The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

After reading online reviews of this book, I decided to join the bandwagon and buy it. This book is literally, as it states, practical. It’s a great read about how and why we may relate to the world as we do.

As you know, I am forever curious about human behaviour, emotion and interaction. I find it fascinating that we can change our habits, perspectives and mindset once we are exposed to a new way of living!

The Four Agreements are as follows:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

I read this book in chronological order. Surprisingly, it helped to read each practical guide in this way. To digest the information and apply it accordingly takes time and patience.

If you’re anything like me, curious about human behaviour and finding ways to improve the way we treat others, I’d definitely recommend this book. Below, we can look at each Agreement and how I personally used them to improve my life. I’ve also included a link to the book so you can try these out for yourself!

1. Be impeccable with your word.

This was an interesting agreement. Ruiz defines this simply as not gossiping about others.

When we’re so engrossed in other people’s lives, it doesn’t give us much space to practice self-awareness or empathy for others. We can get caught in a cycle of rumours about people we probably don’t know too well. What’s the point? Not only is this harmful for others, it sets a negative tone in our own minds.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

As we are emotional beings, there are many moments that we can lose our cool or spit out the wrong thing at the wrong time. That’s normal. Paying attention to the way we think and speak can help alleviate awkward foot-mouth situations.

2. Don’t take anything personally.

This agreement really hit home for me. Ruiz explains this rule simply: what other people say and do are a projection of their own reality.

When someone would correct my mistakes, it felt like a personal attack. The story re-played in my head: “I don’t know anything, of course I made a mistake. I can’t do anything right.” I struggled with self-confidence and self-doubt. I was told often that I didn’t know anything, so I believed it.

If I could remove the attachment to another’s words, I wouldn’t find myself in this toxic cycle of pain and belittling.

I fought so hard, for so long to begin changing my mindset. Changing a story we’ve told ourselves for years is difficult to say the least. It’s confronting. It will always be a work in progress. But progress is still progress! That’s a win!

3. Don’t make assumptions

Yet another agreement that resonated deeply for me. I was beginning to think that this book could address universal social/personal problems with unbelievable ease.

The way my brain has been wired, unfortunately jumps straight to conclusions.

Although expecting the worst may prepare us for certain challenges, it doesn’t help in daily life.

Assuming the worst about others or ourselves is sabotaging. It can affect how we trust others and maintain relationships.

Instead of making assumptions, ask. Having difficult conversations have been a struggle for me. I will say after years of working through my fears and building up my confidence, asking to clarify something has improved my life exponentially.

It can be difficult to know the line between clarifying a topic/opinion and starting a fire. So tread lightly while putting this agreement in practice. Our laundry doesn’t need to be aired to the general public.

Change first starts with you. So instead of replaying an assumption in your head, remind yourself that there is no evidence for it. If that person/group of people have not expressed their dislike toward you, don’t assume they do. Of course, we can tell through behaviour and social settings how someone may feel toward us. If it is hurtful or toxic, then leave.

4. Always do your best

This agreement was the easiest to digest for me. Growing up, I knew that my best was the only option.

I learned that nobody is perfect. We make mistakes and we may hurt others in the process. I learned that our best may not ever be good enough to some people. That’s okay. Take the lesson and move forward.

Of course, being hard on ourselves isn’t the way to go about accomplishing all our goals. There must be balance between work and play.

Doing your best can look different when comparing to another person, so just focus on living life according to your best ability. Our best effort changes from moment to moment. For example, we cannot expect the same quality of work or productiveness when we’re sick. Be mindful of yourself and others.

At the end of the day, if you know you tried your best, you’re saving yourself from your own and even others’ judgement. No one can take that away from you. Stand tall in your accomplishments!

Have you read this book yet? If so, which agreement did you resonate with most? What did you find challenging?

Click here to purchase the book! (Paid Link)

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10 Lessons I Learned Moving Out at 18.

10 Lessons I Learned Moving Out at 18.

In Australia, 18 is the legal adult age. It is culturally appropriate to celebrate big – go hard or go home type of celebration. Yes I was excited to have a huge party, but I also thought often of moving out.

For those of you who know me personally, probably know how often I would get grounded throughout high school. Yes, I said high school.

I was stubborn, strong-willed and hated being controlled. I thought I knew everything. Seeing my younger brothers out late while I was not allowed out after a certain time drove me mad. Not only was it double-standards, it was expected that I obeyed (hint: of course I didn’t). I rebelled. A lot. And got grounded for it. A lot.

Because of this, I made my mind up about moving out as soon as I was a legal adult. I realised years later, my parents were just trying their best to raise a girl in a world where our safety is statistically threatened.

