You can have a false sense of success from not daring to fail. You thought since you never failed, it was success all along. If there were no consequences, there were no actions taken either. The cocoon that you spin around yourself is but a false sense of satisfaction, protection and security.
There are only two choices – either you do or you do not. Success is when you dare to ‘DO’, no matter you succeed or fail, when you dare to speak, when you advocate change, when you dare to be judged. Given a choice, I rather fall and rise again than not fall at all. I rather get shunned for speaking my mind than not speak at all, I rather reach out, help needed or not.
When you experiment and experience, there is more visibility and transformation!
Sometimes, when an entire day goes by and I realize that I haven’t gotten a single thing down in my to-do list, the feeling is that of guilt and non-productiveness. The reason is, often times the thought of the number of chores ahead of me is enough to have my hands tied. Other times, the enormity of one single chore keeps me in the mode of chronic procrastination! The result is frustration from not being able to utilize my time productively and making an unhappy situation for everyone around me.
I am also realizing that the older I get, the more activities I want to do like reading a bucket-list book, writing more often, exercising, watching value movies, learning a new language etc. apart from the regular ‘fun’ chores of cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping! Instead of making time for most of them, I get carried away by one activity that the rest remain untouched, or the thought of a thousand chores make me brain-dead so I decide to stare at my phone! I tried to find the root cause of my productivity problems.
The first and foremost reason that I found was my indulgence in social media. I often go online to browse my mail websites(that should take a few minutes) but end up in Facebook or Whatsapp messages all at the tap of few icons on my smartphone. What starts off as a small peek into my email inbox goes on to be a divergence into the forays of the world wide web. Before you know, a big chunk of your time is eaten up by this giant of a web.
Another major cause of non productivity is the inability to overcome the initial hiccup in starting any chore because it is not fun. When I see that the floors need mopping, I would think that it can wait till I pay my bills. I am off to do that, instead end up chatting with a friend because that is more fun and less work. After an hour of chatting I come back to realize that neither did I mop the floor nor do the bills. This is also called procrastination. And the result again is a sense of non-accomplishment 😦
Being unproductive sometimes might not hinder your flow of life. In fact, it is required to take small sanity breaks from your busy schedule so you can be energized. It is only when the state of non-action is prolonged that the scenario becomes chaotic, directionless and frustrating. For me, the things that helped me get everything under my belt was to start off one chore at a time with no brooding over the thought. When you realize the floor needs vacuuming, you simply start off the chore rather than ruminating if you should wait one more day or have someone else do it for you. This saves time and energy and you are less drained, mentally and physically. Most times, it is the thought attached to our activities that drains us than the activity itself. So leave the thought and get down to the arena. The work is waiting for you!
Prioritizing my jobs also helps in being productive. Whenever I have a bunch of things to do, I often start with the most important one and try to focus and finish off each and every item on the checklist. I promise it feels good at the end, even at the cost of missing out on the Facebook updates for half a day, may be one. I am also working on not straying away from the main chore at a given moment. For example, in the media world there is so much information, it is hard not to get distracted or allured. Just make sure not to overdo it or to filter out unnecessary details.
Being conscious of the task at hand improves the quality of the end-result. Let our computer time not be at the cost of a nice long walk or jog outdoors, let our time chatting not be at the cost of fixing a nice meal for the family, let our inclination for gossips not be at the cost of reading a book, listening to great music or learning a new skill. Being productive not only keeps you active and alert, it is also gratifying for what it makes of you!
Often times, most of us encounter situations where we strive to reach a goal or simply pull ourselves together, but give up at some point of time. The result is a sense of disappointment and resentment where the blame is conveniently thrust upon an external element for the sake of our redemption. From what I have known in my own life, most of the rewarding experiences were from efforts that have gone above and beyond my comfort level, where I almost wanted to give up but decided to hang in there because I believed! These experiences have taught me to brave all bad weather and move forward for that too will pass.
These challenges visit all of us in different forms like losing job, encountering a life-threatening illness, being stuck in meaningless relationships or facing death of closed ones. In other cases, there could be lesser challenges like losing weight, getting a certain academic or professional goal under your belt or running a marathon or attempting sky diving. How can you make challenges less daunting and more acceptable?
1) When faced with a situation, bring out your positive energy and positive thought and work towards finding a solution, than finding an excuse or blaming bad fate that has befallen you. Focus on the end result that present struggle would pay off. This gives you ample confidence in the first place.
2) Fear is our biggest enemy in life, when it comes to making a change. We don’t realize that most of the fear is imaginary. What are the possible outcomes of fear? You either succumb to it and let things be or you realize it and take measures to combat it. The result of outliving your fear is, you see and feel a different life.
