Maximize Your Work-Life Balance as a Health Care Professional

Happy Motivation Monday, everyone!

I came across a post on Med à la Mode about work-life balance as a healthcare professional. I work in retirement living. It is an interesting hybrid of healthcare,  recreation, and real estate. In retirement living, there are nurses and other non-medical line staff on the floor taking care of the older adults. First of all, I have to say the line staff work with a heart of service and compassion. It is amazing how they put up with all the workload they do in their day-to-day. Whenever it comes to a project where I do work with the line staff, I already know this is one more thing too many. I make sure I develop a good relationship with them — that always goes first before the start of any project. I also want to show that we can be diplomatic and we could work together. I don’t want them to shove whatever down their throat, push them to the ground until they’re burnt out and unsatisfied. I hear from other colleagues who say, “I am receiving push-back from so-and-so which is why this project is not done.”

Maybe the reason why I am empathetic towards the line staff is that I too have many of those same moments they’re feeling. I have a lot in my day-to-day, I get pulled from 17 different directions, and I am expected to perform miracles.

I like to think of myself as a champion of work-life balance because each day I do these checks where ask myself things such as, “Do I need to stay in the office another hour later?” or “Do I really need to reply this e-mail now?” Before I almost never did these self-checks. I always said “yes” to whatever task and followed through in what is considered “record time”. I was praised for being “on top of it” for years. It’s great to get praise, but after a while, this machine-like work ethic slowly started becoming unsustainable without any car. I was tired and feeling foggy all the time. I felt bad for my dogs because they need me to come home and feed them. That is more than enough reason for me to step away from the computer.

Anyways, enough ranting. I came across Stacey’s post on her blog. It was timely for me because back in December, I pledge to take care of myself and put relationships and meaningful things in my life first rather than bury myself in my computer, smartphone, and cubicle.

I urge everyone around me: family, friends, and colleagues to evaluate each day — it does not matter how many times per day — “am I achieving work-life balance?” If you say “no”, then please step back.


From Med à la Mode blog:

So, you’ve taken the first step and have decided that you want to become a healer, first, that is a remarkable choice to make; to devote your life and to care for others, be it at the level of a pre-med, medical, physician assistant student or physician. With this decision in mind, it’s crucial to make sure you take care of yourself, too. Failing to do so can result into burnout, an alarming trend that is plaguing the health care industry.

Burnout is defined as a “pervasive healthcare problem characterized by a loss of emotional, mental, and physical energy due to continued job-related stress.” With burnout, it can cause you to disengage and see your work as something negative and meaningless, when it once was a positive accomplishment in your life.
What is work-life balance? Work-life balance is the relationship between your work and your personal life, and how these priorities affect and overlap one another.

Here are some simple steps that I’ve come up that I use that can help you do just that: 

(Click here for the original post)

The 2017 52-Hike Challenge reflections

I finished the 52 Hike Challenge on December 31st. It really did take me all year to do it. I almost thought I was not going to finish this challenge because in the beginning of December, I was on #43. But another part of me thought it was still possible to power through 9 more hikes because it’s not unbearably hot and a lot of the hikes I’ve done were extremely close.

What have I learned in the 52 Hike Challenge?

I discovered the pockets of green spaces in a large, urban city like Los Angeles.


Franklin Canyon #50 – I can’t believe this is sandwiched between Beverly Hills and Studio City!

Importance of conserving and appreciating nature spaces. Having green spaces creates character in the city and homes to local wild life. To the people who brag about being energy efficient because they have an electric car and they diligently recycle — what good is it to do those things if you don’t go visit the local parks. There are greedy rich bastard (GRBs) who want to take this all away because to them profits are always before parks. To show my support to continue preserving these parks and preserves, I’ll keep on hiking.

Claremont Hills

#6 Claremont Trails

Make better use of my free time. Most of my hikes happened on the weekend so instead of staying in on a Saturday watching TV until the evening, I spend it outside. And I am proud of that. There were some conversations where people have asked “have you seen name-that-TV-show?”Nope, because I spend time outside.Hike 50 Porter Ranch

Hike #52 – Porter Ranch Trails

Taking a break from technology. The 52 Hike Challenge taught me it’s ok to stay away from technology. Jokingly, I’ve said “I think I was smarter before smartphones came out.” It could be true. Some people think their smart phone and mobile devices should be their brains where they could dump their appointments and their notes — only to never be retrieved. For me, technology has been a distraction more than anything. Throughout 2017, I stopped using my phone as my all-in-one entertainment system because it just got distracting. I only use it for making phone calls, sending messages, taking pictures, posting on Instgram, listen to audiobooks when I am doing chores. I occasionally post on Facebook to show I am still alive. I no longer use it to play videos, watch movies, organize my calendar, and even play games. Sorry Candy Crush.

