I can’t believe that today is the last day of the year and also the decade. The year went away in a jiff making me a stronger woman both physically and mentally. From the start to the end of the decade, I transitioned from grumpy teenager to a mature adult. Even though they say, the maximum growth happens only during your childhood years, as an adult how much you grow depends on how much you want to grow and how you make that happen. In this decade, I graduated as a civil engineer, then moved to analytics learning different technologies and statistics and on the way of foraying into another domain which is MA in psychology. I spent the first half of the decade preparing for MBA and other government exams only to realise they were not my cup of tea and spent the rest of the decade in finding my true self. As a result of which I became a teacher, writer and photographer. In the last one year, I got serious about my spiritual journey and realised how that can give the true joy in life.
Here are some of the achievements I am proud of this year.
1. Thirty books in 2019
Given how hectic this year had been, I feel that this is an achievement I am proud of. Making time to read despite so many changes in life. This is a true example of when you have a craving, you will find ways to make it happen.
I am yet to share the review of the books I read. I will try to publish it soon.
2.An awesome meal for 12 people
To throw a farewell party, I invited my friends home and cooked a meal which was satisfactory to both North Indians and South Indians. A year ago I could hardly cook a single pot meal and now I am confidently cooking an elaborate tasty meal. Apart from that, I cook at least two meals regularly and three meals on the weekends which is indeed a great achievement for someone who knows nothing about cooking. I hope to learn a lot more in the coming year and enchant people with my culinary skills.
3.Got into a lifetime self-improvement program
That program is called getting into a wed-lock. One of my friends once mentioned that no one will point out the flaws in you like how a significant other does. It is the best way to know your shortcomings and keep improving individually and together for a lifetime.
4.To dad with love
After going through a huge list of materialistic gifts, I thought there is nothing better than writing a book on my dad. A lot of people talk good about their parents after they are gone. I wanted to express how much my dad means to me while he was still alive.
5.Building an arsenal
I bought one of the best camera phones and a macro lens for the phone for amazing macro shots. My dad gifted me a DSLR for my birthday. I bought a telephoto lens to quench my thirst of wildlife photography. I received a tripod from my Secret Santa. My team decided to get me a prime lens for portrait shoots.
I received a huge encouragement in the journey by being an unofficially official photographer for my huge team at work. When my college friends say that my photos started looking professional and when my friends ask for the original copy of the photo to set it as a wallpaper and they keep reminding that I should start participating in competitions and they see a potential in me to be a full time photographer.
The next level of this was a friend asked if I can send her a few of my favourite photos for her to print and frame them for her hotel and house, I felt proud about how far I reached.
6.Maintaining the temple
The only place you have got to live in for the rest of your life is your body which is in turn ruled by the mind. I joined Cult Fit to try out different types of exercises to stay fit.I started out with HRX to build strength and alternate it with Prowl, Dance Fitness and Boxing. Once I was sure that I had enough strength I moved to Strength and conditioning. Recently I developed an obsession towards yoga and will do more of it in the near future.
I practise heartfulness meditation and in the last quarter of the decade I got more serious about it. Now I meditate daily and I clearly know the difference between a clear mind and clouded mind. Now, I can even feel the energy around me during yoga nidra and guided meditation.
There are a few other small things which made my 2019. I got rid of the job which was eating away my peace of mind and replaced it with a new job which I find more enjoyable. I got back to studying the second year of my psychology. I became more minimalistic by not splurging too much on clothing. I used to wear only 4 different clothes to office that my friends had to ask me to stop wearing them and buy new ones. I did a bit of travelling and had a few fun impromptu trips which were amazing.
A few things which could have been better.
My job was too stressful and I hardly had any idea on how to manage the work and personal life. I should have been less submissive at work and shouldn’t have given my whole and soul to the company and learned to be selfish to take care of myself first. Also, I needed to learn to shut my mind from all of that to get a peaceful sleep.
You don’t manage time. You manage yourself so that time comes in handy. I did a really poor job in that. With my new job, I am hoping to find some time for myself and do everything I enjoy.
How was the year which went by for you? What could you have done better?
Happy New year!
