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.

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💙

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

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


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!


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! 💙