An age-old Korean philosophy could be the secret to acing your goals, discovers Louise Pyne.

Most of us would agree that last year turned out pretty pear-shaped. After months of dealing with national lockdowns and social distancing restrictions, the majority of us were glad to say goodbye to 2020 and start afresh. And as we get into the swing of the New Year, and slowly try to get our lives back on track once more, it’s a good time to reevaluate our goals. ‘Starting a new year gives us a moment of reappraisal and the time we all need to look back at the year gone and consolidate what we’ve learnt and thought about the things that have gone well – and maybe not so well. We also have an opportunity to look forward to our longer-term hopes and vision for the year ahead,’ explains Jacqueline Hurst, leading life coach and VitalityLife insurance ambassador.

Moving forward

If you’re striving to move forward but don’t know how to get started, the Korean philosophy of nunchi (pronounced noon-chi) could help you to reach your goals. The premise centres around using your intuition and emotional intelligence to get the best of situations. Roughly translated as ‘eye measure’ it can be applied in both your personal and professional life to helping you to size up opportunities, open doors and create better relationships with others.

Having quick nunchi is almost like having a superpower that allows you to see things in a new perspective. ‘Nunchi is the Korean concept of awareness and relates in particular to being sensitive to other people in conversations and in a group. Essentially, the art of reading the room! It’s a lovely concept which helps us be mindful of being socially aware,’ shares Jacqueline. Here we reveal how to use nunchi to achieve the greatest gains.

Principle 1: Mindful living

Hands up if you find yourself dwelling on the past and procrastinating about the future too much? Practising nunchi means taking time to live in the moment. ‘None of us really know what tomorrow is going to throw at us. Too often we are swayed by external pressure or other’s expectations and ignore our own intuition. Learning how to be present in the moment and being guided by how your work makes you feel can help you identify small changes and goals, leading to a career path that will make you more fulfilled,’ believes Jaqueline.

Principle 2: Self-awareness

The pandemic has forced us to take a step back and reevaluate our lives. We’ve all gone through changes – maybe you’ve transitioned from working in an office to beavering away on your kitchen table or perhaps you’ve experienced loneliness on a scale you could never imagine. ‘Most of the time we go about our lives unconsciously and don’t really pause to take stock of the big, important things in life until something unexpected happens,’ asserts Jacqueline.


Instinctive nunchi is about being more self-aware and understanding how you may be read by others. It’s also about acknowledging your feelings and focusing on what you want to achieve rather than others’ expectations. ‘If we practice greater self-awareness we can help us focus on what we want to achieve, and then when we’re thinking about our goals more often we’re more likely to take steps to help work towards them,’ she continues.

Principle 3: Quick thinking

People with ‘quick’ nunchi are able to think on their feet in order to get the best out of tricky situations. You could be faced with a difficult colleague or striving to navigate a personal problem – and being a clear-headed is essential. But what if you’re not naturally a quick thinker? ‘It might sound counterintuitive, but a helpful way to learn how to think on your feet is to pause, taking a second or two to think about what it is you want to say, instead of improvising your response to a question or a challenge,’ believes Jacqueline.  Furthermore, try slowing down your responses. ‘This will hopefully reduce your heart rate and stress levels, allowing you to give a more considered response,’ adds Jacqueline.

Principle 4: Positivity

The pandemic has brought with it a load of negative emotions – fear, sadness and uncertainty to name just a few. One of the pillars of nunchi is staying positive whatever life throws at you. A study by VitalityLife insurance found that a quarter of people in the UK are less optimistic about achieving their long-term goals than before the pandemic and 16 per cent admit they feel unsure about the future and don’t know what to do next. That said, a whopping 80 per cent say they want to take action to make a life change. And it’s this little subtle shift in mindset which opens you up to new opportunities.

‘If you think you can, you will, and if you think you can’t, you won’t. If you want to successfully make a change, you need to constantly catch and call out your own negative thoughts and reframe them into a positive. For example, instead of thinking ‘this is an insurmountable challenge, I can never achieve’, change your mindset to think ‘I can do anything, just one day at a time’.