Happy New Year!
If you’ve made New Years resolutions in the past, you know how hard it can be to stick to them.
The biggest problem is often figuring out how to balance your priorities. If you have had trouble balancing work, family, spirituality, health, wealth, then you know what it feels like when you put more than you can handle on your plate.
Because of that, I’ve always been an avid fan of setting goals regularly and recalibrating them throughout the year.
Over the past 3 months, I started using a whiteboard to tackle goal setting for my 5 top Priorities.
Using something I call 'The Backtracker Exercise’, it helps me take a quick birds eye view of the foreseeable future, along with what’s important today.
The Backtracker Exercise
1. ALWAYS be grateful for EVERYTHING you have. (Cambodia)
After hearing about the tourist traps and witnessing people beg and lie to me to make a living, it seemed like anything goes. Most of the locals were making $50-100USD per month. That's less than $2/day. Yet Cambodians seemed to be the happiest people on Earth, in the simplest living conditions. Limited hot water and electricity in some places made even the worst conditions in Vancouver seem like a fairy tale.
Sinac, my Tuk-Tuk driver for a day, showed so much appreciation and joy from GETTING to work, I was extremely humbled. Could you imagine being that appreciative of where you're at, wherever you're at?
2. Work your ass off and never settle for being mediocre. (Philippines)
While I was enjoying what seemed like luxury because of the currency exchange differences, I also realized the huge opportunity in earning capacity back home. Though life seemed simpler in Manila, it's also a lot harder. With long days and long hours, brutal pollution and working conditions, Canadian employers seemed like guardian angels.
... Yeah, you're right. Maybe that's going too far. But putting my head down and going to work seems like a mighty fine idea.
3. In unknown territory, go explore. (Thailand)
The best feeling in the world wasn't getting lost in Bangkok for 10 hours and absorbing everything the city had to offer. It was unexpectedly finding my way back home after that. Not only did I see tons, but it felt amazing discovering familiarity. There's nothing quite like activating your internal GPS and independence and rushing off on an adventure.
I went through an emotional roller coaster of feeling exhausted, grumpy and judged to feeling confident, exhilarated and at home in the span of the day. I wouldn't trade those tougher emotions for anything else. In facing them, I grew immensely.
Oh, and if I didn't go explore, I probably wouldn't have had the best meal of my life. (LINK)
4. Writing is the best outlet for clarity. (China)
Want the cheapest and most uplifting cure to stress and worry? It's writing.
Because I was traveling by myself for the majority of my trip; I often had a lot of time alone with my thoughts. Personal questions about work, relationships, and life constantly barraged my conscious mind and in effort to maintain my sanity, I would write to clear the air. Sometimes I didn't have any answers, but I would just jot down questions. As the day passed, I would monitor my thoughts and find probable answers. Ranging from mildly retarded to highly genius, I would constantly be throwing poor ideas out and storing the better ones for later use. Creativity soared as I searched for better ways to describe or invent stories. Reading other books was great too, not only to increase knowledge about new topics but also to explore different forms of prose.
5. There's always a party. (Vietnam)
Singing and dancing like no one else is watching is the funnest thing I know to do. Completely disregarding judgement, I found that I could pick my mood up instantly by singing dumb ass songs or bobbing my head on a train. It's cool to be different. Trust me, everyone else on the MRT was jealous I was having more fun than they were.
Self-talk played a huge part in keeping myself company as well, as I entertained and chased laughter in self-amusement. In gloomier moods, I would begin talking out loud to myself and narrating play-by-plays. Nothing better for attitude management.
6. Asking for advice is the quickest route to success. (Singapore)
Everybody has different problems in life. The good news is that my relatives have gone through most of my problems already. It turns out that the dilemmas that I'm currently dealing with seem trivial compared to the stuff they've dealt with. Got relationship problems? Family issues? Strapped for cash? Career in suspense?
It's not that bad.
In one instance, I spent 5 hours listening to how my aunt raised my cousins. I found out what the hardest thing was for her and how she balanced raising kids as a mom with her work as a professional. Without sharing my problems, I just asked her what obstacles and challenges she overcame and then I shut up and listened.
Because she had raised such amazing kids, I knew her advice was solid. Through her perspective, I was better fit to deal with my own life. I find that more people are willing to give advice than to take it. Shoot, give it to me! I'll take it all!
Through this trip, I learnt to follow examples of success in problem areas and ask how to emulate it. It's not often you get to mentor someone younger, and when you do, most people jump at the chance to instill wisdom.
Turning this to you, what lessons have you learnt from traveling?
PS. When traveling, you're never really alone ;)
This year marks the end of my university chapter.
5 Years that encompassed
- Alpha Kappa Psi
- Southwestern Redline
- Walter Gage Toastmasters
- University degree from UBC
The past 5 years have been phenomenal and an absolute blur of AWESOMENESS.
That being said, I want to announce that I will be working on a new album, titled "Get what you came for."
A wise friend of mine, Alborz Massah, shared with me the following statement,
"You get in life what you have the courage to ask for."
I realized that the majority of people (including myself) don't always get what we want because we get to a certain level and we become satisfied with that level of performance. That's a scary thought, especially if getting what we want is just around the corner, needing just a little more persistence, dedication and commitment.
I'm moving on, and I want to capture all the feelings I've had over the past half-decade with an album to put those thoughts together.
I want to make sure that if you want something, you go for it.
You don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
You don't get to tell yourself that you can't get it, or that getting most of what you want is good enough.
Second place isn't good enough if you know you are capable of first.
This song was fun to do! It was also very different than what I've done, because hell, if I'm not growing, I'm dying. and I'm way too young to not be still growing.
To everyone that's been part of my university experience, thank you.
