Breaking Mental Habits

Routines and habits – that’s what our lives are surrounded by. Type into google “routines for the most successful people” and you’ll get thousands of articles and tips on what to do to start your morning right. Richard Branson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, all of them wake up between 5-7 AM to start their routines.

How often have we read those articles, stoked for the first 3 days of trying out the routine, and then fall off the wagon as soon as we had one day of laziness where we decided to snooze for an extra 10 minutes in replacement for the routine of exercise, meditation, etc?

I know I’ve done that, just this week as a matter of fact. However, it’s a daily choice I continue to make every morning- some days I succeed, some days I fail but this post is not about a morning routine. Instead, it’s about the mental habits we have constructed that impacts our routines. When we are subconscious about our habits, we will easily fall into the trap of actions that don’t serve us. 

99.9% of actions we take and things we say are a result of our unconscious thought patterns. We are taught at a young age to brush our teeth twice a day, and (hopefully) most of us have continued to do that. However, have we ever challenged that notion of the need to brush our teeth twice a day? Or the need to brush our teeth in general? Thankfully, we know for a fact that brushing or flossing our teeth improves our dental hygiene so (please) continue to use that toothbrush but most days we don’t think about whether we need to do it or not- we just do.

What about picking up the phone as soon as you open your eyes and scrolling through social media? Do you say to yourself every morning: “I know this is harmful to my productivity and will take at least 5-10 minutes of my time I could use to hydrate and mobilize BUT I’m going to sit here and look at instagram anyway” If so, good for you because you are aware of the long-term harm you are inflicting on yourself, but you have made a conscious choice. If not, you’re NOT alone. For most of us, it has become a habit to use our phones as an alarm clock, and a subconscious habit to check our email + social media before we even step foot off our bed.

Similarly, when was the last time you told yourself “oh I don’t like that because I’m not good at it” or “I can’t do it cause I suck”? We live in a society in which we are praised and awarded for success, as we should. However, it also creates a subconscious dislike towards things we are not good at or unsuccessful at. This was my experience with certain subjects in school.

As I’ve grown and adopted a more conscious thought pattern through my readings, podcast listenings and the community I surround myself with- I’ve realized that I’ve been feeding myself the truth that I will not be good at any job surrounding those subjects. Is it the truth? Or is it simply the story I’ve been telling myself? 

What if I fed myself a different story? What does that look like?

The truth is, the conscious thought pattern I have to replace with the subconscious is: “You may suck at it now. You may get frustrated throughout the process, but stay consistent, work like heck and no matter what you will be 50% further than you are now.” 

As Tom Bilyeu from Impact Theory says,

“The key to becoming successful is to work so ridiculously hard at acquiring skills that when people see how good you are they just assume you’re naturally talented.”

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Dear Readers,

My challenge for you today is to challenge your subconscious mental thought patterns and habits. Question your joy, question your anger, question your frustration, what is the culprit of these thoughts? If your current thoughts are not serving you well, how can you consciously replace different thoughts with your current ones?”

Please feel free to comment below or contact me for further discussion. We are all in the game of life together, let’s figure out how to beat the current level and move on to the NEXT!


Beat Procrastination through the Practice of Eating That Frog

We have a million and one things to do on a daily basis. As soon as our eyes open in the morning, most of us begin to count all the items on the to-do-list for the day; people to see and places to go. I’m not sure about you but it can become quite an overwhelming affair as my part brain is trying to wake up mindfully and the other is trying to steal the mindful thoughts away.

We can’t avoid the to-do-list, but we can do the following:

SET YOUR INTENTION. What is your WIN for today? 

Imagine the last time you did something for work or for yourself that made you feel like you’re walking on clouds. A decision you made that made you want to text all your best friends with the news. That is the win for the day. It can be something as simple as I cleaned the house today, to, I decided to quit my job, etc. However, anchoring your intention for the day allows us to base our daily emotions and decisions on the following question: “does this add or subtract from my intention?


Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog,  elaborates on the reasons we procrastinate, and how to prevent it. He says we procrastinate because of confusion due to the number of things we have to do. In the midst of the anxiousness we wake up to, we forget that we have to break down and tackle our goals one STEP at a time… similar to eating a meal one BITE at a time.

What is the biggest, most important, thing you have to complete today? It may not be the most time consuming, it may not be the hardest project to complete, but it will leave you feeling accomplished, less worried, and able to push forward on the daily goals one step at a time. For more on this book, click the link above or watch the following animated book summary.

