5 things on my mind (Cinco de Mayo update)

Inspirations from Netflix's BEEF, failures in waking up early, and an emerging money problem I'm obsessed about.

written by oz chen

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For the past couple of months I’ve been sending newsletters that read more like an article than a curated list of tips. Wanna know why?

I read that there are really only 2 types of newsletters:

• “Curation” newsletters: highlight nuggets of content. (Here’s an example)
• “Original thinking” newsletters: focus on expressing one of my own ideas.

Focusing on the latter has felt good, and I’ll probably continue on that flow.

But today I felt different. I have a handful of ideas that I want to share with you, but none felt like the right size for an entire article.

So I figured…it’s Cinco de Mayo. Why not stay on theme and taco bout the 5 things on my mind?

#1 Why wake up early?

Waking up early has been the thorn in my back for ages. I badly want to wake up consistently at 6AM, and fail often.

In Japan I woke up early thanks to an initial nudge from the time zone change. Then when I got back, I blamed it on jet lag for sleeping in.

But if I’m being honest with myself, I just have inconsistent sleep habits.

Desperate, I searched “How to wake up early” on Youtube and skimmed through several videos.
This is a bit embarrassing to write about, because this is something I thought I’d figured out already.
So I resisted the thinking trap of I already know that” because information is not transformation.

Of all the tips I gleaned – get light in the morning, move your alarm clock far away from your bed – the one that resonated most was fundamental: Ask why I want to wake up early. Then from there, create a short list of 3 things I’d do when I wake up early.

I want to wake up early for my creativity. I know writing and creating content is just a part of who I am, and I want to make space to honor that before the world gets noisy (~9AM for me).

I want to wake up early to create my best work so it ultimately hits your eyeballs and connects with your brain in the best way it can. I’m going to keep trying. Wish me luck.

#2 How BEEF is inspiring me

Recently, I’ve been on the BEEF train (Netflix show). That led me down a rabbit hole to learn about the cast members.

I learned that George Nakai is played by Joseph Lee, who’s actually an incredible artist in real life. I ended up bingeing 6 hours of interviews of David Choe (who plays Isaac Cho on Beef). Listen to Episode 1518 on the Joe Rogan show…trust me, you won’t be able to stop listening to this guy talk.

I’ve also been listening to creative influencers Simone Grace Seol and my friend Elize, who are both super authentic about what they do and how they show up.

It feels good to be inspired by my fellow Asians. It’s a feeling of pride, possibility and expansiveness. My favorite thing about BEEF is that these are just great actors and them being Asian adds to the story, but the story is not centered on their Asian-ness. That’s just so fucking cool.

I’m sharing all this because I go through periods of feeling creatively blocked. In my heart I’m seeking to let go more of my perfectionism and overthinking, and ground myself in the joy of creating content. And honestly, just the joy of being alive.

This feels like necessary parallel work for me as I create and launch more things. I want to infuse everything more with my personality and values.

I’ll figure it out along the way…this process very much like shedding a cocoon and rewiring my brain.

#3 A money pattern that’s becoming clearer to me

We used to be happier when we were poor.

A friend shared his mom’s sentiment that when they were building lives as young immigrants, the entire family couldn’t afford to do things separately. So they lived closed together in one cramped household, and hustled hard.

As their wealth increased, one uncle bought a house, another aunt got her own house. People moved across the country, chasing their own dreams.

Everyone became “better off” but more disconnected from each other.

I’ve been circling similar topics with articles like Freedom TO vs Freedom From, Re-tiring today and creating a rich life now.

I feel the tension of seemingly opposite desires. On one hand, independence. On the other hand, connection. Both desires are valid. Can we have our cake and eat it too?

Every time I revisit the topic, a richer, more expansive picture is starting to emerge for me.
What does this say about the capitalist structures that we live in?
The cultures we’re already submersed in?
How does approach this problem creatively, with compassion and love?

If you have thoughts on this let’s please connect. This is topic feels vital.

#4 Do people need a wake up call or an extra security blanket?

Traditional finance advice: “Cut up your credit cards! Debt is evil! If you’re not saving and investing all your money, what are you even doing, you’re going to end up poor!”

This is steeped in guilt, hustle culture and toxic productivity.

New age money culture: “Treat yo’self. Take a day off, you deserve it. It’s for mental health. Live your best life.”
(Lately I’ve feel feeling the politically correct answer orients around this latter camp.)

This feels like the financial equivalent of spiritual bypassing. Self care as an excuse to spend recklessly. It feels like financial coddling, and it lacks personal responsibility.

To add more this this tension…research suggests that “guilt leads people to engage into prosocial behaviors, but the effects of guilt can also be counter-productive.”

The traditional camp feels too tight and brittle. The new camp feels too loose and liberal.

I don’t have an answer, but I’d like to draw a bridge between these two extremes.

#5 The Trojan horse has always been personal development

If you spend more than 10 minutes talking to me, I’ll always want to venture into the realms of personal development and self help.

What motivates you? What are you learning these days? Your goals and values?

No matter what niche or topic I touch (UX design or finance), the Trojan horse is personal development.

I don’t know how much of this bleeds through into the content I create.

It’s harder to see this with shorter form content, which I’ve been mostly publishing on Instagram @MoneyCoachOz.

There’s a lot of noise in my head about what, and how, I should create.
Be pithy. Add value. Try reels and TikTok. Game the algorithm because…you want to go viral, right???

I’m distracted, and yet, I resist.

If this newsletter feels wildly different for you (it does for me writing it), then you’re right, because it felt different for me writing it too. I feel like I’m, in gross business-speak, opening the kimono.

I’d love to know…

Why did you subscribe? What do you hope to read from me?

I wish you wealth and wellbeing,

liked this article? tell your mom, tell your kids


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