A story of my goal setting, determination and resolve

Let me start by saying that this is going to be one of the more brutally honest posts that I will ever write. And despite the title, I’m not really boasting about myself, but I do want to tell a story that I hope can inspire others. And please don’t judge me the wrong way from this post by the way, I am speaking (and following) my heart in this post, and I think there is no more nobler endeavor than that.

When people ask me about my greatest strength, I like to say that its my ability to focus on my goals and achieve them. I am very good at breaking down my goals into small, concrete achievable steps. So when I make my goals, I always make sure that they are achievable. They might be very difficult, or hard to do, but achievable. When I moved from Canada to California, and California to Korea, I did the same thing, just kept that in my head as the overarching goal, and break it down into steps needed to achieve it. Find a job that lets me work remotely, find a place, learn Korean, etc was all needed to accomplish that. I use a checklist a lot, which really helps me focus on what I need to do next.

I came to Korea, for 2 main reasons: 1) to get away from the soul-sucking consumerist sausage-fest that was Silicon Valley, and 2) Find myself a girlfriend and potential wife.

I want to elaborate on the second point a bit, because this story is about love and determination.

I wasn’t interested in Korean girls until I had a lucid dream about them in summer 2011. I won’t explain in too much detail, but this dream caused me to become interested in Korean culture. So I started learning Korean in Fall 2011, and met some of my best Korean friends in the process. Of course, along the way I developed a goal to find my Korean girl soulmate.

When I have a goal, I am absolutely determined to reach that goal. So this being a goal to find someone to love and be with, it’s probably the goal I’ve spent the most effort in, and the one I’ve gotten the least progress.
I have never had an actual Korean girlfriend. Even now, I still don’t have a Korean girlfriend.
I have had many Korean friends, and my experience with Korean female friends have led me to believe that Korean women are the perfect fit for my personality. In my mind, they are the most attractive women in the world, and very nice and polite, dependent, and caring toward their boyfriends. As such, its become fixed in my mind, that I have to be with a Korean girl, date them, and marry them. No other women will satisfy me.

My lack of progress in this goal motivates me even more. The last Korean girl who liked me was back in May 2012. I have never dated other girls since then. I have absolute loyalty and dedication towards them, and I will do anything for them. I will marry a Korean woman, or stay single forever. Yes, I am dedicated to that degree. I moved to Korea in search of love. I learned Korean for almost 3 years while most of my American friends dated Korean girls in that time, I did not. Despite going to many parties and meetups during the last 2 years, my only return for trying was a lot of ignored messages. I even went to Vancouver to meet a Korean girl only to get stood up by her.

But despite all this, I keep trying. Why? Is it because of my stubbornness? The sheer difficulty of getting them? My belief that there should be more Chinese guy-Korean girl couples? Or even an unhealthy obsession? Maybe its all of these things. The fact that I semi-worship them, the repeated rejections, the lack of progress, the challenge of not being Korean or White, the love of Korean culture, that I felt genuinely genetically attracted to them, its everything combined. We always want the things we can’t get. We always believe the hardest things to get are the most valuable. Thus no matter what, nobody can stop me. I will keep on trying, and trying, and trying until I succeed, or be single forever.

This is my story of determination and resolve. You have to work towards your goal, and you have to find a way to achieve it, if it’s at all remotely plausible. As long as something is possible (I’m not trying to be the President of USA for example), then it’s doable. You just have to keep working and working at it and never give up. It’s somewhat ironic that finding 100k+ salary jobs was easier than getting a Korean girl to like me, but whatever. It’s life. I can’t settle for second best. I just can’t. You only have one life, and if you can’t find the best mate, then what’s the point? This is love we are talking about here, this is finding a partner to spend the rest of your life with! This is who you are having your children with! I am not easily satisfied with a lower standard like some of my friends. The one and only standard for me, is to be with a Korean girl (and not a Korean-American girl mind you).

The secret of achieving goals is to 1) be specific, 2) break it down into steps, and 3) be relentless. You heard it from me here.

New gadget update (Nov 2014, before I leave)

Ok, so now that I’m going to Korea, and also learned not to be as materialistic, I’m getting rid of alot of my crap. So here’s the stuff that I’m keeping and bringing to Korea.

