2017 Review

Even though I stick to monthly goals, I quickly want to review how I did in the year overall. Like everyone else, I started my year with new year resolutions but failed in it terribly. Finally I opened my eyes in April and decided to tackle it month by month. That was one of the best decisions I ever took.
 
Instead of repeating everything, I will only consolidate the major ones

Routines

 
1.Reading Books:
 
Even though I read a lot, I never tracked properly what all I read. I have a lot more scope to improve in this and be structured in what I read.
 
2.Writing:
 
I wrote around 100 posts this year the bulk of which come from the two 30 day writing challenges I did. I improved the design and interface of my website but I still have a long way to go in writing better and learn about blogging.
 
3.Diary
 
I tried different patterns in journalling. I tried food tracker, mood tracker, expense tracker. Each of them were useful in their own way and they gave me wonderful insights about my life.
 
4.Exercise and Meditation
 
I fell off the stairs and that disturbed my exercise schedule. I skipped exercise on a lot of  days due to various reasons. I haven’t done that good as I was supposed to do. But then I learnt a lot of new yoga poses. Meditation does not like me yet. I need to make friends with it.
 
5.Language learning
 
I broadened my French learning by using multiple apps like Duolingo, Memrise, Mondly. I also started learning Tamil Alphabets.
 
6.Ted talks
 
I made a habit of watching ted talks during commute time which helped me expand the ways I think.
 
7.Courses
 
I did courses across multiple domains like Finance, creativity, text mining, machine learning, genetics. It has definitely broadened my mind.
 

Attitude

 
1.Organize
 
I took a few steps towards becoming an organised person. But I need to expand this to multiple areas in my life.
 
2.Positive challenge
 
Infusing positivity into life can make wonders. I took the first step towards it by inculcating habits which help me stay more positive.
 

What plans for 2018?

 
In 2018, I want to have a combination of weekly and monthly goals. My schedule is already tight with the current exercises I have been doing. So monthly goals are those which go into schedule and weekly goals are for the ones which change the way I behave as a person. Let us see how things go in 2018.
 
Subscribe to my website to be updated on the weekly challenges. Wish you a happy new year!
 
How was your 2017? What are your plans for 2018? Share it with us in the comments section.
 
Happy new year!
 

How to talk so people will listen

It is basic human need to want to be heard. But many a times you don’t know how to talk so people pay attention. You end up getting frustrated and blame the way you are or your position.
 
But making people listen to you has got nothing to do with how interesting you are. Let’s do a simple exercise.
 
When was the last time you were totally lost in listening to someone? What made you listen to them with such an attention? Was it the way they dressed? Was it the content? Or was it their position?
 
Even though content is an important factor to add value to the listener, it is not what makes people glued to you. There is something beyond that.
 
Once when I met a friend, we were out of topics for conversing. We were playing the you tell more game. I said “ You have lot of interesting things to say. There is nothing interesting in my life.” Then he said, “ I am telling you mundane things only. I am just narrating it interestingly.” That statement left me thinking. The way to make people listen to you is not the content.
 

How should you talk?

 
1.Talk about the core idea
 
Let’s say you want to talk about your house. If you mention that your house has 10 doors and 20 windows and 7 rooms, people will sleep off half way. Instead, if you mention that you have a spacious house with a good ventilation, people will understand the core idea you are trying to convey.
 
2.Analogies
 
Do you explain mutual funds to a 5 year old kid in technical terms? You will explain it by taking examples of chocolates. Similarly in your daily life conversations if you explain your ideas with analogies which people can connect to, they will find it interesting.
 
3.Use unconventional ways
 
Once when my friend asked for directions to my house, “ i said get down at bus stop and keep walking till you find a big garbage can and then take right there. Keep walking till you find an old brown coloured gate house.”
 
Instead if I told her, “Take left, then take right and come to house number 123”, she would have for sure forgotten.
 
My friend even today finds it disgusting that I used garbage can as a landmark.
 
4.Tell it as a story
 
“ I met an interesting woman”. None of your friends will listen. If you start describing what is interesting with the details, then they will listen to you.
 