Easier said than done.

But through practice, day by day, eating the frog becomes easier and easier.


Allow the future to guide the present

This afternoon, I had a run an errand that lasted an hour longer than I would’ve expected. In the beginning, I had told myself I’d head home to make a salad for lunch. However, as my stomach began to growl and eat me from the inside out, I could tell one half of my hunger hormone, Ghrelin, has begun to aggressively send messages to my brain swaying me to eat anything that would fill that void.

“Spam and egg sandwich… spam and egg instant noodles… fried rice… stir fry Chinese flat noodles with marinated beef…. sushi…” The most delicious and most convenient food popped into my head one after another. Slowly but surely, the desire to have a brain and heart-healthy salad were dissipated.

As I left the office heading to my car, I was steps away from buying any of those items but the one thing that kept me from doing that was knowing how I would feel after eating those items.

Lethargic. Disappointed. Overly full. Brain Fog. 

Through being hyper-aware of my physical and mental senses on a regular basis, I knew exactly how my body and mind would react after eating certain meals and today, I successfully gifted myself with the courage to avoid that feeling (even though I was starting to get real HANGRY and easily irritated).

The awareness of the future guided the choices of the present. 

We may not always know what the future presents, or how our choices will impact our future but by visualization, by learning from the past, and by being aware of our desired lifestyle — we can lower the risk of disappointment or unexpected emotions for the future.

Do you have an example of how your awareness of the future impacts your decisions today? Do you know how your body is feeling right at this very moment? What is it telling you?

The Power of REST

Remember a time when you could power through a day, a week, a month with as little as 2-3 hours of sleep a day? Remember a time when you’d wake up tired, acknowledge an earlier night would be beneficial and yet by the time night rolls around, you’re out and about ready to rock again?

I certainly remember those days and they were fantastic. The ability to get minimal sleep and wake up ready to socialize and spend time with family is what allowed me to really live the Hong Kong city life to its full extent. However, with my current knowledge of the power of rest on brain and body function, I am wary about being prideful of those times.

As a society, we have come to praise and value those who have the ability to complete as many projects and tasks as possible in as little time as possible. We stay busy because that is what our peers and co-workers are doing. 5-6 hours of sleep have become the norm, and yet our brains and our bodies crave a much longer recovery on a daily basis. Amongst other health practices, getting longer REM and deep sleep, our bodies are able to create more Growth Hormones, the key to maintaining, building and repairing healthy tissue in the brain and other organs.

I’m regrettably guilty of not getting enough rest due to my work schedule and trying to work in social life at the same time. I do have to say I’ve made progress in understanding and listening to my body when it urges me to slow down. Tracking my heart rate variability and sleep data through the Whoop band has been a great addition to this process.


With that said, with the amount of physical activity I put my body through on a regular basis, my sleep coach is consistently telling me to “catch up on sleep to feel better, or to lead to peak performance.” Having peak performance on a regular basis during my strength and conditioning sessions as well as Muay Thai training is a goal that I continue to work towards.

In the last two months, I’ve taken an extended weekend vacation once a month. This also means I am away from Muay Thai or weight training for a few days once a month, focusing on active recovery and movement the days I’m away. One thing I’ve noticed is, despite my fear of having an extra difficult session on my first training session back after a vacation, I surprisingly performed better than I did directly prior to vacation. My mind was focused, I felt strong, and I felt my body ready and willing to learn new techniques all over again.

Feeling that refreshed and strong is a power I strive to have on a regular basis – not only once a month when I return from a few days off. Thus, the process continues.

What changes do I have to make in my lifestyle to ensure my body receives the rest it needs to? When do I need to pull back on the intensity of my sessions even if my brain is saying “no days off”? What kind of foods do I need to add and detract away from my diet? Most days, I know the answers to those questions. However, the execution of said answers is the challenge I continue to face.

How are you receiving rest in your life? What does “REST” mean for you?


A lot happens in a decade

“The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with – nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.” – Rob Sheffield


In reflection through my travels in the last two weeks, I’ve come to realize the large influence each and every person has had in my life, from the values I carry with family, friendships, relationships, to the places I’ve traveled and lived, to my work ethic and career choices. Below I’ve broken down many of the segments of my life and how they’ve influenced me. This may seem like it should be a private journal but I hope that in sharing with you my reflection, it will encourage you to do the same – break down the segments of your life and what it’s taught you.



