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Think Like a Futurist: Episodic Future Thinking

Happy New Year!

In light of celebrating the beginning of a new year, I thought I’d post an entry on how we can utilize Episodic Future Thinking (or EFT) to procure performance benefits–which includes: decision making, emotion regulation, prospective memory, and spatial navigation–to take this new year to the next level!

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Abraham Lincoln

What is Episodic Future Thinking?

It refers an individual’s ability to simulate and conjure scenarios and experiences that might occur in their future. There has been an increasing number of cognitive, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging research conducted to explore and substantiate the functions and benefits of Episodic Future Thinking (Schacter, Daniel L et al.).

What Are the Benefits of Episodic Future Thinking?

Better-informed Decision Making
When one can vividly visualize the larger reward awaiting for them at the end of their long-term goal, they are more likely going to succeed in delaying their gratification, which in turn helps with making better informed decisions.

Stronger Emotion Regulation
EFT strengthens an individual’s emotional regulation when we simulate vivid visualizations about the future. Specifically, vivid visualization allows individuals with heightened anxiety levels to safely enact scenarios and worrisome events in their mind, and subsequently re-appraise them. This exercise allows them to formulate possible solutions to help ameliorate the anxiety derived from complete unknown scenarios that may be otherwise anxiety-provoking.

Enhances Memory
Intentional visualization further reinforces one’s memory triggers, which subsequently enhances one’s memory. are both cognitive and neuroimaging evidence that stipulate a connection between episodic future thinking and divergent creative thinking!

Improves Spatial Navigation
Simulation makes an important functional contribution to planning routes and achieving navigational goals.

How Does One Practice Episodic Future Thinking?

There are many ways to accelerate at Episodic Future Thinking; however, in this entry, I will share the one that I read from Jane McGonigal’s book Imaginable that I found easily accessible. In the book, she summarized 3 dimensions (key factors) that noticeably improve one’s cognitive/mental ‘time travel’, which enhances one’s ability to think in the future. Here’s a simplified version of her method:

3 Dimensions of Cognitive/Mental Time Travel

  1. Vividness
    Write down what you picture, look for every detail; this has a powerful effect in your ability to plan.
  2. Immersiveness
    Be as absorbed as you possibly can in this future scene.
  3. Flexibility/Creativity
    Revisit the scene and change as many details as you can while still making it plausible.

Signal of Change

Another intriguing effect of EFT is what the business world refers to as Signal of Change, which KPMG defines as:

[A]n event or trend in the future that could disrupt or influence a market or a sector. Each signal of change will have varying degrees of likelihood, impact, and urgency – how fast it’s approaching (KPMG).

In more simplistic terms, Signal of Change is a measurable or observable indication that something has changed or is changing. This can refer to a variety of different things, such as changes in market conditions, economic indicators, or physical measurements. For example, a stock market might see a signal of change if there is a sudden increase in trading volume or a significant shift in the value of a particular stock. In physics, a signal of change could refer to a change in a physical measurement, such as a change in temperature or pressure. In general, a signal of change is something that alerts individuals or systems to the fact that a change has occurred or is occurring, which in turn solidifies our EFT, making our ideas more tangible and concrete than just figments we conjure in our own mind.

Engaging with cues that signal change can have beneficial effects on biology, one of which is that the brain releases dopamine when encountering the same cue again, increasing its salience or prominence.

💙

Thank you for reading! I hope this entry has offered you some insight or ideas about how you can utilize EFT to help you achieve your goals!

Until next time.

Thank YOU for 1,000!

In the end, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.

Elizabeth Gilbert

♥︎ THANK YOU! ♥︎

I started this blog on May 5th of 2022, and in some 8 months, we have grown to 1,004 subscribers! I am at a loss for words for all your support and kindness, and most importantly—for the space you’ve held for me and my sometimes overwhelming thoughts and emotions.

I thought I’d reintroduce myself, for those of you who’s joined us more recently and perhaps haven’t had a chance to go back to the earlier entries. Afterwards, if you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to get to know about you, too!

Background & Profession

Hi, I am Andie. I am a Taiwanese Canadian, who was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Vancouver when I was 13. I am a teacher; I have been one for as long as I can remember. I have taught ages from daycare all the way to college! Teaching is something I am deeply passionate about. The students invigorate and inspire me in unimaginable ways.

