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In today’s world, it is so easy to be busy rather than being productive.

That’s because we have so many notifications, alerts, to-dos, things screaming for attention. Oftentimes, when we are not aware, when we are not conscious of it, we could simply spend an entire day just doing things, rushing from place to place, clearing item after item. But these things may not be the most impactful things that help us move towards our goals. So how can we focus on the impactful things and make the most of our days?

In this episode of The Personal Excellence Podcast, I share

  • 6 tips to be productive, not busy
  • Why you should not start your day with chat [1:25]
  • How to separate critical chat and casual banter chat [4:50]
  • Why I turn off alerts, notifications [8:21]
  • How to deal with incoming emails, alerts that you need to respond to [10:59]
  • Starting your day with a priority to-do list [12:44]
  • Why you shouldn’t beat yourself up when you go off task [14:49]
  • Using batching to group similar tasks [17:07]
  • How to create your 80/20 to-do list [20:32]
  • Using a “Will do” list to defer incoming tasks [20:32]
  • The importance of delegating [21:59]
  • Why delegating was my Achilles heel in the past [22:42]
  • 3 factors I used to determine when to delegate [25:05]
  • 5 questions to ask yourself in a weekly/bi-weekly audit [29:16]
  • Asking ourselves WHY, WHAT, and HOW as we live consciously [30:20]

Have you ever felt like you’re alone sometimes? That you’re facing life’s struggles but you’re going through so much pain alone? That no one seems to understand what you’re going through?

I totally hear you. Today, I just want to record a quick podcast to let you know that you’re not alone. Listen to the episode below – 

Listen here:

If you've found The Personal Excellence Podcast useful, I'd really appreciate it if you can leave a good rating and review on iTunes. Your review does make a difference and it will help the podcast to grow and spread the message of conscious living to the world. Thank you!

You’re Not Alone [Podcast Transcript]

Celestine Chua: You’re listening to The Personal Excellence Podcast, the show that’s all about helping you be your best self and live your best life. I’m Celestine Chua, your host and founder of Let’s get started!

Hey everyone, Celes here from Today, I just want to record this...

Often times when we argue with our loved ones, we are left fuming, angry, and thinking the worst of the other person. Ugly words get exchanged and emotions get volatile.

Consider the times when you are angry:

You are being so unreasonable and selfish.

This is the THIRD time you are doing this.

Blah blah, blah blah.


But beneath these nasty words are hurt souls trying to connect.

This sculpture at the Burning Man Festival 2015 captures just that. Created by Ukrainian artist Alexander Milov, the sculpture is titled “Love” and features two wire-frame adults after a fight, distanced and sitting with their backs facing each other. Inside them are two children standing with their hands stretched out and trying to reach each other but separated by their adult selves.

(Image: Vitaliy Deynega)

Milov says this about his sculpture:

“It demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating. As it’s getting dark (night falls) the children chart to shine. This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up when the dark time arrives.”[1]

More pictures...

FOMO — or the fear of missing out — has become a pattern in today’s world. We are constantly on our phones, glued to social media feeds and checking what other people are up to. The more updates we see, the more anxious we feel. We see people living this exciting life, achieving this new milestone, doing that exciting activity. We feel like we are missing out, that we are not living a good enough life, and we have a compulsion to keep up.

So we keep up… buying, keeping up, and absorbing as much information and updates as we can. And this addresses our anxiety… or does it?

Can you relate? Well, today’s episode is just for you. 🙂 In this episode of The Personal Excellence Podcast, I cover

  • What is FOMO [0:29]
  • Signs of FOMO [1:27]
  • 4 reasons why FOMO exists [4:39]
  • 5 strategies to tackle FOMO [15:06]
Listen here:

If you've found The Personal Excellence Podcast useful, I'd really appreciate it if you can 

Hi everyone! Today I thought I’d do something different and share some of the challenges I’ve been facing in my business. I just want to share some of the things that have been weighing me down, and why I haven’t been sharing as much on the blog in the recent years.

