6 lessons on mindset I learnt from an Asian family background

First thing first: don’t get me wrong. I know the importance of family bonding, and showing respect.

But as you grow up and start developing your worldview, challenging every conventional wisdom society and media fed you… life is never the same.

Particularly, once you developed the growth mindset and realised time is the single most important asset you have leverage on, how could you fall back to the old routine?


Sorry mum and dad, I love you both but to achieve more awesome things, I need to find another 5 people to be around with.

It is indeed challenging. Being a typical Asian growing up in a place where everyone works hard to get into 20k student debt the top universities so they can get a good job and have a merry life, it took me years – and a few jobs – to finally challenge the fundamental concept: is the meaning of life confined by a profession, a trading-5-days-of-slavery-for-2-days-of-freedom, settling for a pay rise that can’t even beat inflation, and putting all the money in the stock market? Or worse, get a mortgage because renting is ultimately more expensive, or get married because this is what people do before they turn 30?

The world is problematic.

And everything is a mindset problem.

I have summarised 6 lessons that I learnt along the way.

I swore I would never make the same mistakes.

1/ letting life happen to you

Proactive and intentional life design is KEY.

You want something, you go get it. You always have control in your routine – which means the chain of habits that shape you a better person.

One of the most important skill we all need to master in life is making decision.

From meal planning, exercising to watching TV program – everything comes down to a choice you need to make every single day.

You actively CHOOSE what you want to do at any particular moment.

Don’t let things just happen.

Plan your day, strategise your actions by carefully designing your routines.

Why can’t we just wait and see what life has for us?

Because TIME is limited.

2/ Parkinson's Law in full force

Failing to recognise the importance of time. Fill the work across time given. For people who are in their 60s and retired, this might not be relevant since they goal is just to pass the time with their favourite activities. But looking at the majority of people who have a corporate job, they might unconsciously fall into this trap of spreading work across given hours too.

Time is your most valuable asset. Invest wisely with what you do about it.

3/ avoid trying new things because of fear of failure

Not asking you to go bungee jump. I’m talking about trying a new recipe and driving to a new place for lunch.

Our brains like predictability. Routines are good if you purposefully designed your schedule; however it’s not the same as staying in your comfort zone. Most situations are not life or death decisions. What is the worst case that could happen if you “fail” following a recipe, trying a new sport, or following a business plan you found online?

You just need to try again.

Be more adventurous. The journey is rewarding itself. Why live a boring and stagnant life?

4/ avoiding responsibility

People argue all the time because they are trying to blame others for an outcome. They try to dodge responsibility and guilt.

Forgot to run an errand on the way to the shopping centre – why didn’t you remind me?

I have heard of all kinds of ridiculous excuses. How hard is it to take up the responsibility and admit you are wrong? In most cases, you own up to it. And it’s no big deal. The important part is to acknowledge it, fix it and change course.

5/ distraction and disturbance

One of the main reasons people find it hard to focus on their work is that they fail to recognise the importance of flow state. The “Do Not Disturb” sign, airplane mode and noise cancelling headphones exist for a reason. Human beings work productively and efficiently when they are in flow state – the zone when we are fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. To make this happen, we need to set up the environment that works for us. Don’t let notifications, conversations and emails distract us from our work.

And by the way, this works both ways. You should not be disturbed when you are in deep work, and you should not disturb others when they are in the flow state. This applies particularly if you live with your family and friends.

6/ fixed mindset

This one is lethal. Such mindset is rooted in many aspects of life:

Failed once in something? You are doomed. You are a failure in everything.

You will never be rich being an artist. Be a lawyer, have a stable life and paint during weekends.

I am too old to try scuba diving.

Having a fixed mindset might be the lesson that gives me the most frustration among all. When will people ever realise that everything is a skill that we can learn, practise and master? You can train your cardio. You can train your resistance. You can learn how to spend money. Heck, you can even learn how to learn so you pick up new skills and make improvement.

Seriously, the world is your oyster.

You have so much potential within you.

Final thoughts

As I said, everything is a mindset problem. If we keep an open mind, explore the world, understand different cultures and learn what’s possible, our worldview eventually expands and we develop a growth mindset that 1/ helps us achieve more because everything is a skill that can be learnt; 2/ assists us make better decision because we have more information; 3/ leads us reach our full potential in life.

Every single change happens within us.

Change our mindset, and everything will follow suit.

Let me know if you resonate with any of the lessons I mentioned above! I’m interested to know the way you are being brought up too 🙂 x