The Consequence of following The Plan

Hello and welcome, dear readers. Hope you had an awesome week. If you didn’t have one, you should’ve.

Last week was great! So great in fact that I forgot about the blog. I was working more than I’d worked in a long time and I liked it. Then the weekend arrived. I worked and played on Saturday. It felt balanced. On Sunday, as per habit, these are the things that I did: –

  • Woke up late
  • Watched interesting(educational) videos on YouTube
  • Bathed during mid-day
  • Played games for a few hours
  • …….oh snap! I need to sleep

This is how I imagine it goes for all gamers. I did enjoy the games, but I felt like there was a lot more work to do. I couldn’t have gotten here unless I’d followed the Plan. I couldn’t have followed the Plan unless I made the Plan. I couldn’t have made the Plan unless I had an objective.

Once the Plan kicks into action, if followed for a week at least, a consequence that arises is Momentum. You’ve reached a place where you feel you’re working, where you see quantifiable progress and you can plan ahead. Once you reach this point, you won’t feel like stopping.

Is it really necessary to have a break day, as in, Sunday? I found myself playing Computer games, but not really enjoying it and feeling guilty about not using the time to finish my work. The concept of having a Sunday as a day off isn’t really helping my conscience. I’d rather take smaller breaks between tasks than do them continuously and have large breaks. The problem is that it takes me time to get into the Flow state (and I’m guessing it does for everyone else), and having long breaks in between, breaks the flow. Also, generally I seem to be able to focus on a single task for not more than 45 minutes. We, as a humans, thrive on variety or uncertainty or chaos within the general order.

It helps to use the momentum gained during the week to continue working or at least do something else that will either contribute to the Plan or is a dominant interest. The mind wants to be engaged constantly. So it would be greatly satisfying to use it on tasks that serve the main life goals.

Whenever my interest in something wanes, I find it useful to take a short break of about 5 minutes and re-evaluate my task and the challenges I’m going to face. If I find it difficult, then I tend to look for easy solutions.

I’ve now realized that having the right amount of challenge is of paramount importance.

All our lives we strive for something more, taking up things that are mildly challenging and pursuing it until it is mastered, before moving on to something else. This highlights the innate need that we have, i.e. the feeling of having conquered everything. But at a given moment of time, there are an infinite number of things we can think of doing. And since we can’t do everything at once, we need to focus on doing one thing properly. If we accomplish that one thing, we feel different. We feel a little more than what we were. It’s for this one moment that we take up all these challenges.

So, is Life full of challenges? Or not? It seems to me like these are flip sides of the same coin. We seem to be hardwired to find challenges everywhere, a lot of the times when they aren’t even there. We even create our own challenges. But does it ever end? I’m guessing this question will either be answered by old and experienced people or at the time of death, when our life flashes before our eyes.

P.S. I’m guessing this is Life, not just our idea of Life, Life itself. Take plants for example. They manage to grow in every nook and cranny with minimal nutrition. Animals evolve over a period of time to overcome harsh climates. This is Life at its best. It is our very existence in the vast expanse of the universe.

If Life could have a motto, it would probably be “Defy all odds”

Expectation vs Reality

Hello and welcome, dear readers! Hope you had a great week.

Ever made a Plan, followed it dutifully and something went wrong after a while? What was your reaction to that? Stress? Diversion? Self-sabotage? Or try again? I know mine certainly hasn’t been the last one.

You were very diligently following your Plan and then suddenly someone offers help. You trust them and they seem helpful. After a while, they suddenly have to attend to something else and their part of your Plan obviously goes on the second priority. All this time you wait up for them to finish up their part so that you can finally finish the project. But with no fault of theirs your project gets hung up.

Isn’t it frustrating?

But come to think of it, in my case, I sort of expected my project would “magically” be over when they did their part. If I’d really thought about it, maybe I wouldn’t have just assumed it’s over and passed time. It was my fault to assume that someone would take a project that I consider as mine and finish it considering it was theirs.

This isn’t the first time it has happened. But I surely have noticed it. And I will not let it slip by me again. My mistake was that I expected everything to be smooth.