In this episode, I cover

  • Key challenges that I’ve been facing [1:01]
  • My solutions to tackle them [15:37]
Listen here:

If you've found The Personal Excellence Podcast useful and you wish to give back in some way, I'd really appreciate it if you can leave a great rating on iTunes. Your review does make a difference and it will help the podcast to grow and spread the message of conscious living to the world. Thank you!

Podcast Transcript:

Celestine Chua: You’re listening to The Personal Excellence Podcast, the show that’s all about helping you be your best self and live your best life. I’m Celestine Chua, your host and founder of Let’s get started!

Hey everybody! Welcome back to The Personal Excellence Podcast. So today I thought I would do a different type of topic. Usually, I cover...

(Image: Khánh Hmoong)

Have you ever had a body part that you hated? A body part that people kept criticizing, even though it’s simply a natural part of your body?

I used to hate my feet when I was younger. The reason was because of my feet size. They are larger than the average Asian woman’s feet, which are a tiny size 6 or 7 (EU 37-38), even smaller if you look at places like Japan.

On the other hand, my feet are a size 10 (US), or 41-42 EU depending on the shoe cut. Which is normal in the U.S. or Europe, but over here, your feet would be regarded as somewhere between an abomination and a monstrosity, particularly if you are female, and Chinese.

Which was exactly the type of reaction I got growing up. Back when I was a kid (my feet weren’t a size 10 then, but probably bigger than the average girl), I always had difficulty getting shoes my size. When I was 9-10, my mom would always go to this shoe store to buy shoes for the family. I remember standing by the girl’s section each time and look longingly at the Mary Janes and pumps, which had cute, feminine designs. As a little girl, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t wear them, except that they didn’t have my size. As a little girl, I thought that perhaps those shoes weren’t for me,...

(Image: Roobcio)

Note from Celes: Hi everyone! Following my 2016 year end review, I thought to update this post so that you guys can get started on your year end review too. How was your 2016? What are your goals and plans for 2017? This post will get you started. Enjoy, and let’s set big goals for this year!

Hi everyone! The year is coming to an end, and soon it’ll be the new year! Are you ready for the new year? Are you ready for a year of excitement and new challenges?

Before we welcome the new year, let’s do a year end review. Long-time readers would know that I do an annual year end review at PE, and it’s something that I look forward to in excitement. I first started doing annual reviews in 2007, and today I do it both for myself and with my coaching clients.

To me, doing an annual review is like getting your report card. I remember back in school, I would be excited when it was time to get our results, especially if I had prepared for the exams and gave them my all. It’s the same with my year end review… except that these results aren’t for my studies —...

(Image: LuckyImages)

Did you know that being in nature can calm your mind, heal your body, and improve your mental functions?

  • In a study by Japanese researchers, it was found that walking or staying in a forest (a practice known as forest bathing) decreased hostility and depression significantly while increasing liveliness significantly among participants.[1]
  • A University of Michigan study found that short-term memory of test subjects improved by walking in nature, or even just by viewing pictures of nature.[2]
  • In a University of Sheffield study, it was found that natural, tranquil scenes (beach) enhanced connectivity between different brain areas, whereas non-tranquil scenes (motorway) disrupted connections within the brain.[3][4]
  • A study revealed that among patients recovering from gallbladder surgery, those assigned to rooms with windows looking out to a natural scene required a shorter stay, needed less pain medication, and had fewer post-surgical complications than those facing a brick wall.[5][6]

While the best thing to do would be to move to more natural living environments, for many of us this may not be possible as we may be living in highly urbanized cities with no nature in sight.

Fret not. If we can’t be near nature right now, let’s bring nature TO US through the power of the internet. In this post, I have compiled 10 powerful, free meditation...

