Two-Thirds Of The Long Weekend So Far ……

Another long weekend beckons ……

And a much needed one as well after running pretty much at full steam end May / June. Of course some pretty unpleasant stuff / minor setbacks occurred over the past week – putting a brake to the ‘momentum’ I have been building up, to my discontentment.

Which means its time to take a step back, take stock for a bit and do some necessary ‘re-charge’ to get back to a more ‘optimal’ state of mind again.

Long weekend started early for me as Friday was my usual-out-of-office day. However couldn’t shake off my restless state of mind (must been the angst I have been carrying out throughout the week). Meditation …… heart opening yoga sequence (only to end up struggling on the balancing poses) did not help much. Guess I need more time to get over this ‘bump’ ……

Yesterday (Saturday) – went back to office as planned to do my monthly scanning/clearing/decluttering/archiving. Somehow, at the half-way point of the year, I feel that my progress on the scanning/clearing/decluttering/archiving front has been rather slow. I’m still working on older stuff (pre-2013 materials) before even getting to the newer records (year 2013 onwards) that I will need to start extracting from the common data folder provided by company. Not sure if just 1 Sat afternoon per month (which I started only in April proper) is sufficient to finish up by end of this year …… but just like yoga/life, have to keep going …… and going! Perhaps for the next round in July, I shall try to reach office earlier (around 11) to give myself a better headstart.

Of course, the highlight of going back to work on a Saturday is always filling myself up with a nice lunch. Initially planned to have pasta at Everton Park, only to realise said restaurant is closed on Saturdays. So walked to Amoy Street Food Centre …… saw that not many stalls were open.  Ended up walking further down right to the end of Amoy Street, and settled for Korean lunch @ Wang Dae Bak – one of my ‘more regular’ favourites that serve tasty and value for money Korean set lunches.

Had a seafood soup + seafood pancake …… and together with side dishes, it made for a pretty appetizing and filling lunch. Moreover, I had a pretty light breakfast and was kinda hungry as well 😛

Packed up and left office a little after 6 …… and came home just in time for dinner. Decided to take a break / day off from yoga practice / stretching (have learnt not to guilt trip myself for taking breaks) …… and sat down to finally think about and start jotting down some ideas/things to do/destinations for my next holiday!

Nothing firmed yet. The only thing I know right now is it will be 90% a solo trip as I desire to have some space & quiet this time round. I hope I can make it happen, at the time period that I’m looking at (Q4 2017). Being in the last lap of the banding year, there are also work considerations to think about. It will also mean $$$ spent (versus saving it) …… but let’s think abundance 🙂

Rather than wasting away my Sunday, got up nice and early to go for my once-a-month YIN yoga class @ Yoga Inc Gulliemard – as a ‘treat’ to myself for the long weekend. Probably my ‘longest’ break from YIN class – 6 weeks to be exact as my focus was on rebuilding strength and flexibility post Bali and post food poisoning (a.k.a Bali Belly). As one would describe YIN class, it is about feeling 1% uncomfortable (in the form of holding poses for longer periods – up to 5 mins) to be 99% comfortable (i.e. to allow the muscles to relax). And the tightness in my hips is apparent …… and it does feel slightly uncomfortable and getting used to be holding poses for long periods again after all the ‘yang’ workouts that I have been doing.

The bonus was the rain, and it was really chill and calming to have the cool air coming into the studio. Just like the saying from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow goes – The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. 

And enjoy the moment!

The theme of ‘courage’ floated in my thoughts throughout the 1 hr 15 min class – it will be something I will think about/reflect/meditate upon in the next couple of days.

Preferred to have local food for lunch post class, and so braved the rain (with umbrella in hand) and walked over to Lor 28 Geylang to check out Fishball Story as originally planned. The noodles did not disappoint and I am very happy with my lunch. Realised there are many coffeeshops within Geylang itself and wondered why didn’t I venture out earlier (the default choice is always to walk to Old Airport Road FC after class for a meal). Gonna google some food bloggers’ Geylang recommended eats as I type now 😛

Took a bus down to Bugis after lunch – specifically to Sephora at Bugis+ to get a new shampoo to try. Starting to feel the YIN in my legs, and so headed back home, lazed a bit and writing this blog entry.

