NochNoch.com

points for trying

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Guest post by my husband… 

Last night, just I was turning out the lights I asked Noch Noch how was her day. “Not good”, she replied, “I didn’t do anything, except sit on the couch all day”.

I knew very well that while on the couch all day she had been typing blog posts, managing the household administration, checking bank accounts, replying to emails, and probably doing countless other tasks. I quizzed her on how many hours she had spent working (not playing) on the computer? “Ummm…. nine hours”, she stated.

“You’re nuts!” I said, “It doesn’t matter if you didn’t leave the couch, you used your brain all day and even worked more hours than an average office worker does!”

“But, I only wrote 800 words today, I was supposed to write 5000” Noch Noch murmured as she quickly drifted off to sleep.

Noch Noch is an overachiever. It’s not something she decided to be or even wants to be, its just how she is. Part of it is her personality, and part of it I attribute to her high-pressured upbringing where she was expected to perform at the top levels of school, debating, piano class, basketball etc.

Living with an overachiever like Noch Noch is frustrating…

昨晚熄燈後,我問Noch Noch她昨天一天過得怎樣。“不怎麼好。”她回答,“除了在沙發上呆一整天,我不知道我還能做什麽。”

我很清楚,坐在沙發上的一天,她已經完成了她的書的好幾個章節,發表了博客,處理了家裡的帳單,或許還做了無數其他的事兒。我問她對著電腦的時候有幾個小時用在了工作上。她想了一會說:“嗯……9小時吧!”

“你瘋了!”我說,“你有沒有離開沙發并不重要,重點是你這一整天里腦子在不停地運轉,甚至比那些辦公室文員平均的工作時間還長!”

“但是,我今天只寫了800字(單詞),我應該能寫5000字(單詞)的!”Noch Noch嘟嚕著。很快她便睡著了。

Noch Noch是一個成就比預期大的人。這并不是因為她決心這樣,甚至也不是因為她想這樣,似乎她與生俱來便是如此。這當中有一部份是她的本性,另一部份我把它歸咎于她所受的高壓教育,她被大家期望著有良好的表現,無論是在課業,辯論,鋼琴還是籃球上。

…. because she is always unreasonable with herself about what she could accomplish during any single day – even when she is sick. She is rarely satisfied with her own performance, and in her mind everything is results-orientated. Although her attitudes bother me, I can understand her because I am exactly the same.

We had completely different up-bringings, yet turned out with very similar attitudes to achievement and performance. Noch Noch grew up in the Hong Kong and did absolutely everything her mother told her, even when it meant giving up her own hobbies, dreams and desires. I grew up in Australia and refused to do anything my parents told me. I was headstrong, mischievous and often got into trouble for arguing with all types of authority from a young age.

For everything we do, Noch Noch and I are always silently giving ourselves grades for performance: Blog posts, apple pies, Chinese calligraphy, wakeboarding, everything gets a grade for quality, taste, beauty or style etc.

I remember at school in Australia we used to get two grades. One was for actual test scores and the other one was for effort. Although my results were often mediocre in both, for my parents the grade that really counted was effort. I suspect that in Hong Kong effort doesn’t matter at all and only the tangible results grade counts for anything. (Noch’s note: there was no points for “effort” at all in my school…)

One problem overachievers have is benchmarking their best performance days as the standard for what should be achieved everyday.

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So when the stars align and with peak energy and concentration I can put in an intensive 18 hour day that includes 12 hours of work, 2 hours of study, 2 hours of exercise and 2 hours for meals and sundries. The problem with this is because, once I know it can be done, I expect myself to perform at that level everyday. Yet, its unreasonable to expect everyday to be like that. As many over achievers aim for peak performance everyday, they end up letting themselves down and being unhappy all the time.

As I get older, and busier and become more demanding on myself, I have also become less satisfied with at the end of each day. A few weeks back this was all becoming too much to bear. I was miserable and beginning to wonder what the point of life was if I was so unhappy everyday.

I started to see myself going down a similar path to depression that Noch Noch took, so I decided to make some changes on how I judged my performance and achievement.

I re-organized my daily activities and started a simple excel spreadsheet system to track see how I spent my time each day. That way, at the end of the day/week/month I would know how I had divided my time, what I had achieved and where I needed to shift focus.

Just as my teachers in Australia had done, at the end of each day I also began to give myself a score out of ten for effort.

This has helped me to be reasonable with myself. So now, regardless of how many words I actually typed or new Chinese characters I learnt, at the end of the day I grade myself on effort. I take into account my energy and concentration levels, external demands on my time and other elements that would affect daily results.

