Trace Decay Theory

You can only start 2021 properly after doing these 3 things

Oops, is it 2021 already? If you are like me, the last few days was like a blur. A combination of Christmas, New Year and wine probably pushed the thoughts of wealth management to the back of our minds. But that’s alright, that’s what Wealthdojo is here for. In 2021, Wealthdojo will focus more on emotional finance (something that isn’t really talked about among financial experts).

But wait!

Before you get busy into life (again), take a step back. Don’t be a hamster in a wheel and start grinding/hustling. Take a step back and ponder on what worked last year, what kind of fruit your hustle bore and also your achievement you had. It is easy to continue forward. I challenge you to take the next 15 minutes for this exercise. I guarantee you that the next 15 minutes will set the stage for your 2021.


#1: 13 Milestones of 2020

It is very human of us to forget after we finish something. According to Trace Decay Theory: The theory that if memories are not reviewed or recalled consistently, they will begin to decay and will ultimately be forgotten.

Trace Decay Theory
Trace Decay Theory: Did I watch this movie last year?

We quickly forget about projects we completed whether professionally or personally. One very popular response I get when I remind someone of their achievement is this.

Me: “Remember you achieve XXX in 2015?”.

Someone: “Got meh? Now you say it, seems very familiar”.

Today, I challenge you to write down 13 milestones that you have accomplished in 2020. This is very important because we tend to discredit ourselves for things that we have done. By writing down our wins (even small ones), we are training our brain to appreciate the success we are achieving. It is also a strong intrinsic motivator for ourselves. Whether it is big or small, write it down. It is your milestone for 2020 and no one will be there to judge you. For those of you who have more, go beyond 13.

If you wish to read more, I will share 3 of my milestone in 2020.


First Death Claim

One July evening, I was having dinner with my friends when I received a text from a client, David (fictional name to protect the identify of the client).

“Hi Chengkok. My wife passed away this morning.”

I stared at my phone for a few minutes before my friend poked me in the ribs. I was slightly dazed and felt as if my mind was floating. I excused myself to go to the toilet still thinking of what to say, how to reply and whether to call David. With what felt like hours, I could only muster a simple “My condolences to your family. How are you?”.

“I’m fine. Could you help me with my wife’s death claim?”

I doubt David was fine that day. During the day when I met him, I could see the dark rings under his eyes. His eyes were puffy and seemed unfocused. It was a hard conversation even for me. I repeated to him what his wife shared with me when she first bought the policy. It was a policy that will mature in a few years time, the time when their children will be all grown up and she was hoping to use the money for their retirement holiday. It wasn’t much. The maturity was in the range of few thousands but she was very enthusiastic about it. I heard a big sniff and a very soft “Thank you”.

In the next couple of weeks, I settled the claim for his family. In the financial services industry, I am no stranger to death, critical illness or hospitalisation. I have done numerous big claims and small claims amounting up to 7 figures and in the course of it impacted and changed many lives. However, my first death claim stirred many emotions in me and reminded me how fragile life was. It was really my pleasure servicing you.


First Roadtrip in Australia

It is strange that having a first road trip in Australia is a milestone. For the many drivers out there, you might think this is a joke. Except for someone, who had a driving accident before.


In Nov 2016, I was young and wanted to “save time in my itinerary”. The result was a very tired driver (me) and a crashed car. I was alone in New Zealand when I crashed. I was very tired and fell asleep on my wheels. One second. One second was all it took. I nodded off and the next thing I knew, I was skidding down into a rocky path. I honestly thought I would die. When I crawled out of the vehicle, I was trembling. As I sit down on the rough rocky road, I couldn’t help but notice that the surrounding was so beautiful. Thank goodness it wasn’t my turn to go.

Ever since then, I had a fear of driving. My senses will be heighten whenever I had to drive. Driving a mere 10 minutes felt like running a marathon. I knew I was holding on to a high amount of mental tension.

In 2020, it was decided that I would go on a road trip in Australia. The first day experience was extremely tense. I was horned at, the cars around me was going very quickly and I felt paranoid from the constant pressure from the car behind me gave. However, after 2 days, I felt more comfortable and more confident driving. Though I still feel the tension, I learnt to be aware of the tension but not let it overrun me. It was certainly a breakthrough.


First MDRT

I got a surprise when my Director called me up to share with me that I was very close to MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table). During the time, we were in the midst of the circuit breaker. COVID-19 literally paused the entire economy in Singapore and World Wide. I thought this would be year of survival. Never would I thought this is the year I would achieve my first MDRT.

For those who are new to this term, it represents a milestone for financial consultants as it means that we are among the top 5% of consultants world wide! I never dreamt of achieving such accolades in my career. My intention was to help the Educated Poor elevate themselves to achieve the financial success they would given the right tools (6 Levels Wealth Karate) and right mindset.

This success is build on trust and referral from my clients and friend. A big thank you for helping me achieve this milestone in 2020.

MDRT Chengkok

Hope you enjoyed the read. Now it is your turn, what are your milestones for 2020?


#2: 20 Things to be Gratitude for

Our brains have been trained to look out for threats and worries. That’s how the human race has survived for the many years. It is not difficult to think about something that we are worried about. However, remembering what we are grateful for can help to tip our brains to thrive instead of survive.

I challenge you to make a list of 20 things you are grateful for in 2020.

These are a few of mine.

  1. Healthy (no major sickness)
  2. Can work from home
  3. Self invented tofu sleeping technique (to sleep within 5 mins)
  4. Trust and referrals
  5. Having a listening ear
  6. Parents fast technology adoption rate

What’s yours?


#3: Who do you want to be?

In the last 10 years, I have been taught to write out your goals, what you want to achieve in the upcoming year and our New Year Resolution. However, these New Year Resolution rarely make it pass February. The reason why it is so difficult to “lose that weight”, or “save that amount of money” is because these are tasks that we have to complete.

As human beings, I believe we are lazy in nature and these tasks (especially if they are difficult) tend to be put off until the last minute or the next year. Instead of having goals/tasks, I challenge you to write out who do you want to be list. Create an identity that you can be proud of.

Instead of “Lose 5kg”, consider “I want to be fit”.

Instead of “Save $10,000”, consider “I am accountable to my money”.

Instead of “Read 10 books”, consider “I want to upgrade my brain”.

The actions will follow. Personally, I want to be a thought leader in personal finance. I want to be an inspiring leader and I want to be physically active and strong.

What’s yours? Share it in the comments below.


Chengkok is a licensed Financial Services Consultant since 2012. He is an Investment and Critical Illness Specialist. Wealthdojo was created in 2019 to educate and debunk “free financial advice” that was given without context.  

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