November taught me that travelling is one of the best ways to discover oneself. Two road trips set the standard for the next trips to come. Once again, my friends considered me a good enough wedding photographer which boosted my ego to consider freelancing photography. Apart from that, a couple of friends started encouraging me to start participating in competitions.
Review of November
1.Study for Exams
I spent most of my free in learning the basics from the text books. Even though I could not sit for studying everyday, I at least made time to understand what I will be tested in the next month.
2.Pranayama and Kapalbathi
I could not really make it a point to do this every morning. But then I had been consistent in meditation this month too not allowing myself to miss a streak by doing it even at 11:30 at night. The only times I missed it was during the trips when I couldn’t find a lone space. The quality of meditation hasn’t improved much yet but I am just happy about making it a habit with which I struggled for years.
Eating in India is considered a group activity rather than an individual one. I find it difficult to excuse myself from others and eat which in turn made me not to practise to the extent I wanted to do it. But when I am alone, I started eating without a phone or book to start with. A long way to go.
I think this is the best part of every month. Irrespective of what goals I set, I end up slacking a bit in them. But reading books comes naturally to me. This month I read Shoe dog, Option B, When breath becomes air. I am currently reading Malgudi days.
Plans for December
One of my friends asked me to select 10 of my best photographs to display them at her home and hotel. Even though I didn’t charge her any money, this is the first order I received. I want to spend some time to go through my work and select my favourite ones for her. Apart from that, I will go through the list of competitions available and start applying to see where I stand.
I want to finish reading Malgudi days, Fooled by randomness, Hot Flat & crowded, Onward before the year ends. That will land me at around 35 books this year excluding the books I read for my profession. That is a huge number for a busy year this had been.
I haven’t written book reviews in ages now. I want to get back to start writing book reviews this month. If not for all the books I read this year, at least a few.
4.Review and Plan
I want to go through my diary and understand what went good and bad this year so that I can plan what are the few changes which I want to see in myself and my life in the coming year.
How was your November? What are your plans for December?
October was a busy month with two festivals, two important birthdays and an eventful trip. The best part of the month was to spend on buying a new lens for wildlife photography which is a huge progress in my photography journey.
Here is how October passed by.
Review of October
It was difficult to maintain a gratitude journal. To make it a habit, I started writing the header of my daily journal with what I am grateful about. This was an easy way to make it a habit.
2.Yoga and meditation
I started attending more yoga classes which helped me to get in tune with my body. It helped me feel more flexible. Even though I had done weights, cardio in the past, learning new yoga poses made me feel that I am growing to learn my body better.
I had a 21 day streak in meditation. I lost it as I was not able to accommodate time for it during my vacation. But this is one of the best achievements of my life.
I sort of failed in this. You can’t turn out to become mindful all of a sudden. It needs to be started as one small mindful habit each month. I just started being mindful whenever I could which will not help in sustaining it for a long time.
The best part of every month is how I make time to read books in spite of my hectic schedule. I read His needs her needs, Making marriage simple, Getting the love you want. I picked up I will teach you to be rich but I felt it was not meant for the Indian audience. The only good point I picked up from it was conscious spending. Getting rich is not about accumulating a lot of money but spending on what really matters for you. Another interesting book which I am reading now is Shoe Dog. It is quite inspirational.
Plans for November
1.Study for Exams
It is exam season again and it is high time I start studying. There are 48 chapters on whole. If I can complete 2 chapters a day and 12 chapters a week, I will be able to do the first level of studying before the exams.
2.Mindful eating and drinking
The way to mindfulness is to start small. I can’t stay in the present all of the day. If I assign a time to it, let’s say eating and drinking, I will be able to make at least one mindful habit.
3.Pranayamam and Kriya
Breathing exercises have magical effects on your body and sleep. I want to get back to doing this every morning just for 10 minutes – 5 minutes of Alternate nostril breathing and 5 minutes of Kapalbathi.
How was your October? What are your plans for November?
September wasn’t the way I planned. But that doesn’t mean that it was not a productive month. My full time job ate away all my time. I was busy learning new things related to my job. The books I read were also heavily into that.
Review of September
I sincerely started off with this and found an implementable idea. I wanted to test the market and sent out mails to find people who I can interview. I received a reply from one out five people I reached out.