By doing this, it makes it much easier for me to be satisfied with my day because I know if I had tried hard, and almost everyday I try pretty hard. My effort score removes any doubt of whether or not I could have done better. It lets me know that I couldn’t have gotten up earlier, done more sit ups or written an extra thousand words even if I wanted to.

So to my dear wife Noch Noch, I know you don’t like to listen to me, so I decided to write this in a post instead and hopefully your readers will support me.

Please unlearn the notion that tangible results are the only acceptable measure of your daily performance and hence happiness.

Please recognize that everyday cannot be a high performance day and try to give yourself credit for your efforts.

Whether you do or not is up to you and you know I will love you no matter what.

Love Timmie

Please also check out my post on “Communication Breakdown” between the depressed and those who are not and contribute your experience to my soon to come ebook!

跟像Noch Noch般無法預料其成就的人住在一起,實際上,是很令人沮喪的。因為她面對自己每天可以完成的事情總顯得不可理喻。她很少,應該說從來都不會對她的表現感到滿意。在她的腦里,所有事情的結果都已經被定好了方向。儘管她如此的態度讓我很懊惱,但我卻很能理解她。因為實際上,我也是一個這樣的人。

我們接受著不同的教育,然而在面對表現和成就,我們卻有著極為相似的態度。Noch Noch在香港長大,她謹遵媽媽所教授的一切,甚至放棄了她的愛好,夢想以及渴求。我在澳大利亞長大,從不聽從父母的教導。任性、淘氣,經常因辯駁各種權威而闖禍。

對我們所做的一切,Noch Noch和我總在默默的為我們自己評分:博客上的日誌,蘋果派,書法,水上滑板。所有的事物在品質、品位、審美、風格等等都有一個評分。

記得在澳大利亞讀書的時候,我們有兩個成績。一個是確切考試的成績,另一個則是努力分。 在兩方面我都差不多,但對我父母來說,他們真正關心的是我的努力分。而我猜,可能在香港努力分一點都不重要,只有直觀的考試成績才算數。

對成就總比預期大的人來說,其中一個毛病就是總以自己的最佳表現作為衡量每一天必須達到的標準。

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當表現一直保持出色,能量和集中力達到峰值的時候,我可以在一天的18小時內排滿了12小時的工作,2小時的學習和2小時的運動,剩下2小時的給自己吃飯和做其他雜事。問題就在於因為我知道這是可已實現的,我便期望自己都每天都保持這樣的狀態。然而這其實是很不合理的。正因為每個成就比預期大的人都以峰值為目標,因此每一天的結束都會讓他們整天都很失落。

隨著年齡以及工作量的增長,我對自身的要求越來越高。對於每一天的結束我也越來越不滿意。幾個星期前,這種情況變得尤為嚴重。我是如此的悲觀。這使我開始疑惑我每天都這麼不開心地活著,那麼生存於我而言又有何意義?

我開始發現我走進了和Noch Noch如此相似的困境。因此我決定要改變自我審視的方式。

我對我的日常活動作了新的安排,并以電子表格的形式記錄我每一天是如何度過的。這樣,在每一天、每一禮拜或每個月結束時,都能知道我是如何規劃時間的。也能得知我都做了什麽以及需要把重點放在什麽地方。

正如我在澳大利亞的那些老師們所做的一樣,每天結束時,我都會以十分為滿分,給自己所作的努力打分。這使我更加合理地對待自己。

所以現在,不管我寫了多少個字或學了多少個新的中文字,我所付出的努力才是日結評分的標準。我的精神狀態、集中程度、客觀的外部需求以及其他會影響我日常表現的因素都被納入了考慮範圍。

這樣做使我更滿意我的每一天,因為我知道我付出了努力。每一天我都付出了很多很多的努力。我的努力分基本上消除了我對我每天是否能做的更好的顧慮。這使我知道即使我想,也無法起的早點再早點,做更多更多的仰臥起坐并寫多1000個字(單詞)。

我的愛妻Noch Noch,我知道你并不喜歡聽我對你說教。所以我把這寫到博客上,希望你的讀者會支持我。

請忘掉直觀的成績才可能衡量你日常表現的想法,這樣你會更開心。切記不可能每一天都有出色的表現,所以給你的努力加加分吧!

