[Raw] My experience with failure.

Growing up, I was always told to never make mistakes.

“Just don’t make mistakes. Failure is a HORRIBLE teacher–it’s just a step in the wrong direction” – Mentor

I was raised believing that mistakes were the ultimate enemy. If I failed, there was no return. Fail once and you’re done. When it gets down to the wire and the only way is forward, I’m cold. I get shit done. Nothing gets in my way when I don’t have time to think. But when I start to question myself and the things I’m capable of, I crumble. I begin to think I’m a faker, that I can’t actually do anything. Graduating from college and walking on the stage, I repeatedly thought “How did I ever graduate from here? How is it possible that I passed my courses?”. Every day I would wake up thinking I was the biggest idiot. There was no way my parents could be proud of me—even if they said so. I’ve always thought I was the odd man out from my social groups. It didn’t matter what kind of awards or competitions I won. It didn’t matter if I did well or excelled at a certain kind of field. Nothing was ever going to be good enough. I thought I was garbage. The bottom of the barrel.

Fast forward to the present day. I had just returned from a successful client event down South and had received multiple emails about how grateful my bosses were of my help. I was proud of myself to see this and put it in my ‘Wins’ folder. Even my parents mentioned they were proud of me. Riding on that high, I kept doing everything well. I was coming into work, dominating the day, and going home happy. But then today, something happened. While performing my daily check on a client website, I screwed up someone’s role. It was a small mistake but enough to warrant an email from the client requesting information for the mistake. I immediately stopped my work. I started to think about how many times I was warned by my parents to NEVER fail; failing is bad and is a step in the wrong direction. I started to think how much of a screw up I was. I was legitimately scared of losing my job. One small mistake could upend my whole career and prove to everyone how much of a fraud I was.

I got this message while I was facilitating another client’s meeting. Fortunately, this was a tele-conference with no webcams. No one could see me shuddering and feeling scared. I was terrified. All kinds of questions began to pop up.

‘What if my parents found out? Was my manager going to scream at me? What if the company loses money because of this? What if the client pursues legal action against me?”‘

All of these questions started to pop up and I just psyched myself out more.

Looking back, it’s not a huge mistake. Following one of my company’s policies regarding mistakes, I reported it to my manager EARLY. My manager responded stating that I did the right thing in reporting it early and that mistakes happen. Reporting it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done during my time here, but it paid off. I don’t know what my manager is going to say or how my upcoming meeting with them will go, but I’m going in with an open mind. Especially in times like this, I need to embrace the uncertainty. 

More to come.


How to Win – the unconventional way

It’s been nearly NINE months since my last post. Whew, what a final year at school it’s been. Finally graduated with my bachelor’s degree and I’m headed straight to work early next week. I couldn’t have gotten through those past nine months without a little habit I picked up along the way:

Giving thanks either by saying “thank you” or showing it, regardless of the situation. However, it must be noted that you MUST be authentic when using. Without the authenticity, actually saying the words could come across as sarcastic, while mentally stating it could cause you to act ungrateful.

Even if it’s a crap situation, I still give thanks mentally to the adversary to make me think of different solutions to this issue. Through what seems like a losing situation, I can make myself believe that it’s not and quickly find a solution that would make it a real win. For example, I found myself in this situation while playing Head 2 Head in Madden 19. I don’t play video games often, but when I do, I try to win as much as I can by focusing on each game like it’s my last one. In this case, the opponent had much better players than I did (for you Madden players: he had a 96 OVR team and I had a 92 OVR team). After being down 14 in the first quarter, I found his patterns and quickly started to shift the game in my favor. I won by 7 by the time the game was over. By saying “thank you” to my opponent for giving me the opportunity to learn new techniques and challenge myself, I put the ‘problem’ in a positive light which encouraged me to find a solution.

Here’s an example that may resonate with you, but if not, relate it to a close friend. Over the course of a few years, my uncle would correct my grammar and tell me how poor of a communicator I was. Every time we met, I always felt like he was trying to make me feel bad, which made me not want to interact with him. Because of our lack of interaction, our relationship was falling apart. I wanted to improve the relationship but I didn’t want to feel sad anymore. I ended up using the same tactic above, where I thanked him every time he corrected me during our conversations. Finally, I took his advice, learned from it, and practiced it with him whenever we saw each other. Both our relationship and my communication skills benefited from it.

