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10 Ultimate Lessons I Have Learnt in 2017


Every year-end, I write a post about the 10 ultimate lessons I have learnt throughout the year. This is the fifth sequel to the 10 lessons I have learnt in 2016in 2015in 2014 and in 2013.

1. The law of nature is always to optimise for the whole and support natural progression and evolution of all beings, not only of the human race but also of the planet and every substance that exists within. The law of nature is not to optimise for individuals, nor does it optimise just for me. Therefore, to ensure the law of nature supports my individual progressions, I must align my goal to optimise for the whole (by creating values for others and the environment around me) and supporting the evolution of other substances and living creatures within my short lifespan.

2. Every constraint in life is a choice. Whether it’s you choosing to be bound by a location, by a person, by a job, by a certain level of income or intellect. Breaking free is easier than you think as it is only a matter of life choices; however, said choice always associates itself with a high barrier of fear and uncertainty at the start. Only a strong enough trigger would be able to pull the plug.

3. One often neglects their own health as a trade-off for work or other commitments. When they realise the symptoms, it is often too late. I must respect and treasure my health, both physical and mental health, as I only have one body to live in.

4. On motivation:

  • If you want to do something but is not motivated enough to do it, do it daily and place a cross on the calendar for each day it is done. Try not to break the chain regardless of excuses. After forming a habit after about 3 weeks of doing the same thing every day, things become much easier.
  • To find the motivation to do something you dislike, find the motivation from an angle that you know you’ll be persuaded commit (“The commitment device”). For example, I used to never be able to drag myself to the gym. However, I know that I am always financially motivated. My commitment device to ensure I go to the gym is to enrol in a really expensive one with unlimited classes that I can go to. I did that as I knew I will be convinced to get my money worth after having paid the price tag, and I would motivate myself from a financial angle of how low I can get the cost per class down to. I have then been going to the classes daily even though not using the gym, and manage to get myself in better shape.

5. On Yoga:

  • Yoga is a great practice for listening to your own body, mind and the flow of energy within you. It will transcend you inward.
  • People use the word “meditation” too casually; most don’t have any idea of what meditation actually means and feels like. In yoga, the highest form of mastery is to be able to meditate. All the years of strength training, intensive movements and difficult poses of yoga is for one to be able to meditate i.e. regulate the energy within, lower physical consumption of every cell and to be able for the mind and body to stay still in the same position without the physical intake of food or water.
  • I do not need more sleep or better quality sleep, I need rest. Resting is a state of ease, physically and more importantly, mentally. If I am restful for the day, my output is higher while it requires less physical turn-offs in a form of sleep.
  • Yoga extends its benefits beyond physical into spiritual; it is not a fitness practice to lose weights; so do not believe in the abundantly available yoga-inspired fitness programs advertising for one to lose weights on yoga alone. Yoga, however, trains one’s static strength and flexibility and can potentially extend the longevity of life.

6. Every material thing that is lost can be rebuilt again, including wealth, relationships and knowledge. The only thing once lost cannot be rebuilt is time and life itself. Therefore, don’t waste time doing what you consider as time-wasting and treasure your health to the greatest extent possible, because a healthy life extends the amount of time you have in this short existence.

7. On entrepreneurship:

  • If you have to ask yourself if you should, or are you ready, to take a risk; you are not ready.
  • Many people want to be an entrepreneur, very few are. If you are motivated by wants (and your self-depiction of what an entrepreneur, and their life, is like), it will be a very short-lived venture. It is better to be motivated by fear. You are an entrepreneur when being one is your only choice.
  • Leaving your corporate job for entrepreneurship is not an escape, it is a transition to taking a bigger job than just your own.
  • The most important responsibility, especially when running a travel business, is to be responsible for everything that happens to your customers, even the smallest things.
  • The wisest, most useful money is the money that’s paid upfront. Same for compliments.
  • Don’t be afraid to not have a plan, or not knowing what you suppose to know. You’ll figure it out as you go.

8. My cynicality sometimes makes me can’t believe there are people who genuinely love me. Such cynically sometimes hurt people who want to be close. I think they do love me, and convince myself to believe so. Regardless, I treasure that they do. I am thankful for the great moments and memories created by the company of people who love me, that unbelievably and truly makes my life better.

9. To be able to make better decisions, I need to look at trends, not data points; and stepping outside of myself to eliminate biases. In order to do so, it is important to collect quality data points and synthesise the trends from a collective opinion of a group of experts (e.g. believable people with proven track records on the particular field being discussed.)

10. Have a loving place you call home. Have relatable people you call friend. Have a realistic passion you call career. Have a genuine someone you call partner.  Have a worthy journey you call life.

Welcome 2018 – Bring it on 🙂


I have collected over 100 of myself and my friends’ cover letters and published it at Cover Letter Library to help you. This member-only library includes successful cover letters from people who secured jobs at all major investment banks, big 4 firms and other. Check it out 🙂 


Illustration by my friend Karl –

I am active on Quora – Please follow me on Quora at https://www.quora.com/profile/Le-Quynh-Mai  for more writing. 

Written by Mai Le

My name is Mai. I am originally from Vietnam. After my university years at LSE, I worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. After a wonderful time there, I started several of my own business as well as helping others on theirs. I've always been building communities and businesses for as long as I can remember, and absolutely thrilled to see others enjoy what I've built.



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