How to simplify your life

We’re living in a well connected world with a faster change in life in all areas. Everyday, our life is becoming more complex than before. We have increasing expectations at work, in personal life, and in society. In addition to it, many of us are hankering to get more results and happiness from our life. Many of us wish to be increasingly more productive everyday, to get more things done within a least amount of time and effort. But the reality is that we all have limited time (just 24 hours) in a day.

At work, there is a constant need to continuously learn and perform. For example, if you’re a computer programmer, there is a need to continuously improve your development skills. It’s similar for any role in the technology industry. Technologies are changing on a faster pace with the continuous innovation. Also, as we grow in our career, we have expectations of more advanced skills at work, that needs acquiring skills beyond the current knowledge base. For example, a senior developer may be expected to learn more about company’s overall technical architecture. On one hand, new technologies are ever more complex. On the other hand, businesses have a need to continuously innovate, to stay relevant and dynamic in the market.

In personal life, we all have expectations from each other in the family, friends, or society. For example, if you’re a father of a 3-year old kid, you may desire to spend as much as possible with your kid. When you spend less time, you may feel guilty of not doing enough. Similarly, if the society expects you to participate in a social cause and you’re unable to spend enough time, you may again feel guilty of not doing your part for the society. In addition to expectations of others, many of us have high expectations from ourselves, with an eagerness to be more productive, to increase our self-worth.

Question is, how we manage our life with so many expectations, needs, and desires? An initial step to simplifying life is to define your focus areas, goals, actions, and avoid distractions.

Define your focus areas:

Define what’s important for you to live a wholehearted complete life. Ask yourself what are all things you want to do in your life. In the beginning, it may be a long list of items to do. By spending more time to reflect on it, you may categorize them into areas. Your selected focus areas must include all aspects of your life, to live a wholehearted life. For example, you may want to earn money for your living, spend time with your family, and take care of your health. Deciding our focus areas help us to assess the priority in the moment and say no to anything else. When we’re overwhelmed with many things to do, we can take a step back, and remind ourselves about our focus areas. Defining focus areas bring the clarity of actions. It also help us to understand how much time we can spend in each focus areas, in the order of importance. For example, below are my focus areas:

  • Spiritualism: it defines who I am, what I want to do in my life, and how will I do it. It is to understand what are my personal mission, vision, and values. For example, my core value is service. I want to serve others, to add value to their lives. To link all focus area together, let’s use the analogy of a tripod stool, with a base and its three essential legs. Spiritualism is the base of my tripod stool analogy.
  • Fitness: it includes my physical health, mental health, and a well-balanced diet. Without fitness, I can’t perform my desired activities. In the analogy of a tripod, fitness is the first essential leg.
  • Family and friends: it is to gain and provide the support from and to my family and friends. As Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal.” We all want to love others and being loved by others. We all want a support system of people. In my tripod analogy, this is the second essential leg.
  • Finance: it’s critical to plan for financial needs. For me, money is not the end goal; it’s a means to fulfill the needs of my life. In my tripod analogy, this is the third essential leg. To earn money in a meaningful way, we must find out what we are good at doing naturally. For example, if you’re good in understanding technologies, defining technology vision, and working with people, you may wish to get a job as an engineering leader.

Blend all-together when possible: Try to blend your focus areas with each other, as much as possible because blending it makes it easier to follow and relate it to your complete life experience. It’s like keeping a tripod stool as one wooden product, with its essential legs linked strongly with its base. For example, this is how I have my focus areas blended. In spiritualism area, I practice my core value, service. In all focus areas, I intend to serve. For finance, I work as a technology leader. As a technology leader, I am contributing to people’s lives, by creating technical solutions to their problems. I contribute to the family and friends by taking care of them, by sharing what I know, and help them succeed in their lives. By focusing on my fitness, I am helping myself, my family, and friends. Without staying fit, I won’t be able to serve anyone.

Let’s take another example. Suppose your focus areas are family, society, finance, and fitness. Suppose you have a family owned business of yoga classes. Then, all your focus areas are well-blended. In this business, you’re spending more time together as a family. You contribute to the society by training others on yoga classes. You earn your living with this business of yoga classes. You stay fit by doing yoga, while training others on it.

Define goals:

We defined focus areas. Next, we want to define goals for each defined focus areas. To make progress on your focus areas, define your life-time, long-term (5-year), 1-year, 1-month, 1-week, and even a 1-day goals for each focus area. For example, for finance area, you may find below questions valuable for your time-bound goals:

  • Life-time: for my life-time, how much money your family and you need, for all expenses like retirement, kids education, vacation plans, housing expenses, etc? Define what’s your life expectancy? Define when do you expect major expenses and how much money is required for each such expense?
  • 5-year: what are upcoming expenses in 5-year roadmap and how much money you need for it? Find out how a 5-year roadmap makes a difference to a life-time financial need. How do you plan to earn and save to reach this milestone? Is your current earning plan enough to meet the needs? If not, what changes you plan to make, to meet your financial needs? Some examples of changes could be to increase your business, to get a higher salary job, or to plan for a side hustle.
  • 1-year: how much earnings and savings are required in this year to achieve your 5-year milestones?
  • 1-month: how much you need to earn and save this month, to achieve the yearly goal?
  • 1-week: how much you need to earn and save this week, to achieve the monthly savings goal?
  • 1-day (today): what actions today will help achieve my weekly savings goal? For example, should I avoid having at least one meal outside and cook at home, to save money just for today’s goal?