是否接納我的意見,是你的選擇。但無論如何我都以一如既往地愛你。

愛你的 Timmie

34 Responses

  1. 黑狗 says:

    我也感觉很痛苦,现在我做自己的设计工作,有两个伙伴,当要完成一份设计稿,我必须上载到面子书让他们过目,我觉得很沉重,很压力,即使我觉得我应该坚持我的观点又或者我应该反驳他们,但是我发现我真的一点勇气都没有,我好害怕我现在的现况,好像没有人能感受,我不想辜负身边的人,但是每一天我要撑着,要处理我的公事,我感觉好无力,即使我觉得这份工作需要赶快做完,我的感觉真的很无力。。。仿佛这不关我的事,即使这是很重要的。
    每一天,我都充满了心里的挣扎,刚完成了设计稿,但是一点都欣喜不起,即使这对一个忧郁患者是很难得可贵,但,我没有感觉了。。
    忧郁症,有什么办法,我还能怎样,连读这一篇文章,都仿佛要用很大的力气,诺诺,真的不好意思,没有办法了,我也要枯竭了,好累,好累。。。好不容易才走着出来,现在又要回到一切的开始了。。。

  2. 黑狗 says:

    或许要做到以努力分为标准真的是不容易,有时人的天性仿佛就是会陷入和别人,甚至与和自己的过去做比较。。。有没有活得比之前更精彩之类,我又一阵子,有一直告诉我自己,用自己的速度来前进吧!就像跑步那样,即使给你奋力追上前面那个跑的比你快的人,但你能确保你的气会比他够吗?但我又犯入要去比较的思绪了,而且还越陷越深,不能自拔。。。和黑狗的斗争,就像搬运斜坡的山石,无止境。

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Black Dog

      唉!我完全体会明白你的感受及想法,因为我也曾新身经历。只不过是上个月我亦从浮浮沉沉跌到谷底,这几天才慢慢有点精神。我想,我们只有包容黑狗,接受它成为生活的一部份-现象在的、以前的都是我。然后亦不要和其他人比较。累了就睡一会。有精神时便多做些。活在当下,以平常心去面对自己及其他人和事。

      Hope you feel better soon…

      • 黑狗 says:

        对,这真的是艰难时刻,有时真的很想放弃,高低起伏,好像一个没有止境的路,诺,我现在的工作表现也蛮糟糕,马马虎虎,有时没有办法尽心的做,所以这两个月开始回到忧郁的状态,工作的素质没有一天是我满意的。。。感觉真的很不好。。。即使我还是撑着自己的躯体去见客户又或者和我的商业伙伴开会,但我可以感觉我的思绪是真的很不能集中的,我好难控制。。。有时我真的很担心别人会否觉得我是很怪的一个人,导致我患得患失。

        现在又变的和从前一样,不接朋友电话,即使和朋友出来见面,我感觉好想回家马上躺在床上,那种要走又要在朋友面前撑着没事的感觉真的是不好受。。。明天又要开会,也不知我的partner会说些什么关于我工作的表现,因为真的是不好。。。很辛苦,又要做,但又很拉扯,又很想就呆在某个地方,动也不动,死水一般,呆滞着,呆滞着。。。

        不好意思,说这些会影响你,希望你别介意,all the best!

        • nochnoch says:

          Hi Black Dog

          I won’t mind of course, I am happy you share with me. Maybe take a holiday or a break from the work to refresh yourself? Sometimes I want to give up my writing and I have to forget about it for a few weeks, otherwise I start to hate myself as well. But I guess it’s a job and maybe a bit harder. I am sorry I don’t have much suggestions, but I welcome you share your feelings and hope by talking to me, it helps you a bit

          Noch

          • Black dog says:

            我也觉得好想暂时放下,但现在这个阶段和别人合伙,如果断断续续的休息,也不知道他们会怎么看我。而且,放下工作也意味收入停止,想到这些也是蛮恐惧的。如果我现在要面对这些恐惧和忧郁的黑狗,到底每一天要做多少才算是“pass”呢?做的太容易,想想之前我能轻易做到更多,现在因为酱一点点进展,心里总觉的不是那么的踏实,譬如,今天我没去进行我手头上的工作,那我究竟要责怪我自己吗?责怪?我有忧郁黑狗问题啊!不责怪?没有做到应尽责的本分也可以不责怪?

