Category Archives: Personal

New Year Resolution for 2017

Can’t believe it’s been a whole year since my last post! Somehow it feels way shorter than that – I still remember writing the post on people stealing my laptop at the coffeeshop like it was yesterday. It reminds me of my time at MIT and Boston, and also the many amazing things that have happened afterwards in 2016. What a year it has been – the ups and downs, the old and new, the things I’ve learned about myself, about people around me, and about the world are simply too much to recount in this one post. They have undoubtedly shaped how I view and approach things in life, so I’m sure their influences will be seen in my upcoming posts. In other news, I’m going to start writing this blog again! Still focusing on applying psychology/behavioral economics research into daily lives. 

In the last 5 months, I’ve deliberately tried to be less type-A about things. So in an effort to continue doing that, I’m going to refrain from making a list of things I’ve accomplished and learned in 2016. I also debated as to whether I should make New Year Resolutions at all this year because it also sounds quite type-A to me. However, I think of it more as “Improvements I want to make”, which can really be implemented at any point in time within a year, but complementing it with the Fresh Start Effect (Jan 1st is a good boost in motivation), makes January 1st a great day to implement changes you want in your life. Two years ago, I wrote about how to set NYR without actually posting about them, which means I didn’t really follow my own advice of telling others about your resolutions. So, I’m going to do that this year.

The biggest resolution of this year is to be kinder to myself.

This is broken down into the following 3 actionable items – 

#1 talk to my heart kiddo every day
One of the most eye-opening thought I heard last year was that “you can go to sleep to rest, but your heart never stops beating for you and it never gets to sleep and rest”. Isn’t that amazing? I’ve never really thought about my heart this way, or thought about my heart at all…unless something went wrong with it. So this year, I want to be more grateful for my heart and be nicer to it. I’ve also found it easier to be nice, soft, friendly, and understanding to people other than to myself. So I’ve created this “kiddo”, a little baby girl character (think: Inside Out), that represents my heart. Someone who I can talk to in my imagination and be naturally softer to because it’s a tiny human (and you don’t want to be mean to tiny humans because they’re fragile). It’s like talking to another person, even if it is still me. This coming year, I’ll have a brief conversation (my plan is to say good morning to her) with this kiddo every day. 

#2 one alone day a month
Two years ago, I set a resolution of doing an alone day/”me-day” once a month. The idea was that I won’t talk to anyone that day and also do things that I want to do for myself. It’s a day dedicated to me. Little did I know it was a preview to my 10-day silent meditation retreat this past November, from which I’ve learned and gained a tremendous amount, including resolution #1 above. The retreat helped me refine the definition of alone days. In addition to not talking to my closest friends that day, which in effect only meant I spent the day checking emails, writing blog posts, going to a coffee shop, and being equally busy and thinking equally as much, I want to stay away from all communications (phones, computers, conversations, etc.) on my alone day. By getting rid of distractions, I’ll spend this day doing nothing and thinking about nothing, which I’ve found to be incredibly difficult. Let me know if you want to join in on this one!

#3 stop eating when i say “i’m full”
This resolution is also recycling from previous resolutions, not because I failed on them previously, like you’d imagine the cliche “lose weight” and “exercise more” resolutions to turn out (again see how to set resolutions), but because they’ve been so successful that I want to keep them top of mind and continue to work on them. This one was refined in collaboration with my younger sister, Sharon, from the previous “stop eating when full” to “stop eating when I utter the words I’m full” –  a subtle difference that not only seemed to keep her happy but is also quite profound. The advantage of this subtle improvement is that pinpointing when I said the words “I’m full” is much more concrete than just saying i’ll stop when i’m full, which leaves a lot of room (no pun intended) for negotiations. When am I full? One can easily convince themselves that they’re not that full and can still eat another bite of that fish tacos even when they’re stuffed to the brim. With the current resolution, once we’ve said the words “I’m full”, we have to stop eating. [confession: we ate grapes after saying i’m full during our Jan 1st dinner :3]

So that’s it! My 3 new year resolutions for this year. They all feed into being kinder to my body and my mind, which both honestly need a little bit more love from me. My prediction is that 2017 will be a year of understanding, letting go, rebuilding, accepting, exploring, risk taking, and more. Very (very) looking forward to this coming year – for the new job, new city, new relationship – and if one thing can be certain, it is that I don’t know what this year will bring, which in itself sounds exciting to me.

What are your resolutions? Share them in the comments below.

With Love,
Steph

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GROWING UP (Guest Post)

by Sara Curtiss

What do you want to be when you grow up?  I bet when you were a kid, you had a solid answer to that.  Are you doing that job now?  What changed?  What path has life taken you on?

For the past seven years, I have been a high school science teacher, but now the joy was gone.  I discovered that I no longer wanted to be a classroom teacher.  With this realization came the inevitable question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

It is a hard question to answer.  When we are kids, it was simple: fireman, doctor, school bus driver.  Jobs are fun when we were kids.  They were grown up and exciting.  There wasn’t the reality of health benefits, career ladders, salaries, or coworkers.  There wasn’t any stigma of job position or wealth.  My sister wanted to be a garbage man because she thought that riding on the back of the garbage truck would be a blast.  Being a fireman is fun because you get to slide down the pole and be a hero.  I wanted to be a marine biologist so that I could swim with the dolphins.

When you start to grow up, you realize how complicated those job dreams can be.  You can’t walk in on the first day and get your dream job.  There is training and learning that you need to do to get there.  You really do have to climb that ladder and know someone on the inside.

You also realize how many jobs there are out there.  Oh you want to go into IT?  There are a gazillion jobs that are in the IT field so which area do you want to specialize in?  Computers, security, insurance, research, etc?  The questions get more and more specific, and for me, more and more confusing.  Add to this the fact that you have to be good at what you do to the successful and the question becomes harder than organic chemistry class.  Somewhere in all of this, you lose sight of that childhood job fantasy.

Job searching is like online dating but your resume needs to be perfect and your profile picture can’t have you enjoying the latest party.  There are numerous websites devoted to job hunting and you have to be on all of them to have a chance.  Applying to other jobs was like having a second job.  It took up hours out of each day and added heaps of stress to my life.  Each time I would get a response from a potential employer, I poured my heart and soul into trying to land that job.  When that didn’t work, I applied in bulk to anything and everything that sounded remotely interesting or that I would be good at.

My saving grace came in the form of my father who helped me get an introduction at a pharmaceutical company who had open positions in regulatory affairs.  It was a job I knew nothing about but I could apply my science background and organizational skills to.  Three fabulous interviews later and I got offered a job.  The only caveat: I had to relocate to Nashville, Tennessee.

So now there are two adventures in one; a city change and a career change.  I love Chicago and all of the time that I have spent there.  I found a life-long friend, found a great cocktail bar, ate way too much delicious food and ogled over beautiful city and lake views.  I did not want to leave, but sometimes, life takes us on a journey that we were not told about in advance.

I don’t know where this adventure will lead me, but hopefully one step closer to answering that inevitable question “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Goodbye Sara! I still remember the day we met at a “Girls New to Chicago” meet-up event, you ordered fish tacos I’m pretty sure (which has since became a defining trademark of our friendship), followed by endless reminders of what your “gluten free” restriction includes. Thank you for all the nights at Berkshire, spontaneous adventures, and especially for being the better (calmer) half when I almost missed my flight back to Hong Kong. 

All the best with your move to Nashville and can’t wait to visit! You better know all the good spots by the time I visit 😉

With love, Steph

@ none other than our Berkshire Room
@ none other than our Berkshire Room