Category Archives: Life

Saying No Part 1

“Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best”

– John Maxwell

As a college freshman, I said yes to almost everything that came my way. Invitations for dance workshops, dinners with directors of majors I had no intention of majoring in, volunteer opportunities that were WAY off campus, you name it. Because I said yes, I found that I was constantly running from activity to activity. After a while, I was no longer having fun.

To understand how to say “no”, we have to understand why it is that we say “yes”.  I want to spend today talking about why we say yes and tomorrow on how to say no. There are two common reasons why we say yes:

  1. We want to appear friendly

Sometimes we accept requests because we don’t want to appear rude by saying no. We refuse our own happiness and priorities for those of others to avoid conflict whether now or later.

  1. We fear missed opportunities

We think that if we say no it means that we will miss out on a golden opportunity to meet people or network. When I have this fear, I remember back to John Maxwell’s quote about saying no to the good so I can say yes to the best.

Tomorrow I will talk about how to say “no.”


How to Overcome Procrastination

Procrastination comes from the Latin word “procrastinatio” meaning to “put off until tomorrow.” The roots are pro- meaning “forward” and crastinus meaning “of tomorrow.”

Procrastination can be described in a hundred different ways, but the central idea of procrastination is delaying a high-priority task in favor of a lower one. If I put off doing my tax returns to play my Wii, I am procrastinating; but if I choose to do my tax returns instead of playing my Wii, I am not procrastinating because playing the Wii is a lower-priority to me.

Procrastination can exist because of many reasons. These reasons appear in different ways and as such, you won’t always procrastinate for the same reason. For example, sometimes you are stressed out by your to-do list and procrastination gives you a temporary escape. Other times, a more fun, but low-priority alternative is more attractive to you.

Procrastination management is an art and not something that happens in a short time, but it is a skill that can be learned. In this article, I will address some of the most common causes of procrastination and the ways you can overcome these to minimize or even eliminate procrastination.

1. Overburden/Stress

One of the most common reasons to procrastinate is the overburden which causes stress. This is why most students will procrastinate on schoolwork. With so many reading assignments, extracurricular activities and events to attend,  it seems to never stop. The best way to overcome the feeling of being overburdened is to learn to say “No.”

I found that during my second semester at Yale, I was taking 5.5 credits (24 Credit Hours) and was extremely involved in six of my extracurricular organizations. I was constantly being pushed from one event to another. Even though I didn’t procrastinate on my homework or meetings, I found that I didn’t have as much fun as I did first semester when I only took 4.5 credits.

Last semester I took 4.5 credits with five extracurricular and never felt happier to be at Yale. I found the right balance that allowed me to take one task at a time and never feel rushed. I have time for two-hour dinners, to watch TV, and play some poker. Even as you learn to overcome procrastination, remember that it is okay to enjoy yourself once in a while. Play another round of 18 or load up another Just Dance 4 track. Less is more.

Other times, I might be stressed because I don’t know how to begin or what I am doing. In these cases, I break down what I want to do, what I don’t know, and how I will figure out the skills needed or figuring out how to get the job done. In these situations, I just ask for help.

2. The Lazy Bug

Sometimes we procrastinate because we are tired or just want to be lazy. Maybe we had a long day or didn’t get enough sleep. The lazy bug is contagious and once we begin to watch one movie or play one hour of League of Legends, the next thing we know is that our entire day is gone.

The solution to the lazy bug induced procrastination is using Newton’s First Law of Motion: an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. Start doing something to get yourself moving and working. When you feel lazy, do something that won’t drain you completely, but will contribute to your greater project.

When you are too lazy to write a paper, start brainstorming some topics for the paper. Then start some outlines and light research. As you begin to build momentum, keep going and start doing more demanding tasks. This is doing research and piecing together arguments. The key is to start building energy and eventually get you in the “zone.”

3. Lack of Motivation

Sometimes we aren’t lazy, but we just don’t want to do something. We don’t see the reason why we should spend time doing something we don’t enjoy for a result we don’t really want. This is, for example, not studying for a class because you don’t enjoy it or know why you enrolled in the class. When this happens, you need to re-evaluate why you are doing what you’re doing. You need to find something you enjoy that will keep you moving and motivated to complete the work. My friend Mendy will talk about this Friday in her Featured Friday Post about learning to say “no.”