There’s a quote from the Lion King in which Rafiki says:

“Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either RUN from it, or LEARN from it.”

I was running away from my problems instead of focusing on them head on.

Moral of the story: learn to give thanks no matter the situation. Most of the time, wins aren’t instant. They’ll take time and a lot grinding to get the reward. There’s always a way to win.


Early Risers–no, not the breakfast food

Question: How do YOU start a productive day?

No really, I want to know! If I show you mine, will you show me yours? 😉

Here we go.

Here’s what I’ve found with starting the day off right. It starts with the night before. It really starts with getting a good night’s sleep. At the end of my night immediately before I go to sleep, I listen to some soothing classical music (I created a specific playlist on Spotify for this reason) and journal about my day. Then and only then, am I comfortable enough to go to bed. I shut off all the lights, make sure there’s no lights coming from the hallway, and doze off. I try to go to bed anytime between 10:30 and 11PM.

Then the alarm wakes me up. Oh man, do I hate the noise of the “Apex” ringtone on my phone. But it gets the job done. I have several alarms set throughout a 15-minute period to ensure I get out bed (each spread out between 2-3 minutes apart). While it seems like overkill, there’s been times where I’ve been able to hit snooze multiple times and be late for work by half an hour. Therefore, it’s absolutely necessary. So, what makes getting up so difficult? I’ve found that when it’s cold outside and warm inside, it makes it nearly impossible for me to get up; it’s easy to become too comfortable. Enter the Unstoppable Routine.

This is my morning routine from my previous post titled ‘Rituals’. It’s designed to be easy to perform and can be done anywhere where there is a shower with access to cold water. Here’s the steps I take:

  1. Wake up and Make Bed
  2. Visualize the Day
    • What am I excited for? What’s my day going to look like? Any upcoming meetings? What’s due at the end of the day? What’s for lunch?
  3.  Journal
    • Three questions to stimulate my mind:
      1. What am I excited for?
      2. What am I grateful for?
      3. What am I 100% dedicated to completing this week?
      4. Physical activity:
        1. 10 jumping jacks
        2. 10 push-ups
    • The coldest setting on the shower
      1. Lasts between 20 seconds to 1 minute
    • Two reasons for this:
      1. I need to fix my hair in the morning (my hair gets really messy while sleeping)
      2. It wakes me up so well
  5. Change and Make Ready
    • This is paramount to a great day. Mom wasn’t kidding—breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
    • 60-70% of my meal consists of veggies. As an Asian, vegetables are super common in my meals, so it’s almost second nature to eat veggies with any meal.
  7. Leave by 7:30 for work/classes
    • During the drive/walk to the destination, listen to some hype music:
      1. When applicable, I’ll listen to country and sing my heart out
      2. Bumping to rap (i.e. Drake, Logic, Big Sean, etc.)
    • If needed, caffeine can ENERGIZE the day
      1. I switch between but NEVER combine GFUEL and coffee
        • Coffee tends to hurt my stomach but makes caffeine consumption much more manageable than a powdered drink like GFUEL.
        • GFUEL contains 150mg of caffeine and can be overwhelming if you’re trying it for the first time.

Once I get to work, I do the following:

  1. Take a notepad and physically write out a To-Do list for the day
  2. List tasks that need to be completed and set a timebound deadline
  3. If needed, allow myself 10-15 minutes of web-surfing on sites like Reddit
    • This has allowed me to ease into work faster and stimulates my mind quickly

I want to know—what do you do in the morning? I’m always interested in seeing another person’s methods. I hope to read your responses in the comments below.

Have an amazing day,



Good Friends

Good morning!

Here’s a quote I found from a song I listened to that I thought was profound:

“Good friends,

You can count them on one hand,

They’ll never judge you,

Whatever your crime, crime, crime”

-Mr. Hudson, “Time

 There’s truth in this statement. I know plenty of people who claim to have many friends and take pride in that. I have no issue with that. The only thing that irks me is when people claim to have 10+ best friends. I could never wrap my head around that. How could someone have so many best friends? From middle school to the present day, only ONE of my friends has remained my closest friend, with a few others being added on throughout the years. Sure, some have been replaced as needed, but I never had a whole list of ‘good friends’.

