It is a common struggle among us to stay motivated during the holiday season. I am not sure about you, but I am already counting down the days to Christmas. It is this time of the year when we feel least motivated and it is also the time that we usually have the most to complete. Sustaining motivation and preventing it from dying out is an essential yet tough practice to do. Here are some suggestions that you can use to stay motivated and finish this year strong:
- Identify the important task – When your to-do list never seems to end, it is critical to identify and distinguish your important work from your busy work. Make sure to have a small number of tasks that you absolutely need to work on at the beginning of each day and focus on those tasks. Renew your list of important tasks every day and tackle them one task at a time.
- Identify the reasons you want to complete the tasks – Write down the reasons why you want to accomplish these tasks that you set out for each day. No, your reasons should not be something as “because I have to”. They should be deeper reasons that you want to achieve such as “because I will be able to enjoy time with my family without having to work over the holidays”, “because it makes me happy to deliver my project on time”, or “because I savor the feeling of achievement”.
- Start on the smaller tasks first – Nothing is worse than getting discouraged from completing a task because you have a long list to do and your current task is consuming all your time and energy. Work on the tasks that are the easiest and take the least time to complete first. Once you complete a small task, it will give you momentum to focus and tackle a bigger one.
- Take breaks – This is an important step that is normally forgotten. Make a mental note or put it on your calendar to remind yourself to take a break between each task and/or every 15 or 30 minutes. Get up and stretch. Walk around. Go grab a cup of coffee, tea, or water. Say hi to your coworkers. Refresh your mind and then come back to your tasks.
- Get help when needed – When you are stuck on a task, get help! Don’t try to beat yourself up and get frustrated because you cannot move forward with a task. Surround yourself with experienced people and discuss your difficulties with them when needed. Not only will that help complete your tasks, it will also motivate you to share your knowledge and help others when they run into the same problems.
- Pause – When you feel as if you cannot continue with the task on hand, pause for a moment and relax. Get your mind off what you are working on. Refresh your mind before resuming the task.
- Love what you do – No, you will not love ALL the tasks that you do, but at least have positive intentions toward them. You can either tell yourself “I have to do this” or “I GET to do this”. I strongly believe that you can learn from every task that you do, so why not have a positive attitude about it. Do your work with good intentions. Do it with love and all of a sudden, staying motivated isn’t all that hard anymore.
Today is a good day. In fact, I know that everyday is a good day. Some will be better than others. But I will not allow something bad that happens for five minutes or even a few hours in a day to ruin my entire day. How can I say that with such certainty? Because I carry with me an attitude of gratitude. It is a habit that we most often forget, but when we practice it, it brings us so much joy and happiness. Attitudes are behaviors and reactions that we have based on our perspectives on different situations. Attitudes can either be positive or negative. So why not have a positive attitude about things? When we humble ourselves and have a sense of gratitude, we can actually transform a difficult situation into a much better one.
It is not easy to always remember to be grateful for the things we have in life, so just write them down. Make a list and use it as a reminder to yourself when difficult challenges arise.
I anticipate a very good Thanksgiving this year, and in honor of the holiday, here is my gratitude list:
- I am thankful for my loving husband. He has been nothing but amazing. He takes great care of me. I love him more and more everyday. I am also thankful that he never complains when he takes out the trash or has to get up early to take care of our little Leo so that I can sleep some more. I am thankful that on the days I am busy and stressed, my husband would stop somewhere and get me food on his way home from work.
- I am thankful for my best friend. She is my partner in crime and my eating buddy. She is always there for me whenever I need help. She has been putting up with me for almost 10 years.
- I am thankful for my family. I know that I will always have their love and support in everything I do.
- I am thankful for my in laws. They have welcomed me with open arms from day one.
- I am thankful for Leo and Chloe. Their silliness brings me so much joy.
- I am thankful for my job. I face difficult challenges at work everyday and they have help sharpen my skills as a consultant.
- I am thankful for my coworkers. They help me grow and make my work life more interesting and fun everyday.
- I am thankful that I am alive, that I can smell the fresh air, that I can see the beautiful sky, that I can taste good food, and that I can listen to music.
- I am thankful that I have food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear, a car to drive, and a house to live in.
And the list goes on…. 🙂
I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive
I’m free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest
The greatest, the greatest alive
The greatest, the greatest alive
-“The Greatest” by Sia Furler, Greg Kurstin, Kendrick Duckworth
If you haven’t listened to the song “The Greatest” by Sia, you should! I was lucky enough to have seen this performance live earlier this month. Sia is a gifted song writer and singer and this particular song is such a powerful work of art. It elicits many strong emotions in me. First and foremost, the hidden meaning of the song is about commemorating the Pulse club shooting victims. I have friends and family members that are gay and I love them dearly. So this song hits me in the deepest place. The song also has a larger message that applies to all of us. It is about overcoming fears and difficulties in life. It is about you being true to yourself and being the best that you can be. So what if you have another mountain to climb? So what if you have another fire to put out? Face it straight on because YOU can!
I admire people that embrace their differences, put aside the social standards and judgements, and stay true to themselves. When I was little, all I was trying to do was to fit in, and to be as “Americanized” as possible. I was trying very hard to forget the fact that I was one of the only two Asians in my school. The other one was my sister. Now thinking back, it was just so silly. Don’t let the social standards shape who you are. You can only live freely if you are true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand out! Live with your own values! Be your own self!
Waking up on a Monday morning is always a struggle
When all I really want to do is just lay in bed and snuggle
But I got a long list of tasks to complete
Before I go on my Thanksgivings holiday retreat
The sun has decided to show up
I guess it is also time for me to get up
Instead of whining and dreading the day
I have made my decision to make it a great day!