The next step for me is to write a questionnaire to make the interview experience easier. I need to find 9 more to prepare enough content to publish a book.
Apart from that, I couldn’t test out the remaining yet.
2.Make my bed
Well, it felt like it was just not my thing. I found it weird and awkward to worry about that as the first task of the day.
But then I spent a considerable amount of time in decluttering the already minimalist house.
3.Start with Why
I think this was a good exercise and I stopped chasing things which didn’t really make a difference. But I couldn’t ingrain it totally as a habit yet. It takes time to change the deeply rooted habits we have.
I did study but not for my psychology exams but statistics. I read a few chapters from Storytelling with data, Time series analysis, A modern approach to regression, Linear Regression, Hypothesis Testing, The model thinker, An introduction to statistical learning. These are the books to which I gave my time and they in turn made me richer with knowledge.
After reading so many academic books, I didn’t really find a lot of time for other books. But I read The Book of Nature by Ruskin Bond. I always wanted to read books of him and here I finally got a chance. The one thing I like about his writing is that it is simple and he takes you into the world he writes. I like imagining what is written than watching a video.
This was unexpected and at the same time the most wonderful thing which happened this month. Last month, I learned the theory behind chakras. This month, I started going to yoga classes and asked each of the tutor if they ever experienced anything related to chakras. The responses were varied. Luckily the first one I reached out to, told me that except for the first chakra, he experienced all other chakras and the third eye is the easiest to open. Rest of them were, I can’t say fake gurus but they only taught or learned postures and not the spiritual side of yoga. This generation doesn’t have the time and leisure to pursue such things may be.
Apart from that I read Mind full to Mindful by Om Swami. I was a regular reader of his articles and this book was no different from them in opening my mind. It was an insightful and practical read.
I started following whatever he wrote and I am focusing on my steps while walking and on the water flow while drinking water.
I even went to the extent of keeping a flower in my bedroom. It reminds me of how our lives are temporary and how we need to give our best while we are still alive.
I practised yoga nidra. It was a pure bliss. I initially drifted off into sleep for a few minutes but came back to my senses pretty quick. Thereafter, I experienced tremendous body pains as we are generally not used to staying still for such a long time. The best part of the exercise was I could feel energy above my palms. I am looking forward to many more such experiences in feeling the energy around me.
Plans for October
October might be as hectic as last month when it comes to my full time work. I don’t want to plan anything grand and then feel disappointed that I am not doing much in my personal life. The main problem I have been facing is being unable to manage my energy. I am using it all up in my full time job leaving very little for anything other than that.
This won’t take a lot of time in my day. But it is very important to count my blessings when everything is not going right in life. The more I focus on what is going well, I can attract more of that. Change in focus is a lot more effective than you think.
2.Yoga and meditation
Yoga is for reaping health benefits. The longer you can stay in a posture the larger the benefits you reap. Although gymming was fine, I want to move towards yoga now.
Also I have a 10 day streak in Meditation now. I want to make it a 30 day streak.
Doing meditation is fine. But I want to continue that meditative state for the rest of the day. I want to learn to be mindful while I exercise, walk, eat and drink. It is difficult as I keep forgetting about this but it is about doing at least whenever I remember. Scanning the body every now and then also helps in being aware of myself and surroundings.
That’s all for this month.
How was your September? What are your plans for October?
The month just flew. I was sick for most of the time and it is high time I take proper care of my health. The best thing about this month is I practiced meditation every day for a week. I hope there comes a day when I can proudly say that I meditated every day of the month.
1.Spanish on Duolingo
This is the highlight of this month. I have spent varying amounts of time on it from 3 minutes a day to 55 minutes a day. I finished 34 levels this month and each level has 5 lessons in it. I effectively mastered 170 lessons this month, averaging it to 6 lessons a day. At this pace, I should be finishing Spanish in 6 more months.
2.MA Psychology second year
One thing which I was struggling for a year now, I got a start for it by finding the study center. Also, since the subject is too easy in textbooks, I downloaded reference books for the same. I could finish only one chapter.
3.An idea a day
To be honest, I wrote them for only 11 days of the month. But on the days I wrote, I had more than one idea.
4.What you focus on, expands
I don’t know how far I could succeed in it. But I can definitely see some positive changes in my life.