Plan for actions with a schedule:

So far, we identified our focus areas and long-term & short-term roadmaps to work on tasks on focus areas. Next, it’s the time to think about a more focused time window, to actually perform actions. For some tasks, an yearly or a monthly time period makes more sense. For example, you may want to plan for a yearly long-distance vacation, three mid-distance quarterly vacations, and a weekly short-distance vacation (on weekends). Though, for some tasks, a year or a month is a good time duration, a week is still a good timeframe to plan for and validate tasks in all focus areas. To achieve anything in life in the future (tomorrow), it’s critical to define what actions you will perform today and at what time. For example, here is a sample time allocation for my focus areas for a week, with the planned actions for today and at expected time:

  • Spiritualism: I try to focus 15 minutes daily on meditation when I wake up. During the day, I try to be aware of my spirituality, whenever possible. That helps me to focus on my life and it helps me to avoid moments of slipping in the grip of ego. On weekends, specially on Sundays, I prefer more time on this area (like read books, visit places, etc.), to strengthen my belief and continuously discover who I am.
  • Fitness: I try to spend about 30 minutes every day on fitness. During weekdays, it’s after the work. During weekends, it’s afternoon. For the type of fitness activities, I try to follow the weekly CDC health guideline of doing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities and 2 days of muscle strengthening activities.
  • Family and friends: I try spending around 2 hours everyday with my family. It’s planned in the morning and after the work hours. On a weekly basis, I attempt to call or meet my friends and extended family members, to know how they’re doing, and how we can help each other in anyway possible. An example of a help could be to just listen to someone’s problems with empathy and without judgement.
  • Finance: Define how much time you want to allocate to this area. Defining the time window helps to avoid working on it more than required. To be productive and relevant at work, define how you will spend your day at work. Thinking to act on more than one item at a time doesn’t work; it could cause anxiety and restlessness. So, work on one task at a time in the order of importance. For example, my friend, who’s a programmer, allocates 9 hours every weekday for the work. In these 9 hours in the weekday, he plans to work on his assigned tasks with the order of business priority. In addition to it, he always seeks opportunities to build relationships. He also tries to attend at least one training every year, to upgrade his skills. If that training needs a commitment for an entire week, he plans to take time off from work activities, so that he’s not working after work hours because that may negatively impact other focus areas.

Plan for unplanned: There is a possibility that something may show up unplanned. Planning for unplanned tasks is equally important. Plan for a few hours in the week for the unplanned tasks. For example, reserving 5 hours on weekends help to mitigate the risk of managing an unplanned task. If unplanned tasks doesn’t show up in the week, you may utilize those 5 hours for a waiting to-do list item, or use it as a free-will time.

Plan for ad-hoc needs: Also, on ad-hoc basis, you may need additional time to focus more on one activity within your focus area. It could be a weekly meditation plan or a need to learn a new skill that needs complete weekly 40 hours. Can you fit those within your busy week? The brief answer is No. You can’t “find” time on a regular weekday because it doesn’t exist. Accepting this reality of time limitation helps avoiding stress and anxiety. If you plan to find time for one outstanding task, other areas could be impacted, which is not good for the wholehearted living. If you need more time in a week for a particular area, find alternatives. For example, to join a week-long full 5-days meditation program, take time off from work.

Avoid distractions:

Now as we defined our focus areas of life, we need to stay focused on these, by avoiding distractions. Clarity in life helps to focus on right things at the right time. Many times, we wish for many things, but those are different from our needs. Many of us dream to become “something bigger” or “uniquely famous.” Whenever your mind wanders and distracts you from your already defined focus areas, question yourself to assess your thinking. Whenever you have a need or a wish for a new task, assess if it fits within your defined focus areas and defined goals. Assess a new want against your mission, vision, and core values.

Here are some examples of some common desires categories that needs a constant assessment:

  • Money: You may want to become the world’s richest person. Assess this desire with your mission, vision, and core values. Assess how it fits within our focus areas and goals. If you have a focus area of finance, you have already decided how much money you need for your financial needs for the lifetime. Assess how earning more than required helps in any of your defined areas. If not, it seems like a desire of ego to become something bigger or someone special, without a reality.
  • Fame: You may want to become famous. Assess this desire with your mission, vision, and core values. Assess how it fits within our focus areas and goals. For example, if you like writing and want to contribute in the world, to help others, assess the impact of people’s life with your writing, instead of becoming famous with 10K followers on social media. The desire to becoming a top follower is ego’s drama. Whereas, creating and sharing best articles of your life could be related to a focus area, to help others.
  • Respect: You may want to be most respected person in the world. Assess this desire with your mission, vision, and core values. Assess how it fits within our focus areas and goals. Instead of becoming the most respected person in the world, you want to ensure an environment of mutual respect for each other.

