place years and years in advance. And wedding planning is this really elaborate project. And honestly, personally, I’ve found wedding planning to be so easy. I’ve found it to be stress free. We are designing it exactly how we want to, and I really just cannot relate to the wedding process, the wedding planning process being stressful.

And I truly believe that this pattern of finding my way of doing things that’s against the status quo that’s different than what everyone else is doing has led me to an amazing, fulfilling, really, really happy and unique life. And I had to take a moment to reflect on a why there is a status quo, right? Like why are people so determined to follow what everyone else is doing if it leads to more stress? And then also I started questioning why do I feel okay with doing things differently all the time? And why do I encourage my clients to do things that align with their lives?

Just a bit of background. If you are new to the show. I am getting married next week and it’s 90 days after Ragz and I got engaged. We are throwing a garden marquee party at his parents’ house in Cornwall in the uk. My family and friends are flying over from New York. We are having around 40 people and we’re throwing the party the same day that we’re getting married legally. And that’s on a Wednesday, so it’s in the middle of the week, but we just wanted to do it the same day and throw the party the same day and the day after, we’re hiring a minivan to take us around the coast and to really cute little coastal towns in Cornwall.

So we’ll all be exploring, but we’re not planning anything before the day. We’re not doing like a rehearsal dinner. It’s all happening the day of. We’re not having any formalities. There’s no first look, there’s no first dance, there’s no speeches. But we are doing what we love, which is having a really, really beautiful, nice setup. Having amazing cocktails and amazing drinks and amazing people and having lots and lots of food. So we are actually building so many barbecues because we’re gonna literally just have so many cuts of meat. I get to wear my fairy princess ball gown, wedding dress.

I’ve always wanted to wear a giant wedding dress. And ultimately this goes according to plan because ever since I was like a teenager, I’ve said I wanted a big engagement ring, a small wedding and a big honeymoon. 

Growing Up In Two Cultures – Asian & American

And so after knowing exactly what I’ve wanted my wedding to look like from an early age, I really had to question, I wonder where this comes from, this being okay with being different and doing things differently. And I really think it’s being exposed to different lifestyles, different cultures, different ways of living from a very early age.

So I was born in Beijing in China and my parents immigrated to New York when I was two years old. And what was interesting was when we first immigrated, we were in Queens, New York and Queens has so many different diverse immigrant communities. There are parts of queens where you still feel like you’re in China, everyone speaks Chinese, everything is in Chinese. And so when I first started going to preschool, it was at a Chinese preschool where I didn’t learn English. So I didn’t learn English until I entered kindergarten in public school in Queens. And one thing I specifically remember was that most of my class were immigrants and Asian immigrants.

There were very few American people. And so when you looked at the class list, if someone’s last name was more than three or four characters or three or four letters, it would stand out because it would be a really long American last name. But then fast forward a few years, my parents moved to the suburbs of New York in New York state and the tables completely turned. I was one of maybe two Asians in my class and it was a very traditional white American suburban elementary school where my last name has two letters.

And you look at the class list and everyone’s last name is longer than you look at mine and it’s just so much shorter. And I think being exposed to those two areas of New York, which are only around one, one and a half hours from each other, I realized that there are just so many different paths in life. I was meeting people around my age, but just based on where you grew up or where you’re physically located, you’re exposed to a completely different lifestyle and cultures and paths. I remember having my first lunchbox moment and this, I don’t think this was a term back then, but now I can vividly remember my first lunchbox moment, which is when Asian Americans who grow up in predominantly white neighborhoods, they were usually made fun of their lunches because it would be different.

And I specifically remember having this moment when we first moved and my mom packed me rice with some kind of like Chinese beef dish, but it had a very different smell, right? Because Chinese people use different seasonings and different spices. And I just remember people like staring ’cause they had no idea what the food was. And it made me feel so uncomfortable. And you could see that it’s disapproving because obviously kids when they’re seven or eight, they’re kind of mean and they’re not as open-minded depending on how they were raised. And so I experienced that moment for the first time around the age of seven or eight.

And after having lived in America for many years, it’s so, it was so interesting to me that like I’ve never experienced that before until we moved into this predominantly white community, right? So I think from an early age I’ve always had this divide of the Asian side of me and then the Americanized side of me. And obviously you’ve probably heard stereotypes of Asian upbringings versus traditionally American upbringings and they’re very different. And seeing how my parents’ lives have completely transformed While I was growing up, they studied medicine in China, but when they first immigrated, their degrees were not recognized here in America.