This month I read ‘Find your why’, ‘The subtle art of not giving a f*ck’ and ‘The 24* 7 Marriage’. Only the first one was worth reading for the application of the concept while the other two were repetition of known concepts using stories. I published a detailed review of ‘Find your way’ and ‘The subtle art of not giving a f*ck’.
Apart from that I released the hard copy of my first book but it is only available in the US as of now. If you are in any other part of the world, you can try out the kindle copy for now.
1.Start with why
I tried this sometime in the past too but looks like I could not really make it a habit then. If you fix your why, a lot of pain in life is avoidable. I want to focus on this for this month, to constantly connect to my inner self.
I wrote 24 ideas last month in the 11 days I wrote. For the next 24 days, I will write whether the idea is feasible or not. If yes, what is the smallest thing I need to do to get started and the realistic timelines it needs. After testing the waters, if I don’t feel so passionate about it, it is okay to leave it.
I previously did this exercise, since I lost where I have those entries, I will rework on it this month again. Write down at least one idea on which I can do a psychology project. If you have any suggestions, please drop a note in the comment section.
It is difficult to be full time working, finding time for passions and then do a correspondence course. So whatever little time I get, I need to write assignments. If I target one subject a month, I should be able to finish it by November.
4.Make my bed
The new fad on the internet is make your bed the first thing in the morning. When so many people say that it works, why not try it once and see what it makes me feel like.
That is all for September.
How was your August? What are your plans for September?
The best part of the month was that I published a book along with my sister. It was a tribute to my dad.The worst part was I was sick for almost half of the days which killed the productivity.
1.Sleep by 11
I could do this only on half of the days. But that itself is an achievement to get back to normal life. In august, sleeping before 11 on 20 of the 30 days will be a reachable target.
From the lost habit of writing a diary, this month I made 21 entries. Even if it is not perfect, it is again better than before. Now I need to push it to more than 25 entries a month.
Even though it started off on a great note, by the time it came to the middle of the month, I lost the streak. It was difficult to practise daily again. This is one habit I had been struggling, I am struggling and don’t want to struggle the next month.
The best thing about photography this month is getting a new phone and doing a full-fledged macro photography. I clicked bees, ants, housefly and spiders. They had been well received by a lot of people.
Even though I wrote a few articles, I could not bring them to completion. I wrote a few answers on Quora. But I spent my time majorly on writing the book on my dad.
I read ‘Deep work’ and ‘The underage CEO’ with full enthusiasm. I am stuck with Hit refresh which I will complete soon.I tried reading 3rd alternative and Winning in between these but realised that they were not my type of books and abandoned them soon.
I did a landscape photography course on Udemy which I felt was quite useless. It let my spirits down but the food photography course was interesting where I learnt a few tricks which I can’t start implementing today but can keep in mind when I update my gear and start shooting food.
Plans for August
1.Spanish on Duolingo
I miss learning something new daily. My sister had been talking how Duolingo has been making it a lot more easier to learn a new language. To be a loyal user of Duolingo, I want to learn Spanish also on it just like the way I learnt French. Just a bit daily and in a year, I will know the basics of Spanish.
2.MA Psychology second year
I couldn’t write my exams in June due to other commitments. I want to start preparing for my December exams by studying my subjects at least twice a week.
3.An Idea a day
It can be how to make my existing books better. It can be a marketing idea or an idea to start a business. The ideas may be viable or may not be viable. But generating ideas will exercise the creative muscle. I want to generate as many as possible this month.
4.What you focus on, expands
I want to focus more on what I want to do and keep moving in that direction. The more I focus on what is not working, I will be held back in life. Instead of spending time on worrying, I will use it to move towards my goals.
How was your July? What are your plans for August?
Self-improvement is a process of change in lifestyle to incorporate as many good habits as possible. In the last one month, while I was away from the blogging, I got one thing right – working out daily. Also, I realised what made it suddenly impossible to follow my dreams daily. I was using will power at my full time work. I had no mental energy left to pursue other activities in my life. The one thing that was different about me when compared to others till then was I didn’t look at my work as a burden previously. Now it turned into one. That was the reason why everyone thought it was a great thing to pursue so many different things in life with a full time job while it was just a bunch of routines for me. In case you are struggling with the same, now you know the reason.