5.Use numbers in context
 
“Bangalore is 709 sq km in area” . Okay. So what now?
 
“ Bangalore is as big as Singapore country.” There you know the significance of the size.
 
What talking style have you noticed in people you love listening to? Share it with us in the comments section.
 
Happy talking in a way people will listen!

How was your year?

Just 2 days left for this year to end. Everyone is busy with writing goals for new year dismissing the year gone as a lost year. But this year was special in its own way. How was your year?  Was it a roller coaster ride? Or a journey on a highway?
 
Whatever it would have been, congratulate yourself on passing one more year in the school of life. It is time to reflect on the happenings of this year.
 

Why should you review your year?

 

You might be busy with Holiday celebrations and wondering this is not the time for it. Celebrating your past one year through reflection is celebration of a year. Companies have annual reviews to measure their growth. Humans also require reviews to measure the progress in their lives. The past one year might have been happier than you thought. It could have been healthier than you thought. There would have been a higher scope for acquiring assets than you did. Whatever it might be. Just recollect it all. Accept the losses. Rejoice the profits. Embrace the reality. Aim higher for the coming year.

 

How to start this reflection?

 
Resolutions:

  • Have you made any resolutions for this year?
  • What is the progress you have made?

 
Action list:
 

  • What are the reasons you are telling yourself for the progress you did not make?
  • What are the actual reasons why you could not progress?

Health:

  • How has your health been in general?
  • Did you have any serious illness?
  • Did you go for yearly checkups?
  • How have your eating habits been?
  • Have you been exercising daily?

 
Action list:
 

  • How you are going to take care of your health next year?

Career:

  • Do you love your job?
  • Any change in position or profile?
  • What were the good and bad things about your job?

 
Action list:
 

  • How are you going to perform better in the next year?
  • How are you going to avoid the bad things from happening again?

Income:

  • Did you get a hike?
  • Any new investments?

 
Action list:
 

  • How will you improve your financial status for next year?

Relations:

  • How much time did you spend with family?
  • Are you still in touch with your friends?

 
Action list:
 

  • How will you improve your relations?

Travel:

  • Where did you travel?
  • How were the experiences?

 
Action list:
 

  • Places to travel in the following year.



Monthly reviews:

Write a good thing and a bad thing about each month.


Happy Reviewing!

Never Split the Difference – Book Review

Author: Chris Voss
Print Copy | Kindle
Never Split the difference is one of the best books I ever read. If anyone asks me for a life changing book, I will definitely suggest this.
 

What makes the book life changing?

 
Most of the conversations we have in daily life involve negotiations. From agreeing to a common breakfast to buying a house, everything is a deal. Yet we fail terribly to wade through them and compromise in life. As a result life becomes bitter, powerless or power hungry.
 
After reading this book, I became more observant in how negotiations are a part of daily conversations. It helped me avoid a few negotiation traps which I would have never recognized if not for this book. The conversations with sellers were excellent revision to the concepts I learned in this book. I also learned to empathize with people around me before I make my statement. If not for anything else, I won one negotiation. But all this is just the beginning. Previously I used to wonder what is there in a book to read it again and again. But this is a book, I want to read again and again till I master the concepts.
 

About the book

 
Chris Voss was an American FBI negotiator. He wrote the book quoting examples from his experience as FBI negotiator. I was hooked to the book in the beginning feeling awed at the way negotiations are done at that level. In the later part of the book, he included daily life examples too. The best part of the book is there is a summary after each chapter so that you need not take pains to make notes. It also has a chapter to teach you how to negotiate a salary. Even though I got bored in between, overall it was a great read.
 
In the appendix, he even gave out a summary of how to do a negotiation.
 
Happy learning how to negotiate!
 

How to make a tough decision quickly

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

From the time you wake up to the time you sleep you make multiple decisions. A few decisions are easy and a few are tough. A few make you feel that you have taken the best decision of your life and a few will make you regret for ages to come. Did you anytime wonder about psychology behind decision making?

What makes a decision a tough decision?