Probably gonna play catch-up on some work and my journalling (super back-log dating back April *gasp*) after dinner. Was deliberating between doing 9am class @ Yoga Lab CBD for another early start tomorrow versus a longer self practice …… but since the 9am class is waitlisted (it was still book-able during lunch), it seems like self practice will be the plan for the last part of my long weekend!

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Ending 2016 ……

Its only now – with 1 more day to go before 2016 comes to an official close that I finally have the time to wipe some dust off this blog as I’m working from home today.

December has been a busy and relatively productive month. I hesitated to say ‘productive’ or ‘very productive’ as I felt I could have managed my focus and energy levels much better …… before I can confidently say I’ve been productive. More important is the self-awareness to realize that …… and this will be something I have to keep working on in year 2017.

Sometimes plans, how well laid-out it can be, will not always go swimmingly / within our expectation.

One thing I have set out to do is to do more yoga over the festive season (christmas eve right till the new year) – as versus to just 1 class per week. My original plan today was to take the day off, go for lunchtime Stretch @ Yoga Lab …… followed by a relaxing lunch and some shopping in town. However a last minute quotation request from client came in last night. And so in the end, I sacrificed my home practice last night and sleep (eyes were already closing at 11+) to send out the quotation requests so that I could get some indicative responses by noon (as some insurers may be on half-day).

In the end, no indicative quote was forthcoming (as this is a specialized risk). Thankfully, I managed to seek client’s understanding that the time frame is too rushed, and we can only see some outcome in the new year.

And so I’ll do home practice today instead and go for a Stretch Class tomorrow morning. Interestingly, my original intention/workout plan for this week is to do a Stretch Class either on Friday or Saturday after attending a Hot Yoga 101 Class earlier on Tuesday evening. Flip-flopped a bit last night by putting myself on the wait-list for Yoga 101 at 1745 Hrs later, only to eventually cancel it (after getting a mat) and reverting back to my original plan of doing Stretch Class.

Which brings me to another point – setting and managing expectations.

When dealing with clients, clients will always want their needs to be attended first and on asap basis (even though it may neither be urgent nor important). Looking back now, although I wasn’t able to get an indicative quote today (which was the ideal scenario I had in my mind) – most important thing is that I got my client’s understanding that it may be difficult to firm things right now since its festive season. And he/she was pretty cool with it. So after some rough hiccups in the business relationship along the way, it is a sign of progress that I’m able to handle fickle natures a lot better now – by managing expectations accordingly.

And that brings me to the next point(s) – patience and intention.

Ideally, if the quote could come in today, I will be able to close off my work and have the afternoon off. Or from another perspective, simply tell the client that its not possible and let’s wait till the new year – and have the entire day off to do what I want to do. It was good that I kept going at it – despite the less than positive outcome for now …… and eventually we should be able to come to a more reasonable timeline to firm up something soon once everyone is back in normal working mode (and also when client manages to firm their equipment leasing details on their end too).

When this deal (and the deals/cases that I have been working on pre and post Christmas) eventually comes through – the rewards/fruits of labour will be that much sweeter and more precious. And so a little waiting here for now after having put in my best efforts!

And having the above clarity meant that I was able to go back to my original intention of closing year 2016 with a yoga class …… after starting my Christmas holidays with Hatha Yoga Class on Christmas Eve (where I completely blocked out work) and to end 2016 with another yoga class (with no distractions). As I have learnt in mediation and from yoga – setting your intention is important, as that will serve as our original purpose to why we set out to do that particular activity.

What was meant to be a random musings entry turned out to be a longer reflection piece (unplanned). It definitely feels good to be able to crystallize my thoughts and blog/write once again.

Difficult Clients

Having some problem dealing with a difficult client …… and this problem resurfaced again mid-week, after a good 5 months of complete silence (on the client’s part).