Although my first rental experience was with extended family, the amount of freedom I suddenly had was such a relief. Yes, I now had responsibility with rent and being more organised, but this responsibility meant that I was free.

Since then, I have lived in 5 different homes over the last 7 years. All with their own benefits and challenges. I share these with you below!

Here is a snapshot of the 10 things I learned:

1 – Prioritise financial responsibility. From ages 15-20, saving money wasn’t a huge priority in my life. What I earned, I spent – and quickly. However, moving from home to home, I soon realised that having savings was a smart decision. The kind of decision where past-Angela would always be grateful once I took this responsibility seriously.

2 – You never know what a person is like until you live with them. Life gets stressful for all of us. Some days are so difficult that we lash out at others – our friends, family or even housemates if we live in the same vicinity. Be aware of your own behaviour and respect your fellow housemates when times get tough.

3 – Communication skills. For the most part, I thought my communication skills were great. I’d be told by relatives and strangers alike how well I spoke and when I speak in front of groups/crowds, I could command attention. However, interpersonally, I struggled to let others know how I truly felt. After a few years of meeting new people, going through many ups and downs, my communication is becoming clearer. I’m better at saying what I mean and that is an accomplishment!

4 – I’m responsible for my own life, not anyone else. But if I need help, I have to ask. This is a work in progress. When I was younger, asking for help meant I “didn’t know anything” and the gesture of asking was a shameful thing. However, asking for help when it is needed has been a tremendous benefit. Taking responsibility for my life as an adult, means networking and finding resources when I can’t do things on my own.

5 – People make a home, not the items. Decluttering was a game changer for me. Realising that I could let go of items that no longer served its purpose was a lesson of freedom I will always cherish.

6 – Relationships are a two-way street. Early on, I was busy working 3 jobs and studying at uni that I didn’t make time for a my friends or family. We can’t expect others to be in our life if we never balance our time with other commitments. Spend time with the people you care about! The present is all we have!

7 – Acceptance of others and yourself. *Huge lesson alert!* Growing up in a family of 7, it wasn’t new being surrounded by people. However, what was new, were the differing personalities, clashing schedules and sharing a space with non-family members. I learned a lot about patience, compromise and communication.

8 – Do whatever it takes. Whether it be financially, emotionally or physically, just do it. Achieve the tasks that you set. Pave the way for others in your family of your social circle. Remind yourself why you do what you do. If you’re stressing about money, get a second job or sacrifice Netflix for a year so you have enough to live.

9 – Remember what you’ve been through. There would be many moments I was terrified of not being able to pay rent due to working casual jobs (obviously my choice). I forgot about the plans I put in place to offset my lack in income. I forgot about the reminders I used to set for deadlines. Remembering that I’ve tackled similar tasks in the past, is such a good encouragement!

10 – Stand up for yourself and don’t take anyone’s crap. People have told me in the past that I can be easily persuaded or that I put up with “too much”. I finally took their advice and started saying “no” to demands and people who seek to treat me with disrespect. We all get hurt by others, it is a condition of the human experience. That doesn’t mean we let people take advantage of us! If something isn’t right, stand up against it!

If you have ever thought of moving out of home or perhaps you need a new start, I hope these tips are helpful!

Thinking back on all the memories, joyful times and challenges, reminds me that if I ever find myself in a similar situation that I will make it through. I’ve been through it before, I will get through it again. You will too! Our experiences make us wiser and stronger!

What lessons did you learn when you started renting? Share your experiences below!

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How To: Save Money Living Paycheck to Paycheck.

How To: Save Money Living Paycheck to Paycheck.

The last 10 years (9 considering the unstable hours), I have worked mostly casual positions in hospitality and retail. I became inspired by these motivational speakers and YouTubers when they’d share their experiences. How they would save and what that would afford them – e.g. freedom, travel, security. Could I have this life? If I had this life, what would it mean?

Saving money would address two important needs for me: financial security and personal accomplishment. This would be my “why”.

Below, I share some tips I learned over the years to save money, no matter what income you’re earning.

Find your “why”, goal setting & approximate earnings.

What’s your reason to save? University payments? Buying a house? Attending a concert?Travelling? It could be similar to my goal of personal accomplishment and financial freedom. No matter what your “why” is, write it down somewhere or repeat it to yourself each day from here on out. When things get difficult – and it will – your “why” can serve as a reminder.

I set myself a goal of $5,000 over 12 months. This may seem like too much time to save this amount, but with my earnings (usually minimum wage or less = AUD $18-$20 or less per hour) it would be an accomplishment.

