Life lessons that I’ve learnt in 2014 as an athlete

Another year has flew by really quickly… I really can’t believe that it’s going to be 2015 soon. Kinda felt like yesterday when I was just counting down for the start of 2014. It’s really unreal how fast time goes by.

But of course, in the span of a year, I’ve mature a lot as a person overall. Nobody’s perfect, and I’ve made many mistakes in 2014 which gears me up for 2015. Here’s some things that I’ve learnt in year 2014 which I hope may help you as well:


Winning isn’t everything 

pang sheng jun teo zhen ren

When I was young, swimming used to be my life. My mood would depend on swimming, same goes for my parents. We would rejoice at every good performance and cry at the bad ones – That included training sessions as well. As an athlete, I’ve always set really high expectations of myself in swimming. Every time I had a bad training session, I would take it out on my parents, which was really childish of me as it isn’t right of me to blame them for my poor performance in my own swimming career. The worst part was that my parents would just accept my temper tantrum and tell me to try harder the next day. Well I guess that really shows the love of parents – no matter whether you’re right or wrong, you’re always right in their eyes.

But over the year I started to do some self reflection and realized that it’s really not right for me to take it out on them every time I swam badly, like come on, it ain’t their fault for my own poor performance. I started reflecting on the things I could have done better, (e.g. resting well, eating right, not over-analyzing situations, getting rid of any other distractions) and my performances were much more consistent during training.

I also changed my perspective of swimming. I recalled that my best races were the races whereby I just wanted to relax and have fun, I didn’t care about winning. I love swimming a lot, so why do I stress myself out so much on it? It should be natural to me by now. An athlete can only shine if he loves what he’s doing.

So ever since then, I stopped setting high expectations of myself in the pool and started to become more laid back. I stopped focusing on winning races in swimming. Instead, I just decided to have fun with every race that came. Guess what? My performances were more consistent over the course of 2014.

Therefore, stress lead me to bad results, whereas having fun lead me to greater results, ain’t that a win-win situation? So I’ve learnt that in swimming, we should learn to enjoy the whole process of the journey and the end result will take care of itself naturally.

Morty: “Remember the leprechaun?”
Michael: “Huh?”
Morty: “The one from the cereal ad.”
Michael: “‘They’re magically delicious.’ That guy?”
Morty: “Yeah. He’s always chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But when he gets there at the end of the day… it’s just corn flakes.”
Michael: “Heh?”

Credit: Click (2006)

Honestly, I only remembered the process of my most successful races, not the times that I stood on the podium. So it’s about time I just have fun in the sport and place less emphasis on winning and losing.

Life lesson #1: Winning isn’t everything, it’s the process that matters. 


Setting lower expectations

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I know it’s easier said than done, but how do we stop being so hard on ourselves? I kinda figured that the key to my unhappiness was to constantly compare myself to others who were better than me and that made me feel inferior to them. So I kinda stopped comparing my swimming standard to others and started focusing on myself more, it’s about being better than the day before anyway.

Remember that in life, there will always be someone better than you. Even if you’re the fastest swimmer in Singapore, there will still be faster swimmers in South-East Asia, and there will be faster swimmers all around the world, so you will never be happy if you keep comparing. Also note that even your greatest idols have their flaws too, because nobody in this world is made perfect.

So focus on the good and stop comparing to others. Appreciate yourself for who you are and what you have, you’ll find that you’ll live a happier life that way.

Life Lesson #2: The root of all unhappiness is comparison; comparison makes you feel inferior to others, so stop comparing yourself to others and be contented with what you have. 


The clock is always ticking 


In a stressful environment like Singapore, we often neglect our social life because we’re always busy with our school/work life. Our school/work takes up a great amount of time as assignments always seem endless and impossible to complete.

When I first entered university, I used to stress over my project deadlines and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because I’d be too worried about not making project deadlines. My fear was getting poor grades in school, and I’m sure many of you feel the same way too.