Interests

When I am not teaching, I love:

  • exercising,
  • reading,
  • learning about investment related topics (real estate, stocks, Crypto, etc),
  • writing,
  • traveling

2023 Goals

As a stoic (albeit an impure one), I am more of an Everyday Girl; therefore, I am not much of a resolutionist. However, I do have some goals for this year! I’d like to learn how to pole dance. My goal is to take my first class on Jan 21. I will report back on this!

Oh, and more adventures! Always more adventures 😊

What else would you like to know about me? Ask me in the comment section below, along with something unique about you!

An epiphany, about death and dying

Early, early Friday morning, instead of celebrating the last day of class with my students at school, I started my day in the ER.

The ER in downtown Vancouver is a despondent place, draped with homelessness and flagrant socio-economical divide.

As I sat there alone, witnessing the suffering surrounding me, I came to a visceral understanding of myself: While I am unfazed by death itself, the process of dying alone is rather daunting.

I went in to the ER for chest pain and heart palpitation that has lasted some 36+ hours (and is still haunting me, 8 days later). However, I was in manageable amount of pain, as well as a clear enough headspace. I wondered how scared I would’ve felt if I were buckled over in pain, and not having anyone to lean on?

Since Grandma passed 6 months ago, I have been thinking a lot about death, about dying. Then when Grandpa passed some almost 3 months ago, I witnessed a vastly different dying experience unfurled before my eyes. I suddenly had to reevaluate my life decisions, particularly the ones that’ll affect how the last chapter of my journey will look like. While I don’t think children are an essential part of the picture I have in mind, but a dependable partner is very much desired.

December has always been an introspective month for me, with how much has happened in this year, I seem to be caught even deeper in thought.

What are typical Decembers like for you? Do you celebrate any festivals during this time of the year? I am currently without my laptop, so I’ll have to edit the layout of this entry later. Hope you’re enjoy the last few days of this year❤️

🍁November🍁

November Update

I feel very sheepish about posting half-baked ideas, particularly the ones that I am still labouring to process. However, I am a practicing imperfectionist, who is learning to embrace the idea that: if I wait for all my ideas and research to be perfect, then I may have missed the most valuable element: time. Or, in the words of Alex Hormozi, whose work ethic I revere: “By the time you have complete information, the opportunity has closed.

So here I am, squirming to post these raw, unrefined thoughts but posting them nonetheless. 🥂 To stepping outside of our comfort zone.

November came and went in the blink of an eye. I am still trudging through my “third-life crisis”, trying to discern which axioms to best live my life by. While I have been holding tightly onto the people who love me and remind me of the essence of who they know me to be, I also know that I have strayed into the company of vague acquaintances and surfaced conversations. My excuse is that: after long hours of working, learning, and deliberating about the directions for the next stage of my life, sometimes my mind just needs a break, an escape. While I am not too proud of those nights out, nor the company that I had kept, I think they just might be necessary to preserve my sanity for the moment.

Besides my struggle to equilibrate between Romanticism and Pragmaticism (as per my October update), I have also been vacillating between living in the present and planning for the future. Specifically:

How Does One Hope for the Future and Live in the Present Simultaneously?

There are countless wisdom and philosophies about the only path to pure and absolute happiness in living in the present,
and just as much teachings about striving for the future. Here’s what I mean:

Present

True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.

Eckhart Tolle

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.

Henry David Thoreau

Future

We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

Franklin D. Roosevelt


Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

Albert Einstein


Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.

Thich Nhat Hanh


Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.

Nelson Mandela

If these two concepts weren’t dichotomic, then perhaps I wouldn’t be having such a hard time.

Anyways! Here are some photos for those of you who are more visually inclined:

November in Pictures

Whistler getaway with mom&dad💙
Went blonde again after some years
Celebrating beautiful girl friends💙

That’s it from me! Thank you for reading, and for being part of this journey with me💙 Until next time!

Holiday Food Freedom

As the holiday season approaches, not only are the streets and stores laced with dazzling decorations, holiday treats are also beginning to crowd the scene. From shortbread cookies to exotic cheeses to Christmas edition chocolates—how is one supposed to stay on their fitness train?