4. Poor Self-Discipline or Time Management Skills

Sometimes, you have the will-power, but not the time. In these instances, you need to apply a lot of your self-discipline to find time and work through tasks you might not enjoy for a result that you want (ex. An “A” in the class). If your self-discipline is lacking, procrastination becomes a tempting mistress. To overcome this, remind yourself of the benefits from doing the task and start small until you have built enough momentum to continue with the larger tasks.

Other times, you procrastinate because you have no choice. You are always working from one task to another. I talk about this in one of my favorite posts. Developing better time management habits to help you overcome procrastination due to “not having enough time” involves identifying your current problem, time wasters, and figuring solutions for these time wasters. I talk about time management at the end of last year. You can find solutions to common bad time management habits here.

I would love to hear your opinions about procrastination. What causes your procrastination? How do you overcome it?

The Secrets of Happiness

One reason why we have goals is because either the journey or the destination will bring us happiness; otherwise why are you doing them? But happiness is a tricky subject. Take the following example:

Which one would make you happier?

  • Winning the Lottery
  • Becoming a Paraplegic

Of course winning the lottery will make you happier, but did you know this increase in happiness is only temporary? After about a year, you become adjusted to the happiness.

In the same way becoming a paraplegic will lower your happiness, but only for about a year, then your level of happiness returns to normal. You adjust.

But if you do want to know what types of goals will increase your happiness, below are a few of my favorite TedTalks on happiness.

Tomorrow’s featured writer is my friend Christian Rhally, who is the co-founder and President of InspireYale, a student organization that promotes creative thinking and educational programs on happiness for the New Haven and Yale community.

He will talk about finding happiness in just living. Come back tomorrow for his inspiring post.


If you need a lift or want to know more about what makes us happy, watch one of the Ted Talks and come back tomorrow for Christian’s post.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for another article.

Happiness from helping others reach their goals

In a happiness experiment, psychologists gave two groups of participants $5 each. The first group was told to spend the $5 on themselves and the second group was told to spend the $5 on someone other than themselves. The experimenters then recorded how the participants felt after spending the $5, a week afterwards, and a month afterwards. What they found was that the people who spend the $5 on someone else were on average happier than the people who spend the $5 on themselves. The second group had higher levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that when released makes you feel good, in their brain.

When we achieve our goals, our body also releases dopamine, You will recognize dopamine being released when you near your name being called for an award or when you get a runner’s high. Dopamine makes you happy and when you see others being happy, your dopamine level increases even further (for proof, spend an hour playing with toddlers, see how you smile when they smile).

In a study conducted at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Carolyn Schwartz, a research professor, wanted to see if multiple sclerosis patients who receive monthly phone calls from fellow others with MS were happier. What Schwartz found was that while those receiving support were happier than those who didn’t receive a call, the real beneficiaries were the MS patients who made the call. In fact, those who called experienced dramatic increases how happy they felt about their quality of life—several times more so than those being helped.

Luckily, you can accomplish the same effect when you are helping people achieve their goals. As much as I enjoy accomplishing my own goals, when I see someone else realize theirs, I cannot describe the happiness we both feel. I talk a lot about using a support network to accomplish your goals, but by being apart of someone else’s support network you can also increase your own happiness. Later this month, I will talk more about how to help others achieve their goal by being a mentor, being a goal buddy, or being a supporter.


Do you know anyone currently working on a goal? How could you help them achieve it?

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for another article.

Learning from Failure

I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s post about rejection/failure, with a post about how to learn from failure. Failure can seem like a no gain experience, but failure has much to teach you if you take the time to learn. No one would choose failure over success, but sometimes you can’t taste sweet success until you have had a sample of bitter failure. Here are three things you can use to benefit from failure.


Confront the failure and learn from it.

