Introduction: Personal Development Strategy Guide
Runner Up in the
Humana Health Challenge
I wanted to create something that could be used by anyone who wanted to become success in their lives. The idea came from my own personal experiences. When I first started college, I achieved success academically right out of the gate. I felt confident in my abilities to perform on exams and hit the marks for which I was striving easily. However, I noticed such a deep tinge of disappointment in other facets in my life that I urged myself to seek something with more foundation.
My relationship with my family was rather frail because I was withholding a lot of my own wants and needs from my parents. I was committed to becoming a chemist, whereas they were bent on me going through medical school. I also had a lot of emotional strain with my sister, who was also starting to move away from my family after she moved out of the house. My former girlfriend at the time and I would go through fight after fight, as I could very volatile when stressed from school and family.
I also suffered from carpal tunnel while I was going through my first research experience. It was a nightmare for me; I was not used to spending more than 4 hours on the computer typing up code, especially since I was a chemistry major. I enjoyed laboratory work far more than computational. I was constantly going through bouts of deep anxiety as a result of my fear of failure. And my health was deteriorating because I had no sense of diet, as I was living alone for the first time of my life.
I wanted more freedom in my life. I wanted to take back control of what I had lost. Even though my academics were superb, I felt like a failure. My life philosophy had been revolved around balance, and I found myself sacrificing a huge amount of balance for the sake of a few letters and numbers on a piece of paper. Don't get me wrong; the intellectual side of life is important, especially to me. But I wanted academic success coupled with good physique, strong relationships, and stable emotional health.
So what came out of my struggles was an exploration through life management, personal development, health regiments, and new perspectives. Through seminars, trainings, life groups, and work-out programs, I took back my life. And I'm still continuing to grow, continuing to learn, and becoming better each day.
Now what I decided to do was distill that work into a form that others could use to improve their lives. I felt that this Excel Spreadsheet of all the tools and techniques I've used since that time would be useful for the community here.
May this serve someone on their journey through life.
Step 1: Introduction
Now, to break down the Personal Development Strategy Guide, I want to introduce you to the themes of the guide. They consist of the following parts:
Physical - Areas of life that are related to the physical body.
Emotional - Areas of life that are related to feelings, emotions, and social spheres.
Mental - Areas of life that are related to the intellect.
Financial - Areas of life that are related to money and income.
Distractions - Areas of life that are related to the ways in which we "check-out" from responsibility.
Tools - Tools to give us more leverage in each area of our life.
Each theme is further broken down into 4~6 modules. After opening the Excel Spreadsheet that I've attached, you can access each of the modules by clicking on the colored diamond to the left of each of them.
Find the theme (Physical, Emotional, Mental, or Financial) that you feel may be your weak spot. Then make a commitment to complete the modules that you believe will be most beneficial to your health in that area.
It seems that every time I open the Excel spreadsheet, it leads directly to the Ergonomics module. I've tried to upload the Excel a second time using a different version, but it keeps going back to that module. Will have to look into it later.
For the time being, please click on the "Return" button on the upper right corner and that should take you to the main page.
*END OF IMPORTANT EDIT*
Now, most of the modules generally consist of two parts, the instructions and the list.
The instructions will give you a brief idea of the concept behind each module. For example, if you take the "Diet" module, you'll click on it and read that it'll be about creating a list of foods that are deleterious to your health. Then you'll move onto the list itself, where you will type out a list of the foods that you eat, their benefits to your health, and their costs to your health.
For the Diet module in particular, my hope was to give people awareness of what they were eating on a daily basis, as I've found that just typing out the foods that I eat gives me more perspective on what's going in my body. When my father passed away from a second stroke during the year, I realized that some of the most harmful and dangerous diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and diabetes, are caused by what should give you nourishment, energy, and vitality: food. Food is absolutely important for life, and yet the structure of our world has created an environment where food is nearly poisonous to your health. So the Diet module will help you get a sense of what you're eating and perhaps how it may be affecting your life on an experiential level.
So all of these modules are based off of my own experiences with challenges in my own life. They use concepts passed down to me by friends, family, self-improvement books, seminar leaders, and life coaches, and I have used them to great effect in my own life. You don't need to fill out the entire strategy guide, and you hardly need to follow modules that do not agree with your own life philosophy, but at least take a look at each module and see if you can incorporate it into your own life. Perhaps you can try it out and see if it fits in your lifestyle for a few weeks. Everyone is different, and no two experiences are ever the same. What works for me may never work for you. But at least experiment.
In the following steps, I will discuss what each of the themes are about and the modules that make them up.
Step 2: Physical - the Body
I created the most modules for this particular theme because I felt it was the most crucial for personal success. Strong physical health gives you the energy to affect changes in other areas of your life; without it, the entire system fails and you may end up disabled from the long-term effects of poor health. Take care of your body as you would your own car. You wouldn't put in leaded gasoline into your car, so you probably shouldn't stuff yourself with chemically-modified foods either. I may sound like a health nut, but I lost a family member this way.
The physical theme is broken into the following modules.
Diet - Use this module if you struggle with food, nutrition, and dietary habits.
Sleep - Use this module if you have trouble going to sleep.
Injury and Illness - Use this module if you suffer from debilitating injuries and illnesses.
Exercise - Use this module if you lack physical fitness in your life.