If it is one thing that people from all walks of life have said, it is this.

“Life is never easy. There will always be ups and downs”

But I’ve also heard this.

ups-and-downs-quote-6-picture-quote-1

Sort of makes sense, right? Every damn single thing that we do in our lives as a human is ridiculously cyclic in nature. For example,

Cycle 1: Daily routine

  • Wake up in the morning
  • Get ready
  • Go to work
  • Come back tired
  • Pass time
  • Go to bed
  • Repeat

Cycle 2: Self defeat

  • Come across a problem
  • Search for an easy way around it
  • Fail to find one
  • Give up
  • Move on to something else
  • Repeat

Cycle 3: Life cycle of all animals (humans included)

  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • Procreate
  • Die
  • Repeat

Cycle 4: Life cycle of Businesses & Civilizations

  • Birth
  • Growth and Maturation
  • Peak state / Golden Age
  • Decline
  • Death
  • Repeat(New one)

Cycle 5: Breath cycle

  • Diaphragm contracts[Diaphragm: The muscle that helps us breathe]
  • Lungs expand
  • Inhalation occurs
  • Diaphragm expands
  • Lungs contract
  • Exhalation occurs

If we live and breathe in cycles, then it could be a fair guess to assume that we make mistakes in cycles. It may sometimes be some genuine bad luck involved, but again for someone persistent it is just another challenge in the journey. They don’t see bad luck. Or good luck. All they see is the goal and the people, situations and decisions that would aid them to overcome obstacles.

The only uniqueness about us humans when we compare to other millions of species on this planet is our awareness. We can be conscious about everything we do. Yet we choose not to.

All right, maybe I’m doing ‘we’ too much?

Slowly but surely, I’m becoming aware about so many things I haven’t been aware about myself. I’ve noticed that if something interrupts my Plan, I tend to give up and not take responsibility for my actions. I settle for having an option to put the blame on. And when it happens, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. I get distracted and I repeat the whole “watching YouTube” cycle all over again.

I need to be more in the present.

Reduce pointless distractions just to see how much energy I have left.

Do what is required.

I mean all this applies to me. I’m not imposing this for any reader. But if you found yourself in a similar situation, what would you do? I could guess. But I’d rather know. So if you could, write them down in the comments below. On that note, see you next weekend. Happy weekend!

Getting the Pre-requisites in place

Hello again and welcome readers! As much a journey as it is for me, if it is helping you, dear reader, let me know through likes, comments or sharing. It would mean a ton to me. I’m aware that I’m not the only one in this world facing such problems. So if you feel the same way, please do let me know. I’d be motivated to work more on myself and this blog, to make sure what I put out is genuine and valuable rather than just do it for the sake of ‘some’ improvement in my life.

Last time I’d talked about a system that defined what “Hard Work” was. It’s a pretty good system with the exception that for someone who is used to spending time in movies and TV series, which seem to have so many life lessons, incorporating such a “sacrificial system” into the daily routine seems daunting. How do you let go of something that is actually valuable and might help in life? I say this because in every movie I watch, I almost always seem to take away something from it. I become the character I root for and feel everything that he/she feels. Well, almost. So how do I apply these to my life?

Applying these newly found principles requires the old habits to be gone so that space is created for them. To unlearn an old habit entails a constant and incessant awareness about one’s own thoughts and actions. That, my readers, is hard.

Here, I’d like to add that although it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, meditation helps in feeling more balanced and having more control in the face of temptation or distraction. I’d say that’s just me, but I think it’s worth a shot.

In our daily routine, we do so many things in unawareness. Waking up, getting ready, eating, getting to work, etc. are all activities we do every day without actually thinking about them. We do so because for such basic activities, our body automatically stores the required information in the muscle memory. This frees up thinking space for more important matters (or at least that which is perceived as more important). But in that process we are denying ourselves complete presence in a particular activity that could lead to feeling fulfilled.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when multi-tasking is necessary. But, when we focus on doing an activity solely and completely, by the end it feels like an achievement, however small it may be. So if at any time, we feel stressed, I believe it is mostly because of divided attention.