Two months ago (I can’t believe it’s already August), I was blazing through books and taking notes on each one. One of the most influential quotes I took out of my time reading was by Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur. He once said:

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

I found a ton of truth in this. The people I surround myself with now are successful, hard-working people, and I have made huge strides in terms of accomplishment in my life. I’m leading a much more fulfilling life than in the past few years of my life. I strongly believe my change in who I hung out with has dramatically changed the quality of my life. Here’s a few reasons to have a small group of close friends:

  • Hardships become MUCH easier
    1. Example: If I find out that one of my close friends is struggling in the same class as I am, I no longer feel alone in my struggle. I know that we can help each other out and excel in the class TOGETHER, and that helps to drive me forward.
  • Congruent Values
    1. Value congruency is paramount in the relationships I maintain.
      1. Values such as inclusion are perfect for forging new friendships and maintaining old ones. I try to include people in activities (even if I don’t know them) and when my friends do the same, I respect them even more.
  • Loyalty
    1. This is a huge part of my life and is often the one criteria point someone has to display to become a close friend of mine. This isn’t to say that loyalty is the ONLY point someone has to reach, but it’s right up there.
    2. This also includes protection. I want to be there to defend my closest friends whenever I can. Always. If I can prevent my friends from getting hurt (even if I get hurt in the process), then I completed my job. When my friends reciprocate this, it only increases their value in my eyes.
  • Increased Quality of Life
    1. Being friends with successful people has definitely had a huge impact on my life
      1. Other than my family, my top 5 has helped me to become a much more compassionate individual
      2. Used to never read. Now, I read more and find ways to implement that knowledge as fast as I can.
    2. My life has a solid sense of meaning
      1. Everything I do has a purpose. Now, I’m able to have clarity of what I want, how I’m going to get there, and people I can turn to for great advice.

Good friends are invaluable. Sure, sometimes the people you think that are going to be with you for the rest of your life turn out to be flaky, but if you hit it just right, life is going to be amazing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from turning someone into a close friend, it’s this: SPENDING TIME WITH SOMEONE WHO SHARES SIMILAR VALUES WITH YOU DURING TIMES OF HARDSHIP AND STRESS WILL CREATE AN UNBREAKABLE BOND.

Also! I’ve created an Instagram page @smilingrainblog. Be sure to follow to keep up with me 🙂



What’s the first thing comes to mind when you hear the word ‘ritual’?

Is it something like this?



That’s what used to come to mind for me. Until I read Peter Voogd’s book, 6 Months to 6 Figures, I didn’t realize how important rituals could be. I quickly discovered that they can make or break your day upon waking up and can drastically help to achieve your goals in a shorter period of time. In the past, I used to have no rituals—or I wouldn’t label them as such. My daily “ritual” consisted of going to my classes, taking a bunch of notes, going back to my room, and pumping out as many hours of video games as I could before I completed a little bit of studying. Sound productive?

I didn’t take any time to think or reflect on my long-term goals and what my actions would do to affect it. I knew that playing video games would definitely hurt my ability to achieve my long-term goals quicker, but at the time, I didn’t care…because the goals were so far away. I always pushed my obligations further and further away as “I would do them later”. My life became #ProcrastinationNation.

Fast forward to the present. I’m living by my rituals. If I somehow forget to execute my daily routine, I feel off. If I forget to journal before I go to bed, I can’t sleep. The greatest value I’ve taken from my adherence to my rituals is structure. I’ll go into this in a bit, but for now, this structure has helped me to retake my life and get my work done.

My morning routine takes place between 6-7 AM and is as follows:
-Wake up and make bed

-Journal and Visualize my day

-20 jumping jacks, 20 push-ups. Stretching.

-5-minute cold shower

-Change and get ready

-Breakfast (no processed foods, prepare breakfast the night before or have food ready)

-Leave the house by 7:30 for work/school

This is the routine that I’ve been executing for two months now. I almost never skip my morning routine, and if I do, I feel weird throughout the day. Is it tough? Definitely. How’s the cold shower? Effin’ horrible. But it adds structure and electrifies my day, EVERY day. Every day becomes one more day closer to achieving one of my long-term goals: balance.

thanos perfectly balanced.jpg


That’s just one way to spice up your life. There’s plenty of other rituals i perform each day, most of them being subconscious decisions and habits that I’ve cultivated over time. But that’s for another post. If you’re already using any rituals, I encourage you to comment them below! I would love to hear what helps you to get through your day.

Also, if there’s any topics you would like me to cover, please write them in the comments. Any ideas are appreciated 🙂

I hope you had an amazing day!