Environment - Use this module if you have many environmental distractions.
Ergonomics - Use this module if you could use more comfortable tools and furniture.
Do your best to complete some sections of this guide. These are some critical aspects for health.
Step 3: Emotional - the Heart
Much of the emotional module is centered around social groups. My own life philosophy involves the idea that community and relationships are the modes of human life where we find the most enjoyment, happiness, and peace of mind. Although at times, relationships with friends, family, and lovers can be tumultuous, there is an extraordinary richness in the growth that's possible through trials and tribulations. So each module is designed to help you develop through relationship, enhance your social support system, and expand your social group.
The emotional theme is broken up into the following modules:
Withholds - Use this module if you have any broken commitments, unspoken communications, conflicts, or frustrations with any person in your life.
Social Circle - Use this module if you would like to expand your social life.
Service - Use this module if you find yourself feeling inadequate or worthless in your life.
Support Crew - Use this module if you have many emotional challenges to face and need stronger external support.
Step 4: Mental - the Brain
The brain is a powerful organ. It can create new ideas, build concepts, bridge connections between vast worlds of knowledge, and enjoy a multitude of senses. I have a deep sense of commitment to the intellectual realms, as I have lived through the world of science ever since I was born. My father taught me a lot while I was growing up, everything from radios to physiology to astronomy. So this theme has a particular importance to my way of being.
The mental theme is centered around the concept of purpose. What is your purpose? What were you born to do with your life? What can you do to support your vision? And how can you enhance your mental capacities in the most efficient ways?
The mental theme is broken up into the following modules:
Goals - Use this module to outline your most cherished goals into a formidable plan for future action.
Projects - Use this module to create commitments to complete or let go of unfinished projects that take up mental space.
Vision - Use this module to draft your vision for the future.
The Master Mind - Use this module to create a group of high-level achievers in any field for you to "soak in" their habits of success.
Step 5: Financial - the Money
The importance of one's financial health is that it allows you to affect change in all other aspects of your life. Although physical health is crucial for the first steps, without money, much of our efforts can be wasted trying to sustain ourselves with the bare minimum resources. My mother is an entrepreneur and businesswoman, so I've luckily received much of her financial savvy since birth. What I know is that most people can pick up financial and entrepreneurial skills rather quickly, especially if you take a look through the tools section where I've put together a list of all the books and resources I've used to help myself through financial challenges.
I know that a lot of my own friends struggle to maintain a budget. My belief is that finances has nothing to do with intelligence or ability, but rather courage. It should not take too much brain power to write down numbers and add them up. But my sneaking suspicion is that most people are afraid to look at how much they spend on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Hopefully, these modules will facilitate that process and allow you to get a handle around your financial life.
The financial theme is broken up into the following modules:
Income - Use this module to expand the opportunities in your life for generating income.
Expenditures - Use this module to keep track of expenditures.
Debts - Use this module to list and take control of debts owed to others.
Savings - Use this module to make plans to save for new financial opportunities or emergency crises.
Step 6: Distractions - the Confusion
Our minds and bodies can become heavily absorbed in areas of life that are not aligned with our highest goals and aspirations. Take, for example, snacking on chips. The initial benefit of snacking on chips is that you receive the enjoyment of eating tasty food, the sensations of the textures around the chip, and the final pleasure of having filled your stomach. However, the long term costs are that you cause disruption to your system as your sodium levels spike, your stomach goes out of whack, and your entire body struggles to maintain balance. The end result is loss of focus, loss of energy, and most importantly, the creation of a poor habit.
The distractions theme will empower you to take a look at the areas of your life where you are being robbed of the most energy, energy that could go into building projects, enhancing relationships, or achieving financial independence. These modules require you to be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable for your actions.
The distractions theme is made up of the following modules, which mirror the four major themes of the strategy guide:
Step 7: Tools - the Leverage
At times, we need extra support in our lives. The following tools included in this module will give you the extra push to maintain consistent productivity throughout the day and help you achieve your goals. These are tried and true tools that I've used in my own life. They have helped me move through some of the most challenging times of my life without any extra effort on my own part. Once they become ingrained as habits, they will give you the leverage you need to take command of your life on a day-to-day basis.
In the "Resource" module, I list links to other websites and titles to books that have been influential in my life. I highly recommend that you peruse through that module in particular, as it contains the really juicy details on the methods of obtaining more leverage, more productivity, and more happiness in your own life.
The tools theme consists of the following modules:
Daily Mantra - Use this tool to build momentum toward your goals through the principle of auto-suggestion.
Morning Ritual - Use this tool to wake up prepared to tackle the day.
Time Blocking - Use this tool to manage your time without sacrificing the good times.
Resources - Use this tool to explore other options and strategies for further growth.
Step 8: In Memory of My Father
Though now you cannot see,
The light blazes on brighter than the sun.
Though you cannot hear,
A newborn baby cries awake into the world.
Though you cannot breathe,
The wind blows quietly through the meadow.
Though your heart no longer beats,
The ocean waves ripple on the shore softly.
Riches may be spent,
Kingdoms razed to the ground,
Great edicts forgotten in time,
And knowledge aged with dust.
But what price can you place
On the eyes of a tearful father
Holding his crying son
Before his last breath into Eternity?
To Dr. Le Quoc Khanh, the warrior scholar.
Physician, Captain, and Father.
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.