To know more deeper about human life, learn about body, mind, and ego. Learn why mind wanders, why it compares, and how to deal with it. In addition to unlimited desires, we may also be trapped in demands by others. Before saying yes to any request from anyone, assess how it fits your focus areas. If it doesn’t fit, say no. If required, read trustworthy books about how to say no to others, when you don’t want to say yes.

What’s next:

Simplifying the life is an important key skill, to avoid being overwhelmed, and living a wholehearted life. It’s the skill that takes time to learn and practice. Bringing clarity in life helps to plan for tasks that are feasible within the given limited lifetime. Decide what’s important for you in the life and act on it, with careful planning and actions. While making the progress, plan to reflect on the journey. You may decide a periodic self-reflections of weeks, months, quarters, and the year. In addition to it, getting feedback from others on your journey is equally valuable. It needs a continuous self-discovery and a desire to get feedback from others about yourself. Refer to the Johari window about knowing yourself. As you learn and grow, make required corrections to the journey.

Finding and doing the work we love

In this article, we’ll discuss how to find and do the work that is more joyful to us.

Why to find the work we love:

When we do the work we love, work is more enjoyable. The best work is possible when we find the joy in doing it. To find the joy in what we do, it’s important to be who we are. That’s when we can be the best at what we do. If someone likes playing a sport and is completely engaged in it, playing that sport does not seem to be the task that needs efforts. Finding the joy is important to succeed in what we do.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Why not to be driven by goals:

“When you want to arrive at your goal more than you want to be doing what you’re doing, you become stressed.” – Eckhart Tolle

As Eckhart Tolle suggests, the real joy is being in the present moment. When we’re chasing a goal, we’re waiting for the next moment in that we wish to be happier. That next moment of happiness may be in the next moment. And waiting for the next step may continue. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan. If we love doing something, we live in that moment to do the best work of our lives. Future is built today and in this moment. If we’re driven to achieve the next career position, we’re bound to assess our efforts required to achieve that next position. On the other hand, if we’re inspired with doing our job well, we experience the joy of doing it. For example, I have a friend who is driven from getting a promotion at work. As his next promotion is delayed, he’s upset and feels less valued. He feels that his efforts are not appreciated. And perhaps it may demotivate him to do the best work when his goals and ambitions of getting a promotion are not fulfilled. I’ve another friend who is driven from doing the task for the joy of doing it. She loves mentoring people to perform their jobs to the best they can. She loves taking initiatives. She is not concerned about the next promotion at work. Even when she’s not at work, she loves improving her leadership skills because that’s what she loves to do. She works with the integrity, not because someone is watching her doing the right thing. She does it because doing the leadership work is natural to her. She does it because that’s what she believes she is born to do.

How to find the work we love:

To find out the work we enjoy, find out what we’d do if we’re not paid for it? What is it that’s not the “work” for us? For example, if you like writing, would you still write even if no one reads it, no one appreciates it, and no one pays for it? It may sound very challenging to accept. The deep meaning here is to seek internal happiness in doing the tasks for the joy of doing it. When you do that task, are you in the present moment? Continue searching the natural flow of the tasks you find effortless and natural to you. It may not happen soon. If you already know it, you would know the value of it. If you don’t, it’s a journey to search that natural joyful work for us. For example, someone may like delivering presentations. It may seem easy and natural to this person. The same task could be daunting to another person who feels writing code is natural to him or her. Here are a few steps that may help finding the work you enjoy:

  • Make a journal of your daily activities at work.
  • Is there anything that you wish to do and not getting an opportunity to do it?
  • Is there any task that you enjoy more than other?
  • Would you like to do more of what you enjoy?
  • Would you like to do more what you love even if you’re not paid for it? For example would you like to volunteer doing the task you love?
  • Can you try creating space and opportunities to increase the enjoyable tasks?
  • Step by step, move your career towards the tasks you love.

Next, doing the work we love:

If found what we love, the next step is to detach ourselves from the results of it. Why is it important? When we feel attached to a task that we do well, there is a probability to create ego. It can also create a spiral of actions and reactions. A higher level of consciousness could be to consider ourselves as the actor who’s performing the tasks for the sake of doing it, as if we are born to do it. A flower’s nature is to blossom, without any expectation in the return. In the longer term, such a natural approach helps to stay out of judgement, comparisons, and external motivations. For example, if a Leader loves to inspire others doing the great work, he or she is always finding ways to influence others doing the best work of their lives. No expectation doesn’t mean not demanding the right salary or value of the skills. The meaning here is to excel beyond the monetary benefits, without compromise on demanding the right value.

“Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for it.” – Katharine Whitehorn

When we love what we do, work is a joy. If we don’t yet know what we truly love, it’s a pleasant journey to search for it. This journey is worth spending time. Take a little step today to know what you love the most out of all the tasks at work. Step by step, find the way to do more of what you love. At the time of retirement, when you look back, you’d love yourself for this journey.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

How to make current job more fulfilling

Are you losing interest in your current job? Do you feel perhaps changing it will bring more happiness? Before you go further with stronger steps, what if you re-evaluate your situation? Is it really the job you less like or something else within the job that needs adjustments? Let’s review some steps on how we can make our current job more meaningful:

  • Know why behind the job you’re in: Understand why you’re in this job. Is it your financial responsibility that’s bringing you to the work every day? Why did you choose this line of work? Does it relate to your interests?
  • Is there anything that is lacking in the current job? Evaluate reasons what can increase the engagement at work. What growth perspective you’d like to focus on? Is it more salary? Is it the increase in the impact to the people or business you support? Is it the technology/skills you use at work? Here’s a quick trick to evaluate. Would you prefer to continue doing the work you do, if:
    • You’re offered 2 times the current salary or
    • You’re offered a promotion or
    • You’re offered to increase your business impact or
    • You’re offered to work with more people or
    • You’re offered to switch to use different technology/skills
  • Evaluating it would help to increase the engagement. If we find out that we should move for a better option, we should plan for it. Sometimes, we find out that we’re already in a great environment. For example, a friend of mine was not engaged at work. After the analysis, he realized that given two times the salary, he’d continue working at the same place with the same set of people, supporting the same business. So, there was nothing wrong in his current job except a low pay situation. He decided to explore if he’s really paid low. The reality was that he’s reasonably paid. His comparison of low-pay was also somewhat unreasonable. Sometimes, it’s our comparison, judgement, and other such inner-enemies that cause us distress. Sometimes some people have a feeling that we’re not doing enough or we’re simply not happy where we are. After the realization, he’s now focusing on his current job with a desire to increase his impact. Another person in a similar situation found out that he can get a better salary outside. He planned to move to a better paying job.
  • What’s the minimum required from you at work: Make a list of minimum required expectations from you at work. How knowing the minimum required expectations help? Many times, we’re overwhelmed and lost with many demands at work. Sometimes, it becomes confusing to navigate the day at work successfully. Making a list of minimum required tasks provides us the clarity of expectations. For example, if someone is a software developer at work, they can write minimum required tasks as:
    • Prime tasks like driving projects A, B, and, C. Write down what’s the minimum required expectation for each project.
    • Supporting tasks: update on progress every week, month, and quarter. What does it means? How much times does it require every week?
    • Trainings: are there any mandatory trainings that you have to attend?
  • After making a list of minimum required tasks, plan your time at work to first address these tasks. In my experience, I noticed that many times, ambiguous situations and confusions take up a lot of time. Without the clarity of minimum required tasks, we maybe wasting time. After a certain time, we start being overwhelmed with many things undone.
  • Look at the bigger picture of your current job. Let’s look at three areas to evaluate it:
    • People: how are your work relationships with people? Do you feel connected with people at work? Can you make friends at work to share your life and listen to their life situations? Connecting with people at work can make the work more interesting. Also, knowing that you’re not alone in life’s common challenges can help to find mentor support. For example, a friend found that his colleague also has interest in writing. What if he and his colleague can find moments in the day to share their writing content?
    • Business: what business does your job supports? What’s the bigger picture of it? For example, are you in an IT development job? What social cause your company support? If it’s a public company, what is the sector of your company’s stock? How your work impacts the society? When we relate our work with a larger cause, it could help in bringing the engagement.
    • Technology/Skills: What skills do you need, to perform your current job? What are your areas of expertise? How valuable are those skills in the outside market? Is there any skill that other would like to learn from you? If you’re interested in mentoring others, would you like to mentor someone at work? Is there any particular skill you’d like to learn more at work?
  • Plan for periodic leaves. Sometimes, we feel that we have no choice other than going to the same work every week. Taking leaves helps us to reflect upon life. If it’s feasible, plan for a longer leave, like a week. If you’re free without any work tasks, what do you feel to do? For example, my one friend likes learning about technologies even when he’s out of the work. He’s naturally inclined towards technologies. By taking leaves, he realized that even if he doesn’t need a job for his financial needs, he’d like to write programs in his free time. He realized that it’s not the work type that he wants to change. Sometimes, he’s overwhelmed at work. So, the solution is to find out how can he prioritize his work so he can set the right expectations.
  • Plan for continuous evaluations: Plan for a periodic evaluation to assess where you’re. If you’re interested in something else, keep pivoting from the current situations. For example, after a decade of experience in a technical skills set, if you’re interested in moving to a new skills set, start planning for a steady move.