Discussing my goals with my boyfriend, we agreed that I would deposit savings into his account. That way, I wouldn’t have access to it. It would be like a slow-cooker — set it and forget it, except with money!

I spent a few months collating my approximate earnings over time. I made sure that working my minimum shifts, I could afford necessities of life: rent, phone bill, car payments, groceries. If all went south, I knew I could sell my car or phone and still survive on a skeleton wage.

Rent Assistance.

Disclaimer: I understand that not everyone has access to this or that everyone has the same benefits within and outside of Australia. 

Being on minimum wage and paying the amount of rent I was paying back then, meant that I qualified for Rent Assistance. If you’ve never heard of that, it is a small payment you can receive from the Australian government to help with rent. You must be eligible, apply and await approval before receiving this payment. For me, this made a huge difference.

Click the link below if you’d like more information.

Rent Assistance.

Expect the unexpected. 

During this time, things came up that I didn’t account for: family events, special holidays, not to mention winter and the dreaded flu… there were times where I’d put little to no savings away. I struggled to accept these normal occurrences like illness, drop in business at work and general life hiccups. Every second I wasn’t working, meant I wasn’t working toward my goals.

I needed to start expecting the unexpected – go back to basics: one of the reasons I started saving was for financial security. And when I got sick or if a family event came up, I could afford to pay for it.

And just like that, slowly but surely, financial security = check!

Stay consistent.

Every week, as soon as I got paid, I’d pay my rent and my bills. Without question. I’d then transfer money to my boyfriends’ account. This kept me accountable. If I asked for money, it would need to be under either of these conditions:

  1. Would not put my savings into a 50% deficit.
  2. Emergencies only! Meaning, illness, unexpected bill or special occasion.

Staying consistent was the biggest lesson for me. I was used to spending money without a care. Now I had this responsibility and accountability on my shoulders. I began to think about money differently. If I could achieve my goals, it would mean being a step closer to a future of financial stability.

Celebrate, track & automate.

Each month, I would ask Luke where I was at with my savings. These conversations were sometimes difficult to have because I’d be so disappointed in myself if I missed a payment or was $100-200 off my progress mark. Looking back, I wished I remembered that progress no matter how small, was still progress!

To track and plan expenses, you can draw up a monthly table, use an Excel spreadsheet or even create a table in Word. Predicting upcoming expenses including medical bills, birthdays, sentimental anniversaries or family holidays can really help you to achieve your goals.

Automation was new to me, but I utilised it without realising! I used my iPhone calendar to plan expenses every week, no matter what the event. I set my rent/bills on “recurring” for so I didn’t need to re-type it. I also automated my phone bill each month. Without lifting a finger, one of my bills were always paid. I no longer needed to worry about whether I missed a payment or think about when it was due.

If you’re able to, automate one or all necessary payments. Even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, knowing that one of your bills will never be pending can ease one stress off your shoulders. If you can’t automate payments, automate the organisation of your expenses. Set reminders on “recurring” so eventually it won’t be a surprise when a bill comes up and it’ll become a habit. We all have responsibilities, it just depends how we carry them out!

Save within your means.

A famous phrase is to “live within your means” and that’s good advice but I think it frames your mindset to be rigid. You may have to see the doctor and pay for medication — which could mean you can only put away $50 or less into savings. So what? You’re still making the best effort. Save within your means.

Here’s an Example of My Weekly Expenses*: 

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**Job 1 and 3 were my main sources of income. It also fluctuated depending on whether we were low on staff, if there was a function/birthday on or if there was a live act that weekend.

Snapshot of my crazy life: I worked days, nights, weekends… I’m actually surprised how many jobs I took on just to get through at times. 7:30am start at the first job, 1-5pm at another job and then 9pm-4am at the third job. Being young, I had the energy and the motivation – that worked for me!

Please remember that if you’re spreading yourself too thin and become stressed, irritated or start losing sleep — STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND RE-EVALUATE. There’s no point in suffering and negatively affecting your mental or physical health.

Some people benefit in pushing through self-imposed, rigid rules. Some don’t. Find what works for you and stick to it!

Fight the boredom.

Another thing I struggled with was the feeling of boredom. After a few months of saving, the feeling of doing something new had worn off. I wanted to go back to my old life of shopping and going out until the early hours of the morning.

If your budget is tight, find free things to do – go for walks in a new neighbourhood, find a new trail, re-watch old movies, play board games, visit friends or have them visit you. If you have access to internet, there are so many platforms for expression, and passing the time: YouTube, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, Quora, Tumblr and so forth.