I remember I used to feel so anxious and stressed about the holiday season because of the surfeit of dine-outs, gatherings, baked goods, and drinking that threatened my fitness goal. I couldn’t show up at dinners and not eat without being rude, neither would the decadent celebratory meals meet my dietary criteria. For years and years, I used to either starve myself until the party or punish myself with cardio after the parties, just to burn a little more calories.

I want to share some of my struggles and lessons-learned with you, in the hopes that could avoid some of the angst and guilt that I used to feel. There are three tips that I found particularly helpful at arriving at holiday food freedom—both physically and psychologically.

Tip 1: Ditch the All or Nothing Mentality

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post: 6 Tips for Weight Loss and Healthier Lifestyle, the All or Nothing Mentality is detrimental to one’s fitness journey, particularly if you are looking for long-term, sustainable results. For me, I had noticed that the All or Nothing Mentality had often triggered binge eating, because I’d think to myself: If I am already off track, I might as well just make a cheat day out of it and get back on track tomorrow. Except, that is not how the law of thermodynamics works. Our caloric intake and expenditure don’t cap off according to a 24-hour clock when the clock strikes midnight. All the additional calories I had consumed, was carried over to the next day or even to the next few days until my body burns them off, or stores them as fat. Therefore, instead of throwing all of your hard work away, enjoy what you wanted to eat and stop there!

Tip 2: Nourish Your Body

Tackling fitness as a lifelong goal is imperative in changing your paradigm about food. Not all calories provide equitable value to your body. Nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods first will not only better regulate your hunger level, it will help keep your insulin level more stable when you consume other snacks/desserts later. Another benefit to this? You will also have less room for other treats that may make you feel guilty! Win-win.

Tip 3: Give Yourself Permission

Give yourself permission to indulge in the time with your loved ones. Since losing my grandparents some months ago, I have been reconsidering the priorities in my life. I wish I had shared more meals with them. I wish I had learned my grandma’s recipe. I wish I had focused on the conversations with them over our meals shared, rather than quietly counting calories and macronutrients in my head.

Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.

Jack LaLanne

I also want to acknowledge that these Tips are harder said than done. Even after years of practicing, I still sometimes find myself feeling guilty for having over-indulged and wanting to abstain from eating the next day to make up for the caloric surplus from the night before. But all things worth fighting for are deserving of hard work and nothing and no one else is more worth fighting for than your health and mental wellbeing. So don’t give up! Keep working on it!

Happy Holidays💙

My Andie

In the last month, a couple people have proffered that I be theirs.

“I want you to be mine,” they said, despite not having the slightest clue as to how they’d steward me. We don’t even claim ownership over a pet without knowing how to properly steward them, yet some men seem to think women would require less commitment than a pet?

I think I would have found it more romantic if they were to have first asked me what it’d take for me to remotely consider being theirs. But I guess that would have ended up nowhere either, for I would’ve shared with them this quote from Jane Eyre:

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will

Jane Eyre

Right. At this point, you probably think I am impossible. But I am not! I was once upon a time someone’s ‘My Andie’; though, it was a long time ago now.

I remembered how he used to call me “My Andie”—more notably, how I allowed him to call me his. I retraced our story back to the beginning, to figure out what was different about him, about that relationship.

He wasn’t the first (or the only) person who tried to call me theirs, but why he was the only one to whom I surrendered my independence?

I remembered the very first time when I landed in LAX, he was already waiting for me, flowers in his hands. He teared up when he saw me—long distance had that effect on lovers. He gave me an American SIM that was already paid for, in case I didn’t have a roaming plan. When I arrived at his, there were snacks and drinks that I had briefly mentioned previously in our conversations, crisp linens and fresh towels, as well as a few other small gifts that he had collected whenever he had thought of me—nothing extravagant but all ever so thoughtful: travel size lotion, a book, resistance bands for working out (because I used to use them every day).

When I come across pictures he’s taken of me, I’d see how profoundly loved I was through his eyes. Although we no longer have the same love for each other, it was the best souvenir he could’ve given me.

At that time he was still consulting for a firm, so every now and then he would have to go into the office for meetings. While he worked, I used to wander the city alone. He gave me his credit card, insistent that he took care of all my Uber and other expenses. I never used the card; it was never about the money. How much could Uber rides have cost? It was his generosity in offering me the best of his resources—time, attention, energy, affection, money—instead of what was leftover of them.