And so they started off doing really odd jobs, completely unrelated to the field that they studied and to watch their lives transform from when I was very young and we were basically living in the ghetto to then moving to the suburbs but still renting. And I remember that being a big thing too. I was shocked when we moved at everyone or seemingly everyone owned their houses via Mortgage or whatever, but like owned a big house because in Queens in the city it was all very small apartments and most people were renting. And so I remember we were renting part of someone else’s house when we first moved into the suburbs.

And I just remember being so fascinated by this new degree of Wealth of this community that I’ve entered in because everyone has these really big houses. And then a few years later, my parents were able to buy their first house. So I really feel like we’ve not only jumped a few levels of income classes in a very short period of time, but going through that, coming from a family that didn’t speak the English language and I didn’t speak the English language either, right? Like coming from that to paving your own way, building your own lifestyle, doing things differently, not having other people understand you, not having your parents be able to help you with your homework because they didn’t understand the language.

Not having other people understand what food you’re eating. All of these experiences and balancing, juggling two culture identities. Identities I think has really ingrained in me that there is no one life path fits all solution for everyone, right? There just can’t be and there isn’t. And I’ve experienced that when I try to assimilate into being American and then parts of my Asian identity would feel left out. And then if I try too hard to be Asian, then it’s like, like who am I? Right? 

Owning Your Differences To Create YOUR Unique Path

What you really have to own is the fact that you are different and you get to pave your own way. You do not have to follow what everyone else is doing because there is no one path to follow, especially if what you think you should be doing is making you feel left out or making you feel upset or stressing you out, you do not have to continue doing it. So I think I learned that from a very young age and I still to this day really admire the fact that I can do things differently and I am different and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It took me I think a few years to really own up to the fact that being different is unique. And now I think culturally and in society it is a lot cooler now to be different and people are in general more open and more aware, but still in so many facets of life, if something feels wrong, if something you’re doing isn’t making you happy, you do not have to do it.

Understanding How Your Thoughts Influence Your Actions

I know this started off with like me wedding planning as an example, how our wedding is just so untraditional, but at the same time I feel like it’s so representative of me and Ragz’ life, but it transcends that it, it goes to the job you’re working, the career and the path that you are dedicating your time and energy and life to. If it’s making you unhappy, you have the power and you have the ability to do things differently. You do not have to follow tradition or society. And it all starts with thinking different thoughts if you want a new reality.

Surfing As A Life Metaphor

An example of this that I recently experienced, it was out in the water when I was going for a surf and If, you surf, you might relate to this. (Find my 5 top surfing digital nomad destinations here!) But anyway, I was going out for a surf and the waves would come, like there was a set breaking to my left and a set breaking to my right and I was kind of sitting in the middle and the goal is obviously to go where the set is breaking so you can catch a wave every time a set broke to the left of me, a lot of people would paddle over to the left and then like five minutes later you would see a really good set breaking to the right, but then you would miss it because you’re sitting on the left and, and then everyone would paddle over to the right.

I did this for about like 20, 30 minutes and I was not catching any wave because I just kept missing them. And I was like, oh my God. But instead of blaming the waves and how they were breaking, I essentially asked myself like, I, I’m not happy with my results right now. What are my actions that I’m doing and what are the thoughts driving those actions and how can I get different results? And I realized the thought was, oh, the wave is breaking over there so I should go paddle there. And when you think that, then your action is to go over there. But if that thought isn’t giving you the results that you want, how can I think differently? And so I was like, okay, instead What If, I start thinking, let me just stay exactly where I am and eventually a set is going to break here again because it’s broken here before.

And lo and behold, within five minutes I was able to catch a wave just because I stayed in place instead of following where everyone else was going.

Another example of this also surfing related was one time I paddled out and the waves looked really, really big. And usually when I think they’re too big, I’ll paddle farther into the ocean because they don’t break farther out. But what would happen was that I would sit really far out and when a set came, I tried paddling for it, but it wasn’t breaking. It looked like it was, but I wasn’t catching the wave because I was sitting too far out. So I would paddle back in, but then I would see another big set come and I would pa paddle all the way back again. This happened again for a while and I wasn’t catching any waves and I had to reassess the thoughts that were going on in my mind.

And the thought that was really limiting me was the fact that when I saw a big set come, I would paddle farther back because I thought I was gonna get destroyed in the whitewash. But instead, the next time when I saw a big set, I told myself, you know what? Just sit exactly where you are. Do not paddle back. And I maintained my ground did not paddle farther and within five minutes I was able to catch a wave. So I guess these examples are just very representative on a very small scale of how your thoughts influence your actions, which influence your results, right? 