This journey was not glamorous by any means! Although you better believe that if I happened to work 28-30 hour weeks, I would live it up! It’s all about balance. You can’t keep yourself cooped up at home with a mindset of “I can’t”. You can, it’s about finding a new way of doing the things you love and enjoy whilst on a budget.

Create extra income. 

As you know,  a job that is casual in nature means it’s mind-numbing to predict how much income you’ll earn the following week.

However! It doesn’t make your goal impossible.

I would pick up extra shifts by scrolling through a local Facebook group where employers/managers were looking for staff to fill hours with last minute notice.

Another way I’d pick up shifts was to build rapport with other stores in the same company. In many instances, I was able to work at multiple locations to make up my hours. It did require travel whether it be public transport or paying for my car expenses but it was worth it for the extra dollars in my pocket! I would often take public transport to save on petrol. I figured that if I had the spare time, I’d rather spend it travelling to my next shift!

Lastly, I would flip items online. Whether it be clothes, furniture or luggage – I was selling it for extra income. I would warn that it can be slow, so it requires patience!

In this day and age, income possibilities are vast.

Remember that you’re doing the best you can.

Throughout this time of saving, I often felt like I wasn’t doing enough. But looking back, I know I was just being hard on myself.

A year later, I managed to save approximately $4,400. I predicted with the hours I was getting from two jobs, I’d at least reach $5,000 by the end of the month. Unfortunately, my hours were cut by 70% due to the decline in business (perks of a casual job, amirite?). Nevertheless, I saved a decent amount!

I was so proud of myself for getting to that point.

It can take time for us to reach the next step in our career, land a job with stable hours or find a place that pays us the equivalent for the work we do. So don’t give up. Give it your focus, patience and dedication!

I hope these tips have helped motivate you to save for your next trip or for a rainy day.

If you can save on minimum/below minimum wage, you will always have the ability, discipline and patience to work towards financial freedom as you move into higher income.

What tips have you found helpful when living paycheck to paycheck?

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5 Reasons To Take The Love Language Quiz

5 Reasons To Take The Love Language Quiz

Four years ago, I saw “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman on a list of recommended books to read. Around the same time, I watched a news segment where a celebrity couple spoke about how learning their Love Language changed their perspective about expressing love. I headed to the website and read a short run-down of how learning love languages can help you connect with your significant other. I was intrigued.

After 15 minutes, I had taken the quiz and received a list of what my Love Languages were. I then convinced my boyfriend to take the quiz too. There was a small part of me that wondered if these could actually help in a relationship…

My Love Language Result:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Quality Time
  4. Receiving Gifts
  5. Physical Touch

My boyfriend’s Love Language Result:

  1. Physical Touch
  2. Words of Affirmation
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Acts of Service

After mulling over each other’s results, I was pretty shocked. This explained why I felt elated whenever Luke would help me with errands and why I’d feel content just spending one-to-one time with him. This also explained why Luke would hug longer than I was used to and why he appreciated every gift I bought him.

Not only was it interesting, but it helped us understand each other on a deeper level. It facilitated conversations we would never have had if it wasn’t for the quiz!

Here are 5 reasons why this quiz could help you!

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Although we both felt loved and appreciated by each other, there was yet more to learn! Of course, just because a Love Language was on the bottom of the list, it didn’t mean we hated it – it was something that we could work on and improve.

I thought about others in my life and how they express love. We’re all so different! Depending on our personality, upbringing and close social interactions, we can express our love for each other in a myriad of ways.

Learning isn’t just for the classroom!

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I realised that Luke and I would occasionally show each other love in opposite ways: Luke would be quite close in proximity while I would shy away. I would want to spend time with him, while he would buy me gifts. Although we appreciated these gestures of love, we weren’t completely connected.

In other words, we were speaking different ‘love languages’.

We’d be told all the time that we balance each other out as a couple. Luke is a planner, while I am spontaneous. I am creativity-minded, while Luke is logical and good with numbers.

To an extent, opposites can attract but when you’re constantly on a different page to your partner, it can cause discord. We may feel frustrated, misunderstood, misheard and even lonely. Sound familiar?

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Luke and I discussed what we thought of our results and we agreed to do our best to express our affection in ways that would be meaningful. We also made it a priority to always communicate if we felt uncomfortable, hurt or misunderstood by the other person. We worked on empathising with the other and did our best to understand each other’s perspective.

In a small but sure way, this helped us to be aware of those in our inner and outer circle. We may come from different, extreme or similar walks in life, but we all show love in universal ways.