He understood both the hopeless romantic, as well as the pragmatic logistician in me, and meticulously planned our adventures accordingly—remembering all my travel preferences and dietary sensitivities. He took care of me down to every quantum detail.

I think it was in those quantum details that he’d won me over. It was the first, and only time, I felt someone else was invested in taking better care of me than I did myself. So when he called me his Andie, I relaxed into it, without much, or any, protest.

For the best of my life, I refuse to belong to anyone, or even to anywhere. I am ardent about being free. Don’t get me wrong, I have been in a few committed relationships, just not one in which I felt that I belonged to them. Even in my readings, I often resonate with characters that are transient in nature:

Other people were destined to keep leaving, over and over again.—Alix Ohlin

Or,

I should have known even then that the sea was written in him, that there would be some sort of leaving.— Let the Great World Spin

In my heart and mind, I feel unmoored, unanchored. Though, I still am unsure of why.

I wonder if it is because I am never fully willing to relinquish my fierce independence and unfettered freedom? Or, perhaps it is because I struggle to entrust myself to someone else?

And this, is how we have arrived at: Andie Untamed.


The Light We Carry

These days my heart and mind are at war.

While my mind is vehemently trying to rid me of my romanticism, my heart is shrieking in painful protest. As I attempt to re-evaluate the axioms that have governed how I used to best live my life, I have been met with a grave sense of loss, of angst. I am no longer certain that—loving well—is how I want to be remembered by.


My mind wrestles with questions such as:

“To whom does it matter how I loved?”

“What if I choose selfishness this time around, and prioritize my own desires first?”

“What if monogamous romantic relationships are just manipulated social constructs that religions use to puppet their believers? And my obstinate resolve in achieving them is only yielding me endless heartbreak and disillusion?”

When is enough, enough?”

Struggling to find my footing, I haven’t been able to find a book that consoles and anchors my heart, until I came across Michelle Obama‘s The Light We Carry. Her voice has served as a soothing and gentle reminder of the person I aspired to be.

When we are able to recognize our own light, we become empowered to use it

–Michelle Obama

Through her words, I feel seen. I feel more at ease with how much my mind has been oscillating between “it’s all too much” and “I’ve got this”, between “I love LOVE” and “LOVE doesn’t pay bills”, so on and so forth.

I still have no concrete answer to my own questions, which means I am still standing at an impasse—the most psychologically excruciating place for my mind to be. But here I am, learning to sit in this discomfort once again, focusing on small things one day at a time.

So while the light within me may have been temporarily dimmed, I am on a quest to find the fire that will reignite my soul and set it alight once more.

Until then, THANK YOU for being a part of this journey with me. If you, too, are grappling between feeling overwhelmed and “I got this”, know that you are not alone! With one foot in front of the other, we are going to get there. Perhaps not at the timing that we would’ve liked, but we will get there. Keep shining❤️✨

How to Set Achievable Goals

https://www.hydratemarketing.com/blog/the-importance-of-setting-smart-goals

S.M.A.R.T. Goal

S.M.A.R.T. Goal is one of the most effective goal setting strategies employed by a myriad of reputable companies around the world. It is also one of my preferred strategies to equip my students with. The concept in and of itself is rather straightforward: you set a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic goal to be completed within a certain time frame.

Here’s an arbitrary example of how a S.M.A.R.T. Goal would be structured:

Goal: Accrue $12,000 in the emergency fund.

Specific: $12,000 over 24 months, save $500/month
Measurable: at the end of each month, I can sum up all my savings and see if it adds up to $500
Attainable: $500 is equivalent to roughly to $17/day. If I eat at home and pack a lunch to work, I can save $17/day on food.
Realistic: if I am being achingly honest, I will not only eat at home and pack a lunch for two years straight. So the $17/day will have to come from a reduction from other budgets. So if I were to save $400/month from food, $100/month from commute, then it will be doable.
Time-bound: 2 years

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.

Tony Robbins

2 Major Roadblocks

Overthinking

Over the years, I noticed that one of the biggest obstacle we face when it comes to achieving our goals—is ourselves. So often we are stunted in our mind. Instead of overthinking and preparing for every possible failure, the secret is to start. You can always refine and pivot as you make advancement towards your goal!