Are you working on something now and feeling the pain of the creation process? Today’s infographic shares the emotional journey that most people go through when trying to create something GREAT:

Click image for larger version

Here are the phases of this journey:

  1. This is the best idea ever!! — When you just concocted an idea and you’re excited by this new goal
  2. This will be fun — As you get started
  3. This is harder than I thought — When you start to really take the first few steps
  4. This is going to be a lot of work — As you get into the thick of things…
  5. This sucks I have no idea what I’m doing — When you realize that this is actually harder than you thought
  6. #%@}!!!!!!!!!!! — When you hit the point where you’ve invested way too much time/energy into this, and things aren’t turning out the way you want
  7. Ok but it still sucks — When you start to see some kind of result from your work so far…
  8. Quick, let’s call it a day and say we learned something — As you fluctuate between wanting to push through and being drained by past efforts
  9. Hmm… 
  10. Hey!
  11. Wow — #9 to #11: the creation process
  12. This is one of the things I am most proud of — Reaching the finishing line


(Image: Personal Excellence)

Hey everyone! Following tradition, today I’m excited to share with you my year end review for 2016. My objectives are to let you know what I’ve been up to, share my plans for the new year, and hopefully inspire you to do the same. As we usher in the new year, I hope you can make time to review your past year and set your goals for 2017.

Overall, 2016 has been about simplifying for me. Simplifying my work, simplifying my business, and simplifying my life. I just read my 2015 review before writing this post, and I’m glad to say that I’ve moved in line with my previous plans for 2016 (and perhaps some more), and I’m really excited at what 2017 is going to bring.

The Online World

Perhaps I can start off by saying that I got really disconnected with the online world this year. Firstly, there’s the amount of negativity and noise online today as half the world now has internet access. Given that empty vessels make the most noise, and errant and negative people are more likely to react than not, noise basically forms the bulk of online messages today, even though noisy people tend to make up just a small proportion of the overall population. Many internet forums have also become echo chambers, so they are not exactly good places to learn about the world...

(Image: ALP)

Have you heard of the big rocks story? It goes like this:

One day a teacher was speaking to a group of students. He pulled out an extremely large jar and set it on a table. Then he produced about a dozen big rocks and placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”

Everyone said, “Yes.”

“Really?” he asked. “Let’s see.” He took out some gravel and dumped them in. He shook the jar, causing the pieces to fall into the spaces between the big rocks. He asked the students again, “Is the jar full?”

His class was catching on. “Probably not,” one of them answered.

“Very good!” he replied. He brought out a bucket of sand. He dumped the sand in and it went into all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Then he asked, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted.

“Excellent!” he replied. Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was filled to the brim.

The teacher looked intently back at the students and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One student said, “You can always fit more things into your life if you really work at it.”

The teacher said “That’s true,...

(Image: lee Scott)

Last week a course participant shared with me that she just had a hard fall in life.

She recently lost her baby, left her job, and has been working on her startup in the past year which has not taken off in the way she wanted.

She asked me if I have any thoughts on reshuffling, reprioritizing, or finding new purpose in life, as she is not really sure if what she thought she wanted before is worth it anymore.

When I heard what happened my heart immediately went out to her. I have already responded to her privately but I thought to write this post in case any of you are going through a tough phase in life.

1) Give yourself space to grief, to heal

Firstly I’m not going to tell you that what doesn’t break you will make you stronger.

Instead I’m going to tell you to grieve and take some time out for yourself first. Our society today is very much about doing. Do, do, do. Move on. Get over things. Get over yourself.

Yet we are humans, not robots. When we fall we need time to heal and climb back up. When we have an emotional fall the wounds may not be visible, but they cut so much deeper than physical wounds. Trying to “move on” when we are still hurting and feeling lost not only hurts us, but may cut...

(Image: Nantawat Chotsuwan)

Hey everyone! Last week, I asked you to send in your questions. Over the weekend, I compiled and answered YOUR awesome questions, including questions on confidence, decision making, enlightenment, and how to be a coach.