Quoting Tony Robbins,

“Where focus goes, energy flows”.

This proverb clearly explains to us where our power lies. When the only thing in our control is our focus, then we must be conscious about how we are using it. It is the very thing that decides the quality of our work and by extension, our life.

“What we choose to focus on will ultimately decide the quality of our lives.”

The very reason why magicians and mentalists have a career is because they know how normal minds work and they know how to play with our focus. It’s just that they play nice because of which we feel entertained. Even advertisements are designed in such a way as to keep your attention on them for as long as is possible. They give you information packaged with reassuring or beautiful or sexual imagery. They are using your inherent need for security, adventure and physical attraction in order to keep your focus on their ads.

Now if I have to sacrifice my entertainment for my work, I need the work to be of equal value in my mind. I am primarily motivated by the “Value to Life” factor. If what I do adds value to either my life or someone else’s life, I find it motivating to do.  If however, it is just meant for “being done” because of the situation I’m in, I don’t feel any drive towards it whatsoever.

Speaking of Drive, the different types of Drive are: –

HardWork_MotivationMatrix
Source: www.primermagazine.com

For the most part, I see my drive coming from the positive side. I do feel passionate and validated when I want to start an ambitious task.

So how do I give it up? And if I can’t seem to be able to give it up, how can I reduce the time devoted to it? The answer to this lies in the second step, the Plan, as was discussed in the last post.

Oh and here’s the infographic

MotivationInfographic

The car analogy that I had in my previous post took this form and it feels complete.

The Plan, or the body of the vehicle, holds everything together, so if the crucial nuts and bolts are either missing or loose, it will all fall apart.

Like fuel, The Drive is in limited supply and will have to be refuelled at some point. I’d say it should be done immediately after waking up. Doing or listening to something that refuels our Drive is essential to having the impetus to Grind.

The Grind is like the engine of a car. It uses the Drive-fuel in order to supply power to the wheels to move and keep moving forward.

The Sacrifice is the friction between the wheels and the ground, much like the friction that we feel in our minds when we are supposed to give up something that we value. The more the friction that the tyre bears, the more will be the grip on the road at higher speeds and the lesser will be the chance of spiraling out of control.

The Payoff would be the momentum that we acquire in due time. And like the engine needs to keep going for the momentum to be sustained, we need to keep Grinding in order for the Payoff to be consistent.

So what was the point of this post?

It was to know what is the crucial step is to let go of the past habits.

“The crucial step is to sit down and make the Plan.”

I thank you readers, if you have reached all the way down here. Obviously, I’m writing all this as I’m discovering it. So I’m off to making my Plan. If you like this, if you find it helpful in any way, or even if there are any flaws, please let me know in the comments section below. And see you next week.

5 NOT SO EASY steps of Hard Work

Hello again and welcome, readers! If you are here, it means you have taken out time from your life to read this. I sincerely thank you for that.

So last time I’d discussed about what I thought about “Hard Work”. Today, I’m going to briefly summarize a very elaborate blog post on “Hard Work in 5 easy steps: Understanding Perseverance in the Modern Age”, published in the website www.primermagazine.com and written by Jack Busch.

The very first line of the post says, “Hard Work isn’t physical, it’s emotional”. This line brings into light what we perceive as ‘hard’ when we do the ‘work’.

Most successful people have probably given advice like, “Work hard and you can achieve anything” when asked how someone else might do it. The problem with this though is that it is a vague definition. If for one person it might be giving relationships a wide berth, for another it might be the sacrifice of a secure source of income. Also, if someone goes to work at 9:00 a.m. and returns by 7:00 p.m., and comes home tired and frustrated, it might feel as if they are working hard. This definition is flawed in the way that it relies on comparing yourself with others who most probably have a different routine or with themselves when they had a less taxing routine.

It would be hard work if, apart from doing what we are supposed to do, we find time to do more. For example, a father coming home after a laborious day at work and the physical exertion of travel, to warmly greet his wife and children could probably amount to working hard.