Here’s my tech gadgets as of present (Jul 2014):

Lenovo Thinkpad X240

Lenovo Thinkpad X240
Lenovo Thinkpad X240

What can I say? I used to think Thinkpads were very boring looking, but now I realized how useful they are. This has become my main laptop for doing anything, work or study. At 12″ and 3.4lbs, very portable, with the latest Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, fingerprint reader, smartcard reader, amazing keyboard, LTE capabilities and TWO batteries that last for 14+ hours, this is an amazingly well constructed and reliable laptop. I will probably be using it for years to come, or at least as long as my Dell Latitude (6 years so far).

iPad Air

iPad Air
2013 iPad Air

For a long time I didn’t want an iPad as I thought it was just an oversized iPhone. But now I realized after using it more, that it fits a different need. Large games, ebook reader, a portable music recording station, a video editor, and guitar amplifier are some of the things I use it for. I used it so much that I actually sold my Macbook Retina in favor of the iPad. With a bluetooth keyboard, it becomes almost a laptop replacement. And with LTE, much more useful.

iPhone 5S

iPhone5S Gold
2013 iPhone5S Gold

Call me an Apple fanboy, but I don’t like big screens. Screens that are too big are easier to scratch, and suck more battery. The iPhone’s 4″ screen is great. Plus the camera is still the best on any smartphone. I keep this phone now mainly for taking pics and video, as its still the best for those things.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Sony Xperia Z3C
Sony Xperia Z3C

As mentioned before: 1) its got the same footprint as my iPhone5S, 2) 20.7MP camera, 3) waterproof and dustproof, 4) HD audio decoding, 5) microSD slot, 6) 2 day battery life, 7) PS4 remote play
I mean need I say more? This is hands down the best compact Android phone out there right now, better than the Galaxy, LG, HTC One, Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo, ZTE, Archos, what have you.
Sony needs to advertise this more. 2+ days of battery life!

Meta M1

Meta M1
Meta M1

After looking at the Moto 360 and Apple Watch and Pebble watch for a while, I decided to get the Meta M1. Why?
1) It’s very stylish, 2) I like gold and blue (no other smart watch offers this combination), 3) long battery life, 5-7 days, 4) decent water resistance (not as much as Pebble but good enough and 5) it doesn’t distract me from talking to my friends. I agree with this watch’s philosophy that notifications are just for glancing at, and I noticed that my usage behavior changed when I am wearing it. Now, I just glance at my watch and keep talking to my friends instead of pulling my phone out and typing back a message. This is a good change to me. I just wished it supported Asian characters.

Sennheiser Momentum

Sennheiser Momentum
Sennheiser Momentum

The best headphones I’ve ever listened to. Wow. Better than the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros and the Audio Technica A900s, even without a headphone amp! It gets pretty loud by itself, and is very comfortable to wear as well, on par with the Beyerdynamics in my opinion. But wow, I’ll probably just carry this one instead of the BD and ATs as this one is closed back and has decent passive noise cancellation, as well as being more portable than the BDs. Yet it sounds much better despite being smaller. Sennheiser, you have a winner here.

Bose Soundlink Mini

Bose SoundLink Mini
Bose SoundLink Mini

Bose really surprised me with these speakers. Great full range sound, great bass, a lot of volume from such a small speaker. Anyways these are my portable speakers, for use with parties and BBQs and the like.

Nikon D5100

Nikon D5100
Nikon D5100

My DSLR camera. Works great with many lenses.

Sony Music Video Recorder

Sony music video recorder
Sony music video recorder

My replacement for my Canon HFM400. It’s basically a more compact, portable, wide angle version of the Canon with better sound. A worthy upgrade for traveling.

…And thats it! That’s a noticeable reduction from the 18 gadgets in my previous gadget posting. I’ve literally reduced the number of gadgets I carry by half. All my laptops, tablets, phones, cameras, headphones, etc only comprise 9 devices now.

Finally moving to Korea

It’s been a long time coming – but I’m finally moving to Korea. Yes, this is the moment I’ve planned for for over a year. It took me a while to get here, but from stubborn determination I was able to do it.

I’ve had a lot of good memories in SF, especially in 2012, and I’ll never forget that. But it’s time for me to move on to the next step in my life. I’ve been preparing for over a year for this moment.
After I came back from Korea in Sept 2013, a place that fit me to a T, I promised myself that no matter the cost, I would find a way to be there. I would learn another language, I would give up my job, I would give up living in SF, I would give up making lots of money.. for a chance to be in the place that I love, for a chance to find a girl I love. That’s not a crazy thought – it’s who I am, and what my destiny is.

This year was a year of enlightenment – I didn’t have any crazy trips like in 2012, or go to crazy parties like in 2013, this year I focused on one thing only – getting to Korea. I continued working at BitTorrent for over a year to get experience, I lobbied hard at Walmart to get a remote position, and I re-dedicated myself to Korean, attending two semesters at Sejong Academy and 3 months of Korean tutoring.