Side note: I received a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I struggle what to do with it. I think I’ll just use it for Pinterest and looking up recipes when I prep meals.

Hike 38 Cave of Muntis.jpg

Hike #38 – Cave of Muntis

I learned there is no rung I can’t reach. In 2017, I also got into graduate school. I did not reach this rung because I said, “I want it”. I reached that rung because I worked for it like how I worked all year to complete 52 hikes.

Rancho Palos Verdes Hike

Hike #29 Rancho Palos Verdes

I learned the people who belittle me are real trolls. My husband kindly calls these people haters. No, I’ll stick with trolls. Trolls block people from making them cross the bridge, preventing them from succeeeding. Haters sounds too passive, but with trolls it requires a little bit of action — a fight, a push, or something to knock them off the bridge so you can get to your destination. Coming into the new year finishing 52 Hikes makes me feel like a badass. I may have not picked this feeling of newfound confidence 30 hikes ago, but now I’ve got this badge in my head and my heart. For anyone who belittles me, I should ask “well, have you gone on 52 hikes? Oh I’m sorry, no you haven’t? Well you can’t tell me what I can and can’t do!”

You can find some photos of my 52 Hike Challenge journey on my Instagram account.

Motivation Monday: Happiness Wins

In the beginning of the year, there was a prompt in the few pages of my planner asking what is my power mantra. I did not have one in particular. I simply wrote, “I’d rather be happy.”

Now it’s the end of year and I revisit the “what is my mantra” prompt towards the last pages of the planer. Then it asked if it changed since the beginning of the year.

I thought really hard about it and truth is, it has not changed. It looks like “I’d rather be happy” is here to stay.

I believe happiness supersedes everything. For every decision, I always make sure my happiness could weigh on my decisions. All year people have questioned and challenged me that happiness simply can’t be my root motivator — it can’t be everything. Happiness can’t pay the bills and that’s true. All year I confronted these challenges and as I am about to compromise my happiness for “something better”, I come back to find out happiness is the only driver, my only engine in my life. Happiness because:

  1. It gives me purpose – If something or someone is making me miserable no matter what I do to “fix” it or “fix” me, why should I continue to pursue. There has been plenty of times people has rubbed the (small) negative things in my face that my nose hurts thinking about it because they’re trying to rub this to the ground. There is no way that small thing making my life awful should be my purpose in life. I would rather deflect and pursue things that bring me joy.
  2. I feel less tired and stressed. Because I am not putting all my energy on the small, negative thing.
  3. …and it is for the sake of health — Physical health, mental health — all health. I recently decided I will no longer self-martyr to contest I am the hardest worker.

Photo by Uroš Jovičić on Unsplash

Mantras to put in place for a happier life:

  • Be happy. Be bright. Be you.
  • Always look on the bright side of life.
  • Do more of what makes you happy.
  • Find joy in the journey.
  • I am charge in choosing how I feel and I choose happiness.
  • Happiness can exist only in acceptance.
  • If you want to be happy, be

Pursue happiness, disregard other people’s approval

“Through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood, we keep achieving, craving the external validation that comes when we get all As or are chosen to captain the team. I was, and am, extremely ambitious. But the more we achieve in order to win the approval of others, the further we get from our own goals—and happiness.”

My Life as an Unhappy Overachiever” by Morra Aarons-Mele (posted on Thrive Global)

Last week, my husband and I went back to work after a few days in Iceland. It was somewhat discordant: my husband hurt himself at work, there were all these wildfires around Southern California, my car broke down and my husband and I share one car for the time being. Somewhat jokingly, I took it as a sign that we spent too few days of vacation. During vacation, we learned Iceland shared the same time zone as the UK. In retrospect, if we knew, we could have spent done a second week of vacation and spent it in Ireland or England.

Oh well, what can you do?

Friday afternoon was somewhat stressful. In fact on any given week, unlike other people who work 9-to-5 Monday through Friday jobs, my Fridays were always the busiest. Most people use their Friday to wind down and wrap up any loose ends before the weekend. Fridays can be a rollercoaster — in the morning it’s a rapid, exponential rise of stress and busy-ness followed by a quick crash because it’s 5 PM and you did not get to finish all the tasks you were suppose to do but you have to go home.