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I became more open to physical affection and challenged Luke to respect personal space. In the same way, Luke continued to help me with errands but also challenged me to become more independent.

This was a great exercise for us to trust each other more and lean in to the process of trial and error.

Challenge. Trust. Communicate.

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It may sound “wishy-washy”, but you only need to look at Harry Harlow’s study of infant monkeys. It shone a light on the importance of maternal contact and the need for comfort in order to survive. This can extend to connection between partners, friends and even co-workers. One of our basic needs is to be loved, according to Maslow.

It is important to know ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically. It doesn’t have to include every single layer of our lives, but it can be beneficial for us to know our strengths, weaknesses, and what goals drive us. This can inform how and why we relate to others in the world in the way that we do.

Once we are aware of what makes us ‘tick’, we can feel confident in:

  • Decision-making
  • Setting boundaries
  • Trying something new like traveling alone
  • Creating and maintaining healthy relationships

Knowing what makes us feel loved and cared for can set the foundation for deep and enriching relationships! The world would be a much better place if we had more informed love and care.

What are your Love Languages? Is there something you’d like to explore or improve in your relationships and how you relate to yourself?

*Disclaimer: Affiliate links are have been used in this post. If you enjoy my content and the products mentioned, feel free to use the link! I appreciate your support!*

Click here to take the quiz!

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

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Review: Instant Cheddar Cheese Tteokbokki

Review: Instant Cheddar Cheese Tteokbokki

Coming back from my holiday in New Zealand was bittersweet. The views, the fresh air and the freedom to wake up in the morning and do whatever I wanted came to an end! The bright side though, was that I was back in my beloved bed and could start making that bread!

It was also time to get back into routine. So – although a day late – we went on our weekly grocery run! I picked up this instant tteokbokki from our local Asian grocer and was curious to try it. I’ve had rice cakes before, but never with it’s own marinade.

Unlike my last review, I’ll focus on these three categories:

  1. Convenience.
  2. Flavour.
  3. Worth it or not?

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intokk

My score: 7/10

As I get older, I notice my time is more limited. Although I try my best to cook something fresh each day, the weekend is usually a hit-and-miss when it comes to eating at ‘traditional’ breakfast and lunch hours. This instant tteokbokki is perfect for someone like me who tends to get lazy every now and then.

On this particular day, I woke up at 8AM and stayed in bed for an hour before actually getting up.Out the packet, it seemed super straight-forward! Good news. A sauce packet and a packet of mini tteokkbokki.

I tried to peel off the nutritional value sticker to see the cooking instructions on the cup. Since that was a fail, I watched a few YouTube videos which was really helpful!

Step 1: Add boiling water (50ml), sauce and tteokbokki into the cup. I added more water as I felt the amount wouldn’t cook the rice cake.

Step 2: Microwave. Time may vary. The only problem with this step?

We don’t actually own a microwave.

Step 3: I set up my portable electric stove and poured everything into a stainless steel saucepan. I simmered the rice cake for about 5 minutes or so, mixing it every so often so it didn’t stick to the bottom or burn.

It was starting to smell good! The rice cake gradually got softer. Once it was done, I turned the stove off and mixed the cheese through. I then transferred it back in the cup for an “authentic instant tteokbokki experience” — that was a mouthful!

Besides having to use a saucepan, throwing the two ingredients in to cook for a few minutes is still convenient to me!

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pottokk

My score: 7/10.

Initially, I tried the rice cake when it was done. It was quite sweet with a slight kick of spice. The cheese level was at a 6/10. It tasted more creamy than it did “cheesy”. For a little more flavour, added more cheese, sesame oil, Togarashi (Japanese 7 Spice Blend) and a pinch of chicken stock. Totally optional!

For an instant form of rice cake, the overall flavour was impressive. I haven’t tried anything like this before, so I don’t have anything to compare to. A few additions of my own did bring up the flavour though!

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tokcup

My score: 8/10.

For approximately $4.00, this microwavable snack is worth it! I wouldn’t say this is the healthiest snack to eat or that it would be appropriate for a whole meal, but it does satisfy hunger enough to get you through to lunch/dinner.

If you enjoy cheese-flavoured food, then I would say this instant tteokbokki would be a good product to try! Add some fresh spring onion and shredded cheese for extra flavour!

I hope you all had a wonderful, productive and relaxing weekend!

What’s your favourite savoury snack?

If you like spicy tteokbokki, you may enjoy this New Carbo Instant Tteokbokki!

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*Disclaimer: Affiliate links are in this post. If you enjoy this content and the products mentioned, feel free to use the link. I appreciate your support!*

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