When I was struggling to decide between a job offer in Chennai and Bangalore, my friend said “I didn’t think as much as you are doing when I left my job and moved to Germany from India”

Both the decisions were about moving jobs. So they should be tough right? But one person found it easy and another person found it tough.

Once when I was at my friend’s place, she spend one and half hour to decide what clothes to wear for her office party. I would hate myself if I had spent anything more than 10 minutes to make that decision.

Isn’t wearing clothes a trivial decision we make everyday? Why did she find it tough?

 

Decisions are tough when

1.You don’t know what you want

You want to buy clothes for your birthday. You go with a mindset that you will buy whatever looks good on you. You will find that everything you try beautiful. Then you don’t know what you want to buy. You become indecisive.

Instead if you went to the shop with a particular colour, dress type, budget in mind, you will be narrowing down your choice. Decision is easy to make.

2.You are afraid to agree to your inner most desires

You actually want to go to a party. But you are afraid of what your parents might say. You don’t know which decision to make.

Instead, if you decide to listen to your inner desires, you will not be indecisive

3.You don’t have a strong value system

You go for running the first day. The next day you are in a tryst between your sleep and running. You neither sleep nor go for running because you spend time on deciding. Instead if your value system said running is important anyday before sleeping, there you wake up without a second thought.

How to make a tough decision?

Step1:Strong Value system

A country is run on a constitution. So should our lives be. Write down a list of things which you think are important today. The same things might not be important tomorrow. But that is fine. A constitution can be amended any number of times. So is our value system. But try to make your constitution last for a longer time with very less amendments.

  
Step2: Narrow down your choices

Using your value system, bring down the number of choices you have. Eliminate the ones which are not a part of your value system. Just retain the ones which are present in your value system.

Step 3: Write Pros and cons

Write what is going to happen with which decision you take. The good and the bad. Then think which pain seems to be easy to handle now. Which pain will pay off in the long term? Go for the one which is going to pay you in long term. See if you can create a good decision which can get the good of both. Or look for other ways to neutralize the bad effects of the good decision.

Step 4: Accept it

Never be harsh on yourself if the well thought decision goes against you. Take it as an opportunity to improve your decision making skills and also a chance to become tough.

Happy making the right decision!
 

Letter to your future self

I came across a letter to your future self while reading Hyperbole and a half.
 
Dear 25 year old [note: not “Dear 25-year-old me” or “Dear 25-year-old self,” just “Dear 25 year old”],
 
Do you still like dogs? What is your favarite dog? Do you have a job tranning dogs? Is Murphy still alive? What is youre favarite food?? Are mom and dad still alive? 
 
My name is Allie and I am ten years old. I have blound hair and blue eyes. My favarite dog is a german shepard. My second favarite dog is a husky. My third favarite dog is a Dobberman Pincher. 
 
Please write back.
 
This letter makes me laugh how many ever times I read it.
 

Why should you write a letter to your future self?

 
After reading that book, I wanted to write a letter to my future self and discovered the importance of it.
 
1.Insecurities
 
You have a lot of insecurities. You wish you knew a future teller who will predict your future correctly. All those will reflect in your letter to your letter to your future self. Normally, you won’t let them out, but when you are given an opportunity you express them freely.
 
2.Dreams
 
You will have a lot of dreams. Big and small. You want to envision yourself in those dreams. Your future self is the right person to answer that.
 
3.Relations
 
You love a few people and want them forever in your life. Your future self has the answer if they are still a part of your friend circle and stood the test of time
 
4.Habits
 
Do you want to get rid of a certain habit but still not able to? Your future self will have the answer to whether you were really able to get rid of that habit or not.
 
5.Apologize
 
You must have done really stupid things in the past and also at some point of time before the future sets in. Ask for apologies to the known and unknown mistakes you did which gave your future self a tough time.
 
6.Convey love
 
Your parents stay with you for a limited time. Your friends may or may not be there forever. You would or would not have found love of your life. But you have yourself. Irrespective of who is there beside you, the letter will tell that you are always there for yourself.
 
This one letter removed the burden from my heart and took my worries as its responsibility for the future self.
 