Don’t deny the failure, face it. Sometimes things are just out of your control, there is only so much you can do, but accept responsibility for what you can control. Accept credit where credit is due, but also accept your weaknesses: where could you have done better?

Sometimes the answer to why you failed is not immediately clear. This where communication is key. Reflect on your experience and ask others. What areas do you think you could have improved? Where do others think you could have done better? Ask yourself and ask others who can help you prepare for next time.


Using what you learned from the previous steps, re-evaluate your plan, make it better, and increase your chance of success next time. Re-planning is not starting over. Failure might have delayed your goal, but it did not take away the experience and journey you took to get to where you are today.

Failure is not mortal; if it were you wouldn’t be alive to read this. It makes you more aware for the next time opportunity rolls around. Opportunity is like a bus, there is always another one around the corner.

Realize that Failure is not the end.

The hardest part about failure is not failing itself, but failing to move on. Once you have moved past your failure you win in areas that cannot be measured in money, fame, or even TedTalks, you gain more character, a new appreciation for what you already have, and a new determination to succeed.

Failure is not failing to accomplish your goal; it is failing to get back up.


Learn from failure and push forward.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for another article.

How to Handle Rejection

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a series of conferences that take place all over the world and promote “ideas worth spreading.” If you have been following my blog, you know that I love using TedTalks to supplement my articles.

I find TED to be one of the most innovative platform of the 21st century, no where else can a talk entitled “10 things you didn’t know about orgasm” be on the same playlist as one entitled “Wii Remote hacks for educators”(and if you say YouTube, the video on YouTube are probably TedTalks).

One of my goals has been to give a Talk.  About what you might ask (Hint: look at the blog)? My ideal talk would be about setting goals and accomplishing them. Going beyond just positive thinking and actually having a plan, making time, and committing yourself to your goal.

Recently, a student competition opened up for the 2013 TedxYale. When I saw the announcement, I immediately signed up. The weeks following, I crafted my speech, rehearsed, and asked for feedback from my support network. Earlier this week, I auditioned.

Today the results came via email. I clicked on the message, read the first two sentences, and closed my mail, “Thank you for competing in this year’s TEDxYale Student Speaker Competition. We really enjoyed getting to know you and having a chance to listen to your story.”

I already knew what was coming next. After receiving about two scholarship rejection letters every week in high school, I can skim the length of the letter, read the first sentence, look at the email headline, or feel the envelope and know if it is good news or not (the email continues, “unfortunately, we do not have a spot for you…”).

I talk a lot about positive thinking, but this does not make me immune to rejection.  A part of me died on the inside. If you have ever been rejected, you know the feeling.

After sitting at my desk in silence for the next few minutes, I thought about what this recent rejection meant for me. In my Talk I used my story about using commitment devices to accomplish goals such as losing weight. But even after the saddening email, I realized that I still have my healthy new lifestyle, the friends and supporters I’ve gained since starting, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. This rejection might have delayed my goal, but it didn’t take away everything I’ve done to get to where I am today.

Disappointment hurts. Disappointment really hurts, but it is what you do next that will determine how much damage it will continue to do to you. Get back up and resume your path to greatness. I emailed a few judges to see what I could have done better, and I plan on reworking my talk and auditioning again next year and at other venues.

My goal of spreading support networks and commitment devices might not have come true today, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. My disappointment today is not my first nor my last, but like all that came before and all that will come after, I am picking myself up and pushing forward.

Tomorrow, I begin my goal anew; this time with more experience, additional supporters, and a bigger determination.



Next time when things don’t turn out the way you want, look back, appreciate your journey, and begin your goal anew.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for another article.

Life is a Gift

One of the themes of my blog is learning to love yourself. One reason people have personal goals is to build self-confidence, but before goals will help you improve your self-esteem, you have to learn to love yourself.

This is one of my favorite proses, because it helps me appreciate life more, to get back up when I am down, and to not feel discouraged when my goals seem so far away.

(Words in [] are my additions)

Life Is A Gift

Today before you think of saying an unkind word– think of someone who can’t speak.

Before you complain about the taste of your food– think of someone who has nothing to eat.