The solution I found for this is doing deep work and not work on the full time job for more than 8 hours. I will learn to push the deadlines, find something in the work which can be a motivating factor, note down the distractions which I can go back to later.
The reason I came back to blogging even though I wanted to take a little longer to figure out my life was that I was not figuring anything out in the first place. I was just going where the wind was taking me. Also, two of my friends were surprised that is so unusual of me to not do anything different in life. I was their inspiration and I suddenly can’t cease to be one. Another friend, who I met after a long while, decided to join the gym and then come for meditation with me. A very old friend calls me up and reminds me how planned I was about life. All these incidents motivated me to get back to writing this monthly post. If I am not able to accomplish 7 things in a week, it is still a progress, if I can finish them in a month. This year has been a crawling year, but better than a no achievements year.
Goals for July
1.Sleep before 11
The one thing which will set most of the things right in my life is sleeping on time and waking up without an alarm. Right now, my office timings extend till so late in the night that it is impossible for me to sleep by 11. But tackling this will bring everything else into order.
I had been writing my diary on and off these days. This is another thing which will help me remove all the annoying elements from my life.
My meditation teacher introduces me to others as “She is very sincere and made a lot of progress in such a short time.” Whenever I feel like skipping meditation, this motivates me to do more.
If I want to be a professional photographer, I need to learn the technicalities of camera. I want to be a self-taught photographer for which, I will read an article/watch a video on photography daily to learn something new. Once a week, I will spend that time to implement what I learnt.
I find it difficult to find time to write daily. In this month, I will write at least 10 answers on Quora and 5 articles for my blog and edit my book.
I have shortlisted a few courses on Edx out of which I will complete at least 2 and read at least 3 books this month.
The biggest challenge I have is to find time for all of this. I will reduce the time I spend on Instagram by tracking the time I spend on the phone daily. This will help me make time for other things in life.
How was June? What are your plans for July?
The best part of last week was I tried making cheese pasta and Hyderabadi Biryani. Surprisingly both of them were delicious and gave me confidence to cook them once again. I spent a lot of hours in learning to cook the right way. Nevertheless, it is a good start in the cooking journey.
Review of week 21
1.Inside Coca Cola
It was an amazing read in the recent while. It not only talks about the journey of the CEO but also gives insight into the history of that period. It is informative and inspiring at the same time.
I could write on five of the seven days last week. On a few days, it was difficult to write and on few others it took less than five minutes to write. But I am glad that I could make it a habit again.
I found a mentor to review my photographs.Surprisingly, the only aspect I lack in, according to him is rule of thirds. I am being more aware of it from now.
Plans for week 22
The last week was a struggle. The advice I keep getting these days is let go off a few hobbies so that the entire journey doesn’t feel like cramming too many things in the day. I can’t let go off my full time job because that earns my living. I can’t let go off exercise or meditation because they are essential for my physical and mental health. Next come the hobbies. They are essential for my happiness and well-being. Instead of pursuing everything daily, I can make them twice a week to not let go off them completely.
I will take off this week and work on building a plan on where I want to be in each of my hobbies at the end of this year. If I am pursuing each one only twice a week, it doesn’t make sense to do weekly challenges.
I will take a week to think over all of this and release the plan latest by June 1st.
“If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither one”
This quote made me take this break. It is okay to take off to reflect in life once in a while.
How was your week 21? What plans for week 22?
Happy week 22!
The best part of this week is getting a DSLR as a gift from my dad. He had always been supporting my dreams and will keep supporting me in the future too. It took me down the memory path where he always spent more than what he could afford to support my passions. May be I wouldn’t have been multi-talented as everyone refers to it as if not his encouragement.
Review of Week 20
1.The intelligent investor
Even though my target was just one page a day, I read 24 pages in the last week. I am not able to write any points at this stage as everything seems to be important. I need to read it once more to summarise the key points.
2.The Habit of winning
If you hardly read any books on self-improvement, you will find it an interesting read. If you ask me to rate it basis of difficulty level, it is for beginners. It was just a collection of stories I read at different ages. Will someone learn to win based on that? No. Will someone get superficial motivation? Yes. I was disappointed with the book as I expected the author to write stories from his professional life to teach how to win. But I finished the book because I felt good to read the old stories once again all at one place.