3) Sometimes, when you are in the bumpy ride, it might feel like a journey in darkness with no light at the end of the trail. Hang in there and tell yourself not to give up. It could be bitter, sometimes blended with extreme feelings of loneliness, desolation and helplessness. Do not try to deny these feelings or run away from them. Just give time and let things just be. Time is the biggest healer.
4) When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. The fact that we alone can essentially help ourselves is a great realization when encountering difficult situations. Learn ways to toughen up and brace yourself to unfavorable circumstances in life. It helps to connect with other people or groups in the same situation facing same kind of challenges. There is a lot to learn and share when you network either through online resources or social groups that offer support and solutions.
5) Expectation that every effort should turn out to be a success can be a big deterrent in accomplishing what you have set your mind on. Failure is essential to make us well-rounded as human beings. We need to be brought back to realization of our modest existence often enough to keep us rooted. When you do any task with no expectation of results and with wholeheartedness, success and failure become nothing beyond just labels.
6) When you are going through rough terrains, it often helps to hang in there just from the realization of other lives that are also dependent on us. It becomes all the more important that we took responsibility of the situation because it makes perfect sense in the bigger scheme of things to keep ourselves and the rest of the lives going.
7) Be grateful for what you have. Cherish every moment. Counting our blessings on an everyday basis helps pull through difficult moments. Often times we forget to appreciate life’s small things in search of bigger ones.
In short, it is all in our minds how we perceive the situations we are in. It is simply our attitude that defines our course of life!
When my younger one comes from school, she is brimming with all kinds of news to share, usually starting off with rating her day as good, bad, excellent or worse. All I have to do is to fine tune and just pay attention! As she rambles on the details of how upset she was to learn about her friend’s mishap to how exalted she was to get a perfect score on her test, I would empathize with matching emotions. By the end of her long narration,there is usually a more relaxed look on her face that is worth a million buck! I now know the communication that just transpired was assurance that everything was alright in her young adult world. Similar is the case with my older one, except that she usually has some interesting findings to announce from her ‘research’ world that she discovered in the privacy of her alone moments. It could vary anywhere from music, to politics to fashion to food that brings to the table discussions at length.
Come to think of it, these are not mindless talks of a teenager, but the outcome of trust and affection built over years. I nod to myself in affirmative and sigh in relief when my teenagers choose to give me that level of transparency during their toughest years of transformation. Most times, I do everything in my capacity to lend a listening ear to these sometimes lost, sometimes enlightened, sometimes needy, sometimes ‘just want to be touched’ souls. At other times, when I am not at my best mom-self, the loss of touch is felt and something is certainly amiss, for which I pay the price!
Parenting becomes a joyful ride of togetherness and mutual love when it is not just about keeping your children clothed and well-fed, rather about offering a safe emotional haven for their growing minds and shed light in the crevices. At the end of it all it only makes perfect sense to reminisce the saying, “We do not remember days, we remember moments”. Often times, we fail to give heed to the daily tidbits of life in our ever pervasive mode of taking for granted the loved ones that surround us, the companionship, the safety from our bonds with family and friends.
And if for once I were not the one my daughter chose to share her feelings with, if I were not the one to have tasted a slice of her life, what a terrible loss it would be! How grateful should I be, to be chosen by my child, by a friend, by a family member or sometimes an acquaintance. All that is needed sometimes is just an extra dab of laughter, a healing touch, a pat on the back or just mere presence. Could you have imagined how transformational it is for the ones whose lives have been touched by a chosen one and vice-verse?!
The phenomenon of people placing religion in the center stage of their lives, and using it as a tool for a means to any end, is quite unsettling! Religion is the most misused concept in mankind today at the cost of which atrocities are impended at all levels, leave alone meaningless rituals solely performed out of greed and selfishness!
Why was religion created in the first place? Probably for a sense of order, meaning and protection, where an Almighty God served in the role of a super-parent. And then rules where laid out so there would be a set of moral and ethics for the humankind to follow. The holy scriptures were texts of law that instilled in mankind a sense of righteousness that stated the fine ways of living. And at some point of time these beliefs paved way to fear and eventually paranoia to an extent that we are at the throes of extinction as a human race, in the name of religion. The very institution that came into existence through the brilliant minds of great saints and prophets, is mercilessly misinterpreted at the hands of fanatics, the over-doers and the false propagators. The abode of the purest of pure, is now feeding grounds for hoarders of wealth or even worse, weapons of mass destruction.