In this episode of The PE Podcast, I talk about

  • How to know you’re making progress when you’re not seeing results
  • How to make a decision and avoid disappointing someone
  • Are you enlightened? How to know if you have reached enlightenment
  • The roadmap to measure your consciousness
  • How to address the lack of confidence
  • The problem with YouTube in general today
  • Why Instagram can be toxic for your well-being
  • The ONE thing that’s most important in life – Career? Health?
  • Tips to be organized and the calendar system I use
  • Coaching: My tips for those of you who want to be a coach
Listen to the episode here:

If you've found The Personal Excellence Podcast useful, I'd really appreciate it if you can leave a positive review on iTunes. Your...

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. This is a quote commonly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. What does it mean though?

Let’s start by defining “ideas,” “events,” and “people.” Discussing people here means to talk about a person, typically in a negative, gossipy way. Discussing events means to talk about the events happening around the world. Discussing ideas means to understand the higher level messages behind an event, to understand human behavior, to look beyond what’s given, and to find solutions to help the world.

“Small Minds Discuss People” (Image: Baruska)

When the quote says “Small minds discuss people,” it means that those who discuss people as an end to itself are shallow. Unfortunately, a fair segment of the media and our population today dedicate themselves to discussing people. You have tabloid magazines, celebrity gossip sites, and people who follow celebrity gossip like it is the central goal of their lives. Office politics are not uncommon. People backstab and criticize each other more often than we like. Even politicians make personal attacks and conduct smear campaigns. Online, it’s common to see people shaming/attacking each other, or worse still, others endorsing such behavior and joining in the attack.

“Average Minds Discuss Events” (Image: Angelo Giordano)

When you switch from discussing people to events, there is...

(Image: Juan Arreguin)

“How do I deal with disillusionment as I grow older? Disillusionment in the sense that I now perceive the world to be a rather cold and harsh place, filled with people who only mind their own interests. This is in stark contrast with what I used to see the world as: a place with immense potential for good, lots of opportunities, negligible discrimination, etc. People used to be warm but now human interactions are diminishing. The hope and happiness that I used to have just by thinking about the world have turned to cynicism and depression.”

This is a question that I saw on Quora, and I decided to write a post on it as it resonates with how I’ve been feeling in the past year or two.

I can understand feeling disillusioned as you grow older and in fact have been feeling this way lately. For the past few years I’ve been really disillusioned with the coaching/blogging industry. While people used to create websites out of the love of creating back in the late 1990s when I started my very first website, today blogging seems to be all about profiteering. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making money — it’s part and parcel of making a living, and we should rightfully earn money for our work — the industry seems to have changed from sharing...

Last week, I was researching a software tool for my business. After reading raving reviews, I knew that I had to get it. So I posted an inquiry in their community forums.

Imagine my surprise when the CEO responded to me personally. 

“Celes, you probably don’t remember but you coached me during some of my tough times. You and Tony Robbins helped me tremendously. Please send me a PM. You helped me do the limitless.  ” — Deep

As I reeled back in shock, I scanned through my memory. Deep? From 2009? Yes I remember!! So Deep signed up for my coaching back in Sep 2009. That was 8 years ago. At that time he was in a day job, a senior manager in a top bank, but felt empty with his work and life. He was also feeling negative and low in confidence. During our sessions, we worked on finding his life direction, creating his career vision, and building his business plan, among other things.

As it turned out, after our sessions ended, Deep left his job, freed himself from all baggage, and started traveling. He did that for a year, slowly evolved to be a different person, and then started to build a product… which led him to founding his software company, Invanto. With over 15 million client orders processed, it’s an up-and-coming course platform that’s set to disrupt the market — and it has not even officially launched yet.

Planting Seeds

When I looked back...

(Image: Joseph Pearson)

What is empathy? It is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. The ability to put yourself in other’s shoes, and try to relate and understand where they are coming from, even if the situation is not familiar to you.