I went into a deep focussed state while writing this week. It felt beautiful after a long time. I wish I could go into such states more often.
The exercise I did last week didn’t seem to be that useful. I need to find a proper road map for myself.
I am able to comfortably lift 2.5 kgs but my hands start shaking when I try 4 kgs. A week more and I should be in a better position.
I missed my 7 day streak again. I could do only on the weekdays. During the weekends, it somehow doesn’t fit into the routine.
Plans for week 21
1.Inside Coca Cola
I usually don’t read this type of books but I realised that books of this sort gives us insights into the habits of those who succeed in life which we can emulate. So far it is an unputdownable book. Hoping to learn some interesting lessons from it.
Even though it might sound lame, it actually helps in having a good day. Selfie to start the day and one more to end the day. Irrespective of how yesterday was, today is a new day with new opportunities. Let me welcome it with a smile. Click. Irrespective of how bad the day was, I was strong enough to face it all. Smile. Click. Some of my best selfies were those which were clicked after a tough incident. Because the confidence of all is not lost. It is just a phase. Things will be well soon.
I want to get back to writing on Quora. I will write an answer daily again for the next one week. I had stopped in between as I felt that I had nothing new to write about. But the thing with writing is, you can get new ideas only when you keep writing. I don’t want writing to go away from my passions. I love it as much as I love photography.
Now that I have a DSLR, I need to explore more. This week I will spend time in learning all the settings. I should know what the camera is capable of to expand my skill set.
5.Exercise and Meditation
I don’t have to call out these two specifically every week from now as they are being taken care of by habits. I have set the routine for exercise as 8 to 9 every morning. For meditation, I make use of my commute time. They are going good. Also, I am maintaining a tracker to measure my progress and also to keep a log of how I am feeling after every session.
That’s all for this week!
How was your week 20? What plans for week 21?
Happy week 21!
The best part of last week was I made a few variety dosas on the go. I didn’t want to make chutney, so I put Ragi powder into the dosa to make ragi dosas. A kid might find a ragi dosa boring. To make it more interesting, I added bananas to make them like a sweet. On the other hand, for my uncles who are diabetic and can’t afford eating a sweet dosa, I added oregano seasoning to bring a different taste to dosa. The happiest part about all this exercise is the smiles I brought on faces.
Review of Week 19
I was not able to do that. I was exhausted at the end of the day and couldn’t find any interesting topic to write about. The reasons I failed were that I kept it for the end of the day and I didn’t have a clear agenda. I will correct the same this week.
I learnt a bit about over and under exposing. But I am yet to practise that to the fullest. But the best part of it this week was to click the best candid of all time.
I couldn’t make a 7 day streak. But I meditated 5 out of 7 days which is still good compared to my frequency in the past.
Plans for Week 20
1.Learn a bit about finance
Even though a lot of people say that Intelligent Investor book is not for Indian audience and it is outdated, there are a still few of them who consider it as timeless. It is a fat book. I will aim at reading just a page from the book every morning before I leave to work. Also, I will make note of at least one point from a page.
2.The Habit of winning
It’s been a long time that I spent on reading a book. I will spend 15 minutes on this book before retiring to sleep in the night.
Since I was not able to stick to my goal last week, this week I want to be more specific about it.
When will I write?
As soon as I return from gym, I spend time in cooling down physically with random browsing on my phone. I will make use of this time to be active mentally, even though I am exhausted physically.
What will I write?
I had suggestions for a few topics to add to my book. I will work on those.
How long will I write?
My aim is to bring back writing daily into my routine, I will spend just 10 minutes to start with.
I will learn to study the photographs created by experts to use similar techniques in mine.
5/7 is a good score. But 7/7 is an awesome score. I will aim for this streak this week.
I realised how inflexible my body became with my laziness to not exercise regularly in the past one year. Presently, I feel extremely exhausted after each workout and feel demotivated that I am not able to make any movements as per instructions. This is just a phase and this too shall pass. I will eventually learn to convert the instructions to respective postures and make myself kinesthetically intelligent.
That’s all for the week.
How was your week 19? What are your plans for week 20?
Happy week 20!