Most times, the very essence of religion itself is lost when its true meaning is not taught. What we need now are not baseless rituals that claim to take us to glory, not the hypnotizing of human mind with contorted notions and superstitions, but a firm sense of doing for the uplift of lesser beings, a true sense of awareness that spreads light and fill in the darkness, selfless service that paves way to goodwill and prayers for well-being of all things living. Remember, it is man who created God and kept himself enslaved to fear and punishment in the name of religion. Religion, in the first place is not about fear, it is all about faith that stems from pure consciousness. For that to happen, God has to reside within, not without!
When I was approaching middle age, it was quite an unsettling feeling to deal with. It was like having a tug-of-war with time. After all, who is ready for the dreaded down hill ride?! They call it mid-life crisis for no reason.
It is with an air of convenient gullibility that we tend to deny the irrefutable truth of growing old. It is alarming to see, especially in the present generation the yearning to be in an immortal state of youthfulness. That brings us to the question: Isn’t there an existence for us beyond the superficial assurance of young/good looks through external means. Are we so rooted for the constant search of youngevity that so many of us would go to any extent to achieve it? If only the media and the proponents of happy-healthy life, were not to put so much stress on the external looks or age as a detrimental factor in a person’s productivity or worth, things could be much different. What we need is more campaigns on staying young through right choice of healthy food, an active life-style through holistic workout and involvement in meaningful pursuits that eventually help aging gracefully.
Lets accept aging not as a bane, but as a boon and put our wisdom gained from the wealth of worldly experience to good use than spend our time whiling away in Botox clinics and facelift centers. What do we lose if a fraction of that time is rather devoted in uplifting and enlightening the youth on life’s lessons learned? When you see the silver lining in the cloud of hair and the wrinkly smile that is gifted by time alone, when you embrace age with all its graciousness, it is true liberation.
As for me, to my surprise, there is now a renewed sense of awareness and purpose, and a child-like curiosity like never before. It is true revelation, that you see life through a lens that only gets clearer with every passing decade. What you thought you knew before were only blurred images of what really is now! And for that I am happy to grow older and embrace the course of nature’s action.
When you think of success what comes to mind first could be any or all of these: A well-paying job, which could be better paying, a big house which could have been bigger, a luxurious car with better features than your colleague’s and so on. You might have lost yourself in the process of reaching there. But who cares! You are successful in the eyes of the world. What you are in your own eyes ceases to exist at some point of time in your attempt to “fit-in”! That is all that matters-fitting in!!
Once my daughter brought home a poster from her art work in school where she said, “Success comes from the heart”, that did pull some strings in my heart! I couldn’t agree with it more, though we fail to assimilate the true essence behind this thought as convenient as it always is. Would a mother be ever called successful for solely raising children with conscience, unless she also contributes in the financial front, would an artist be labeled successful for the artistry in his piece alone sans the price tag? Chances are that 9 out of 10 people would go behind success defined by next door neighbor, as all he wants is to look successful in the other person’s book of accounts. Weren’t many of our most famous scientists and artists in history who dared to defy conventions and stuck to their true passion, sometimes at the cost of their lives, successful in life? Did we forget that the world we live today has been built on the sweat and toil of these invincible spirits? It takes true inner courage to stand by what you believe in and live a life of fulfillment!
We need more in our society that defies the conventional concept of success and dares to build success on their instincts, their true calling of the heart. Success should follow you, not the other way around: it seeks the one who does his job with sincerity, with purpose, from an anonymous earth-loving farmer to the nation’s most famous nuclear scientist! Let success not be a one size fits all shoe that takes you on a journey of false achievements. I rather it be a custom made shoe that fits me and me alone!!
Next time you are in self-doubt about something you want to achieve, or dreamed about but never dared to reach for fear of failure, think twice. Wouldn’t you rather be in a place where you tried, no matter you succeeded or not, than in a place where you always have been-where there is no growth in terms of experience, perspective and understanding.
• When something seems more challenging, do not fear and hold yourself back.
• Stick with people who believe in you and help you reach the goal.
• Break up your final goal into small chunks and strive for the immediate goal than taking the big leap that might end in a deadly fall. It could be anything like losing weight, or help for a cause, or write a book, or trek the Himalayas!!
• Don’t pay heed to naysayers. Keep away from them.
• And to the little voice in your head that says not to go there because danger lurks, remember it is your alter ego that is too comfortable with being in the little box you call world and deny there is something outside of it.
• Whenever you feel fear in your gut about any challenge, take it as a good sign and encounter it, for you would come out a new person after it is all over.
This is my story about how I got myself ready for a 10K challenge:
Week 1: My friend wants to find out if I want to join for the weekly practice for a marathon. I am thrown into my usual self-doubt mode. I give her no word, sensing my fear of failure. I go home and the thought won’t leave me of how badly I had always wanted to participate in a Marathon event for a cause, and how much I always loved outdoors and never quit walking. I sleep over the thought. Next day I call my friend to say I am in!
