Motivation and Procrastination are Two Sides of the Same Coin

Oh. I got a great idea, and here is another good one! The excitement of the new ideas can flood the mind, and you immediately get motivated to take action. However, for other things we tend to procrastinate, and that tomorrow would be another tomorrow. I see this procrastination tendency in myself, in my students and others.

Is it possible to create motivation or in other words, defend procrastination?

Researcher and Professor Pier Steel, who has researched on the theory of motivation theory, gives direct tools to stop procrastination or to get motivated.

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-11-33-41-pmBased on this formula, the level of motivation (M) is directly related the level of expectancy (E) and the value of the activity (V) to be done and indirectly related to the one’s level of impulsiveness (I) and time delay (D).

Expectancy relates to the one’s ability to achieve or to carry out the activity and the value of the activity regarding personal (one’s confidence), work (salary bonus), or social (greater good for humanity). Impulsiveness relates to one’s desire for immediate gratification. The longer it takes to obtain the reward, the strongest impact that delay has on decreasing motivation.

 

person-1281607_1920Tip #1: To increase motivation, since the E and V are in the numerator of this formula, increase your expectancy (your ability to achieve) and the value of the activity.

Tip #2: If you tend to be impulsive in your decision-making and strive for immediate gratification, practice embracing boredom. Strive to be comfortable to wait for a reward. Linger in the presence and be patient.

Tip #3: Sit still, meditate, and listen actively and with intention. Pay attention. Observe the task. Ask yourself whether this task or goal matters to you.

 

Mindful Micro-Moments

I ask my students, “When you think of the word ‘mindfulness,’ what words appear in your mind?”

Their Responses:  A man/woman on the mountain top, yoga, zen, prayer, silence, and impossible.  The last word struck out at me. I ask why do you say “impossible.”  In our technology-driven society where we are constantly being pulled in multiple directions at the same time and battling for attention on too many social media channels (i.e. should I check into my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat Like this or that, or thumb down this or that), it may seem impossible to be mindful about anything since our mind is ‘mind full of stuff’ already!

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Within the chaos of noise, white noise, the noise of the buzzing tones of our phone, text, or notifications, finding mindful moments may seem impossible or does it only appear to be impossible to provide an opportunity of possibility?

My response:  “There is More to Than Meets the Eye” – (also, one of my favorite quotes from the “Transformers Cartoon series in the ’80s).

Mindfulness is not about finding solitude, retreating to a haven from the noise that makes up life (your boss asking for a report, your family wanting your presence), or going to a remote, beautiful island where the water is crystal blue, and it’s just you and the seagulls.  No, mindfulness is more about finding mindful micro-moments throughout our day that reminds us that we are alive, breathing, and still here today.  I think mindfulness is a great gift to oneself when you can take a few seconds in the midst of the chaos, screaming background, or piles of deadlines, and take a breath, and be still even for a second. The awareness of these beautiful mindful micro-moments can help drive us through the mud and is probably (in my opinion) more effective and long-lasting in permeating to all your senses than taking selfies sitting (and probably freezing in all your five senses) on top of a mountain.

Work is a Social Determinant of Health

How’s Work Treating You? 

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I was reviewing the film “Unnatural Causes,” which highlighted the five social determinants of health: 1) economic stability, 2) education, 3) social and community context, 4) health and health care, and 5) neighborhood and built environment. As a health economist, I started to wonder how does the context of ‘work’ impact economic stability and health, or is it the other way around?  How does salary influences one’s status of health and well-being? Or does one’s health, well-being, and wellness impact one’s capacity to work more effectively, creatively and healthier, and thus impact economic stability (bringing home the bacon)? Perhaps, work and health are actually more closely linked, knitted in a cyclic way to well-being and to the other social determinants.

Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory Pyramid, at the foundation of the pyramid model, we need and value ‘physiological needs’ (such as food and water to keep the body functioning), then the need for ‘safety’ ( a home to keep you warm), then ‘sense of love and belonging’ (family, friends, and community such as ‘work’), then ‘esteem’ (respect for oneself and others), and then finally at the top of the pyramid – self-actualization (finding purpose and meaning).  Work and health are not only cyclic and feedback to each other, but also a part of the fundamental human values of existence.

In the last decades, Schools of Public Health have been addressing social of determinants of health by focusing on the cross-cutting knowledge in systems thinking, professionalism, health communication, bioethics, public health biology, and cultural competency. Perhaps, using this inter-disciplinary approach in public health education, we can better define work wellness, occupational health, and employment well-being, thus move forward to creating a culture of health and well-being.  While we cannot change a social norm moving from unhealthy work to healthy work overnight (or even within a decade), we can make micro-changes for ourselves, starting today, every day, any moment. Feeling empowered now, huh?