You will feel relieved and excited and will discover yourself when you do this exercise.
 

How to write a letter to your future self?

 
First decide what is the future you are aiming at. It can be anything from a few weeks to a few decades. Or you can write multiple letters with different timelines. Then write down points taking the above section as guideline. Now you can compose your letter like a creative writing exercise or can make it as an interview with questions for your future self.
 

Where to write?

 
1.Journal
 
I wrote my first letter in my diary. All I wanted to do was feel the experience of writing a future self.
 
2.Email
 
You can either schedule a mail to yourself on gmail. Or use websites like http://lettertomyfutureself.net/ which will post you the letter in the desired timeline
 
3.Book
 
When I searched for more options, I found a letter writing book. If you enjoy the activity, you can go for that too.
 

Sample letter

 
Dear me,
I hope you are doing well. I am sorry that I put you through so much of pain. But without pain was there ever any gain? How many books have you read and which one is your favorite? Were you able to finish writing any of the books you started? How have your friends been? Do they still make fun of you? How are your students doing in life? Were you able to do that Ph.D which you always wanted to do?
Lots of love.
 
Irrespective of the method you use, you will discover that this exercise helped you set goals for the future and also gave you immense happiness and job.
 
What will you write about in your letter to your future self?
 
Happy writing a letter to your future self!
 

How to find your true self

Since my childhood, I have been intrigued by the question  “Who are you?”
 
I didn’t know what I am.
 
If I said  “I am X who works for Y and stays in Z”, does is it answer the question?
 
Am I the profession I do? Or just my name?
 
Or should I identify myself as a daughter of P?
 
I can be anything. My co-ordinates can be located using multiple points.
 
But they are what I am externally. So that you can identify who I am.
 
But who am I internally?

Why should you know your true self?

 
Every morning you have two choices.
1.Live the life the way it takes you.
2.Build the life you dream
 
If you want to choose option 2, you need to know what you are, your needs and wants from life. You should know what you truly want and not just what you think you want. You need to a little deeper inside yourself to see what exists there.
 
That gives you a true freedom and meaning to your life.
 

How to find your true self?

 
1.What will you be doing in life if money was not a criteria?
 
You need money to lead a comfortable life. You might be stuck in a job which does not define you but you still continue because you need it for a living. So forget about money for an instant and think what would you be doing if that is not a criteria.
 
2.What will you be doing in life if you are not doing for gaining fame or power or love?
 
Many a times, you do things expecting something in return. If you don’t feel the need for power or fame or love, will you still be doing what you thought you wanted to do for the previous question?
 
3.Who matter in your life?
 
“I have 1000 friends on facebook” said X. May be it is an achievement. But then how many of the 1000 matter to you? Is it less than 5? What are your needs from them? What you think you need from them and what you actually need from them?
 
4.What do you value the most?
 
What are the principles on which you run your life? Do those principles actually help you in achieve your goals? Or are they circumstantial principles?
 
These questions might be either too easy or too overwhelming. Whatever it might be, it requires deep thinking from your end.If you are just reading this without working out, you won’t gain anything from this post.You need to do a lot of soul searching and then realise what is that you really want.
 
Happy discovering your true self!
 

The actual cause of Loneliness

Loneliness is a very loosely used term.
 
If you say you are lonely, the advise you receive is

  • Mingle more
  • Be social
  • Become attractive
  • Keep yourself occupied
  • Change places
  • Go on a vacation
  • Try a new hobby

 
The above list will help those who are temporarily lonely. But if you have been experiencing chronic loneliness, you will desperately try all of them only to feel more lonely and feel more distressed that you are hopeless. By escaping from reality you are only building a temporary respite. The root cause is not solved and it keeps haunting you over and again.
 

Root Cause of Loneliness

 
One of the root causes of loneliness is insecure attachment. According to research, 40% of the adults are insecurely attached. Insecure attachment happens mostly in infancy when your parents did not reciprocate to your emotions and attention bids.
 
Insecure attachment is of two types: Attachment anxiety and Attachment avoidance.
 