Not picking up calls, not confirming/keeping to appointments is another. What is even WORSE than the already mentioned 2 points is giving excuses along the lines of ‘sorry I didn’t reply due to many changes in my job’ …… and even WORSE feigning ignorance on what you DID NOT DO!

How not to get infuriated with such problematic clients!!

Anyway am doing some ‘prepping’ online to get some tips on how to deal with this errant persone before I return the call (as per said person’s request, it can only be weekend …. what a prima donna!).

Good luck to me!!

This one is particularly good

http://www.sportsfinancial.org/how-to-deal-with-difficult-clients-3-keys-to-success-for-financial-advisers/

Key points summarised from the above article

1. Tell the truth.Tell the client, in a business-like and professional way, with a little humor blended in, that they are a pain in your sits-bones (to be kind). You may think this is offensive, but it’s not. The reason it’s not is because difficult people know they are difficult. It will come as no surprise to your client that you find them difficult; I guarantee that you’re not the only one they’re difficult with. They’re probably difficult at home with their family members too, and with co-workers. The client may be testing you to see how far you’ll let them go. Don’t let them get away with difficult behavior. Call them on it, from the start, by telling the truth.

2. Tell them you want to do a good job for them, but you’ll not be pushed around.Insist that they be respectful or let them know they can go elsewhere. After all, you don’t need difficulty in your life, you’ve already got enough challenges as a financial adviser, you don’t need to add pain-in-the-sits-bones clients to the list.

3. Be commanding & well documented.Talk louder than you have to with difficult clients. Be clear cut and to the point in all your communications with them. Put everything you say to them in writing and send them a note, letter or email that outlines the nature of every discussion you have with them, including steps that each party will take. Document, document, document. Difficult clients try to make trouble, but don’t get very far when you’ve got everything well documented. (Plus, compliance will love you for it, because difficult clients are just lawsuits waiting to happen.)

Remember, you don’t need difficult clients. You’re better off without them. If they continue to be difficult, fire them.

One last note, perhaps some people need to learn how to be a human being first before expecting their advisers to give the ‘best advice’ according to their inflated egos and standards.

Complacency – The Root Of All Procrastination

Someone more serious to blog about today ….

This has been in my draft folder since July 2015 *gasp* …… and an issue which I have many serious thoughts on. So long weekend is the perfect opportunity to get this out of ‘draft h*ll* so as to speak 🙂

This topic/issue first came about due to my personal frustration from dealing with a client who has had multiple underwriting issues with a shield plan upgrade. In the end, he/she wasn’t able to successfully upgrade the plan due to a hoist of medical issues (suddenly developed) – and as a result, insurer rejected the upgrade application.

There is definitely an issue of complacency there as he/she have not bothered to review his/her insurance coverage all these years (original with limits hospital plan was purchased back in 1994), and had also assume that group insurance coverage should be sufficient to cover any day surgery/hospitalization (which is far from true). Definitely an element of complacency, and to add ignorance and laziness there as well. It didn’t help also that the original adviser/agent who incepted the plans left and they have been ‘orphaned’ ever since.

In fact the insured’s spouse can even tell me that they have heard a lot about the recent Medishield / Medishield Life changes, plus the developments with integrated shield plans and came to their conclusion that integrated shield add ons are expensive, and a duplicate of medishield life, so no need to review/do anything. Until my client (who referred them to me) made a claim on his plan, then they found out what they have assumed might not be so. Well ……

And given that they were so ignorant in their thinking, and so complacent in their thinking, ended up one half is unable to upgrade his/her plan due to a rash of medical conditions suddenly developed. A good 9 months later, as of today, said person is still undergoing various medical appointments/follow-ups as the doctors were unable to pinpoint the root cause of his/her original medical condition.

It is in times like this that make me realise that we planners HAVE a role to play to ensure our existing clients are up to date with their financial plans, and being a good adviser comes from ourselves first. There will also be cases where some may not be so reciprocal to our approach/re-approach …. and of course some who comfortably think the minimum they have is sufficient (until shit hits the fan).