Empowered Mind = Empowered Body = Empowered To Work Toward A Greater Cause.

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Tips for Healthy Work Well-Being:

  1. Stop multi-tasking. Overstimulation of your mind with your too many tasks doesn’t allow your body and mind to tune into one thing. It takes actually between 10-20 minutes for your mind to transit from one task to another task. Become effective by focusing on ONE thing.
  2. Focus on 25 minutes Chunk.  Concentrate on your task for 25 minutes. Turn off the email notification, cell phone, and don’t have more than ONE internet browser window opened.
  3. Take 5 minutes to reflect, walk and stretch.
  4. Reflect on how much you have completed, how do you feel (little less stressed?) how does your body feel (less tension on the neck)? Did you mind wander off, and if so, how many times? Did you try to open more one window browser, check email, or text during the 25 minutes?  Try another 25 minutes chunk of time, and keep those social media distractors turned off – “out of sight, out of mind”.
  5. Integrate one-minute meditation throughout the day.  Clear your mind of clutter before going to next big project.  Meditative state activates your mind for creativity.

Repeat. Reflect. Repeat.

Try one of these tips toward work wellness.
As the saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” by Lao Tzu. 

 

 

SkinCare as the new HealthCare: the new mind-skin connection to health and disease

Do you know your skin is like a crystal ball?  Our skin is a window to your inner health, immunity, and psychology.  

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Emerging research is demonstrating that meditation and mindfulness practices can improve emotional, spiritual and mental wellness.  The skin is the largest organ of the body, and the research is revealing the complexity of the biological process of the skin is a gateway to the mind-skin-body connection.

It makes senses.  Using a system thinking approach, we can see that our skin is connected to emotional, intellectual, and mental wellness. When you feel ‘stress,’ do you notice a cold sore, a pimple,  or dry skin? Or when you are feeling under the weather, does your skin feel ‘warm’?  Or do you have a habit of pulling hair, picking at dry nails, and scratching an itch?  Mind-Skin connection is probably more real than we had expected.  Nowadays,  public health professionals, health providers, and wellness managers are working together to develop and support wellness programs for patients with dermatologic conditions.  With this integrative approach, we can examine a type of skin-related disorders, biologic factors, environmental (external) factors, epigenetic biochemical changes, and demographic factors.

This is the beginning of a new conceptual framework to explore how our skin is connected to our mind-body-soul using complementary, integrative health practices.  Instead of focusing on the best cream for skin care, focus on providing nutrients through food, positive thoughts, and mindfulness to your body, which then can provide care for your skin.

Happy Friendship Day!

This month February is bombarded with hearts and roses marketing for our loved ones.  In the spirt of this months’ theme, I’d like to declare a Happy Friendship Day. I am in the mood after finishing the book “The 8 Vital Friends” by Tom Roth.

Reviewing my network as described by the author, I am grateful and blessed to have someone or many someones in each categories that I have developed a close bond over time.  community-909149_1920

1. Builders.  They tend to be the motivator, the catalyst, the cheerleader. They are not competitive with you. They stay close to your and help you build your career development.  They pushes you to do more and be great. They have faith in you.

2. Champions.  They are kinda like the builders but they tend to your peers. They cheer for your and are your loyal friend. Count on them. Be their best advocate. When you succeed, they are happy. Say good things in your absence.  Tell your champion about your gratitude and they will be very happy that you acknowledge their loyalty and friendship.  When you make mistake, tell them and they will be nonjudgmental.

3. Collaborator. You are friends, belonging to the same group with common ground.  They have similar passions with you. They collaborate in action and share experience.  Brainstorm new ideas for discussion. Form a group that you enjoy. Share events and ideas. Think of them when the topics arises.

4. Companion. They are your first person you call. Take pride and sacrifice for you. A friendship for a lifetime.  Trust them with your life. Do something and no question asked.  Allow them to be in themselves. Be a good listener. Boost spirit by dignity and respect. Work through conflict.

5.  Connector.  Get to know and introduce you to others to get new people.  They are someone who introduce you to other and run a social life network.  Let friends know that they can use you as connector. Help them and reach out to them.

6. Energizer.  They are the booster who make any sour situation fun and happy. They are laughing and happy and have lots of energy.  They are cheerful.  They are always smiling, tell a joke, make you laugh, and have fun together.

7. Mind-openeder. They embrace new ideas. They challenge innovate idea and ask good questions, express new ideas, conversely.  Challaenge the conventional and status quo.  Mind opened to the challenge presented to you.