Our weekly team meetings happen on Fridays. In theory, it’s a great idea because we get to summarize the week and strategize for the coming week. In reality, it’s an awful idea. You summarize the week and something came awry. Sure you can wait to fix it in the coming week, but there’s this urgency to fix it — the sooner, the better.

On that Friday, I had planned to leave a little early to pick up my husband from work even if it means forgoing my breaks and lunch break. Remember, we’ve been sharing one car for the past two days at that point. Then after our team meeting, my supervisor  and my coworker suggested we meet today at 4 to 5 PM for a mock training to prep for the real training for next week. It was somewhat my fault because I brought the idea up to have a mock training, but I did not suggest to do it on a Friday afternoon. Ugh. When 4 PM came around, I got a message from my coworker if we could push back the mock training to 4:30 PM — we can have a 15 minute mock training. I told him that I have to go. I have to pick up my husband and I can’t have him hang there. Then I negotiated Mondays were best to meet because we’re refreshed from the weekend and unlike Friday, we don’t need to rush through.

Before I was about to leave, my supervisor came up to me about an e-mail I sent that he was CC’d on. He said, my wording on the e-mail was a little funny and that I needed to send another  e-mail to clarify to the recipients on a few steps that the shipment has not been sent. To me, it’s a small thing. I read the e-mail over and over again figuring out where was it “funny”. Because we haven’t paid the vendor, nothing has been shipped. This e-mail was more like opening the discussion of first steps, identifying point people, where should we install, schedule training, and other events. I don’t want to get into to much of the Project Manager details. I wrote reply figuring out what should I clarify — the recipients did not ask me for a clarification.Would they even be reading this e-mail and thinking about this in the eve of their weekend? This may be silly and extreme, but nobody got injured from this e-mail. If somebody did get injured from this e-mail, I’ll respond with urgency.

The theme of this Monday Motivation is not to seek the approval from others. This Thrive Global article was so timely for me. My coworker agreed to have this mock training in the afternoon because my supervisor asked for it. It’s the “soonest possible time” to do it. I understand you want to please people to show you are hard worker, you have stamina, you’re determined to reach your goals, but understand your actions affect other people.

I too, do fall in the people pleasing pit. Actually, I’ve always been in the people pleasing pit — from telling my parents I wanted to do pharmacy school so they could take me more seriously about my school to this little e-mail. I almost wrote an e-mail to clarify a point that the intended recipients did not even ask about. It occurred to me, I was really writing an e-mail to please my supervisor that I followed through. I spent quite a bit of time thinking –completely stumped — about writing that double e-mail to the recipients. Thankfully, I read that article the day before because what I took home was this quote, “…the more we achieve in order to win the approval of others, the further we get from our own goals—and happiness.” Instead of writing that e-mail to a non-existent response, I pressed “close” in the e-mail program, turned off my laptop, and left to pick up my husband. This is definitely sustainable.

Photo by Ariel Lustre on Unsplash

Monday Motivation: I’m back

…actually, I came back from Iceland on Friday night.

It was such a fantastic trip. Stayed tuned for Travel Tuesdays and the future one’s thereafter.

Also on Friday night, when I arrived to LAX, I turned on my phone to find out I’VE BEEN ACCEPTED TO THE MPA PROGRAM!! I start school on January 21st.

Today is my first back at work. It feels different. It feels busy(ier). Maybe because I got accepted to grad school, I anticipate more tasks next coming weeks. I need to print and complete to send out my submit my intent to register at school. Plus catch up with the pace of work.

dai-ke-32162Actually, hold up. No need to go from 0 to 100 MPH as soon as I get to my cubicle. Instead of seating myself at my desk to review my e-mails, I’ll distribute gifts to my co-workers, write my “thank you” cards to the people who wrote me their letters of recommendations, then I’ll get around to the world’s to-do list (aka e-mail) for me.

I always hear one saying, “I need a vacation from a vacation”. I think instead of self-flagellating coming to the office 2 hours before your usual time and staying 2 hours after, to play catch-up with your tasks, just ease into your first work day back. Besides you have meaningful activities framing around your work whether it is going to the gym, walking your dog, spending time with family, cooking dinner — it makes no sense to stay 2 hours after to NOT go to the gym, NOT walk your dog, NOT have dinner with your family.

How do you adjust coming back to work after a vacation? Comment below?