Week 2: I assemble with a group of like-minded friends on a Sunday morning in a nearby park for our first marathon practice session. It was a conglomeration of around ten enthusiastic moms who still had the spark in them, who seized every opportunity that came their way. Our final aim was to cover 10K, 10,000 meters or 6.2 miles. But today, we plan to walk or run at our own pace for 3 miles. Our mastermind, the crew leader had already charted out the route and plan for us. As we set out for the run that day, I feel different as if driven by a purpose.
Week 3: My teenage daughters join me for the Sunday morning ritual, followed by a dozen other kids that seems like a movement. I feel proud for having inspired my girls to set the alarm at 6 am every Sunday morning. Our kids do watch what we do, after all!!
Week 4: Our team meets again, this time for the entire stretch of 10K that we would eventually cover on the final day of run. We cheer up each other as we try to fit into our comfort time groves. It was a heartening sight to see us all finish the entire stretch in our own better timings.
WEEKS 5, 6, 7 and 8 passed and more practice and more sweat and muscle cramps ensued, but never did our spirit dampen.
Week 9: The day of the RACE!! Yes, Cap 10 K is the biggest race in Austin, with almost 20,000 member participation every year. This year was no different. We had registered weeks before, collected our race packets, before the D-day and felt the tingling sense of excitement at the final countdown. The Capital was prepared to embrace the runners as we felt the cheers and music and drums on our scenic city streets that were off limits to traffic that day. The crowds’ cheering and enthusiasm were simply infectious. You realize the truth that you couldn’t have made it if not for the water, the food and words of appreciation showered at you by selfless volunteers and onlookers, not to mention the friends who took initiative in the first place as well as fellow runners. When we touched the final line it was as if the moment we had been waiting for, was finally here with no room for self-doubt.
When we transgress the unknown, we often find ourselves!
Few months back my daughter threw me off-guard with this question: Mom, what is your passion…what do you like doing the most. I scrambled for a qualifying answer as a pursuit worth mentioning, only to find myself losing ground. I reminisced self-intuitively with instant recognition that somewhere down the lane I had lost my true self, immersed in the duties of a wife and mother in addition to various other societal roles. Why is it so hard for so many of us to pursue what we truly love or stand by our true calling in life. Every person is born with the remarkable ability to pursue something they truly excel in. Still, there lingers a feeling of non fulfillment in most human beings we come across or a failure of recognition of what they truly want in life. It is important that we live beyond the everyday rut to have an enlightenment in this realm! 1)Our social conditioning and demands put us at cross roads to make the choice between a pragmatic compromised lifestyle and our true calling that gives utmost satisfaction and reward. Striking a balance between the two, and pursuing them hand in hand could be quite challenging, but certainly doable. All you need to do is try. To follow your heart and dare to do what you believe takes courage, belief and diligence. 2) Vulnerability is viewed as a weakness and we dread to expose ourselves through our true passions for fear of non-acceptance and non-conformity. When you are out there sharing with the world who you truly are, judgments and criticisms are bound to follow. Using these tools for further awakening and empowerment alone could see us through the fulfillment of a purpose beyond a mortal existence. 3) The fear of failure is a major obstacle that stands in the way of pursuit of our passion. Failure puts us down in our own eyes eventually leading us to give up the idea of following our heart. The thought of stretching our comfort zone is quite unsettling but that is the only way we could bring change. I for one, learned it the hard way, but better be late than never.
Months passed since that chat with my daughter and life went on as usual and I happened to stumble on a show that inspired me to share my thoughts with the outside world. My foray into the blogging world transpired out of a yearning to convey messages on holistic healing of the ailments of an emaciated world in terms of physical and mental health, as part of my own soul searching. As much as I thrive in the vibes and applause of like-minded audience that is a part of my tribe, I am also equally humbled by their presence! When my hands itch every weekend to write about ideas close to my heart, I sense that I have truly found my place. It was an equally satisfying endeavor when I signed up for a 10K Marathon recently and finished it unscathed! The fear of failure of meeting my own new standards and an unwillingness to get out of my set routine were the factors that held me back from exploring new avenues or stretch my physical limits. When we transgress the unknown, we often find ourselves. I also stretched my intellectual limits when I signed up for a new academic challenge that continues to tickle my grey cells and show new horizons of learning. It is also teaching me that acquisition of knowledge transcends age. Life should be a continuous process of learning and growing at personal and intellectual levels. I have a new found energy in my midlife, from the interests that I indulge, that reveal new unexplored paths. I am in a state of greater understanding of self that has given me a new lease on life. It is not midlife crisis, rather Midlife Magic for the gift of discretion, of clarity and a renewed sense of purpose!!