Month: May 2017

#30DaysofGratitude – Day 14

I love how Google and Facebook have this wonderful ability to bring up special moments from the past, that you may have forgotten about but when you see that picture on your Newsfeed, it transports you back to those significant days that changed your life for the better.. Memorial Day is a special weekend for me. In 2011, Memorial Day weekend, I made my big move from Rochester, New York to Davis, California. Now I’ve made bigger moves before and after, but this particular one was specially significant because it marked the onset of a truly spectacular phase of my life. I moved for a job I truly enjoyed, with the most amazing boss and team I have ever worked with – and if you’ve had your share of bad bosses like most of us, you know how much of a rarity this is! I still draw inspiration from the way my boss at Siemens used to lead our team – with so much humility and kindness.

And more importantly, this move introduced me to the most special group of friends I have had the pleasure of knowing.. If you are like me, you’re not the kind of person who has a huge social circle. I have a handful of very special friends who I have known since my childhood and college days, and I cherish them with all my heart. I met my friends in Davis when I was 24, which is not when you expect to meet people who will really integrate into the fabric of my life. So when that happens, it is really something to be grateful for. In the past 6 years, we have seen each other through marriages and breakups and new cars, new jobs, new homes, babies – you name it! Just scrolling through our first set of pictures from 6 years ago (bless Google Drive backup!) makes me realize how much our lives have changed ever since. But we are still in it together, trying our best to be there for each other through it all!

That is the thing about friendship really – I’ve come to realize that it does not matter how alike or different you are. What matters is real acceptance of the other person, and knowing that your relationship is more important than a difference of opinion. I really believe that you are the average of the five people closest to you. So I make it a point to surround myself with people who inspire me to be better every day, and who allow me to go through my phases when I am particularly anti-social, and love me regardless of it, and who constantly remind me of my strengths, but at the same time, can be real with me and tell me off when I’m being a wuss.

Here’s to special moments that change your life for the better! 🙂

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#30DaysofGratitude – Day 13

Sometimes, it is the small things of day-to-day life that leave you feeling more thankful, than the big events. I am home this weekend with my family, and while we have not done anything of significance, it has still been such a peaceful, satisfying weekend.

Having our morning coffee, making meals together, watching movies, trashing really bad movies (we saw The Circle – cannot believe Tom Hanks and Emma Watson are part of such a sloppy movie), playing with my dog, enjoying the onset of monsoons here in Bangalore, watching reruns of Game of Thrones, discussing the popularity of YouTube stars – this is basically what we have been doing. Up until 4 years ago, I used to live alone and I did really enjoy being with myself. The feeling of accomplishment when setting up your own place, managing household chores, the satisfaction of a well-cooked meal, enjoyed in the company of a good book – these were things I derived great pleasure from. Not that I lacked a social life by any means, but there was a difference sense of independence from having a life governed by my interests and goals. Then I moved in with my now-husband and life became mostly about togetherness, while trying to preserve streaks of that independence at the same time.

Living away now has, in a way connected me back to my old self. My day is about goals I want to achieve for myself, and the sense of fulfillment that comes from that. But it was so much harder to settle into that life this time, having gotten used to having someone else to share those experiences with. I love both these sides of me, and a big learning over these past 10 months has been to make sure I work on, and nurture this life we have together, and at the same time, focus equally on who I am becoming as a person – is it in line with my goals; am I balancing the two enough?

There’s so much more learning and growing-up I need to do, before I can comfortably say I have mastered this art. But for now, I am enjoying one more day of family life before I head back! Season 2 of GoT beckons!

#30DaysofGratitude – Day 12

Some days will just be remembered for a really really long time! I woke up today at 3:45 AM with the sound of my phone buzzing away.. (Side Note: I know I should be sleeping with my phone away from me, but that’s not the point here. I’m not addicted to my phone! :P) I woke up to umpteen messages of my dear dear friend in the US having gone into labour !!! Sleep just vanished from my body and there I was, in the middle of the night, 14,356 kilometers away, waiting excitedly for the big moment! Finally a few hours later, she had given birth to a beautiful, adorable baby girl! We are a close-knit group of 6 friends and this is the first baby in our group! She has wanted to be a mom for so long, and she is sooooo ready for it! I am so so grateful that she finally got what she has wanted and I can only send all my good thoughts and energy her way!