Part II of Grad School Applications(?)

We’re still talking about this? Why yes we are!

I applied last May with the intention to start this year in the fall. I thought to myself, if I hear back, great but if I don’t get accepted, then it’s not meant to be. Then I got a response from the program that they needed three letters of recommendation to start in the spring. They did not say “yes, we’ll take you” nor did they say “no, forget about it.”

It left me in limbo, but I felt somewhat relieved. At that time, it was an unusually busy summer at work and starting school in the fall was like throwing myself into a storm — or a fog. I felt I was setting myself for disaster barely handling class, work, and other meaningful activities. I used that time between July when I heard back from the program to November to incubate the idea of me continuing to work full-time while going to school.

What have I done between those times?

Overall, I’ve been working on better time management and sticking up for myself. I needed to realize I need to do things for myself than follow-up with everyone who prefaces every request with, “when you get a chance.” How have I been doing that?

  1. Taking morning exercise classes – Two years ago, I took morning exercise classes, got to work early about 30 minutes before everyone else comes in, but stayed at work later because I was always dragged by colleagues and to-do lists. I use to think, well it’s not quite the end of the day, I could stick around. Then I ended up clocking more hours in the office than my colleagues. Those moments of staying 5 minutes after, became 60 minutes after, and it became a regular thing. At the time, I thought to remedy the issue I could take exercise classes after work. I thought it would motivate me to leave work at an appropriate time to get to class on time, but I missed class more often because I kept staying in the office thus either taking a much LATER class or not exercising at all because I missed all the classes for the day. I reverted back to my morning routine, get to the office early, but leave when I finish my 8 hours for the day.
  2. TakeLessons Live– Since I have exercise in the morning, I like to frame the end of the day with extracurricular activities. In this case, I am currently taking a live online Spanish class through TakeLessons Live. TakeLessons is an online class platform where you can learn different languages and music. It’s like SkillShare or Lynda but it’s live like Skype where you actually interact with the teacher and students. I’ve been learning Spanish on Duolingo, but I want to find opportunities to practice my Spanish with people. Meetup is a great recommendation for foreign language conversation, but a lot of the options were inconvient for me. They were either too far away and happened on a weekday. TakeLessons is a more favorable arrangement for me to apply my Spanish conversation skills and my French too with other people across the country. Though I’m proficient in French, I use TakeLessons to use that opportunity to speak and socialize in French. It’s pretty awesome I get to speak French 2-3 times per week through TakeLessons. Though it’s an online class, I learned it was just as difficult to set aside time. There was this one time it was 10 minutes before my Spanish class, I was packing my stuff getting ready to leave my cubicle for a conference room where I can take my class in private. Then my coworker asked, “you’re leaving?” and I said, “yes I am.” And of course, 5 minutes before I leave there’s a favor I need to do. Then I said, “Well I got a class in a few minutes. It can wait tomorrow.” Then I got more questions, “ooh, an online class! Is it like a Lynda or a Skillshare? What kind of class is it?”–“I hate to end the small talk, but I got to go.” I thought to myself, if can barely make it to my online class where I AM NOT GRADED for anything, what makes me think I could handle an online Master’s program. Instead of beating myself up for declining small talk, I clearly knew I needed to reframe how I manage my time.
  3. Goal setting – Whether it’s through my blog and my paper planner. It helped me reset my focus. It made me set all my intentions rather than letting a million things run through my head.

    A new planner for 2018! Can’t wait
  4. Declutter, declutter, declutter – It’s weird how the stuff around you could be a reflection of what is going on your head. Cluttered room, cluttered head? I got rid of my car that I’ve had for 11 years and I’m sure my wallet and the environment thanks me. I also bought these KonMari Method stickers to assist me with more of my decluttering efforts.
  5. Making my house feel like a home – Come on, I am a homeowner! I need to remember I am not a renter. My husband and I use to be efficient tenants because it was easy for us to move from one rental to another. That was because we never unpacked a lot of our boxes– unless we needed to like winter coats. Winter coats are only worn for a short period of time, then we pack them back into the box.
  6. …and of course hiking

I’ve been keeping myself occupied over the past few months. Occupied with things that make me happy, not burying myself with everyone else because I am following through busy work.

Then came November. My application is due on December 1st. I thought to myself, it is an incomplete packet. If I don’t complete it, then I’ll never know or I apply again in the spring. I finally reached out to my main contacts for a letter of recommendation. So let’s see folks!

Photo by sydney zentz on Unsplash