But after 3 semesters in school, I’ve came to a realization that assignments will always be endless – You finish an assignment, another one will be waiting for you, you finish the other one, there will still be another one. Finished your last one? Now you’ve got finals to study for. Once finals are over, you’ll be too tired and fatigue to do anything else but laze around at home; and before you know it, school reopens again, it’s a vicious cycle. I’ve crammed myself with loads of study time during semester 1 but I toned it down in Semester 3 as I just could not take the endless cycle anymore.

Ever since I knew how the system works, I decided to not stress myself out so much on assignments and finals and just do what I want to do. I didn’t let those assignments or exams control the way I live life. Every time I wanted to hang out with my family or friends, I would drop my assignments and just hang out with them. Because what’s the point of cramming my assignments in if my brains working on the assignments while my heart is with my family and friends? It’s not effective that way.

And always remember this, the clock will never stop ticking, and honestly speaking, your parents won’t be in this world with you forever, so treasure any amount of time you can get with them, and don’t let these assignments take control of your life, because you are in control of your own life.

Looking at my results for the past 3 semesters, I’ve came to a conclusion that the study method I’m using now is ideal for me. I actually scored the same results in 3 semesters! Just that my 3rd semester was much more relaxed compared to my first semester. Do take note that my results are nothing compared to my friends, but I’m satisfied enough as it’s already to the best of my ability.

In comparison to semester 1, which I shut out all social life to study, I managed to enjoy my Grandmother’s birthday celebration and have occasional Dota sessions with my swimming friends in semester 3. I even took 3 weeks off school as I was away for the Asian Games in Korea.

The difference was that my studying hours in semester 3 were much more efficient and effective in semester 3 as my mind was constantly fresh with all the social breaks I had in between.

So learn to enjoy life and treasure your love ones before they are gone, as assignments will be endless, but the clock will always be ticking for your loved ones.


Life lesson #3: Assignments can wait, but your family and friends will not; so treasure them before they are gone.


I inspired many people

pang sheng jun (2)

My sister created this blog for me during 2013 as she said that she saw the potential in me to inspire others to work harder towards their goal.

“Jie, are you crazy? It’ll never work out for sure. Who would want to read my blog anyway?” 

“Sheng Jun, trust me, I see your potential in blogging, try it out for a bit, and if it does not work out then at least you know you tried. Just start blogging about your life experiences now and see how things go, yeah?” 

Skeptical, I started to pen down my life experiences as a national swimmer.

So a year passed and ever since the creation of this blog, I’ve received quite a few emails from you guys thanking me for inspiring you all to overcome your setbacks and work harder towards your goals, and honestly speaking, it really touches my heart seeing that I was able to inspire many of you to not give up and push on.

This blog was created with the purpose of inspiring others to work hard and never give up, and I’m really happy that I’m on the right track. Looking back at my past year’s journey as a blogger, I’m glad my sister encouraged me to start blogging, because now I’m able to look back at those wonderful memories across the year as I often forget what happen through the year with such a packed schedule.

Of course, I may be slow at replying my emails at times as I’m busy juggling university and swimming but trust me, I’ve read all your emails and Ask.Fm/Ask.PSJ questions, and I just want to give you the best reply possible, which is why I may be slower in my replies. Just know that I’m really thankful for all the kind words from you all. I just haven’t got the time to reply each and everyone of you but give me time and I will try my best to reply you all soon.

If I missed out on replying your email, just know I’ve read them and I’m really appreciative of all your emails. It’s really good to know they you guys managed to overcome your setbacks in life, keep up with that never say die attitude 🙂

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone of you for the constant support for my blog. Since it’s creation in 2013, my blog has reached 100,000+ views. I honestly didn’t expect that it would grow so big, but I’m really grateful for all your support towards my blog, it really motivated me to write more knowing that I’m able to change people’s lives. I’m honestly nothing without you guys, so thank you so much. 🙂

Life Lesson #4: I’m glad I’m able to inspire people with my life experiences, and I hope that I can inspire many others in 2015. 


Processed with Moldiv

Nobody knows what’s in store for us in 2015, but I’m just going to have fun, hope for the best and things will go smoothly.

Let’s all strive for a better 2015! 🙂


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