Category Archives: Self help

Writing goals to achieve

Writing goals is the first step towards committing yourself to achieving them. While mentally setting a goal is fine, writing your goal is best as it becomes a sort of formal commitment document that you make to yourself, which is next best to making it to somebody else. This exercise helps bring in more accountability towards achieving the goal. When you commit to your boss “Yes, I will do it by such and such date”, you become accountable to your boss on the commitment made. Writing your goal tries to
bring in the same commitment into your personal goal setting. It then boils down to how seriously you take yourself.

So  here is how to write goals:

  1. Exibit strong intent. The first thing to remember about a goal is that it is positive statement of intent, hence it should be written like that. The intent manifests as a power of your will, so you should always begin your goals with ‘I will ..’. It should not be merely written as an act of doing something, such as, ‘Declutter the cupboards every weekend’. Rather write ‘I will declutter the cupboards every weekend’. The second statement is much more powerful than the first, by virtue of the words ‘I will’.
  2. Be specific, to the extent that you are able to identify when you have achieved you goal. “I will achieve better health” is not a specific goal as there is no clear cut identification  when your goal can be said to be accomplished. Rather write “I will develop ability to run for 5 miles”.
  3. Put an appropriate deadline to your goal. It is said ‘Work expands to fill the time allocated to finish it’. So if you give more time to finish a particular goal you will end up eating that extra time as well, as the sense of urgency which an appropriately defined deadline brings in will not be there. And if you don’t time bound your goal at all, you can understand what awaits your goal.

Some examples of correctly written goals:

1. I will loose 5 pounds by 31st December 2009.

2. I will achieve over 90% marks in board exams.

8 ways to find happiness

Everyone wants to find happiness in life.  But it would be good to understand happiness as a way of living your life rather than an end to achieve. For if you associate your happiness to just a few achievements in your life, then you are  letting go the enormous  number of opportunities that come to you every minute. So if you are in pursuit of happiness, here is my not so secret list of things to make everyone happy.

1. Healthy mind and body: Health is wealth. One cannot enjoy life if one is not healthy, and health here does not mean physical health alone, it also means a healthy mind. A healthy mind should not be cluttered, confused, jealous, bitter, angry and so on. So it is better to be organised,  forgiving, not compare yourself with others and such things.

2. Do things you enjoy: Identify and list things that bring you joy. These are things you already do and you know they bring you happiness. Cooking a dish of your choice, gardening, going for swim, dinner with friends, or just listening to music of choice with your eyes closed. 
3. Develop new interests: New things are exiting, they help you develop a new perspective, provide a different experience, helps build confidence. Evaluate what other things you can try your hand at and if you like, jump into it.

4. Healthy relationships: The biggest cause of all unhappiness is differences we have with other people. A few things you can do here are, to forgive, to forget, or work to mend the the differences. Though these things are easier said than done, but trying is the only hope.

5. Work should be fun:Work is big part of our lives, make sure that you enjoy your work and your workplace. Unlike your family which you cannot change, work is something that you can make a     choice about. Though recession is not the right time to experiment with your job, but it is a good idea when you can afford to, to find the right job and the right workplace for yourself.

6. Help others: You must have helped others in the past, think how you felt then. It is natural to feel happy to help others in need, do it more often, it helps improve your self worth.

7. Live in the present moment: Somebody said ‘Life happens to you when you are planning for other things’.  People who live in the present moment are happier than those who live in the past or future. Children, the happiest of the lot live in present, they immediately forget the fights they have amongst themselves and start playing again.

8. Lastly, promise you will always be happy: Be determined, make a promise to your self, come what may, you will always be happy, you will fight all odds smiling, if god wants to test you, so be it.

Setting realistic goals

Someone said ‘Aim for the stars and maybe you will reach the sky’. While it is good to be ambitious one should always remain realistic. Having strech goals is fine, infact it is good to have goals which test your limits, but after giving a good thought to your goals you should feel confident about achieving them.
 So how do we set goals which are realistic. In order to set realistic goals, a proper evaluation of the current situation, the desired result, the assumptions taken, the environmental constraints, all should be taken into consideration.  And here is what we can do.

Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses : Figure out how you will leverage your strenghts and how you will overcome your shortcomings so that you are able to achieve your goal. Put your plans on paper and ensure they are realistic and not overly optimistic.

Evaluate the constrints : Every goal is bound by constraints of time and resources. You can only spend as much time on your goals as is permitted by your personal and work life. Your expenditure on your goal is also limited by the amount of resources you can risk on your goal. Analyse how much time your goal will need and how much time you can create for the goal. See to it that your resource needs for the goal is not more than what you generate or risk.

Watch for risks : Do a risk analysis, and prepare a list of risks which can derail your march to achieving your goal successfully. For each risk, have a mitigation plan and a contingency plan in place.

Evaluate environmental factors : Evaluate if your family, friends or society will in any way hinder your work towards your goal. If yes, then what can you do to either overcome it or somehow bypass it, so that it poses no searious threat to your achievement of the goal.

Having taken care of the above will make you feel confident about achieving your goal which is the most important thing you would need to begin working on your goal.