But what is he sacrificing here?” you could say.

He would be sacrificing his urge to complain and rest in order to interact with them and complete the family with his presence. And if the child is a toddler, he probably wouldn’t have a sound sleep. Better yet, imagine if the same routine was to be followed by a mother. I think we could agree that that would be it. That is clearly a superhuman task.

So let’s look at the 5 steps.

In Busch’s own words,

  1. The Drive– This is the motivation, the inspiration, the entire reason you work hard. This is the engine that pushes your efforts forward.
  2. The Plan– If The Drive is the heart of your hard work, then the plan is the skeleton. The plan maps out your course of action and helps plot your progress and keep you on track.
  3. The Grind– The Grind is the point when working hard stops being fun and exciting and starts becoming tedious, stressful and perhaps even discouraging. How you handle the grind is often what separates the winners from the quitters.
  4. The Sacrifice– This is the crux of hard work, and the one thing that makes hard work truly hard. Any ambitious goal requires significant personal sacrifice. Enduring the strain in your relationships, finances and comfort level is the real test.
  5. The Payoff– This is the brass ring. In order for hard work to be worthwhile, you have to define a number of goals and milestones and recognize when you’ve achieved them. And once you do, you have to up the ante and keep going.

So at least I was on point with The Sacrifice.

Jack went on further to elaborate each point, but I’ll keep it short.

The Drive or the Motivation can be classified based on whether it is positive or negative and on whether it is internal or external. I will shortly post an infographic image showing the same. This is an important component because it gets us started on our goals. It helps us bypass the phase of inertia, initially.

The Plan, as described, is the skeleton. This is one of the crucial pillars of Hard Work because unless we have a plan, we won’t have a direction to move forward in. Having a plan makes the work involved, quantified. It helps in setting achievable goals. In the past, the mistake I’d made a lot of times was in this step; I made my plan and started executing but quickly burned out and gave up. The mistake was that I’d set impossible goals for myself, goals that I couldn’t possibly have accomplished in the set time frame.

The Grind is the second most important component of the process. The result of following even just this step can lead to developing skills that can’t be rivalled easily. Even if we practice doing what our goal requires us to do without actually working towards our goal, we’ll get halfway there. The other half is The Plan. This is probably what Will Smith calls, ‘A Sickening Work Ethic’.

Considering a car for analogy, if the Drive is the fuel, the Plan is the body, and the Grind is the engine, then the Sacrifice could be considered as the friction between the tyres and the concrete that makes the car move forward. Greater the sacrifice, greater will be the friction and keep the vehicle from skidding out of control at high speeds. The first three steps will enable to reach a general achievable level of success. But it’s the Sacrifice that will truly challenge us to the maximum of our capabilities and reveal to us what we really are capable of doing.

True hard work has a disruptive effect on your life, which is exactly the intended effect”, i.e. it takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to grow.

Also, it is “the act of surrendering something of value for the sake of a greater purpose”.

Finally, the part of success that everyone tends to focus on, The Payoff. This is the step where celebration is due. Whenever a big task is ticked off of your checklist or an important milestone has been reached, it is essential that we celebrate. A celebration doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be a party. It could be as simple as doing something that calms your nerves or something that makes you peaceful, if not happy. It could even be just a powerful and loud “Yessss!!!!” with fists raised in the air.

Celebration can mean different things for different people, but it is important to recognize that it shouldn’t be some activity that would derail you from your plan and cause you to lose the momentum built up in reaching there. Celebration is required because in that moment we acknowledge the progress we’ve made and give ourselves permission to feel proud in knowing that the Hard Work and Sacrifice has paid off.

If you, the reader, have come all the way to the bottom of this post, I can’t say enough how thankful I am. This is not only for you, but also my journey of discovering what works and what doesn’t. Also, that doesn’t mean that I’m doing all this flawlessly. I do make mistakes and have occasional slip ups. But I keep reverting back to the Plan. So thank you for sticking with me.

In a day’s time, I’ll be posting an infographic, attempting to connect the steps and concepts discussed in this post. Until then, see you later.