I’d love to know yours feedback on it. Thank you.

Do the job or a business that you want

It’s for working professionals who are searching passion and fulfillment in their work. Most of the people at work are not engaged. There could be many reasons for not loving what you do. One of the effective ways to be engaged at work is to really understand what you love to do and find a way to make it happen. Let’s discuss some basic steps to know what you love to do and how to get there to your dream job or a business.

How to find what you want to do:

For years, I’ve been observing people engagement at work. For many people, it might be difficult to understand what they love to do. After reading many articles, I believe below basic steps can help to know what we really want to do. Here they are:

  • If you have enough money for your life and dependents, what work or a business would you still like to do for free?
  • If no one is observing you on your performance, what would you do for a day?
  • If you’re a social worker, what would you love to do to help others for free?
  • If you are attracted to anyone’s job or a business, what is that job or a business? In other words, who do you see as successful in their lives?

For example, if I have no money expectation with the work and no concern of my social image, I’ll do these activities:

  1. I am a seeker. I want to understand who we are and why are we on earth?
  2. I love making connections. I love understanding people. It attracts me to know what inspires people, what are the difficulties in their lives, and what do they want to do in their life.
  3. I can’t stop knowing how technology is continuously changing and enabling people’s lives.

How to do the the work you love to do:

At first, we discussed noting down what we want to do. The next step is to find a way to get the job or business you want. Here are few steps that I found effective:

  1. Write an as-is and a to-be plan: Write down what you do in your current/as-is job or a business. Write down a to-be/dream job or a business plan.
  2. Plan high-level steps: Once you found what you want to do, do not change or quit your job immediately. Instead, find out small changes that you can make to your current job or business towards your dream job or business. Plan for small steps at a time on a consistent way. To build the consistency of efforts, read my article here. This article is about learning. It gives an insight on finding time in your weekdays consistently.
  3. Know about the dream job or a business: Find ways to learn more about your to-be dream job or a business.
  4. Know people who’re in a similar to-be job or a business: Be around people who’re already doing what you want to do.
  5. Prepare yourself mentally: Build the mindset that you can do it. If you believe in positivity and self-affirmations, practice the technique to stay positive using self-affirmations. Also, if it works for you, start seeing yourself in your to-be job or a business.
  6. Take actions: Start taking actions in an incremental way. Start with one step at a time. Without impacting your current job or business, what steps of a to-be job or a business you can perform this week? Here are some examples of how to move towards a to-be job or a business in an incremental way:
    1. A Lead software engineer is not happy sitting alone for hours with his or her code. He or she loves people connections and also love technologies. What if he or she finds a way to collaborate more with people? What if he or she contributes in organizing forums to meet peers and other colleagues? He/she can slowly move towards a people management role that requires understanding of technologies.
    2. A software engineer loves writing articles. What if he or she offers help in writing documents and other creative materials at work? What if slowly, he or she moves towards a technical writing career?
    3. A corporate employee is interested in real estates. What if he or she starts learning real estate business at part time? I know a friend who changed his career from a software developer to a real estate agent. He utilized is technical and leadership skills in organizing and creating attracting digital presence. He’s successful in what he does and he loves his real estate business.

We all have a limited life time. It’s critical to do what we love. With a step-by-step plan with consistent efforts, we can transform our career from a current job or a work situation to a desired job or a business. Let me know your thoughts on this article.

My learnings from the Book, Positive Intelligence

Summary: The book, Positive Intelligence suggests how can we live a more fulfilling life, using positive intelligence.

Introduction of concepts:

Saboteurs: Saboteurs our inner enemies. Our ten Saboteurs are:

  • Judge: It is the master Saboteur that everyone suffers from.
  • Stickler: It is the need for perfection, order, and organization taken too far. It makes us and around anxious.
  • Pleaser: It compels us to try to gain acceptance by pleasing others.
  • Hyper-Achiever: Our self-respect depends on a constant need of high performance.
  • Victim: Playing a role of a victim, to get others’ attention.
  • Hyper-Rational: It involves being rational about everything.
  • Hyper-Vigilant: It makes us being vigilant all the time to stay away from dangers.
  • Restless: It makes us constantly search for the next excitement.
  • Controller: It makes us feel either in control or out of control.
  • Avoider: It makes us focus only of positive and pleasant in an extreme way.

PQ: PQ stands for Positive Intelligence Quotient. High PQ means your mind acts more as a friend and less as an enemy. PQ scores range from 0 (lowest) to 100 (highest). For example, a 75 PQ score means your mind is serving you about 75% of the the time and sabotaging you about 25% of the time.