You've made it THAT much better <3
Click here to download: Jay Kiew - Get What You Came For (mp3 link)
I know what you're wondering. No, this isn't a sequel to Finding Nemo. This is about a mental state that any individual can find him/herself in, Flow.
Flow often occurs when you're learning something for the first time, such as playing piano, strumming a guitar or riding a bicycle. But it's not just that. It's way more.
I recently started measuring my productivity and levels of concentration with strategic learning.
The first thing I did was work/study for 50 minutes and then break for 10 minutes. The break could consist of YouTube, music, Facebook, email, washroom, walking around or stretching. I would then do another 50 minutes of studying, followed by 10 minutes of relaxing. This cycle would continue for 7-8 hours.
How I did this: I started the timer on my iPhone for 50 minutes, and proceeded to throw my phone off to the side. During the 50 minutes, my phone would be in airplane mode, ensuring that I didn't get any distracting texts or tweets. After every 50 minutes, Aloe Blacc's song, "I need a dollar." would start to play, announcing the break!
I've done this on and off for the past month and became really excited because I could go 8am-5pm straight. 90% of the time, my productivity would be through the roof. It was awesome! I also somehow associated feelings of happiness and accomplishment every time Aloe came on.
What became weirder over my study sessions was the fact that even when Aloe came on, there were occasions where I would continue working on study problems for 10-15 minutes! Eagerly! These occasions happened when I was in the middle of figuring the question out with a sense of confidence that I was capable of figuring out the answer.
The concept of flow, posited by psychology researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a current mental state which matches your challenge level and skill level, has been floating around in my discussions with friends. For me, being in a state of flow has been phenomenal.
I recognize that I'm in flow when I have all of the following;
a) high intensity of concentration and focus,
b) clarity of thinking,
c) an openness to new ideas or reframing old ones,
d) increase in critical-thinking and problem-solving,
e) an eagerness to learn and discover
f) spurts of limitless creativity where all options seem possible
Flow generally starts when I have an actionable short-term goal that is significant to my well-being in the long run. Time tends to pass by and it doesn't matter because I am focused on the present. It is able to continue if the short-term goals change and evolve for the better. However, the minute something else more interesting pops up, there is a loss of flow.
I'm still playing around with the idea of consistent flow, especially since at this point in time, I've been in constant flow for 72 hours (with the exception of sleep time, which has decreased significantly). To avoid crashing, I'm consuming high levels of nutrients through different fruits (bananas, apples, oranges), and LOTS of tea (8 cups/day: Green, Earl Grey, Chrysanthemum, and some Starbucks Zen ish), and straight WATERRRRRRR =D (4 glasses) , in addition to my meals.
Q-Tip so far:
With subjects that you don't like, or the ones that you find harder to grasp, study in shorter periods of time. (40-50 minutes is optimal)
With subjects that you do like, or subjects that match both your skill and challenge level, longer study sessions are possible since it induces flow. (1 hour+)
Are you outcome dependent?
Tuesday, December 5th.
Michelle sat in her desk, waiting for the final to start. She had managed to get in 2 solid days of studying and felt fairly prepared for the finance exam. Still, even in her 3rd year of university, she strongly disliked taking tests. A decent student, Michelle had a solid B average throughout each semester and worked fairly hard for it. Yet, at the end of each semester, final exams came and dropped her mark anywhere from 5-10 percent because she froze.
The timer on the classroom projector hit 12:00 noon. The 2 hour countdown for finance had begun. Michelle looked at her paper and blinked. It was happening again. She didn’t understand the first question. Nervousness spread across her body as she started tapping the desk, trying to read the questions again.
Thoughts of her current mark going into the final seeped into her mind. If I’m at a 75%...and I get 50% on the final… that would mean I would end up with a 65%! Oh my gosh!
What do you think happened? I'm not too sure, but chances are she didn't do too well.
Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot about top performers. In high pressure situations, they don’t crumble. Why?
Because they take away the pressure on themselves.
They do so by not even focusing on the future, but focusing on the present. They are not outcome-dependent, but instead focused on the task at hand.
They are performance-dependent. What this does is it allows the individual to activate the logical, problem-solving part of the brain, bypassing the emotional part that tells you "OH NO!"
I noticed the following video about Brandon Roy, an NBA player, on Lilly’s Facebook feed. I’m not a huge basketball fan, but watching this made it so obviously clear. For somebody to perform excellently under pressure, you’d have to not be thinking about anything but right now.
By removing the dependency on a good outcome, you are able to focus with decisiveness in your actions and thoughts, providing a certain sense of clarity. As such, you begin to act on the world around you, instead of being strained by it. What this requires is a sense that your past performance should lead up to a sense of confidence that you are prepared.
For instance, you studied 2-3 days, at an average of 7 hours per day, with a decent 75% as a class grade. This should be the foundation upon which you base your emotions in a final. You then are able to tell yourself, "Hey, based on what I've done in the past 3 months, I should know enough to take care of these questions in front of me." This leads to a neutral pacification of your negative emotions of nervousness, lack of confidence, stress, pressure, freaking out, etc.
Just some food for thought ;)
Are you outcome dependent?
Check out the video below! http://www.nba.com/blazers/tbtv/video.html?videoID=2525
Wow, the energy coming from everybody on New Years Eve was amazing! It feels as if everybody is making plans, setting resolutions, and is on path to breaking through personal records - I love it!
Yesterday also marked the start of my team for my Southwestern summer, see here @ www.swredline.com, and to top it all off, I have hit 1,000 followers on Twitter! Thank you all.
Recruit a 10-person team for the summer internship
Run for President, Omega Gamma Chapter, Alpha Kappa Psi
Find a niche, launch an e-commerce website for residual income
Hit 5,000 units
Help 50 more students better their public speaking skills
Prepare for TM 2012 World Championship by speaking in front of 50 different audiences.
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.