Symptoms of Attachment anxiety:
 

  • You overly apologize
  • You need constant confirmation that you are loved
  • You are always in need of emotional support and can’t get enough of it
  • You often feel painful emotions
  • You constantly imagine rejection
  • You are too sensitive to handle
  • You open up too deep and fast in a relationship
  • You are stuck in a miserable relation because you prefer it to being alone
  • You are always on the lookout for the right person to connect to and expect him to be the solution for all your problems

 
Symptoms of Attachment avoidance:
 

  • You can relate only when there is a purpose and terrible at small talk
  • You never ask for emotional help
  • You derive your worth from competence. If you are able to achieve, you feel pride and if you don’t you feel shame.
  • You are often in need of a company but don’t know what and how
  • You try to prove yourself in the conflict rather than solving the problem

 
You may have both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance too. Don’t blame your parents now because they did their best in raising you. They might be also insecurely attached and would not have known how to provide the right care.
 

What can you do to stop feeling lonely?

 
1.Mindfulness
 
Research found mindfulness can create same impact on brain which secure attachment in childhood does. Mindfulness basically helps you deal with the painful emotions which you encounter in insecure attachment. Once you feel aware of your emotions and pay attention to it, you will become the parent who gives secure attachment to the child.
 
2.Self Compassion
 
Self-compassion is about giving yourself permission to make mistakes. When you make a mistake you should not beat yourself up but talk to yourself in a soft and gentle manner on the path to avert the recurrence of mistake.
 
Reference:
1.http://iojes.net/userfiles/Article/IOJES_253.pdf
2.https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-014-0303-5
 
What type of attachment do you have? When are you starting mindfulness practice?
Share it with us in comments section.
 
Happy fighting loneliness!
 

What do you like about yourself?

 
Yesterday, as a part of Secret Santa celebrations, my colleague was asked to boast about himself. All he said was what he liked about himself. We live in a society where talking what we like about ourselves comes under boasting.
 
I agree that it is not a good practise to talk about yourself all the time but it is a good thing to know what you like about yourself.
 

Why should you know what you like about yourself?

 
1.Builds self-confidence
 
The more the things you like about yourself, the more confident you become. The same has been suggested in a course on building self-confidence.
 
2.Improves self-awareness
 
When you know what are your best qualities, you have a lead in the game of life. You know how to play the game to your strengths while staying away from your dislikes.
 
3.Helps in becoming a better person
 
While trying to find what you like about yourself, you will encounter 100 things you will want to love about yourself. You can make a list of that and slowly turn that list into what you like about yourself.
 
4.Helps to come out of self-loathing
 
When you are drowning in negativity, just open this list. It shows you why you are not bad. It will give you reasons for why you should love yourself.
 
5.Exercises your brain
 
When you create this list, you will think about yourself from various angles. This gives a good exercise to your brain.
 
 

How to figure out what you like about yourself?

 
1.Daily list
 
In the month of November, I did an exercise to write one thing good about me daily. This was a kind of self-gratitude and also gave me a list to bank on. But the downside of this exercise is that not all things you make a note in it are the good things about you. May be once a quarter you can pick up the things which really define you and save it as a master list. For the remaining things, you can work on them to make them a part of who you are.
 
2.One time list
 
Today, in my 10 things a day exercise, I wrote down 10 things which I like about myself. This exercise made me feel good about myself. It gave me an identity of who I am.
 

What can you like about yourself?

 
1.Physical aspects
 
What do you like about your body? What are some of the best material things you possess?
 
2.Interpersonal aspects
 
What do you like about how you deal with people?
 
3.Intrapersonal aspects
 
What qualities of you help you?
 
4.Skill set
 
What skills of you are you proud of?
 
5.Compliments
 
What others like about you, might not be the same you like about yourself. But if they are same, you can include them also in this list.
 
If you keep pondering, I am sure you will come with an amazing list.
 
Share with us what you like about yourself in the comments section.
 
Happy loving yourself!
 
 

Tiny Beautiful things – Book Review

Author : Cheryl Strayed
Print Copy | Kindle
 
After my best friend moved to another city, I acted as if everything was normal. “It has nothing to do with my daily life” I thought. But I came to terms with my reality after reading this book. It is okay to miss people whose company you enjoyed. The way Cheryl speaks is as healing as my friend did. I was missing the conversations I had with my friend. How I used to find them healing and empowering all at the same time just like Cheryl’s.
 
After reading Tiny Beautiful things, I felt very lucky and blessed in life. I did not have to go through all the miserable things the people who wrote letters to Cheryl went through. Yet in her replies, there were words which touched me somewhere deep. They gave me answers to the questions which had been lingering in my mind for quite a long time. Her writing is very beautiful. I felt that my pain had been empathized. Her words are so healing and powerful. This is no doubt one of the books you need to read once in a lifetime.
 
I learnt that you don’t have to be a therapist or psychologist to heal another person. You just have to know what life is all about. The ups and the lows. The beautiful and the ugly things. What to say and what not to. You just have to know what pain is and should have survived it. Only then you will be able to heal others.
 
Her writing is similar to Dushka Zapata, the writer I came across on Quora. I felt happy to discover Cheryl as another writer who can make me feel the same way as Dushka does. Even though Cheryl has been there since a very long time, I discovered her very late. But I am still happy to read her book.
 
Just like every other book I fell in love with,  this book also came to me at the right time. I initially got this book some time in April, but the reading the starting few pages made me felt that the book was not for me. But after looking at this book as a recommendation by few other writers, I was tempted to read it a little more to confirm if it is meant for me or not. Lucky me, I read it.
 
This book might not be for people who are cold and have no emotions. But if you are a warm person who loves reading personal stories and understanding human emotions, read it right away. You will regret neither the time nor the money you spend on it. I think reading this book was the best thing I have done in these holidays.
 

A few lines from the Tiny Beautiful things

 
For those who want to know what love is:
 

Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children. It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor, and “loaded with promises and commitments” that we may or may not want or keep.

 
For a parent or to be parent:
 

It’s devastating for a child to hear one parent speak ill of the other. In fact, so much so that the researchers found it was less psychologically damaging if a parent said directly to the child You are a worthless piece of shit than it was for a parent to say Your mother/father is a worthless piece of shit.

 
For those who are on verge of break-up
 

You aren’t torn. You’re only just afraid. You no longer wish to be in a relationship with your lover even though he’s a great guy. Fear of being alone is not a good reason to stay. Leaving this man you’ve been with for six years won’t be easy, but you’ll be okay and so will he. The end of your relationship with him will likely also mark the end of an era of your life. In moving into this next era there are going to be things you lose and things you gain.Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.

 
For those dealing with fear
 

It will also be a little bit scary, the way it always is when we’re brave enough to touch the rawest, realest truths. When we have the guts to look directly into the mirror and say Mary Worth thirteen times without pause and see—thrillingly, terrifyingly—that it was never her we had to fear. It was always only us.

 
For those who want to pursue passion
 

It’s hard to go. It’s scary and lonely and your bandmates will have a fit and half the time you’ll be wondering why the hell you’re in Cincinnati or Austin or North Dakota or Mongolia or wherever your melodious little finger-plucking heinie takes you. There will be boondoggles and discombobulated days, freaked-out nights and metaphorical flat tires. But it will be soul-smashingly beautiful, Solo. It will open up your life.

 
For those who are repenting mistakes
 

That life is long, that people both change and remain the same, that every last one of us will need to fuck up and be forgiven, that we’re all just walking and walking and walking and trying to find our way, that all roads lead eventually to the mountaintop.

 
For women
 

Doing what one wants to do because one wants to do it is hard for a lot of people, but I think it’s particularly hard for women.

 
She has something for everyone. Sweet advice. Not so sweet advice. Tough ones. But ultimately right ones.
 
Thanks Cheryl for the ‘Tiny beautiful things’. It was definitely beautiful reading it. If you want to read it, you can purchase Print Copy or Kindle  
 
What book moved you? Share it with us in the comments section.
 
Happy knowing Tiny Beautiful things!