The rubik cube experience

An urdu poet once said ‘kabhi kisi ko mukkamal jahan nahin milta’ meaning, nobody gets a world which is complete with all one wishes for. Well, is this not something that keeps each one of us going, if we already had everything we wished for what would we be working towards, life would cease to be exciting. How we address each day is really a function of the distance we are from what we think is our complete world, the ‘mukkamal jahan’.
       A couple of days back I had been to my sister’s place. My nephew was playing with the rubik cube, trying to solve it. I have never played with one, forget about solving it. When he was done playing with it, I grabbed the opportunity to put the cubes in place. It was quite a frustrating experience, but with some persistence I was able to have one of the sides of the cube in the same color. But I knew that the game is not about solving one side of the cube, but solving the whole cube, and I also knew that in an effort to solve the other sides of it, I would loose the one side I was able to solve. I could correlate the situation to our lives, where each one of us was trying to get to our perfectly solved rubik cubes. Where an attempt to set one thing straight invariably affected something else, being successful professionally  meant sacrificing the time and attention our family needed, our health needed.
      But I know that rubik cubes can be solved, some people can solve it in less that 30 seconds. They know the algorithms, which help solve the problem, they know the order in which to proceed. So are their some algorithms to solve some of our life’s problems too. Well, life is much more complex than a rubik cube and there may not be some straight forward algorithms to get to any easy solutions. But one thing that we can learn from a rubik cube is that we cannot expect to solve it in a haphazard way. That way we will keep on trying without ever solving the problem. We will end up in frustration, reaching no better place than where we started from. There have to be some algorightms, some methods, specific to each one of us to reach somewhere better than where we are, somewhere closer to our mukkamal jahan. The only way for us is to find our algorithms and give up our haphazard ways.

8 things to help you become an early riser

Getting up early in the morning has its benefits, the extra time early in the day provides an opportunity to prepare well to take on the  rest of the day. But today’s life style has made it difficult for many to avail of this benefit. But if at all you are interested to get up early, here are some things that may help you get up early.

1. The preparation of getting up early starts a day before. First thing is about food. Having a light meal at night helps you have a good nights sleep. It is also important that you have your meals at least a couple of hours before you hit the bed. If you have slept well, you will wake up refreshed and energized. Dinner should be the lightest of all meals of the day.

2. Get up at the same time every morning, but sleep only when you feel like going to sleep. But ensure that you avoid activities such as  watching TV, internet browsing or other things of interest to you, as this interest will make you sit up when you should be going to bed.

3. Know how much sleep you need and get that much sleep everyday. Sleeping less will make you feel drained, your mind will not be   fresh and chances are you will end up having a dull day. Some such people feel very energised at night instead, creating a bad sleep cycle.

4. Don’t keep the alarm at an arms length where you can shut it immediately and continue, instead ensure that it is at such a distance that you have to get up and shut it. Once on your feet, dont let any thoughts come to your mind, switch of your mind and go wash your face.

5. Have a early morning routine of things to do. Early morning is a good time to exercise, taking a walk or jogging, something that you want to do. Try and make this schedule interesting and joyful. This should make you look forward to getting up early, something you will miss if you don’t do.

6. Our body clocks are synchronised with the movement of the sun, if possible look at the sun just for a few seconds when it is rising, NOT when it has already risen, then it may be harmful to your eyes because of the UV rays.

7. Exercise regularly. There are two more benefits of exercising apart from a well built body. One, you enjoy your meals, two, you have a good nights sleep.

8. Keep your worries at bay once you are on your bed. Stress and worry are enemies of sleep, deliberately tell yourself that you will not like to think now and will take on things next day. Thank god for everything, do a small prayer if possible, it will help you relieve stress.

Hope some of it helps someone.

Overcome procrastination, NOW is the time.

Many people have the habit of putting things off for another day. Though sometimes it is necessary for us to re-plan things, but when such things happen for no good reason then it is time for us to evaluate whether we too are mildly afflicted by the habit of procrastination. Below is my take on why we procrastinate, how this habit impacts us and what we can do to overcome it.

Why we procrastinate

  • A number of people have the tendency to not do things until their priority changes from normal to urgent, we are used to taking things lightly.
  • Some of us are plain simple forgetful, so when there is time and opportunity to finish the task we are doing something else, wasteful or otherwise.
  • Sometimes that little hitch to do a task which has some level of difficulty or unpleasantness to it makes us put off the task for some other day. We are not the ones who take challenges head on and be done and over with.


How it affects us

  • When we have more things on our mind  that have to be done, it generally increases anxiety. This also affects our focus on the task we are onto affecting our performance.
  • We may miss opportunities, pay penalties in case we put things off till such time that the opportunity of doing the thing is lost.  Also when we do things at the last minute, it does not bring out the best in us, leading to a job not done even to our own satisfaction.
  • It creates a poor impression in case we are generally seen as a procrastinator.
  • It takes more time in managing tasks than would otherwise be required had we done the task at the earlies rather than put it off.


How to overcome procrastination

  • Realize that you have a tendency to procrastinate that you would like to do away with hence will take further actions in that direction.  Set it as your goal and then try and follow some of the things listed below as applicable to you.
  • When evaluating a task for scheduling, ask what is the next earliest opportunity for you to do that task, instead of thinking that there is still a lot of time before it really needs to be done. Schedule the task immediately for such a date and time
  • If you are forgetful, use to do lists and schedule your tasks before they slip out of you mind. Ensure that you prioritize tasks as per their importance and urgency. Ensure not to re-prioritize the tasks more than twice.
  • Planning personal tasks is a passive activity as compared to actually doing them. People who generally suffer from lethargy would find it difficult to overcome procrastination as their body and mind are not active enough to get into action. Such people will have to start two steps earlier by first setting their mind body system in place by leading an active life style.

So, lets not put off attacking procrastination to some other day, lets do it right away, set it as your goal. All the best.