Update: Did some googling and found this great write-up that takes about procrastination, complacency and indecisiveness – https://prosperityprofessor.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/subconscious-mind-%E2%80%93-is-complacency-procrastination-or-indecisiveness-ruling-your-life/

Post Holiday

Was busy trying to put in as much work/business as possible before my 11 day long awaited holiday trip to Japan during the 1st 2 weeks of November., thus the lack of entries.

Had optimistically thought I will FINALLY have the time during holiday/break to catch up on blogging and back-dated readings, only to end up being not in the state of mind to do so (holiday mood after all :P) ……

Anyway, it has been EXACTLY 1 week (from 14th November) since I’m back from vacation, and it has been rather challenging to get back into a workable and sustainable routine/daily schedule ……  as the changes I intend to make post hols have been far from easy, and will need some time to be ingrained into HABITS.

Such as getting back my regular sleeping patterns again. Holidays are great as we usually slept relatively early (latest by midnight) and got out of bed by 0730 to 0800 easily. However with the heat and humidity back in Singapore, it has been a lot more challenging. 0900 to 0930 has been the best I could manage so far this week. A good sleep and wake up routine is important to manage my energy, thus need to improve a lot more on this in the coming week!

And immediately after I got back to Singapore, of all things pulled a calf muscle on my upper left leg. Felt that strain in the leg especially when I got back to office on Tuesday (sitting posture was stiff due to the calendars right below my seat). Thank goodness it got better …… and I was able to restart my exercise routine with my regular Thursday spin class.

Similarly trying to get back into a good work rhythm as well. A lot of energy has been spent on numerous underwriting follow ups and appeals since my return, as versus to actually working on activities that will help me to grow my business. Like for instance to get the estate planning / will writing aspect going FASTER than the current dormant state it is right now. Plus also getting back to regular client reviews, more initiated touch-base activities for closer engagement in today’s competitive landscape.

And hope to blog more regularly! As with all habits, if you do not do something often enough …… you will end up getting rusty. Its much harder to blog/write these days as I’m blogging a lot lesser, as over time, it has become lesser of a habit to do so. I don’t think I have the time and energy to blog detailed travel entries for this latest trip …… but maybe my travel entries will most likely be more of a highlight/picture format instead.

And yes, no specific plans on where to go for my next holiday as I have decided to leave that to chance and opportunity …… rather than specifically target/plan. But do hope to go somewhere else other than that of Japan (unless the opportunity to visit Hokkaido comes up with the introduction of the Hokkaido Shinkansen in March 2016 next year). But yes, I do miss the cool weather that I have enjoyed during my 11 days holiday this year. Cool weather and clean air has become such a precious commodity after having to bear the effects of haze throughout September and October.

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** Karuizawa was where we enjoyed the coolest (10 degrees – which was also the coldest we experienced as Karuizawa is located at the edge of the Nagano mountains) ….. and cleanest air. Will love to be back for a longer stay next time round!

January Round Up: Fruitful & Foodful

Finally …… finally …… I managed to find some time to get down to some serious blogging/update tonight. Its a laptop-less Thursday (after 3 consecutive days of bringing back home my laptop …… AND doing NO WORK on it :P).

This is mainly a blog entry to re-look and reflect back on how the year 2015 started off, and how I have spent on January. As per the title of this entry, to sum it up, I am grateful that January was a fruitful (and relatively productive) month ….. and foodful came around as I sampled lots of yummy food 🙂

First things first, started off year 2015 with a new brand new hairstyle to welcome the new year! Chose to do it on Friday 2 January 2015, also my ‘self-declared’ off day. Anyway was quite tired of my usual long hair and so, decided that I wanted a good cut, and a Japanese stylist cut to be specific.