The Best Motivator (it’s internal)

Good morning!

As I’m writing this, I’m sipping on a warm cup o’ joe at my desk. I often wonder what my readers are doing when they’re reading these blog posts (or surfing the net). This got me thinking about my own habit web-surfing and spending countless hours watching YouTube videos ranging from Dogs 101 to how-to guides on tying a fishing rig. Here we go.

I’ve just finished Hyrum W. Smith’s book titled “The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management” on my Kindle (basically my iPhone). This book wasn’t anything game changing per se, but it definitely reinforced my habit of daily planning and reflecting on how I performed each day. The biggest takeaway I received from this book was Smith’s note on the greatest motivator. This motivator is purely internal as nothing can drive someone to perform and complete a task. Sure, if I was working a cash register and someone pointed a gun at my head and instructed me to give them the money, I would be extremely motivated to give them the money and get out of the situation unscathed. However, some would argue that this motivation was external. The bottom line is that this is purely internal. If I didn’t comply, I was clearly unmotivated to complete the task and I would likely be shot or maimed. This is the motivation: stress.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “J, why didn’t you just tell us the ‘greatest motivation’ in the first sentence?”. I wanted to get a point across that stress truly is the greatest INTERNAL motivator and is much more effective than two external motivators (fear and duty). Even further down the rabbit hole we go…

Flashback to my sophomore year of college. I was addicted to video games. No matter what kind of ‘breaks’ I would take, I would easily relapse unless I went the nuclear option of removing any and all kinds of video games from my life—moderation wasn’t an option. By spending all of my time playing these games, my social life and academic life took a major hit. By the start of my junior year, I was placed under academic probation. If you don’t know what this means, I had a GPA of 2.0 or less in my previous semester. This was huge. Not only did I screw up the one thing I was at school for (to score high, get results, and graduate), I was spending all of my time on the wrong things simply due to a lack of motivation. My thought process became:

FUN > Obligations

Have you ever run into something like this? Where fun took precedence over things that should get done, but you just don’t want to do it? I’ll bet it’s happened at least once 😉.

At this point in my college career, if I failed to score ABOVE a 2.0 semester GPA, I would be promptly kicked out of the university and I’d regret my decisions forever. What changed? I was enrolled in my school’s Academic Probation Recovery course which helped students in this situation get an easy ‘A’ to boost their GPA while teaching them proven methods to get out of the hole. I took this class VERY seriously. Not only did I score an ‘A’ (wow, what an achievement!), I was able to pull much better grades throughout my other courses and finished with a 3.4 semester GPA. Unreal. I was able to pull this off because of the stress that built up in my life. During this semester, I was fighting a light case of pneumonia and was bed ridden for a week. In conjunction with the looming possibility that I would get kicked out and my sickness, I was feeling helpless during the whole situation. But I thought and reflected. I was sick and tired of being a below average student and never wanted to be back in that state again. Never again. That stress—although nearly debilitating, helped me to get my shit together and finish the semester with a 3.4 GPA. I dominated that semester. Now, I hope none of you have ever been in this situation as this was one of my worst experiences. However, this also turned me into a determined worker and made me better in nearly every way. I dropped my habit of playing video games. I stopped needlessly surfing the internet (for the most part) and began to plan out every day (using my long-term goals as a guide).

Now, I’m facing new challenges that aren’t just limited to academics. I’m working full-time at a local firm and I’m given the ability to work from home. Very quickly I found this freedom to be a vice as I would find myself waking up whenever I wanted instead of starting my day at the same time as a desk job. To combat this, I set aggressive goals with aggressive timelines. Instead of waking up and being groggy by 8am, I go to sleep between 10:30 and 11PM every night and wake up at 6am every day. I then execute my morning routine (shout out to Peter Voogd for this). The stress to get work done and to fit all activities I want to complete in a day is so huge that I’m forced to plan out my day every morning. I’ve found that I’ve gotten so much more work done and I’m getting recognition for it from the higher ups. Even greater than that, I’m lifting 6 times a week and getting huge GAINS (just had to throw that out there). I know some of my friends hate lifting, but even just some exercise can go a long way. But that’s for another post.

To recap:

Stress is the ultimate INTERNAL motivator. While our stress may come from external sources, we create our own stress and will act on it. It’s human nature to act on it. If it’s important enough to us, we can get it done.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you have a fantastic day!