8.  Navigator, They are people you talk with when you are stuck. They talk with the pro and con about the situation and allow you to see the big overall picture.  They help you see positive while keeping you grounded.  Thye help your reach your goals. They are kinda like your mentors.

Thank you to my 8 vital friends. You have made me to whom I am today.    

Don’t let your inner critic get the best of you.

Acceptance is an art of living.  

When we look out the window, our view of the outside is really depended on where we are standing from. Have you tried looking through a window that was too high, too low, or simply too narrow and it was challenging? Did you give up or tried another way to see through?

When we become critical of others, it is really an alert to ourselves that we are reacting to something within ourselves.  The person, situation(s), or thing in the outside world triggering our inner critic to uprise is an innocent bystander.  It is simply that we are not seeing clearly because the lens (windows) through our eyes are cloudy and dirty.  

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A funny story that my friend shared with me, which highlights that our inner critic can sometimes get the best of us.

A woman looks outside her window and complains at the neighbor’s dirty clothes. She is outrage and tells her husband that she feels that she needs to tell the neighbor off, and tell her neighbor how to wash the clothes, and how her washing is way better.  Her husband sits there and listens to his wife.  The next day, the woman looks at the window and said with surprise that her neighbor clothes are finally clean and she smiles with gladness.  

She said to her husband, “look outside the window, you can see that her clothes are so clean!”

Her husband said “Yes, I know.”

“How do you know?” said the wife.

Her husband said, “OH this morning, I cleaned our windows.”

The moral of the story:

When we point our finger out to someone or something, remember, there are three fingers (and a thumb) pointing back at you.  We must also clean our windows, so we can view the outside world with clear visions. This way, our “stuff” would not cloud our judgment. When we are highly critical of others, we are really reflecting our weakness and criticism.  As the saying goes, “It takes one to know one.”  

If we learn to love all of us, accept all of us – the good, bad, and the ugly – as a whole, we would more willing to sprinkle some grace on others as they have undone to us.  

In the Palm of Your Hand, a Strategic RoadMap for Career Success.

The holidays are just around the corner and time for work, family, and self is of the essence. But how do you squeeze in the extra things to do (fun things) along with the ‘have to do’ on your list.  To my students, I share my five ‘S’ system to manage their time effectively, efficiently, and mindfully.

The five “S” to strategic planning can be applied for project management, goal setting for personal and professional, and for time management for new ideas.

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  1. Space
  2. System
  3. Schedule
  4. Support
  5. Self-Evaluation

1. Space refers to the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social space that you need to create, block off, and keep tight boundary.  Claim a physical space that is your for your study, for your meditation, and for your family/friends. A emotional and intellectual space is needed for yourself to grow independently.  A social space is where you can connect with others. When you have different spaces allotted for different purposes, it allows you to feel less guilty about declaring your personal space for clarity because you know you have space for the other things and people in your life.

2. System refers to finding a system that work for you based on your characteristics. Are you a morning person – then working out at the gym, doing your best writing, and/or working on the garden is your system. Or if your energy level is at its highest peak in the afternoon, reserve that precious time for your creativity muscle.  Find mentors to examine their system. For example, if you’re a writer, read a biography of your favorite author and analyze their writing process. Would it work for you? Modify the parts that makes sense to you.

3. Schedule refers to blocking out chunk of time to focus and drive through the resistance to focus. Minimize factors that get you to lag, delay, or be distracted.  A recommended schedule of time is to block 25 minutes to work, and then a 5 minute for a break, and the recycle the process again. Don’t forget to schedule time for fun, exercise, and meditation. Don’t think of these are ‘time-waster’. When you are unhealthy, unfit, and tired, you are wasting more time to regroup your mind and body to get things done effectively.  Schedule at least 7 hours of sleep, planned meals, and drink water throughout the day.

4. Support refers to your immediate cheerleaders to get your through the distraction toward your plan (i.e. your term paper, your project, or book).  For school, your study group may not be the same group of folks who you are skiing with. For writing your book, you may want to join a meet-up group in your local neighborhood who will hold your bottom to your seat and fingers glued to the keyboard to get you through the writing process.

5. Self-Evaluation refers to a periodic check-in with yourself. Reflect on your baseline, your timeline, your system, schedule, support, and space. Did you achieve what you wanted? What were the successful factors? Were there any barriers? If so, why?  When you are trying something new, give yourself time to learn and evolve with these tactics. Do a weekly check-in (i.e. Sunday night for an hour), or a monthly check-in (i.e. the 1st of every month).