            究竟要听那一边的声音,我也混淆了。。。

          • nochnoch says:

            Hi Black Dog

            Ai…. i don’t know either. I have exact same thoughts as you sometimes. But I don’t have a company or work so a little different. Have you tried explaining to your business partners? Perhaps they can understand your situation? 🙁

            NN

        • Jane says:

          Hey NochNoch, envy you have such a wonderful life partner!!
          黑狗,我觉得你的状况和我之前得抑郁症的状况有点儿相似,最近我写了一篇日志是对之前生病前的回顾,希望能对你有帮助。另外建议你照顾好自己的身体,多抽时间做运动。祝一切都好!Jane
          http://user.qzone.qq.com/34346107/main#!app=2&via=QZ.HashRefresh&pos=1350839123

          • Black dog says:

            谢谢你,jane, 我已看了你的日志,现在的我的确又回到和以前一样,整个人没法子的悲观,没了活力,这对我来说好辛苦。虽然有时会逼着自己去面对一些事和人,但那个感觉真的是不好,因为我觉得我只是我的身体去面对,但心里的我只想不断地逃避,现在每做一件事总有两种声音不停的角力,但我要做回一些积极的事,我的黑狗会说,你不应该在这里,但如果我继续赖在床上,自我的声音却会对我发出不该继续沉沦下去的微弱提示。这真的很让人疯了,这十年来,病情反反复复的延续着,好的时候,我会对人生充满希望,还会不停的告诉自己,忧郁期间已浪费了时间,所以,现在能出来,就要好好的珍惜,不能再蹉跎时间。但现在的我呢?难道又是跨不过压力?难到自己就是那么的容易就被打击吗?一点风浪都经不起?所以这样的状况让我很抬不起头,因为,之前还觉得自己终于好起来,能很骄傲和自信的活着,但现在我看到自己,真的是非常难过,全部事情变调了,怎么和以前完全不同?之前还信誓旦旦能做完成创业梦,但是,即使开始做一些设计的工作,精神不能集中,每一天就想是得过且过,好难受!
            一边工作,脑海中可以一边回想以前忧郁所带给我的痛苦和难受,其实不想说话,和别人说话又让我好像很难受,但不说话又不行,讨厌现在消极的我,但又没有办法积极,这种拉扯不停消耗我内部的力量。。。

          • nochnoch says:

            HI BlackDog
            Let yourself rest a little first, then you can save up more energy to face yourself.
            we will be here for you:)
            Noch Noch

          • nochnoch says:

            Hi Jane, thanks for the suggestions. I also read your diary just now. Thanks for sharing!

          • Jane says:

            嗨,你好,我就觉得你不应该叫“黑狗”呵呵,原来你把另外一个比较负面的情绪称为黑狗。抱歉这么晚才回给你,最近家里有点儿事,一直脱不开身。我以为我的日志会让你有些启发。其实我也只能是以自己的经历来尽量帮你。那就是,好起来,甚至像我这样好得干净利索比之前还强大都是完全可能的,但需要时间和机缘巧合。我不知道你的病因,我的病因我归结为这么几点:1,长期不规律的饮食;2,长期的熬夜,睡眠不够;3,长期缺乏身体的锻炼;4,某一方面的心理弱点,对我来说就是经常把别人的事情放在首位把自己的需求放在一边,扛的太多。我觉得我们的身心二者是合一的,身体不好精神就没有一个舒服的家,当精神得不到妥善安放的时候长期以来堆积的情绪就会倾斜而下,本来的心情不好就会量变到病——抑郁症!当它上升到病的高度时你很难自己和它对抗,更别期待一下子就从泥潭里挣脱出来。事实是,如果你越想和它抗衡就有可能更深地陷下去。比如你想睡,脑子里有两个声音,一个说睡,一个说不睡,你完全可以想:太好了,我现在有两个选择,它们虽然不一样但都很好。如果睡我就可以得到很好的休息,如果不睡我就可以开心做一些我想做的事情,重点是——无论怎样都好。你不要和自己较劲,也不要和任何人,任何事较劲,要像漂在水里的小草一样,顺其自然。一旦发生什么事情,无论是什么事,你要尽量告诉自己“太好了!”然后接受它!你要删除对自己的任何不满,告诉自己“我已经很成功了”,也许这个时候你的“黑狗丫头”会跑过来说:“你成功什么啊?别自欺欺人了!!你又不是美国总统也没拥有天下所有财富,也许,她可能说的是:你工作了很多年到现在还是没事业没家庭没车没房没存款”,你可以开心地告诉她:’黑狗丫头啊,你别急,这些都会有的,你没看到我有自由的思想,健康的四肢,创造的大脑吗?我可以睁眼看到这个可爱的世界,我可以给周围的人一个微笑,我可以去敬老院探访老人给他们安慰,可以去福利院看看那里的孩子给他们带去温暖,可以给无家可归的人一个热腾腾的馒头,黑狗丫头,你知道吗?无论怎样,只要我还能够给予,我就说一个富有的人!” 其实抑郁症是个好事,或者说在它极其狰狞的面孔下也有非常好的一面,因为它能帮你直面你自己一直回避面对的心结,它逼你停下来做这件事,不解决好你一直需要面对但又回避去面对的事情它拒绝你前进。那就简单了,挣脱你的牢笼,勇敢地区面对它,这样,你的面前是一个无比广阔无比光明无比自由的世界!加油!:)Jane

  3. jim says:

    great post. You are a cool guy. Noch Noch is lucky.

