When I first started drafting this blog post, I didn’t expect it to get deeply personal right off the bat considering it’s my first. This blog is about achieving financial freedom and living a conscious and passionate life. There’s many book on that, but here’s my take. Another voice from an ordinary guy who hasn’t gotten it figured out yet. To life, to freedom. For my readers, old and new.

“I have not regretted my silence once. As for my speech, I have regretted it over and over again.” — Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA)

Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim

I cannot remember a time when I could say, “I love my job”. I hate putting that as a central motivation for my financial independence. And I hate being that guy who always wanted to quit but never did. I drafted my resignation too many times. Each time, not being able to send them because of the potential fate that awaits beyond my boss’ table — another bout of job hunt followed by a vicious cycle of freedom and restriction. I’m stuck, bounded by my ‘space grey’ shackles — because it’s not exactly golden either. I was miserable and far from financial independence.

It took me years, adjusting to work life after graduation. I blamed my millennial spirit for not being resilient on my journey towards a fruitful life of serving my nation. Because, you know, that’s what we do here in Brunei. To cope, I bought pricey gadgets, took on expensive hobbies and traveled exotic places. Luckily for me, one of those happens to be the catalyst of my awakening.

Life was not all gloom. I did many things I thought would be impossible. I trekked the Everest basecamp, skydived and learned scuba diving. Yet, life felt unfulfilled. There’s a calling, and I can’t figure out what it is. I thought I needed to travel more. Determined to achieve this dream, I was willing to go against the potential risks. Reckless and stupid, I bought a rental house and started a business on a loan. All while expecting my first daughter. My feelings told me these are the right things to do. Spoiler alert; they’re wrong.

At this point in time I was no longer finding thrills in my travel. I sought reasons. That’s when I found myself in a non-profit school in the slum of Jaipur, India. I told the owner — now my friend, “I now know why the universe sent me here.” Tears filled both our eyes. When I came back again a year later with a bagful of school supplies. I saw the same shimmer in his eyes. We hugged, his wife tearful, and his mother kissed me. I felt really good. Is this perhaps, my calling?

Back in Brunei, my business was barely breaking even. Neck deep in debt, when I received the news that I had another child coming. I didn’t feel ecstatic. My shackles had an additional ‘s’ appended. Make that ‘s plus’. I wanted to give up. One night I found myself crying while eating a piece of Naan, I told myself, “I’m failing”.

My de facto mentor said I was experiencing ‘growth pain’. We needed a new project, more things on my plate to speed independence. I took it on. But my plate was tilting. At one point, I didn’t have enough money to pay my employees that I had to become the cleaner and handyman for the business I owned. But the more I clean, the better I felt. This distracted me from my problems or perhaps, my over thinking. The less pain I felt, the more I knew I needed healing. My life was falling apart when it wasn’t. From the outside, I’m still the same higher-middle income white collar worker. But inside, I was battling my inner demons.

“When shit happens, turn it into fertilizer.” — Unknown

I started putting two and two together. Exercise, healing, India. I remembered a short conversation I had with my friend in India about doing Yoga. I gave it a try.

For the first time in a while, I slowed down. I felt my breath, my body, my existence. In the moment of clarity, I acknowledge my feelings. It wasn’t perpetual travel that I seek all along. But rather the ability to do the things I love, with the people I love, for the people I care about. I was always chasing something that I’ve forgotten to live. In that moment of clarity, I realigned my goals. And all of these, happened just a month ago.

Friends, there’s no conclusion here because things are yet to be concluded. This blog is not the result, but the action towards a solution to my problems. My life is still in the making. The people I’ve met, the activities I’ve done, the decisions I made, made me, me.  And there’s nothing wrong and nothing resource wasting about that. This blog first and foremost, is for me. It records my learning and adventure as I progress towards my penultimate goals — because there’s never an ultimate goal, just newer ones. I am not yet financially independent, but I’m spending every waking moment reaching it.