Having the five “S” in my strategic roadmap allows me to lay out the time, space, and effort needed in achieving my goal. With this map, I can anticipate whether I have the time to say ‘yes’ to things to do (the have to and the fun things to do) or to say ‘no’ because according to my five “S”, I have neither the space, system, schedule, support, nor self-evaluation tool to assess it.

Don’t forget to enjoy the journey, the road bumps, and to roll down the window to enjoy the view toward your success.

 

 

Is your brain under attack from stress?

Your brain is under attack by your choices you made from what you eat, think and move.  Everything that you do in your life, from your sleep habits to your eating routine can either  stop or fast-forward this brain stress.  

When we under too much stress,  our brain cells are less efficient and effective, and over the life span, we contribute to our memory loss, inability to stay focused, difficulty to learn new skills, and brain fatigue

ache-19005_1920The same forces that are aging your body is affecting your brain too.  Stress, unhealthy food, and your environment can contribute 1) the generation free radicals in the brain, and 2) the decline in the ability of the brain cells to make energy.

The brain is the most metabolically active organ of the body and it uses 20% of your oxygen for your physical, mental, and emotional function.   Every time you stress, you create an excess of free radical that roaming around in the body to bind to healthy cells.  This process of oxidation damages the  the brain membrane, and thus, the brain becomes less efficient, produce less energy, and increase free radical production. You become fatigue, you can’t concentrated, and you become even more vulnerable to stress.

 

What you can do to win the stress attack?  

1.  Eat less trans-fatty acid (baked goods, processed food). Sluggish fat, sluggish brain.
2.  Consumer less artificial sweeteners and eat more fruits to feed your sweet tooth.
3.  Eat less meat and more veggie
4. Get more than 8 Horus of sleep
5.  Exercise regularly.
6. Get into a habit of drinking water throughout the day before you feel thristy.
7. Add play time to your work routine.

SMARTER Semester

block-1512119_1920How to Start and End each Semester SMARTER?  

With over ten years of teaching undergraduates, graduates, professional students, and myself,  I often see the same aspiration for a successful semester by turning homework on time, preparing for exams (weeks in advance), and making plans for the study group. Then, somehow, during the mid-semester, life happens, or one just realized that life has been happening.

In my course, Principles of Public Health Management, I teach students how to develop strategic SMART goals, which was developed by experts in business and management.

Make your goals:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timed. (SMART). 

Here is an example of a SMART goal:  This semester (realistic), I will study biology (specific) for 25 minutes (measurable) every day after class before lunch (attainable) for the next 15 weeks for Fall Semester (timed).

However, even with SMART goals, many failed to follow them, ignored them, and sometimes, just don’t like their SMART goals anymore. Why is that?

I’d like to add my own twist to it – how about making your goals SMART-ER, where ER refers to adding the “Enthusiasm and Reason (ER)” to your SMART goals. Without some enthusiasm, excitement, and energy to creating your goals, you’ll lose steam quickly in continuing your plan (when the going gets tough).  Without a reason, you won’t hold yourself (or others) accountable to achieving this goal.

Let’s revisit the same example:
This semester (realistic), I will study biology (specific) for 25 minutes (measurable) every day after class before lunch (attainable) for the next 15 weeks for Fall Semester (timed) because (reason) I love learning about the family history of my genetics (enthusiasm) so I can be better prepared about my health.

Begin and end this semester with SMARTER goals:

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timed, Enthusiasm, Reason. (SMARTER)! 

 

Manage Your Health, Manage Your worth.

In the US, about 60% of bankruptcy is related to some type of health issues – expensive medical care, long-term care, and medication.  More than $80,000,000,000 (that’s $80 billions) spend on medical cost due to inactivity (so start moving today!) and 75% of this amount (which is $61.5 billions) is spent on medical care on treating preventable condition (See CDC facts below). Think of what we can do with that money (better schools, better roads, housing … etc).

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Most of these issues are preventable. Here are the most leading causes of preventable health issues:

Based on the CDC, the top six health threats in the US: 

1. Heart disease

2. Cancer (lung, skin, prostate, and colon)

3. Automobile accidents

4. Chronic lower respiratory tract diseases

5. Stroke

6. Type II Diabetes

Change your lifestyle, change your health outcome.  Seven out of 10 causes of death can be reduced by positive change in exercise, diet, smoking and alcohol use.

Common Preventable Measures: don’t smoke, eat healthy diet, limit alcohol consumption, exercise regularly, healthy weight, manage stress, manage chronic conditions (blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes), healthy hygiene (washing hands and annual physical exam).

Most of these preventable measures are inexpensive activity to do so you can save $$$ down stream.