  4. Sylvia says:

    What an incredible post that hits so close to home. We all need this. To give ourselves credit and “points” for effort, rather than try to beat our self-imposed benchmark every day. And we all need someone to love us for trying, not our results. You’re very much loved and cherished, Noch. Life is beautiful. 🙂

  5. Nigel Chua says:

    Wow Timmie, what a wonderful post that hits straight to home, and I would think it’d hit home in the heart of Noch too, assuming she listens =p

    I agree with you, and yet I disagree with you at the same time. I agree with you with the part that “scoring for efforts” should count, but yet…as I run a business, “effort” is nothing without it converting and taking numbers in its ROI.

    Perhaps, we can merge both into something that is more “converged”, for the lack of a better word.

    Perhaps I think this way as because in the end, I look at bottom line in both quantifiable and qualitative amount for the business…and this is the same for my personal life. I have checklist of things that I need to achieve and “tick once I’ve done”, and yes, it’s stressful but it’s fun and manageable at this point in time.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Nigel

      hahah, how well you know me – I hardly listen to Timmie :p
      I hope your wife listens to you more!

      That’s true, somethings we do need a benchmark and can’t always be effort, otherwise there is no measure. Just that we don’t need to stress ourselves out to death just trying to reach that benchmark, or in my case, set a benchmark too high that it’s unrealistic…

      and now on to your email…

      🙂

      Noch Noch

  6. Nigel Chua says:

    Hahaha Nochie, there’s a timing to everything. There’s cycles to everything…maybe today, or in this season, there’s too much emotions drowning out you/your thoughts, and that may make it difficult to pick up communication threads…but you’d never know, there may come a time where you keep looking to Timmie for answers… =P

    No worries, take your time with the email =) I realised that my Gmail fornigel[@]nigelchua.com can send emails out but cant receive emails unless i go to the web host’s web-based email page…so annoying… =(

    • nochnoch says:

      Hey Nigel!
      So did you get my email reply? Gmail has been a bugger here in Beijing recently and Internet had been really slow. Wanted to update my blog but internet couldnt connect so I gave up – maybe there is a time for everything and it was the time to be offline haha
      Its hard to learn to take it chill but trying!
      NN 🙂

  7. Nigel Chua says:

    Following the giving points for trying; personally, I think that may be a good way to “pat down” and to go easy on myself but I think it may be a tad too troublesome, as it entails more processes for myself ie

    Plan to over achieve -> DIDNT overachieve -> feel very bad -> use the points for trying to decrease disappointment -> maybe feel better

    As opposed to make more realistic plans with buffer/space to manuver for errors i.e. a plus-minus 10-20% approach

    Plan to achieve with buffer -> plan falls within buffer -> goal achieved -> feels reaaaaaaaaaal good =)

    Of course the latter is idealistic, but with training and experience, it’s a better way. =)

  8. […] of my buddies’ articles, where her husband shared on how to take things a little easier by giving points for trying – by having two scales side by side, one scale is the actual achievement of a goal/activity, […]

  9. Tonya says:

    Timmie,
    How wonderful you are! Thank you for adding perspective to my often unfocused life.

    Noch Noch,

    Hugs to you!

  10. […] blog and wrote a few guest posts for blogger friends, I did my taichi almost everyday, I practiced calligraphy and meditation, I had a few new bears, I baked, I […]

  11. […] to my company’s managers and HR department however, for I was afraid to be judged and felt I was letting everyone down. But I had no choice for I was absent from work and had to be granted sick leave. Ugh, do not want […]

  12. […] Initially I was thrilled. Yet, after watching the 3 minute clip, all I could think of was how my face was too fat, how I said “umm” too many times, how I was not concise or eloquent in answering the reporter’s questions… I did nothing but criticize myself for not having done a good enough job! […]

  13. […] did not take care of myself. I had no energy to. I was unmotivated […]

  14. […] blog and wrote a few guest posts for blogger friends, I did my taichi almost everyday, I practiced calligraphy and meditation, I had a few new bears, I baked, I […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.