Sage: The sage represents the deeper and wiser part of you. All your distress is self-generated. The Sage perspective accepts every outcome and circumstance as a gift and opportunity. Your Sage has access to your five great five Sage powers:

  1. Empathize: Feel and show empathy, compassion, and forgiveness.
  2. Explore: To deal with any problem, explore the ways with the curiosity.
  3. Innovate: Think out of the box and think of new ways of addressing a problem/situation.
  4. Navigate: To unblock/unstuck us from choices, we can decide based on internal compass. For that, we can rely on our values.
  5. Activate: Active power moves us into pure action, with all mental and emotional energies on actions, and without distractions by the Saboteurs.

Implementation items:

Three strategies to improve PQ Brain:

  1. Weaken your Saboteurs:
    1. Do a self-assessment of your Saboteurs. Check our ratings (1 lowest and 10 highest) on each of these Saboteurs. The next step is to work on minimizing the power of these Saboteurs.
    2. Observe and level your thoughts. For example,, “oh, I am restless again.”
  2. Strengthen your Sage: Shift towards Sage perspective.
    1. Three gifts-approach: think of at least three ways a problem could turn into a gift and opportunity at some point in the future.
    2. Apply above mentioned five Sage powers to a problem you want to solve.
  3. Strengthen your PQ muscles: The book suggests making habits to practice PQ brain muscles, to get 75 score points every day. The author suggests practicing mindfulness techniques about 15 minutes every day. To remember building PQ muscles, we can set reminders around our daily routine activities.

As I learn more, I will revise my notes about the book.

Reference: Positive Intelligence, by Shirzad Chamine

My learnings from the Book, Dare To Lead

Dare to Lead is a great leadership book by Dr. Brené Brown. It is a must read book. My notes below are nowhere even closed to complete. Consider these as draft details to attract you to read the book. The book suggested four main skills:

  1. Rumbling with vulnerability:
    • Vulnerability is a risk, uncertainty, or an emotional exposure. You can’t get to courage without rumbling with vulnerability.
    • Who we are is how we lead. Clear is kind. We have to have hard conversations even when we’re not ready.
    • The antidotes to shame are empathy and self-compassion.
    • Self-awareness and self-love matter.
    • Refer to rumbling skills mentioned in the book. Practice these skills in your day-to-day interactions.
  2. Living into Values: This book suggests picking at most two values to practice. Living our values and providing feedback to others have a key connection.
  3. Braving Trust: The book suggests that trust is built into small moments. It has a BRAVING inventory that is great to know and practice.
  4. Learning to Rise: The book suggests that having skills to get back up is important. Because, as per the book, if we’re brave enough often, we’re going to fall. The book suggests to understand what stories we are making up, when we’re missing the data. First, prepare the draft. Use rumbling process to discover the missing details.

Here is my summary and interpretation of how this book has helped me:

  • This book helped me to learn the skills of self-awareness and self-love. For example, understanding the emotion behind an emotion helped me to dig deeper to understand myself. If I am angry on a situation, is it the anger or something beneath the anger?
  • If we think we’re not enough, we’re not alone in this feeling. This book helped me learn that we all feel that way. This learning has helped me to connect better with other people.
  • I thought that people who are courageous, are fearless. It helped me to learn that courage and vulnerability show up at the same time.
  • Assume every person is doing the best he/she can.
  • It helped me to learn that in the absence of data, we make stories.

Thank you for going through this article. As I learn more, I will share more.

Reference: Book Dare To Lead by Dr. Brené Brown.

How to manage work when dealing with personal hardship

Sometimes, we’re in a difficult situation in the life. This article is to discuss some options on how to ensure we’re able to work while dealing through a difficult personal circumstances.

In my article about life principles, I mentioned the need of having a clarity of the work priorities. Many of us go through difficulties in personal life. For example, you might have an ill family member to take care of, or going through a marriage arrangement, or a divorce situation. In such difficult situations, managing work and life balance could be tough. It could be difficult to deal with the emotions at work. If you have difficulty in managing work/life balance, contact a trustworthy psychologist and other local resources to help you.

Here are few personal tips how I will deal with such a situation while not letting the work impact:

  • I will let my manager know what personal challenge I am going through. It seems simple and obvious but sometimes we miss the value of it. Even if it’s a simple personal situation that might impact the work, it helps to let the manager know about it.
  • When interacting with stakeholders (like peers, project members, or a client), it’s okay to let them honestly know, that I am going through some rough time that might impact some work. I’ll just share about the mood, not the actual problem. Also I will let them know that my intention is to do the best possible work. We all are human and we understand that anyone could be in such a situation.
  • At any situation, knowing the priority of your work deliverables is always very important. I always attempt to know the answers to these questions:
    • What’s the first, second, and third most important work deliverables expected from me?
    • What’s my first priority work deliverable today, this week, and this month?
    • If you have only 4 hours in the day, can I take care of my most important work deliverables?
  • I will work with my manager to help him/her understand what work deliverables I can realistically deliver given the personal situation. I will try to not overcommit. In fact, I will plan for 75% of the tasks that I am confident I can take care of. Reason is, we all have a tendency to overcommit.
  • At work, I will go in a transactional and a mission mode to complete the important work deliverables within the least possible time limit.
  • I will go in a bare minimum work survival mode. That could mean I will have no time to network more than required, no time to join meetings where I am not required, and no time to say Yes when I can only say No.
  • At work, I will ensure to speak only required and speak only about work.
  • I will wrap up the work in no more than planned hours. I will create a hard boundary of work and personal life. That means, I will not be able to work after the work hours. Remember. It’s a personal hardship that needs my attention after the work. So, after work, do take care of the personal situation.
  • During the work, I maybe distracted with emotions related to personal situation. I will learn to delay the decision to go back/think about the personal situation just after the work. If needed, I will schedule a meeting with myself after the work, to think through the personal situation. If I am disciplined to respect the work and personal time boundaries, I will be able to delay the personal tasks after the work.
  • I’ll definitely contact a trustworthy counselor, psychologist, or a related help, to help me deal with my situation.
  • I’ll also look for people who are in a similar situation. I will learn from them to deal with such a personal hardship and how they managed or managing their work/life balance.
  • If I am not able to work without distractions, I will work with my manager to work either part time or take time off, to take care of the situation.

As I learn more, I’ll share more.

A simple approach to solve a problem

At work and outside work, we have many situations for that we need to find a solution to a problem. Here are some example problems to find a solution for:

  • Decide the success criteria of a project.
  • Determine a career track for you.
  • Determine the decision from a data table.
  • Decide which holiday location is right for you, which is in budget and time.

Here are few techniques that I use, to decide the next steps:

  • I attempt to create a simple spreadsheet.
  • I write the desired outcome in a column or in a row, whichever you prefer.
  • I write the next possible outcome/step.
  • I continue the process until you find all your answers.
  • I revisit this process as needed.

Below is an example of a person looking for a job change as a UI developer. This person worked as a UI developer long time ago. She is interested in upgrading her skills, to get a desired job. Let’s look at the decision steps below:

Desired outcomeGet a job as a UI developer
What is the first step?Analyze the current skills set
What is your current skills setI know Javascript, JQuery, CSS, and HTML
Is my current skills set sufficient to get a job at my current desired location?No
If no to previous column, what skills set needs to be added?One of these Javascript frameworks: React, Vue, or Angular
Which framework I want to learn?Not sure
How to decide which framework to learn?Do the market analysis. Understand which one is easier and attractive to learn
How to do the market analysis?Look at jobs on for last 30 days to analyze which one is most and least popular
What is the outcome of the analysis?React is the most popular in my area
How can I learn React JS?1. Find a tutor or an online course
2. Get a book
3. Plan for a dummy project
4. Find time to learn
How much time I need to learn this skill realistically?I will need to read a book. I will need to get an online course too. I will need to create a dummy project also. Reading a 300 page book will take at least 6 hours for me. An online course will need 6 weeks, with 4-6 hours commitment every week. To create a dummy project, I need at least 40 hours. In total, I am looking for roughly 70 hours. Let’s plan for 80 hours. In a week, I can spend no more than 5 hours. With that calculation, I need 16 weeks. It is roughly around 4 months.
Note: I may need time to refer to online resources. I should also plan for at least two weeks unplanned. With this speed of learning plan, I need around 5 months to learn react JS. To learn it quicker than 5 months, I need to increase learning hours per week or reduce the scope of learning.

This is just a basic example of one of an example problem. Depending on the situation, it’s ok to create a flowchart, a decision tree, or a more detailed spreadsheet format. Some possible steps could be to consult a friend or an expert. Add all such steps and update the status of it.

Thank you. As I learn more, I will update this article.

Create your own life principles

Who should read it: Applicable to everyone.

In the life, it’s important to decide your own principles and philosophies that you want to follow. I encourage everyone to think and plan for your own life principles.

Why to create your own life principles:

  • As Stephen Covey suggested in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, that principle based life is a true fulfilling life as compared to single centered life (like money centered, spouse centered, or similar).
  • To take a decision on a situation, having your own set of principles help.