I learned that experience is more valuable than anything. I was spending crazy amounts of money over the past year and a half – $30k in shopping expenses – about 30% of my total income was being spent on unnecessary things, and this year I’ve learned more than ever that money was not the key to happiness nor was owning a lot of things. I’ve sought this year to keep my spending to a minimum – and I’m happy to say that last month I’ve reduced my shopping expenditures to a mere 9% from 25% a year before. Experience is what counts – not owning things.

I’m doing all this because I was tired of living in America, in Canada, in western culture. The so called “American Dream” is really just making a lot of money, and owning a lot of things. In SF, all the politically correct nonsense that people have to put up with (Gamergate being the latest example of nonsense caused by feminists and the media). All the tech companies here are filled with 70% tech-obsessed males who live and breathe code like some kind of zombies. When I look at Korea, I see a country where they value being together. Being with others. Drinking fun with your friends. Eating with your co-workers. Taking cute pics with your boyfriend/girlfriend. That’s what life is about. Not about owning the latest 4K TV or smartwatch. But being with people.

Everything I have to do myself. Just last month, I had to call up Blue Advantage Arkansas to manually send me my health insurance card (Shouldn’t Walmart have done that?), I had to pay $200 to see the doctor (because Walmart didn’t mail me the insurance card on time), I had to pay $2500 to get rid of bedbugs from my apartment (left me with tons of scars and got in trouble with the condo management), pay $50 for someone to unlock my iPhone and they never called me back, pay $260 to mail back my passport in time (passport renewal failed because my passport photos weren’t correct which also wasn’t my fault), pay $200 for a background check for my soon to be tenant (my old high school friend), help set him up with an interview, do the paperwork, unit inspection, etc. I had to pay $600 in towing/parking fees to the SFMTA even though they wrongfully towed me (I mailed a towing dispute 3 months ago with no response), I have to call up everyone to confirm things that were supposed to be done weeks ago. I have to find an apartment in Korea, pay a massive deposit (Korea’s deposit is a year of rent), somehow find health insurance there, live like a vampire (work SF work hours), transfer my money over, buy furniture, etc.

As you can see I’ve been quite stressed last month. I’m sick of it, frankly. I need a fresh change. I realize the life in Korea is not perfect. They have to study from a young age all the time, be competitive all the time, study hard, get into a good school, find a good job, work long hours, live with their parents, marry the right person, etc. Conversely, I’ve been living by myself since I was 18, paid for my own tuition working part time and the PEY internship, paid off my student debt within a few months of graduation, found my own full time job in California right after I graduated making more than my parents, and have never been unemployed since. I did this all with very little help from my parents. They helped me look for a place initially, and helped finance my current home, but everything else was mostly my own doing.

And now once again I’m on my own to move to Korea. And I will do it. Because unlike many people, I have the ability to focus when I need to. I have my mother’s stubbornness and my father’s talent to thank for that. This is why I can’t play games or watch TV for long, because I can’t do anything unproductive for sustained periods. I have to be productive. So I make videos. So I study Korean. So I play guitar. So I read Wikipedia. So I blog. So I do programming. And so on. I have to do something with my time that’s worthwhile. And I believe when you really really want something badly enough, you will find a way to do it. No matter what obstacles are ahead. I’ve always believed this. Human willpower is a very strong thing. As long as you have something to motivate you, a passion for it, an absolute desire for it, then it’s like Michael Jordan going in for a dunk; nobody can stop you.

난 비생산적인 하는걸 싫어서 오래동안 티비랑 게임하는거 할 수 없다.
매일매초 생산적으로 해야된다. 그러니까 동영상를 만든다, 한국어를 공부한다, 기타를 친다, 위키피디아를 읽는다, 블로그를 쓴다, 프로그램을 한다 기타 등등. 어떤 뜻있는 일을 해야된다.
만약에 어떤 걸 진짜 진짜 원하면은, 어떤 방법을 찾아낼 것이라고 확신해요. 아무렇든지 방법을 강구할거예요.
내가 인간의 의지력을 항상 믿는데 동기를 주는게 있고 열정 있고 의욕 가지고 하면은, 아무도 못 말려요.

I can’t help myself but complain about this issue: Mark Zuckerberg speaks Chinese and all the Chinese girls on the internet praise him. How come no one ever praises me for speaking three languages? So Zuck speaks one other language (and not that fluently FYI) and gets praised for it, while I can speak 2 languages fluently and one at an intermediate level and I get nothing. Is this because Asians are expected to know more languages and Westerners are not? Why the double standard? Ok I’m done ranting with that.

Tong Zou's Work and Ramblings