Motivation

Growth is uncomfortable. It challenges us to step outside of our comfort zone. Often, it is so much easier to remain cocooned in what is familiar, instead of inching forward—especially when results may be imperceivable at first. It is important that you trust the process, trust the journey. When your motivation is lacking, have your discipline and courage carry you. Stay steadfast in the pursuit of your goals even when you may not feel motivated to.

Thank you for reading! I hope this strategy can be of help to you in achieving new goals! 💙

How to Reassess Your Stagnant Beliefs and Make Your Life Extraordinary?

“This is how humans are: We question all our beliefs, except for the ones that we truly believe in, and those we never think to question.”

― Orson Scott Card

I recently came across this quote that has left my spirit rather restless.
When it comes to beliefs that I feel unapologetically convicted about, my confirmation bias tends to take over, rendering my judgements unreliable. How does one rectify one’s obstinate—and perhaps what ought to be obsolete—beliefs, to improve oneself?

Exhibit A of a Stagnant Belief of mine: My Romantic Ideologies.

I am a romantic, who pretends not to be. My personalities swing like pendulums between idealism and pragmatism. There are my hopes and dreams for people, for my relationships, for the future, and then there are my crude understanding of the reality. Whenever I hear stories about how relationships fail to work, I am reminded of the obsolescence of romanticism. Since I’ve read the quote above a few weeks ago, I have been seriously considering abandoning my romantic ideologies, I just haven’t quite figured out how yet.

And if I may be a hundred percent transparent, a huge part of me preemptively mourns and weeps for the loss of that romantic part of me. After all, if I am no longer a romantic, would I still be me?

Extraordinary accomplishments come from doing ordinary things for extraordinary periods of time.

– Alex Hormozi

This was another quote I came across recently that has really resonated with me. It has succinctly captured a powerful concept that I couldn’t quite articulate well myself; it is the notion that: both the quality AND quantity we invest into our goals define how successful we will be at it. Alex Hormozi said that doing 100 repetition of anything well, will result in noticeable improvements, however incremental it may be. It is not any one workout that we do is impressive, rather, the culmination of workouts that we day in and day out, devote ourselves to, that make a difference.

Have I devoted enough time and energy into the goals that I vehemently care about? Have you? If not, what we some of the accountability measures we can implement to ensure that we are doing our due diligence to be better, rather than waiting passively, praying and hoping that our desired goals would miraculously manifest themselves?

Showing up for myself💪

🎃October🎃

I began this entry mid-October and it has taken many a turn since then. Typically, writing and cooking have been my creative outlets; except, these days, my thought are too fragmented to even be strung into coherent sentences. So instead, I have been deep into art meditation, called Zentangle.

But perhaps this is when I most need to just put pen to paper, and write. Write until I can make sense of what’s going on in my head, write until I can hear my voice again.

So here it is: my vain attempt.

It hasn’t been easy, moving forward in life after losing my grandparents. To the people around me, it has already been a month and a half, but to me, it has only been a month and a half. Time is so fluid, so relative, so personal, isn’t it? Since September, due to the culmination of events that had transpired, something in me just sort of—broke. I reached a figurative, yet incredibly visceral, Rubicon (point of no return). Left behind at that junction were integral pieces of who I was, whom I aspired to be.

Since then, I have evaporated into a seasonless, flavourless world,
with no obvious way back.

    Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears.

Kahlil Gibran

Zentangle

Here are my first and second attempts at it. They still have lots of room for improvement but I thought I’d share should you be interested in trying them out as well!

Halloween

It’s been a while since I dressed up for Halloween, partly because it was COVID and most activities were cancelled, partly because I just felt too old for it. But this year I was supposed to go to a Halloween party so I actually put some thought into putting together a semblance of a costume. I was a raven, in case you can’t tell.

Fitness & Diet

Despite my apathetic state, I have been working out regularly still, albeit with much less enthusiasm and rigor. I am glad on the days when I have absolutely zero motivation to exercise, I have my discipline to carry me.

In terms of my “diet”, I am en route to my usual winter 10-pound weight gain. My body, my weight has a natural cadence of its own. As the seasons change and the temperature begins to drop, I intuitively eat more and collect more body fat, which I have now made peace with. I am glad that I have finally arrived at a place where I can amicably coexist with this additional weight and use it to increase my physical strength, and hopefully gain some more muscle definitions for the summer.

So, that’s it for me for October. How was your October? ❤️