An example of list of principles:

  • My core values: Service and Perseverance. Out of all, service is the first priority.
  • Decide your focus areas in the life. Then, make the progress in those areas first. Leave the rest. Mine are: Spiritualism, Fitness, Finance, and Folks.
  • Creating an Ignore List is equally important as creating your focus area list. For example, one of my items in the ignore list is to avoid watching TV after 10 PM.
  • This world needs service. And, we all are born to serve self and others. You are a parent because you want to serve. You are a friend because you want to serve. You work because you want to serve. You do business because you want to serve. You do X because you want to serve.
  • If you have time to make only one friend, it should be your writing journal. Journey of finding purpose can begin from it and end at it. Journey of achieving anything can begin and end with planning. Writing is a great process of achieving it.
  • At your work, always do the bare minimum required tasks first. Reason is, many times, we miss the minimum required work. This also helps to navigate what’s most important to be done for the day. The second is to do more than required. Sometimes, in the process of figuring it out how to do more, we may lose the focus on doing the minimum required first.
  • Try to enjoy each and every moment of your life: at work and outside work.
  • Humor is important. If you focus on it, you could see the humor in every situation. This is the best remedy to stay healthy mentally.
  • Enjoying the journey is as equally important as achieving a goal.
  • When working with people, always separate people from the situation.
  • Planning and creating a vision is important. In the famous business book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen R. Covey stated that “all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.”
  • As we are temporary on this earth, how can our problems be permanent? That means, there is a solution to everything.
  • If you have time to do only one thing today, focus on servicing others. If you have time for one another thing in the day, practice a gratitude habit. Before going to bed, simply review who and what are you thankful to and for.
  • If you want something, dare to ask for it. Many times, people don’t get what they want because they don’t ask for it.
  • If anything a human can do, you can. Because you are a human.
  • Persistence is the key to success. Failure is just a step before the success. Make progress towards your goals with a steady approach, one step at a time on a day. Consistent efforts are more important than a one-time effort.

As I learn more, I will update it. Thank you !

How to learn 1-hour every weekday

In any career track, it is important to keep learning. For example, technologies are changing with a rapid speed. It’s important to keep learning if you are in a technology career. Everyone talks about learning continuously and everyone understands the importance of it. How to really keep yourself updated? I went through a very informative article about a 5-hour rule of learning every week. As per this rule, learning one hour every week day is required to stay up-to-date in your field. If we are convinced to follow the 5-hr rule, here are few ideas on how to make it happen:

  1. Accountability:

How to make yourself accountable for it to make it happen? These are few ideas:

  • If you like writing (as I do), what if you commit yourself to come up with one article of the week that you share with your audience what you learned this week? It could be a simple article about one single technical topic or anything you learned. Can you commit your audience to know by Friday evening or Saturday morning what you learned in the week? If you like writing, what if you start your auto-biography in that you write about each week’s learning?
  • If you like speaking, can you create an audio clip about what you learned in the week?
  • If you like painting, can you draw a picture about what you learned in the week?

Some other ideas for accountability: Imagine you are an IT consultant who has to fill-up a weekly timesheet that has a section of 1-hour learning every day. Imagine that the timesheet will be approved only if the 1-hr learning section is filled up.

2. Fix the learning hour for every weekday:

If we can set a fixed time in the day every week for the learning, it has more chances that we will not miss it. By chance, if you missed it, ensure to cover it up before sleeping. In the worst case, one cheat day in a week is ok. Here are some ideas on how to fix the hour for the learning:

  • Morning time: What if we get-up one hour earlier and use that hour for learning? It needs determination and assumption. Assume we had to get up one hour earlier. What if we start reaching work one hour earlier and use that hour for learning? Avoid the temptation of checking emails or other distractions.
  • Lunch time: What if we convert the lunch hour as a learning hour? We will not get a complete hour but 20 minutes quality time is a possibility. 
  • In between the work hours:  What if we block one hour every day at work for learning? The difficulty is to avoid the temptation of replacing it with an urgent meeting or task. One cheat day is ok. What if we go home one hour late?
  • Before sleeping: What if we plan to sleep one hour late?

3. Be realistic with your goal:

An example of an unrealistic goal would be to complete a 500-page book in a week. An example of a realistic goal would be to understand one topic of the book every day. Here is another key to plan. If you think we can finish three topics in the day, then, what if we reduce it to one third of the goal?

4. Temptation to skip it today:

There are high chances you may be tempted to skip it just today because today is a busy day. It will happen many times. Remember. Everyday is a fresh day for new opportunities.

Decide today the topic for tomorrow:

If we don’t know what the topic is for tomorrow, we have a high chance to skip it tomorrow. So, it’s critical to be specific about the learning goal for tomorrow. A better idea is to plan for a week in advance. If at the moment we feel like learning something else, we should note it. Delay the next topic to another hour, if we get it in the day. Consider it as a work meeting on the decided topic that has the deadline today.

5. Other difficulties:

  • We may face a difficulty of breaking the topic in small units. So, to challenge it, consider it as a project with a go-live date. Break the work down into a small unit of work that takes about 20 minutes to finish.
  • What if you are not in the mood to learn today? This task is not for today and it can not be dependent on the mood today. It is a task for the future that has to happen today. If you are upset or angry about a situation at work, consider this task as an activity to change this situation in the future. It is anyway a good idea to let the day go in a flow, write down such moments, and review those at the end of the day.
  • What if you had some emergency situations at work or at home? Use it as a cheat day or try to adjust other things on the plate.

I would like to know your views about 5-hr learning rule and your ideas about how to stick to this rule.