Also, how awesome is technology, especially WhatsApp – here I was, thousands of miles away and I could be updated every minute along the way! And actually see this little baby girl, just minutes after she was born!

Good people raising kids right – that’s how the world will change! 🙂

#30DaysofGratitude – Day 11

Today I am grateful for the kind of momentary courage that makes you do stupid (but valuable) sh*t ! You may regret it later, but that’s just the flight or fight part of the brain kicking in.. Regardless, you’re still proud of yourself for having done it!

Execution matters more than Ideas! Doing is more important than Thinking!

Go Do!

 

Living a More Purposeful Life By Throwing The Word “Purpose” Out The Window!

Young woman meditating outdoors

I was talking to a friend a few days ago. He was going through a tough time at work and was thinking of a change of job. To help him work through his thoughts, I asked him a simple question — “Why are you thinking of changing your job, do you not enjoy the work you do any more?”. His answer was very simple — “That’s not my worry”, he said, “a lot of people don’t enjoy their job.” My first response was nonacceptance — “that’s not right, one must have a job they enjoy going to!” The thought remained in my mind though, until I realized how privileged it was of me to say that!

Yes, people deserve to be in a job they love and enjoy. Your workplace is where you spend 70% of your day, so it only makes sense to do something you love. But not everyone is blessed to choose accordingly. Think of the classic IT technician in India, who is working in a large corporation like Infosys or IBM. He didn’t know what he was getting into, when he chose this profession. For him, the sole reason to choose IT as a career, was the large number of job opportunities available. His goal when graduating was to find a job that would pay the bills and relieve his parents of financial burden in their old age. At my previous company, I interviewed hundreds of candidates for operations managers roles. They had undergraduate degrees and had started working at the age of 19 or 20. Many of them had left their families behind in their native towns and villages, because they couldn’t support a family of 4 with the income of a low-to-mid-level manager in a city like Bangalore. What drove them to work every day was not some life-altering purpose or desire for impact, but a simple need to support their family, and move up the income chain! You might think it is pretty naive of me to realize this just now, and I agree with you there! At times, we allow ourselves to get so clouded by our situations that we forget perspective. Anyway, I have been trying to demystify the meaning of the word “purpose”, and here are some of my realizations along the way!

1. Purpose, Impact, Meaning…… is a luxury! So have gratitude!

(I use these words together, because I do feel they are loosely connected in concept at least) There’s a famous Simon Sinek talk about millennials and their need to want impact in their jobs. While I love what Simon says about leadership and people management at the workplace, I do strongly feel that his talk about millennials was largely focused on upbringing in Western countries. Growing up in India, I was never raised with the idea that I am special and therefore I am entitled to greatness in the workplace. Quite the contrary, actually. I grew up in a country of 1.2 billion people. I was taught to be educated and independent. Talk about purpose and impact came much later when I was in my 20’s (which is also when I moved to the US). It is now that I realize how lucky I am to even be able to utter those words, let alone use them as guiding principles to chart my life and career. Not only does this fill me with gratitude, but it makes me realize the greater responsibility I have to value this opportunity and channel it in the right direction. Because there are others around me who don’t have that option.

2. Being Useful is so much better than having a Purpose

How many of us have allowed heavy concepts like “purpose” to burden the decisions we make? If you break this word down — what does it really mean? Doing something you love, that plays to your strengths and is valued by the organization you work for. I read somewhere that we all have figured out our purpose when we were around 14–18 years old, and all our life choices are just physical manifestations of this overarching theme. The struggle for us is seeing the patterns and putting them down into words. Having thought about it long and hard, I can see how that is true. So, instead of focusing on composing a mission statement, focus on being of use to your team or company. Instead of limiting yourself to the 5 tasks you’ve been assigned by your boss, try to get involved in projects which catch your interest and where you think you have something valuable to contribute. My personal experience has been that my happiness and satisfaction at work is greatly linked to feeling like I helped my team or company in some way.