I had originally wanted to check out an up-and-coming Japanese run salon (Rise Hair Salon @ Gemmill Lane), only to find out online that it was quietly closed down. So searched for other alternatives as I was determined to get a fresh new haircut to start off the year ‘right’ with a brand new fresh look …… and sis randomly suggested checking out Shunji Matsuo @ JEM (Jurong East). After checking the price list online, given that they only charge $52 for a director’s cut (as versus to the $68 I previously paid at Jeric), I decided to just go for it! To cut things short, I got a cut slightly below shoulder length as recommended by the stylist, the experience was great and I’m really happy with my haircut as I no longer feel weighed down by my hair 🙂

Co-incidentally, SM had whatsapp the group this fowarded msg about the ‘good’ days to cut hair/change hairstyle for the new year, heh

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On the work front, as mentioned in an previous entry, one longstanding claim dispute was finally settled and all parties are happy. The start of the new year also meant having new frameworks (notably LIA’s release of the Revised Critical Illness Definitions Framework), and new provider promotions ….. which meant many new product launches/re-launches ….. and attending many training/update sessions (easily averaging 1-2 providers updates per week, and that’s excluding the regular Monday focus group sessions). Opportunity to relook, and refocus my business on core protection needs 🙂

Also feels great to have managed to clear 1 long outstanding follow-up, and at the same time, have ‘lost’ prospects coming back into the picture. Pretty positive start for the 2nd half of my banding year so far, and for this momentum to keep going all the way through year 2015 (in terms of calendar year flow) as work is keeping my time filled, resulting in less time for drama watching/blogging …… but not in a bad way either lah so I’ll take it!

Still have quite some way to go, where bio-clock/time management is concerned. Save for one week (think its 2nd week of January) where my iPad alarm did not ring for 3 mornings consecutive, more or less I’m able to wake up quite naturally at around 0830 to 0930 (even on Saturdays and Sundays). The next step will be to really start sleeping earlier (around 12 to 1) with no computer distractions (realised that the radiation really gets to me when I bring home laptop and on it to do something, and it affects the quality of my sleep as well) ….. and target an earlier wake up time of say 0630 to 0730 in order to enjoy nice breakfast outside (hope to do this once a week) and to start off morning workouts/runs for practical training reasons.

And of course, tasted lots of yummy food, making January a ‘foodful’ one. Got to revisit the famous Tai Thong Prawn Noodles (River South Hoe Name Prawn Noodles), visited (and re-visited) within the space of 1 month Chop Lian Hin (a small and underrated tze char place in Teban Gardens) …… re-visited Teppei (this time round for their famed Bara Chirashi, as well as their tempura), re-visited Beng Hiang @ Amoy Street for their famed Hokkien dishes …… and satisfied some local cravings (notably the fishball noodles @ Tiong Bahru Market Stall 44), favourite fish slice noodles in black bean sauce @ An Ji (Chinatown Market) etc. …. as summed up in the collage below. More foodie adventures to come in February 😀

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Learn From Experience, Reflect, Review, Reboot

21 days into the new year (as today is 21st January 2015) …… It has been a pretty good start to year 2015 so far 🙂

After getting through a pretty stressful Q4 last year (2014) ‘fire-fighting’ and ‘solving’ issues here and there, am definitely thankful for the various positives and good tidings 21 days into January and into 2015 in all. And you definitely feel good when things start to feel right, and happen right!

In addition, it is constantly an ongoing challenge to keep building onto sustainable habits and making them permanent / for the long haul in the greater scheme of things. Just yesterday (or rather on Tuesday evening) …… the below happened.

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Essentially I spent a good 4 hour odd on a simple piece of paperwork – when I have originally targeted to finish it 2 to 2.5 hours max so that I can leave office at 7pm as originally intended. Thinking through it as I blog this down now …… I was reminded of what we had discussed just earlier in the day (Tuesday morning to be exact) during PPI (weekly focus group) …… on the need to standardize and fine tune our daily work flow, right from meeting to fact find to preparation to implementation to post sales follow up.

So why did I waste time writing out the paperwork by hand when I should have right from the start use a type-written version (typing out the rationale is way faster than writing) – which was what I have been doing for the past few cases submitted. On average I took around 2-3 hours to complete everything when type-written …… so a lapse of judgement there and I should have stuck to my SOP (standard operating procedure) strictly – which is doing the more efficient method of type-writing the post sales paperwork right from the start.

Thus one major resolution / activity / habit (for year 2015 and beyond) that I need to consistently review and refine would be my financial planning processes and workflow – right from meeting to implementation to post sales paperwork/compliance and follow-up.