What is there to complain about
When I have so much to be thankful for
Life is beautiful, that I have no doubt
I could smell the aromatic fall the minute I opened my door
Fall is my favorite season
The colorful trees are one of the reasons
It makes me feel good just to be alive
Bring on the hard work because I am ready to thrive!
This is Leo, my dear baby boy. We got him when he was only six weeks old. And now, he is almost four. He has brought me and my husband so much joy and has taught us how to be responsible and loving. But the most important thing that he has taught me was that happiness is easy to find. Leo gets happy when he knows that we are home. He gets happy when we give him water and treats. He gets happy when we play with him. He is always happy in the present. He is home alone most of the day when we are at work but he never holds it against us. His happiness comes from his love for us. It does not have any conditions. It is simple.
As humans, it seems as if we always work towards happiness, always strive to obtain the ultimate goal of being happy. Our happiness is often dependent on other conditions. It is either “I’ll be happy if I get a promotion”, “I’ll be happy if I win this game”, “I’ll be happy if I buy this car or this big house”, or “I’ll be happy if this person loves me back”. Happiness should come from within. It shouldn’t be complicated and it definitely shouldn’t be dependent upon external factors or conditions. It should be present – the moment of NOW. It shouldn’t be about the past or the future. It should be about you, about who you are now, and about what you are doing. So let’s go and capture your happiness!
- Don’t dwell on the past. Be present, be here and now.
- Appreciate the little things in life.
- Focus on doing what you love.
- Focus on spending time with the people you love.
- Love yourself.
- Get rid of expectations that you cannot control.
- Accept life and people as they are.
- Be compassionate to others.
- Smile intentionally.
- Most importantly, keep life simple and remember that happiness is a choice!
It would be a lie if I tell you that I am always happy. In fact, before marriage, I was a very hard-to-please partner. I have let so many little things that my now husband did to upset me. I got a long list of excuses on how it was okay for me to get upset and to overreact. My excuses went from “Well I am just being a girl. And all girls get upset by these things” to “He doesn’t care enough. He should have been more thoughtful”. I noticed that the more I believed in these excuses, the harder it was to love freely and to have a peaceful mind.
This marriage has helped me grow and mature so much. I learned that by living my life mindfully, I have become a more loving and caring wife. Here are some of the Zen habits that I am practicing to have a happier, more peaceful, and loving life.
- Be Accepting: This is not an easy thing to do and I am still struggling with this. We all have expectations in life and in our loved ones; and when things don’t go as expected or when our loved ones don’t act the way we expect them to act, we get hurt and disappointed. The moment we realize that we are the cause of our own pain, we will be able to let go of expectations and accept people and life as they are. I feel a sense of closeness to my husband that I have never felt before once I let go of expectations. I am able to love unconditionally because I accept him as he is and don’t try to change him to someone else.
- Be Present: As many women in this modern world, I have a full time job leading a high profile project so there never seems to be enough time to do anything else outside of work. More often than not, when I go home my mind would still be occupied with work. I would check my phone and work email constantly even though I am sitting on the couch with my husband. This is a very unhealthy habit. Being present is one of the fundamental elements in Zen mindful living. Pay attention to your partner. Get connected with your partner. Make the most out of the little time you have together each day.
- Be Content: If you spend most of your time comparing your husband to someone else that is not him, you are wasting your time and energy. It will only cause you resentments, frustrations, and disappointments. Happiness comes from within. Be content with yourself, with your partner, and your life.
I am proud to say that we are debt free. Having the financial freedom is definitely one of the keys to our happy marriage. We never have to worry about paying off student loans, car loans, or credit card debts ever again. That didn’t come that easy for us but if I could do it, so could you!
After graduating from college, I moved to Atlanta GA for my first job with absolutely no money in hand. I had to get an apartment and in my mind, I was sure that I NEEDED to furnish my entire apartment with a nice leather couch and a 6-piece bedroom set. How was I able to purchase all that with no money, you ask? CREDIT CARDS…I still remember having about 5 different credit cards in my wallet at all time and all of them were almost up to the maximum limits. I started earning pretty good money with my consulting job. Then of course the next thing I did was get a new car. So there I was, purchasing the first car with my own money. I was so proud. But wait…! I didn’t really own the car and it wasn’t my money that I used to purchase the car with. I borrowed it from a bank…so on top of the student loans and the credit card debts that I was paying minimum payments on, now I had a car loan. I felt very normal. Those are the kind of debts that everyone has, I thought. Little did I know I was living paycheck to paycheck even though I was making decent money and should have had a lot of money leftover each month. When I came to that realization, I began to hate debts.
My sister introduced me to the The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness book by Dave Ramsey. This book completely CHANGED MY LIFE. It gave me the motivation and determination I needed to get out of debts. I started changing my lifestyle and following the 7 baby steps listed in the book. I used the debt snowball method to begin getting rid of the smaller debts first before the bigger ones. I learned how to budget my spending so that it would give me the freedom to spend on things I like and know exactly where my money is going at all time. I also introduced this book to my best friend, my coworkers, and of course my husband. My husband was completely onboard and together we were working towards one common goal of being in better control of our money and becoming debt free. We are now debt free and loving the debt free life to the fullest. If there is one book out there that I would recommend to everyone, it would be this book. Even though this book mentions many biblical principles of money and wealth, its core teaching is about how to get out of debts and how to control and manage money successfully. This book applies to everyone regardless of his or her religion. I am truly a Dave Ramsey advocate and this man has changed my life.
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