Before you complain about your husband or wife [boyfriend or girlfriend]– think of someone who is crying out for a companion.

Today before you complain about life– think of someone who went too early to heaven.

Before you complain about your children– think of someone who desires children but they’re barren.

Before you argue about your dirty house, someone didn’t clean or sweep– think of the people who are living in the streets.

Before whining about the distance you drive– think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

And when you are tired and complain about your job [or school work]– think of the unemployed, the disabled and those who wished they had your job.

And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down – Put a smile on your face and think: you’re alive and still around.


Follow the advice of the poem.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at

My blog is updated daily. Return tomorrow for another article.

The MBA and the Mexican Fisherman (The Important Things in Life)

When setting and determining your goals, consider what is important to you. You might find it is closer than you think.

The following story has been surfacing on the web for many years and I thought…well you will see after reading it.


The MBA and the Mexican Fisherman

An American businessman was at a pier in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied only a little while.

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked the Mexican how he spent the rest of his time.

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and, with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution.

“You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

The American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed, and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public. You’ll become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions, senor?” replied the Mexican. “Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”



What are your priorities?

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at

My blog is updated daily. Return tomorrow for another article.

Creating your own luck

I used to think that it took being lucky to study at a prestigious university. I thought that only the smart, well-connected, or the privileged had any chance of gaining admission into a school like Yale and Harvard. On my journey of being admitted and my two years in college, I still believe that it takes luck to be where most Ivy League students are, but luck is only one factor. Perseverance plays a much bigger role.

A person with all the opportunities and luck in the world, but lacks tenacity is no better than someone with no opportunity. Someone with tenacity can turn a small opportunity into success. For evidence, look no further than a young Bill Gates who programmed wherever he could find a computer terminal or the early Beatles who took all the small nightclub jigs they could find.

Goals are completed because those who accomplish them didn’t give up when opportunities didn’t seem to present themselves. Steve Jobs didn’t turn Apple around because of luck. Winston Churchill didn’t lead the Allies to victory because of luck. Luck was a factor, Jobs had exposure to failure that taught him what he needed to learn the second time around and Churchill has the support of the U.S. but the rest was the result of their determination.

I cannot always count on luck to find me, but I can count on my perseverance and small opportunities. With those two things, I can always make my own luck.

Always remember the quote “Luck = Preparation + Opportunity”

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Tomorrow’s Featured Friday writer is Juan, who is returning for his second article. Juan, who just a year ago, couldn’t even leave the country or apply for an internships is turning his life around one opportunity at a time. He talk about having no regrets and taking advantages of the opportunities that come your way.


Next time you are presented with an opportunity you find interesting, give it a shot.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for a Featured Friday article.

New Goals Keep You Going

Graduation is quite a few a long time away, but later this month a number of lucky students will be receiving letters of early acceptance to the colleges of their dreams. What follows is sheer enjoyment, calls to grandma to tell her the good news, and senioritis. If you haven’t heard of senioritis, for high school students, this is the time period after you have finalized your plans for post-graduation and there is a decreased motivation to study.

The scary thing is that senioritis does not only happen to high school, college, and graduate seniors, but can happen to anyone. This happens when you begin to feel your life has become too routine and nothing ever changes. You are waiting for something new to happen, but in the meantime you lose motivation for what you are currently involved with and doing.

I find best way to get out of this slump is to find something new that interests you. After my grandparents first retired, they found themselves always returning to work because they could not find anything else to occupy their time. Now they have found a renewed passion for life. They made a list of places they wanted to visit and are now taking off almost every month to new and exotic places. They enjoy the change in scenery.

My girlfriend and I keep a list of things we want to do together (some are simple, others take planning). We don’t need the list to keep our relationship going, but it is nice to have because something new to do together. New goals keep the sparks flying when they might stop otherwise.

After visiting my colleges and finalizing my decision to Yale, I decided to pick up magic. I made it my goal to be the best magician I could be by the end of the summer. A week after coming to Yale, I performed for my first crowd of 200+ audience members.

Having goals keeps life interesting.


When your life gets boring, find a new goal.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for another article.