Mo is the founder of The Happiness Planner- a planner that not only helps you strategically plan your days, but also helps you gain self awareness, build good habits, and become happier through gratitude, journaling, and monthly reflections. Mo's mission is to inspire people to live a purpose and passion driven life, and to find happiness from within.
Her interest in personal development started when she was a young teen, but her desire to live a fulfilled life enabled her to inspire others to seek their true passions as well. What started off as a blog, turned into a product that helps people from all over the world live a happier life.
As we get older, we're expected to choose the safer route. The route that will provide stability and a decent salary, instead of chasing our wildest dreams. Mo's story is a reminder that you have to have courage to pursue your passions because that is what will lead to a fulfilled life.
I've used the happiness planner for over two years, so I was beyond excited when Mo agreed to be a part of my Women in Leadership series. In this interview, she gives great advice on shifting your mindset to live a more purposeful life.
Who inspires you, and what’s the best advice they have given you?
The best advice I’ve been given was by a DJ friend whom I met at the gym when I was 16; he said something to me that’s been stuck with me since.
“If you can turn your passion into a job, then work will never feel like work another day in your life.”
Since then, I had been trying to turn one of my passions into my career (which I now have today).
Another great advice is by my Dad. When I graduated, I asked him for some tips in finding jobs. He said, “Don’t focus on finding a job. Focus on finding yourself first. Otherwise, you’ll jump from one job to another without feeling fulfilled. Don’t waste time doing that.”
When you started The Happiness Planner, what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
Initially, it was coming up with that golden idea. I was passionate about so many things that it’s hard to pinpoint which idea I should pick and turn into a business and whether that would work out long-term. It might look like I came up with the idea for The Happiness Planner easily, but I spent the whole high school years and years in university obsessing over new business ideas. I was dancing around the idea of selling something inspirational but never knew what that was until I started the blog, and the feedback from my blog’s readers led me to the Happiness Planner that we design today.
What do you tell yourself when you feel intimidated or like you can’t do something?
When I feel intimidated or feel like I can’t do something, I think about why? Why do I feel scared? Why do I feel intimidated? And you will find that it always comes to our lack of certain skill sets or experiences. So in order to be less intimidated or scared, you just have to learn more about what you want to do, gain more skill sets, and try it for the first time and do it over and over until it no longer scares you. Everything we do for the first time is scary to us. But when we do it a few more times, it will no longer be scary.
So just remind yourself, that by the fourth time, you won’t be scared anymore. Keep pushing yourself until you’re no longer scared. Remind yourself of past experiences where you had to push yourself to do something – the first time you did it, it was scary. Then you kept doing it, and you’re no longer scared of it – it starts to be fun. This applies to everything in life: from riding a bicycle to playing sports (any type), playing musical instruments, or traveling. Your comfort zone keeps expanding every time you get out of your comfort zone.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about happiness?
1. Happiness is not when everything is great in life. But it’s our ability to still be happy when life doesn’t go our way. It’s all up to how we perceive events that happen to us and things that are outside our control. We can always have fun dealing with life’s challenges if we stay adaptive to change.
2. The most stable form of happiness is when you learn to rely on yourself for happiness – not on external sources. Everything outside of us always changes – circumstances, people, the economy! So if you learn to be happy with your own company, then you’ll guaranteed to always be able to find happiness no matter what happens in life. But if you’re not happy with your own company, you will always have to get validation from external sources – it can be exhausting.
If your younger self met you today, what would she be most proud of?
She’d be proud that I’ve made all of my childhood dreams, what I dreamed of having since I was 10, come true. I’ve always thought I would have a global inspirational brand that people love; where I design beautiful products that people love and help people around the world become a better version of themselves. On top of this, it’s an online business which enables me to travel the world and be location independent. I grew up in Thailand with a strict mother, so I always dreamed of traveling the world, living in different countries surrounded by people who look different from me – and I am living that life right now.
How do you manage your time so you can be fulfilled in every aspect of your life?
I have my priorities. My number one priority is my health. I make sure I get 8 hours of sleep daily (otherwise, my immune system will get weak and I’ll get sick), exercise regularly (4-5 times a week), and eat healthily (proper nutrient and vitamin intake). My second priority is work because it’s my lifeline. I live on it, and I have people (my team members) who rely on me. It’s also my purpose in life. If I don’t grow business to the point that I dreamed of since little, I would feel that I’m not living up to my full potential.
Over the years, I’ve also learned to not overwork. I do this by following my energy – how I feel. If I feel tired, I rest. If I feel inspired, I work extra hard. I don’t push myself to work if I have a headache. I believe that it’s important to follow your energy because your body knows best. Plus, you’re much more productive anyway when you get enough rest. It is very important to get a good 8 hours of sleep every day! And if you have cramps, you can relax. It’s totally okay!
What are your sources for inspiration as someone who inspires others?
I listen to podcasts. How I Built This is one of my favorites. But honestly, I’ve become so content over the years that I no longer feel that success is everything. I used to be so ambitious – I wanted to be a Forbes Under 30 star and win Entrepreneur of the Year award. But a few years ago, I met many startup founders who won awards whose startups later on failed, as well as founders who were seen as incredible to the eyes of others, but behind the scene, they were battling depression. Those observations made me realize that titles meant nothing if you’re not truly happy inside. And if you don’t have a true purpose behind what you build, your startup will disappear one day. At the end of the day, nothing else matters as much as your inner happiness. Growth doesn’t matter if it means the startup won’t sustain itself without VC cash injected. Being successful doesn’t matter if you’re a bad partner to your spouse and a bad parent to your children. Being successful doesn’t matter if you’re depressed behind closed doors.
So besides listening to Podcast here and there, I don’t worship success anymore because I think it’s empty in the end if you’re not truly happy on your journey to success. Success to me now is being happy living the life you love.
You work in a space focused on inspiration, happiness, and motivation. We are all human, and on some days, we feel down and can’t seem to shake the feeling-As someone whose career is centered on this, what do you do when you have these days?
I have learned to accept that both negative and positive feelings come and go. I observe myself so much that I know if I feel down today, I won’t feel down tomorrow. It really comes and goes even though in the moment, you feel like your world is tumbling down. Sometimes when I feel down, I want to change my plans to suit the feeling I feel that day, BUT because I have observed myself so much, I now know that tomorrow I will feel better … and I would wish I hadn’t changed my plans lol. So I’ve learned to stop myself from taking any actions when I feel down.
I have also learned to manage myself better. I now know what I can do to make myself feel better when I feel down e.g. playing the piano, going to the gym, calling a close friend, etc. So when I feel down, I do these things.
I believe the key is knowing who we are and learning to manage our reactions to negative emotions better as we age. Negative emotions are there to make us feel human. We can’t feel pleasure if we’ve never felt sadness or the blues. So just learn to manage your negative emotions better by knowing what can help you battle them. Maybe it’s taking a hot bath? Talking to your therapist? Getting lost in your favorite hobby? Observe yourself.
The happiness planner is filled with awesome quotes, if you had to choose a few, which ones would they be?
There are so many! If I have to pick a few, I’d say…
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
- Marcus Aurelius
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust
“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”
– Lao Tzu
You can sign up for The Happiness Planner Web app here
They also have Free printable on their website
Follow them on their socials for daily inspo: