What I learned from 30 day blogging challenge

Phew! It’s 31st July finally! My 30-day blogging challenge ended yesterday. I anticipated the journey to be tough but it was more than tough even after taking precautions. But it made me accomplish my goal of writing regularly. I was struggling so hard to make that habit for the past few months. Finally now, with the help of 30 posts this month, the number of posts on my blog became 76. It is definitely an achievement for me.
What made the challenge tough?
Topics:
Even though I made a list of topics initially, I could not stick with them. When I sat down to write on them, I felt I was not doing justice to the topic. For the topics where I had the outline ready, I did not like the outline at all. Consequently, I had to find a new topic every day to write. I used to waste crazy amount of time in just finding the right prompt to write on. I used to feel so tired in searching for the topic that by the time I sit to write I would have already exhausted my quota of patience.
Content:
When I write something, I want it to be the  best. But on a few days, I felt that I was not able to do justice for the topic. After writing 300 words, I had to abandon it because I found it cliche. On other days, I was able to write in chunks but could not connect them. After a few days into the challenge, I felt that my writing was becoming routine. I found myself writing the same thing in a different way. I found my experience to be limited and I had to dig deep into my life to scrap the routine story I was writing to bring on the new ones.
Timing:
I was not waking up early enough to write in the mornings. Even if I did, that time went away in searching for a topic to write. The only time I had was to write in the evenings after day-time work. Unfortunately, July was one of the most hectic months and I was using my brain too much at office. It was a punishment everyday to come back and look at the blank screen to start writing. On a few days, I was on the verge of tears for selecting this challenge in the first place. It was close to impossible for me to write after a tiring day. It was difficult for the thoughts to flow and then edit what I have written. On a few days, I was so drowsy that I was writing from my subconscious mind.
Key lessons I learnt:
Nothing is impossible:
From the time I started blogging, I always thought that it was impossible to write regularly. But now, I wrote for 30 days continuously. If you really want something, you can fight all the odds to achieve it.
Showing up is important:
It is not always about perfection. I wrote whatever I could. But writing everyday is important.
Learn new things:
I felt the real need for learning new things. I ran short of the experiences which are on the top of my mind which I want to write. If you want to thrive in any industry learning new things is the only way.
Turn on creativity faucet:
On the days, I could not think of any topics, creativity came to my rescue. I wrote about the life lessons I learnt from FM Radio. I did not know that there is so much to learn from the surroundings until then. Creativity comes in when you look out with an open mind.
You will find resources when you really want to do it:
It is difficult to write and format in evernote. I was avoiding writing all these days because I thought editing can be done only when I am on laptop. But only when I was under pressure I realised that I can use google docs to write and edit. The laptop excuse which I gave previously will no longer hold true now.
What next?
Now that I know that writing everyday is tough but not impossible, I will write regularly.
Do you want to do a 30-day blogging challenge?
Step1: Select your Niche.
Step2: Select 60 topics in that niche.
Step3: Before the challenge, do a 30-day challenge of writing points for each topic.
Step 4: Start your challenge.
Step 5: Set time aside on your calendar everyday for this.
Happy writing!

Beginners Guide: How to have a perfect day?

Will there be someone who does not want their day to be perfect?
Absolutely yes.
There a lot of people who are addicted to negativity. They can’t imagine their life to be any better. They want their day to go bad so that they have something to complain about. They can put the blame on the things which went bad for their failure in life. Do you belong to this group?

 

The first step to make your day perfect is to take accountability for it. Your day needs to start with a promise for yourself that you are going to give your best to make the day a cherishable and memorable one.

 

Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Tell yourself that you are ______________ . Fill in the blank with whatever matters to you. If you are a student, you can tell that you will top the college. If all you want is happiness, tell yourself that you will be happy.

 

For all this to happen, you need to first wake up without force. You should wake up naturally without an alarm or someone waking you up. If you have to wake up early, you need to sleep early. Yes, in order to have a perfect day, you need to have a perfect sleep. Or else you will be drowsy all the day which ruins everything else.

 

Take your time to wake up from bed. There is no hurry. But use this time to write down the creative thoughts you get or the important things you want to accomplish in the day.

 

Morning time is a very crucial time. Don’t spend it in unnecessary chatter or arguments. Keep it away from all distractions and social media.

 

One of the crucial part of an awesome morning is exercise. Even if you don’t have time for workouts, you can just do stretching exercises and feel the flexibility in your body.

 

A lot of people skip breakfast. I don’t want to talk about what you are going to lose by not having breakfast. All I can say is see the difference in your energy levels on the day you have breakfast and the days you don’t.

 

At work, plan your day. Make a detailed list of tasks for the day. Estimate the time you need for each task. And plan your day. Greet every one with smile. Eat on time even if you are not eating healthy stuff.

 

After returning back home, spend quality time with your friends/ family. Feel the connect and embrace it.

 

At the end of the day, before sleeping review your day. Count your blessings for what went well. Learn lessons from what did not go well. Feel gratitude for the people who made your day. Forgive those who hurt you.

 

Meditate. Close your eyes. Take deep breath. Concentrate on your breath. And slowly go into deep sleep.

 

This is just a basic idea on how to make your day perfect. Add your dreams to this template. Add the list of things which make your day awesome. Make your day perfect.

 

Happy perfect day every day!

What keeps you going in tough times?

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Writing is not easy. Especially after coming back from work after 14 hours. 

It’s tiring. Mind goes blank. 

I need to think of a topic which you, my reader will find it useful and inspiring. I need to write content which will make you take action.
I am not a genius. Maybe you are not too. But it doesn’t matter. A person who is not really into art, appreciated my craft work. Even though I am not a top writer, some of you feel inspired. By creating daily, I am able to make it useful for someone.
If you want to hear the truth, it’s not for you that I write. I am selfish. I write daily for myself. It comes under sticking to my habits. I feel so happy when I make a new piece of art. I feel happy when I put down my thoughts on the paper. It feels good. It is liberating and enthralling.
I don’t feel the same level of happiness when I receive my salary for my full time work. But I feel happy and satisfied for writing this article. I don’t get paid for this. It is not even reaching as many people as it should. But it will inspire at least one of you. You will show up at your passion just like I do.

I want you to work on your passion just like I do. Not for your end users. But for yourself. You will realize that pursuing passion is not easy. You will neither have money nor appreciators. There will be days when you will fall in love with what you do. There will be days when you will hate yourself altogether. It doesn’t matter. 
I have had sore muscles since the past few days. If there are no micro tears of muscles, how do they grow? Working out is not easy.
If something is easy, remember that you are not growing.
This article is neither a ranting article nor a self-boasting article.
The only aim of this is tp persuade you to show up at your passion.
When I was working for 14 hours a day, I used to come back home at 12 in the night and prepare for MBA exams for an hour. I was passionate about the preparation. I wanted it really bad.
If you ever find yourself giving an excuse or blame, you are not really passionate about it.
May be you are superficially passionate but that will not help you anyway. You need to build habits to help that passion sustain.
Habits work on a ‘ Remainder, routine, reward’ cycle. But there will be days when you get reminder and there will be rewards but you will not have the energy to push yourself to do the routine. Make the reward stronger. Crave more for the reward.
I have signed up for a 30 day blogging challenge and I am publishing this today, just because I want to live up to my word.
Hope this article helps you too to pursue your dreams on a tiring day.

Let us know what keeps you going in tough times in the comment section.

Happy working on your dreams!

4 Ways to get your daily dose of Laughter

My best friend left the company today. I will miss the friend with whom I can laugh hysterically. I am going to miss that laughter. Are you also missing that friend who makes you laugh?


I don’t want to write about the benefits of laughter. Because you already know the endless list of benefits it has. But there are a few benefits which I have experienced and I need laughter to be my best.


Increases my productivity:


On dull days, just a few minutes of laughter can make me finish the work which takes 3 hours in an hour.


Increases my creativity:


When I am happy, I get the ideas which I never got before. I wonder how my creativity levels have increased.


Cheers up other people:


People who sit around me say that my happiness is contagious. If I am happy, they feel inspired from me and stay happy too.


How can you get your daily dose of laughter?


Comic strips:


Reading Calvin and Hobbes makes my day. It might be dilbert for you. If you don’t read anything, you can start with something today. Once one of friends ordered a Calvin and Hobbes book. She said that was the best investment she made on herself.


Videos / Movies:


A few months ago, I was watching a part of movie everyday. I used to laugh really hard at the comedy scenes in the movie. I used to skip the sad parts and just watch the scenes which make me laugh. Happiness was so easy to get.


Even though I hate whatsapp forwards, a few pictures and videos make me laugh a lot.


Hasya asana:


It is a yoga pose where you have to laugh. It sounds weird and might be tough if you have to start at your home. I learned this when I went to yoga class. I found it very difficult to do. But when everyone else laughs, you also learn to do it. And this is a real stress buster. Who does not want to start the day with a good amount of laughter?


Friends:


This is a tough one. But if you can, try to make a few friends you can laugh with. During my commute, there is a group of friends who laugh everyday throughout the journey. That is amazing. I also have and had friends with whom I can laugh that way. It was a blessing for me. But you can find a friend too with whom you can laugh.


How does laughing help you in your daily life? What are your ways to laugh everyday? Do let us know in the comments section.


Happy laughing daily!

Why should you have a mentor?


Rita: “ I feel lost in life. I need a mentor.”
Gita: “ Why do you need a mentor for that?
Rita: “ To guide me, of course!
Gita: “Can’t you do it yourself?


Does Rita really need a mentor?


What about you? Are you totally lost in life? Do you need a mentor?


I need a mentor. I need one to criticize me. I need him to tell me I am bad.


I have a lot of people to appreciate the work I do. But I have very few people to tell me that I am bad. I need more of that type of people. They are the ones who help me grow.


The other day when I told my mentor that I plan on writing a book. He did not criticize. He just replied “Okay”. I would have felt happy if he mentioned that it was a bad idea and corrected me.


One thing I fear the most has been said aptly by Randy Pausch, author of  Last Lecture –
When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore that means they’ve given up on you…you may not want to hear it but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you and want to make you better.


But this feedback need not necessarily be criticism. In the book, ‘Power of the other’, Henry Cloud mentions that for every negative interaction there should be five positive interactions for the relation to be healthy. It is not just about feedback. But it is about constructive feedback. When someone criticizes you, you should be able to take an action from the feedback given.
Mentors are not only there to give you feedback. They exist to help you avoid the mistakes which they have already made. They don’t let you fall into the same pitfalls.
How to get your mentor?
 Get over the myth that mentors have to be people. Mentors need not be people. Even though I was lucky to have a mentor at most of the stages of my life, I did not go approach them. They wanted to mentor me because they saw potential in me. Similarly, when you start putting in efforts, you will notice that people will want to help you. They will want to see you grow. Paulo Coelho tells the same in Alchemist

And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”


But if you want to start off with something and have no clue, just approach the person who you want to be your mentor and ask specific questions. Once when I felt stagnant in my company, I approached my new manager and asked me how he grew in the company. He told his story. But he did not stop there. He took it as his responsibility to teach me the intricate things which matter when talking to stakeholders and other things which helped him grow. I just got my mentor by asking about his success.


It is not just people who can be mentors. Books can also be mentors. Most of the times when I read a book, I feel that the book has been written for me exclusively. The timing seems so right. If not for the book, I wouldn’t have got through the difficult phase easily. Even articles do that. Today I was reading an article on how to not make your writing stale. A few days back I felt that I am close to exhausting everything I knew till date. This article gave me solace that I am not alone. And this problem can be fixed.
Even inanimate objects can be mentors. I have written here about the lessons FM radio has taught me.
What you should not expect from mentor? 

 
Mentor is there only to guide you. Don’t expect him to spoon feed you.

You are the one who is ultimately accountable for what you are doing with your life. You should not put the blame on your mentor for not guiding you all the time.


Happy finding your mentor!

Why you should track your life?

I: “I want a fitbit. I want to track my steps.”
Friend: “What are you going to do by tracking your steps?”
I: “If I don’t know how much I am walking now, how will I know if I am improving?”


Well, it is not just the steps per day. In order to improve in anything, you should first know where you stand. Without a reference, you can’t compare. But don’t take your reference as others. Instead compare yourself for what you were yesterday.


It has been nearly 8 months, that I embarked on this self-improvement journey. If I did not have a base point, I would not have known if there has been any improvement at all.


But have I actually improved?


I did the following to track myself:


1.Rescue Time:


This software can be installed both on desktop and phone. It tracks the amount of time I spend on each application. I receive a weekly mail on the top applications I spent time on this week, top category, and productivity levels. You can customize it by categorizing the websites and applications the way you wish. I used to spend 45 hours a month on whatsapp when I started this exercise. Now the time I spend on that has come down by 3 times. You need not wait for a week to measure your productivity. You can go to their website or application to see how have you been doing in the day. On a few days, when I feel that I am not being productive, I go to the website and see what is distracting me.


2.Habit Loop Tracker:
   Loop - Habit Tracker- screenshot
I made a note of all the habits which are important to me in this app. Everyday I check the ones I do. It gives me a score based on that for each habit. This helps in not only tracking the habit but also acts as a reward. If the habit score comes close to 99%, I feel more accountable to do it daily to retain it that way and further increase it 100%. You also have a feature to sort the habits based on the score. So if you think that one habit is more important than others, you can work on it. It also shows you which day of the week you have been skipping it. For me, most of the times it is on weekends that I don’t read books. One of my friends gave me a 90 day challenge. That challenge ended yesterday. He asked “Do you see any improvement?” I immediately downloaded the data from it and showed him the statistics. He was taken aback looking at how clean the data is.

My areas of focus were productivity and habits. Hence those apps.


What are your focus areas? What matters to you?


Even if there are other areas which matter for you, productivity and habits form the base for it. If you want to improve your relation with your family, you can make habits around that. Those habits you have to track again. If your goal is getting better in your office work, it again comes back to building habits which will help you with that.
But if your aim is to improve your health, you can go for steps tracking devices. If it is concerned with improving your sleep, there is another app for it.


Analyze what your problem areas are and start tracking them.


Let us know in the comment section which area of your life you are going to track.


Happy tracking your life!

How to make productivity tips work for you?

Image result for productivity

If you google for productivity tips, there are hundreds of articles to tell you what to do and what not to do. But even after following them, you will not see any results. You will still be frustrated and search for more. You will always be in the quest of knowing a simpler one, a better one or rather call it as the one which works.


Why did none of the productivity tips you read so far did not work?


Productivity tips are not uniform for everyone. Even though a few of them are for all but not all of them suit everyone.


The following are a few examples:


Pomodoro Technique:


This technique is used for breaking the work into 25 minutes time periods with a few minutes break in between. For a person who procrastinates and has hard time focussing, pomodoro technique works great. But for a few who have longer attention spans, this technique is detrimental. It ruins their flow state of mind.


Music:


A few can’t work without music. But for others, music is an obstacle to productivity. As far as research is concerned, music without lyrics helps you concentrate better than music with lyrics.


Working under pressure:


A few work well under pressure. They need last minute panic to turn on their creativity. For others, they need to finish the work well before deadlines. They can’t think anything under pressure.


Doing it fast:


In the famous story of Tortoise and Hare, when they decided to compete in a race, even though Hare is the faster runner, Tortoise wins as hare sleeps in the middle. Similarly, people who are slow can also be productive if they are giving their best. You need not necessarily be fast. If you are fast, don’t be over-confident.


Delegating:


The secret mantra to getting a lot of things done is delegating the work to the right set of people. But if you have the habit of re-checking before you deliver the work done by others, you are better off doing it yourself than the double time spent.


Multi-t
asking:


It is the super one productivity killer. You are not getting a lot of things done by juggling. In fact, you are putting a lot more stress on your mind. When you are juggling, your mind has to recollect where you left the previous one to continue it. That way it is taking lot more time to process than just doing one activity at a time.


To-do lists:


A few do well when they have to concentrate on only one task in the entire day. I do better when I have a to-do list. I like to take breaks and work on different things so that I don’t hit a plateau when working on the one task and just be stuck there.


Sleep:


My friends can pull an all nighter and perform well in exams. My mind goes blank if I don’t sleep even one night. When you are sleeping, brain gets rid of the toxins which are produced in the brain and makes you fresh. I don’t know the logic behind how my friends can be productive.


So yeah, if you want to be productive, analyze what works for you and what does not. And if you can change your habits for the better, then well and good. If you don’t learn to work around your habits to be productive.


It is okay to be the way you are at times as long as you are productive.


Happy productivity !
 

Why should you stop chasing fame and money

Riya: “ I am not happy with my career.”
Sebastin: “ Why is that so?”
Riya: “ I am not in the position I want to be in”
Sebastin: “ Why does position matter to you?”
Riya: “ That is what defines what I am doing in my career.”


Well, a lot of us work for fame and money. But will that take us to places where we want to reach?


“The greatest reward in becoming a millionaire is not the amount of money that you earn. It is the kind of person that you have to become to become a millionaire.” — Jim Rohn


Fame and money are by-product of the work you do. World gives those people money who work for betterment of a lot of others. If you are working just for yourself, you reach no where.


Inspite of all this, why do we run after fame?


Two teenagers who were in love with each other were having the following conversation:


Calvin: “A girl I like doesn’t like me back”


Karry: “Do you love me?”


Calvin: “No, I don’t. There are three other girls who want to date me. But I don’t talk to any of them. You are the only friend I talk to. ”


Karry: “Ok”


In the above conversation, if Karry would have gone by yes or no, it would have showed that he doesn’t love her. But if she understood what Calvin conveyed intentionally or unintentionally, it shows that she matters for him.


At work,


Manager: “ You are the best one who I can put on this project”


Subordinate: “ Sure. Thanks!”


The subordinate can either
think that the boss is trying to exploit him or feel happy that he trusts him with the work.


In the above conversations, if they just went by name, they were not getting what they truly want. But if they go by the depth, they are actually on the path to what they want.
Similarly, in your life too you might not be having the name and fame you want right now. But you are definitely on the path of your dreams.


But if you are not even in the path, then do the following:


What are you doing wrong?
What you really want and what you think you want might be different. Think again if you are clear about your dreams.
If your dreams are clear, are you putting in efforts or wanting things to happen on their own?
If you are putting in efforts, are you just being a hard worker or trying to do things smart?


Is your environment conducive?


Does your family support your dreams? If you have parents whose dreams are different from yours, you will end up spending a lot of time in convincing them or fighting the resistance.


If your manager is not supportive, you will not be getting the projects which will take you up the career ladder.


Even though this is not under your control, you can alter the circumstances a little to your advantage.


What is in your control?


As we discussed above, a few things can be immediately changed and a few things take time.


If you are not getting good projects, find projects on your own and work on them. That is what I have done when I felt that I was being underutilised at work.


Even after having all the above debate with yourself, if you still feel like chasing fame and money, recollect this quote from Bagvadgita –


karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi


Translation: You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled
to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.


Happy doing work!

Why you should be yourself?













I went to watch Dunkirk movie today because I wanted to do something different.


Well, I am just rationalizing why I went to a movie. I am not a movie watcher. I haven’t watched a movie in the city I stay till today. But I still went.


So if someone asked I have to give a reason.


Did I enjoy?


No, I didn’t.


In order to make my day entertaining, I went to the bookstore in the same building and spent an hour there. That bookstore made my day and not the movie which is talk of the town.


Is doing something different bad?


Well, it is not bad. In fact, you should be doing something different at least once in a blue moon.


But why am I writing about all this now?


I told my friend that I went for this movie. She started laughing loudly at me. I asked her what was wrong in it. “There is nothing wrong in it. You should go for something you enjoy when you choose to do something different. And not something just for the sake of it” She was right.


But then the first attempt is excusable. Because it comes under experiment. How will you ever know that you will enjoy something or not unless you try it?


Even after you know what you like and what you don’t, if you still end up doing what others like?


You are becoming a slave for others and not setting up your own identity. When you were a baby, you were doing what pleased you. But then your parents started praising you when you did what they thought was right and punished you when you did what they thought was wrong.


Then came teenage and your peer group shaped the way you are. And in adult life, marriage influences how you become.


So there is never a chance for you to be yourself. You have always been someone so that you can fit in a group.


By not being yourself, you are denying yourself the right to live life to the fullest.


If you are always impressing others, you will end up being a Chameleon. You will not have your own beliefs and value systems. At the end, you will realise that your life has just gone by and you have achieved nothing because you did not have an identity and purpose in the first place.


By being yourself, you will
  • develop an identity
  • not worry which mask to put on
  • feel liberated and happier


What can you do today so that you start being yourself?


Step 1: Analyse your day


Don’t rationalize your activities. Instead question them like a third person. Why are you doing them? Is it because others expect you to do it or is it because you want to do it be happier?


Step 2: Are your activities harming or offending others?


If you are being yourself, is it affecting others lives in negative ways. Is your positive greater than their negative or the other way round?


Step 3: Change them step by step


Don’t change them all at once. Change one at a time. Don’t give shocks to people who live with you.


Step 4: Enjoy your new transformed self


Even though it is a time taking process, if you are first hitting the biggest activity which you do for others, you will feel immediate liberation.


Happy being yourself!

6 Simple Ways to Manage money

Managing money is not as tough as you think. You can manage it in a really simple way.
Save before you spend:
As soon as you receive your salary every month, set aside a certain amount. Spend from the remaining.
Track where you spend:
I create an excel sheet to see where I spend the most. You can use apps too.
Invest in mutual funds:
Go to Top Ranked Mutual Funds . Just select one from large cap and another from mid/small cap and the third from ELSS. You will notice that you have become richer than you were before just in 6 months time. You need not invest your entire salary. Just invest a thousand to start with.
Don’t binge shop:
When you look at a item you want to shop, classify it as necessity, good to have, luxury. Spend fully on necessities, moderately on good to have and sparingly on luxuries. You will notice the difference in your savings in just a month. Don’t feel proud of that. Go back and spend 10 more minutes on doing research on investing to multiply the saved money.
Value time over money:
 
When you value time over money, your time will bring you ten times more money in the long run. Given that you are spending this time on improving yourself.

You need at least seven sources of income to become rich:
You are never going to be rich if you just slog in your office from 9 to 12. You need to diversify your income sources. Now don’t think of seven sources, but just think of the second source of income or what are you next best at which can turn into a source of income in a few years down the line?

Happy managing money!