In the past two+ weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to be on vacation in Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Boston. It was a much-needed break from the daily grind of the last few months. Before heading off to vacation, I felt a bit of burn out starting to creep in after putting in 12+ hour days. With that said, I’m also very fortunate to have work to keep myself busy for 12+ hour days.

Throughout my vacation, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the journey life has taken me in the last decade. I graduated high school and left Hong Kong a decade ago, and since then, I’ve lived in 6 different cities, 4 different countries in 3 continents. Fortunate does not begin to describe the opportunities I’ve been gifted.

Every place I’ve lived, every person I’ve met, played an important role in molding who I am today. One of the most powerful job interview questions I’ve had to answer is: “Name 5 people that have made the most impact in your life, why and how?” At the time, I was able to name 5 specific people but in the last few weeks, I’ve realized that there are much more than 5 people. In chronological order, I’ve expressed some of what each experience I’ve been through has taught me.

  • HKIS (Hong Kong International School)’s service learning and Interim trips taught me to always be a servant, serve with compassion no matter rich, poor, friends, or enemies.
  • HKIS sports and my coaches taught me what it meant to be a team, to be a Class athlete, to always carry sportsmanship is everything I do.
  • HKIS Summer discovery program, specifically working with Shirley Wan, gave me my first work experience, taught me how to work and have fun with coworkers at the same time – and of course, working with children.
  • Island ECC taught me the importance of community, how to love in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ. Mentors and fellow youth group friends allowed me to learn that we can be a servant leader in Christ yet be open and loving to those who have a different belief as our own.
  • My brothers and sisters in Christ in Cambodia (Vannak, Grandma Peg, Rind, Vannara, etc) created a home for me in PP since the first time I visited- leading to my gap year working in PP.
    • This year taught me responsibility at work, how to be a leader for students I was teaching, but also how to be a leader amongst coworkers even in the midst of conflicts. It taught me to value education and what it means to be a “good student”.
    • This year in PP gifted me with friends from all over the world from couch surfing, many of these friends accepted me for who I was and became close friends despite having a large age difference.
    • This year taught me to be a smart traveler, to turn our fears into opportunities, and that beauty can be found in the most war-torn places.
  • Emerson College taught me to be unique, to stand firm to our own beliefs, values and yet be open for discussion with those who may have a different opinion. Emerson taught me to think critically with everything I read, write, hear or do.
  • Quidditch – Emerson and Lost Boys, taught me that it’s pretty damn badass to be able to run with a broom in between your legs while scoring hoops and tackling people.
  • Grad school taught me that I was capable of research and writing a master’s thesis if I put my mind to it- that sometimes it takes sitting with your research data for days before you come up with a good idea that you can roll with.
  • Austin taught me that the pulse of a city and the energy of the people is extremely important to me. Austin taught me that live music is a crucial part of elevating the soul of a city, and everyone in it. Austin showed me with the right environment, and the right community of friends that will not only always have your back, but challenge you to your wildest dreams – I am capable of settling down in a city for more than a few years.
  • Avesta taught me that learning does not stop after college. BTP taught me that when you put a group of people who are driven to learn, willing to sacrifice, and willing to take risks- it makes the work environment feel like play and all that hardships turn into learning opportunities. “Hire for culture, not skills. Skills can always be taught.”
  • Officially obtaining my ACE Personal Training license in 2018 and the learning I have been fortunate enough to have through Movati and various courses has taught me that it’s never too late to learn what you’ve always wanted to learn. Remember those days where you told friends, “I wish I knew this, I wish I knew that…”
    • Don’t wish. Make it happen.

Not getting the H1B to be able to stay in the States reminded me that God is constantly challenging me – as soon as I find a city that I feel completely alive and comfortable in – I was bounced right out. The last year and a half were filled with ups and downs, transitional moments of confusion but perhaps without this transitional time, I wouldn’t be spending as much time in reflection of the last decade nor would I be actively seeking out my next steps.

Thank you to each and every single person who has made an influence in my life. We may have only lived life together for a short period of time or may live a thousand miles away from each other now, but I see you- and I thank you.

I don’t know what 2019 and the next decade has in stored for me but what I do know is that it’s going to be unpredictable, exciting and filled with joy.