Earlier this week I was sharing a personal problem with a good friend from London. Not only did he respond right away, which I didn’t expect because it was late at night his time, but he gave very thoughtful remarks. There were several things he did/said that made me feel better:

  • He asked questions to understand my situation further.
  • He didn’t judge but understood things from my perspective.
  • He considered things from various angles.
  • He gave helpful suggestions on what could work.
  • He constantly related to my feelings, which were unhappiness, hurt, and frustration, rather than dismiss them or brush them away.

I later realized that he had woken up in the middle of the night, but chose to respond and engage in one hour-long conversation with me, rather than return to sleep. I later texted him, “Thanks X. I really appreciate having you as a friend. “

How to Have Empathy

It goes without saying that empathy is important. I have shared deep personal problems with friends before but got replies...

(Image: Beatriz Pérez Moya)

Talent stack is a concept created by Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic. It’s the idea that you can combine normal skills until you have the right kind to be extraordinary.

An example is Scott. He’s not the best artist — there are better artists than him. He’s not much of a business expert — there are more savvy experts. He has never taken a college-level writing class. Yet, he created Dilbert, a famous comic strip that appears in 65 countries.[1] Scott is said to have a net worth of $75 million, majority of which comes from Dilbert.[2]

As he says, “When you add in my ordinary business skills, my strong work ethic, my risk tolerance, and my reasonably good sense of humor, I’m fairly unique. And in this case that uniqueness has commercial value.”

Understanding how a talent stack works is important. Normally, people think that success comes from developing talent in one skill. This works well in some fields. In medicine, the natural progression is to pick a specialty. In sports, you train to become best in your field, like Tiger Woods (golf) and Michael Jordan (basketball). In acting, you develop the best acting chops, like Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman.

But besides becoming world-class in one skill, talent can come from

(Image: Silvia Sala)

A while back I received an email from my client X:

During our recent session, you asked me when was the first time I feared not being heard or being mocked. I’m currently introspecting about this.

There’s a moment from my past that I don’t know if I experienced it or not… I wonder if I had witnessed my father beating up my mother before.

This morning, when I was in the shower, I got my answer. I did witness it (this was many years ago). However, I did/said nothing to help my mom at that time. I wanted to tell my dad to stop but I couldn’t speak up because I felt that I wouldn’t be heard and also, I was too small then. I think this is the root cause of my fear. Realizing this made me feel guilty for not helping her. I felt so helpless that I cried.

This is a terrible memory. What should I do? I’m afraid of situations of violence towards women and I think it’s too much for me to handle.

Do you have some precious advice for me?

Subsequently I had a few exchanges with X which gave me more insight into the situation. Apparently her dad had been hitting her mom since X was a kid (it’s not clear whether it’s still going on since she no longer lives with her parents),...

There are times when we fly into a rage, such as when we face an outrageous situation or when we have an argument with a loved one. We may think that our anger is justified (and it probably is), and we have every right to be angry.

But do you know what happens each time you get angry? Firstly, the first spark of anger activates our amygala, the part of our brain that’s involved with the experiencing of emotions — before you’re even aware of the anger itself. This begins a chain reaction in our brain which leads to our adrenal glands secreting stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

  • Cortisol is released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration. It functions to increase blood sugar, to suppress the immune system, and to aid in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.[1]
  • Adrenaline increases blood flow to muscles, output of the heart, pupil dilation, and blood sugar.[2]
  • Noradrenaline increases arousal and alertness, and focuses attention; it also increases restlessness and anxiety. In our body, it increases heart rate and blood pressure, triggers the release of glucose from energy stores, increases blood flow to skeletal muscle, and reduces blood flow to the gastrointestinal system.[3]

In a real life dangerous situation like if we’re faced with a robber, the activation of these hormones is a good thing, because all our body’s senses and functions are now channeled to deal with the physical danger. We react quickly,...