3. Listen to your Body — When are you in the Bubble ?

Being self-aware is probably the hardest thing for most people. It is extremely easy to confuse who you really are, with who you wish you were. If you research self-awareness, you will come across phrases like “taking risks” and “listening to your gut”, which again are scary to most people. I like to break it down to simply paying attention to your body. Have you ever felt extremely nervous before an important project or presentation? Of course, you have! But once you begin, you just feel like you’re in the bubble and nothing else around you matters? That’s your body telling you that this thing you’re doing perfectly aligns with your gut and brain and heart. I remember the first article I wrote — it was the 2003 Cricket World Cup final and India had just lost to Australia after a brilliantly close match. That disappointment affected me so much that I instinctively took pen and paper, and the words came pouring out. I’m not even an avid cricket follower! In that moment, I didn’t think about sounding smart, or framing the right sentences — I just had to write. There are very few times I’ve felt this way. Now I am a realist — so I’m not saying this makes me a writer, and I need a book deal tomorrow! But it does tell me that writing gives me the kind of joy that connects me to my inner self. We all have experienced such moments. The important thing is to keep experimenting with different things, and listening to your body — listen to how it makes you feel and follow those signs.

4. Your Job is not a Magic Fix-It All

You know those cheesy relationship articles that tell you that your happiness is in your hands, and not dependent on a life-partner? I say we extend that philosophy to our jobs as well. Of course, it would be wonderful if we could make a living doing something we love. But let’s get real — very few people are lucky enough to get that opportunity. That does not mean we cannot feel fulfilled otherwise. Your life is a beautiful concoction of your friends, family, interests, careers, and it is how well you layer and mix them, that determines the kick you get! I may not loooovveee going to work every day, but here’s what I can do — do one thing that makes me feel useful at work every day. And ensure that the rest of my day or week is filled with activities that make me feel fulfilled — in my case, it is (trying to) write. It could be a sport, or painting, or social events, or hiking or rescuing animals. (P.S.- And if you can’t find one way to be useful at work every day, then you’re either doing something wrong, or you’re in the wrong job!)



 Leading a life of purpose is something we control completely. We need to take away this enigma surrounding it, and get comfortable with being real with ourselves. Look at the situation, get creative with workarounds and solutions and figure out a path that works for you. And that is the key — it has to be something that works for you. There is no magic spell that unlocks the door!

#30DaysofGratitude – Day 10

Woke up to the news of the Manchester bombings at the Ariana Grande concert. It is hard to find gratitude when there are parts of the world, where families were broken and dreams were shattered while doing something as innocent as attending a music concert. It shakes you to your core and you truly question the value of a human life in this world. Then you read a ridiculous article about a 16-year old girl who microwaved her pet turtle, just for the fun of it and that just turns things over the edge. I can’t put into words, what I am feeling this morning.

The world needs more love and tolerance. A new narrative where people of all faiths, beliefs, cultures are allowed to co-exist and thrive. A narrative based on respect and co-existence – I won’t hate you just because your views are different from mine. I can’t decide that you don’t deserve to live because you’re different than me, and my way is the right way. The world is big enough for all of us to prosper, if only we choose peace.

On such days as well, there are small moments of joy – like a fun conversation with a co-passenger in your Uber cab. Don’t you love it when that happens – two random strangers sharing their life story, figuring out connections they never knew they had, learning about how different they are, and being completely okay with it? Enjoying it, even.

#30DaysofGratitude – Day 9

There are multiple times we face conflicts in life – whether they are in our jobs, or in relationships and social circles. Egos, miscommunication, distance, difference in values etc only exacerbate the problem, and add nothing to solve the issue at hand. At such times, I am reminded of what my grandfather used to say to us – “Do whatever it is, that makes you sleep well at night without a guilty conscience. The rest will be taken care of.

I find that a good moral compass to live life by. A lot of times, we allow our egos to override our values and do something to hurt someone, even though we know in our heart that it does not align with our blueprint for life. The excuse for such behaviour being – “well, they did the same to me too!”. I’m not saying we compromise on our self-respect. But at the same time, think about whether the way we behave would allow us to sleep peacefully at night? If the answer is no, then it is time to check ourselves.

At the end of the day, we are answerable only to our self. I read this quote somewhere which I completely agree with – “Someone once told me the definition of Hell: The last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.”