Recognising How Your Thoughts Lead to Actions In Life

On a larger scale, how I see this playing out is my clients who start off in corporate jobs, they’ve been in these jobs, these soul sucking jobs, they hate them and they’ve been working in these jobs for you know, 10, 15, 20 years.

And the thoughts that keep replaying over and over is, I need this job for stability. This is all I know how to do. I need to use my degree for this. There’s no way I can make enough money doing other things. And all of these beliefs that have kept them where they are and where they are is not where they want to be. And so starting to work with me is obviously the first step because you’re starting to see a glimmer of hope of what their life could look like and what their life could become. And usually working with me or following my lifestyle of being a digital Nomad and full-time travel and full-time entrepreneurship, this isn’t what society says, right?

It’s so untraditional. But the sooner you stop listening to society and doing what actually makes you happy and committing to that, knowing that there is no one size fits all solution, the sooner you do that, the happier you will become. Like I am 30 right now, but I’m just so glad I quit my corporate job in 2017. I’m so happy that I didn’t spend 10, 20, 30 years in a job that I knew or in a system that I knew didn’t make me happy, right? I didn’t listen to those thoughts. And again, I think just being really exposed to different paths at an early age, seeing my parents leave their jobs in China, come to America, build their grand life here, and not knowing any of my friends’ parents who did the same like that really showed an example of, you know, they did things completely differently and I am able to as well.

And so if you kind of channel this ‘F’ society, it’s making me miserable and kind of just prioritize your values and your happiness. I promise you, you are going to be such a happier version of yourself because you’re putting yourself first. 

Expectations Are Only What YOU Know From YOUR ‘Normal’

Another thing that recently happened that was really, really funny, and it just shows how no matter how much you try to stick with tradition, it might just going a completely different direction. I learned that when Ragz called my parents over the phone, ’cause we were in England and they are in New York, when he called them to ask for their blessing in proposing, so asking me to marry him, he got so nervous and apparently it was just such a big thing where he was sweating, he didn’t know how to ask and he was going through like so much stress.

And the first time he called them, actually my dad wasn’t home. And so all of that stress, he had to like relive again the next day when they coordin coordinated a time to talk again. But then after he asked my parents for their blessing, which they obviously agreed to, I, I talked to my brother, my brother Gary, and he was like, it was so cute because after Ragz called our mom, like went up to Gary and was like, Ragz just did the sweetest thing. He called us to like ask for our permission if, if he can propose to your sister. And Gary was like, yeah, I think that’s traditional.

Like he’s supposed to do that. And my parents had no idea because they’re from a different culture, right? And here Ragz is going through so much stress and sweating so much because he was so nervous. And in the end, like obviously it’s a sweet gesture, but like Gary was saying, or if Ragz had just done it without asking them, they would’ve thought that was what was status quo or traditional. And If, you apply the same logic to wedding planning. If, you didn’t know what everyone else was doing in terms of ceremony and reception and just planned it the way you think would align with your values and you think would be best, you would probably design a kick-ass wedding.

If, you even wanted one, right? Like whatever you design would just be so aligned with what you want to do and what kind of experience you want to have. Same logic also applies to building your business. You do not have to follow one route or one strategy. I recently went through this when I was getting really, really burnt out by having so many one-on-one clients where I decided, hey, you know what? I need to take a step back. I want to do things that are more passive. And so I launched my first ever membership, the Digital Nomad Society and running it has just been so much more relaxed and aligned with my long-term business goals.

The Digital Nomad Society

If you are not in our newest membership, the Digital Nomad Society. And you want to really embody this mindset of doing things differently, of living life differently so that you are happier and more free. This is your community. It’s only $7 a month. You start off with nine bite-sized modules so you know exactly how to become a digital nomad. (Check out the podcast explaining it all here!) It comes with so many bonuses like templates and planners. It really has everything you need inside. And we actually just celebrated our first success story after a week of launching this membership. Let me read the testimonial. She said:

‘Need to share. Just booked my accommodation in Bali, literally leaving in one month. So, so, so grateful for you opening my eyes to this lifestyle and proving that it’s possible to actually live it.” 

So in this membership, I literally give you like step-by-step how to look for long-term accommodation, how much all of this costs in different areas in the world, and you get a full community. We have calls every other week so you can meet other members on the same path. Join a community of like-minded individuals and have full support from everyone else. And me. This membership is only $7 a month and we would love to welcome you inside.

Ultimately, guys, YOUR life, your rules, do what makes you happy, even if it’s completely different than the status quo. That is it for this week. I will see you next week during wedding week. Have an amazing week my loves

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