Monthly recap : July 2021

I don’t have much to share in this month’s recap as well. My mom was diagnosed with covid on 13th July and subsequently on 17th July, the rest of the family (including me) tested positive. I didn’t feel like doing any of the self care activities during this time. However, in the hindsight, I truly believe that spending some time on self care each day could have helped me cope up with this demanding phase of life in a much better manner. Lesson learnt.

Mental health

  • Meditated for 1/31 days.
  • Journaled/documented my day for days.
  • Practiced gratitude journaling for 0 days.

Personal Growth

This section is for a new skill or talent that I’ve acquired in this month, tried a new activity or thing that has pushed me out of my comfort zone.

  • I handled the household responsibilities and took care of my mom as she was diagnosed with covid a week before us. Although it isn’t a talent or a skill to be talked about, I’m glad I was able to pull through this mentally exhausting phase.

Workouts

  • Zero outdoor/indoor runs
  • Worked out for 4/31 days

Education

  • Zero progress with CFA level 1 curriculum. Exam has been deferred to March 2022.
  • Zero online courses completed in July

Entertainment

  • Completed reading 1 book – Mint your money by Pranjal Kamra. It’s an amazing read especially for the ones who want to understand the basics and begin their financial planning journey. (More than halfway through 2 books.)
  • I watched the season 2 of Never Have I Ever and absolutely loved it. It distracted me from all that was going on at home when we were recovering from covid. A must watch!
  • Also breezed through Mimi on Netflix. Pretty mediocre, can be skipped.

Ending on a positive note and hoping that I can start afresh and accomplish the goals that I set for August.

Wish I knew this earlier

“The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence; the past is a place of learning, not a place of living.”

Roy T. Bennett

Although I haven’t ran the whole course of my life yet, there are some lessons I learnt pretty late. When we are young, we are filled with confidence and optimism about the future and believe that we can move past any challenges in life. However, we end up giving up the reins of our life to fate during the later stages in life. As we grow older, we realise that we could have channelised that high amount of confidence and optimism into something productive and fruitful that would help us be more in control of our life.

These are some lessons I’ve come accross either through internet or bitter experiences or analysing the life led by people around me. Although I wish I knew this earlier, I’m really glad that I’m aware of it now and have worked on it to improve the overall quality of my life.

  • Join a sport or participate in that extra curricular event :- I was a big time nerd and truly believed studies are the only thing that I should be doing as a student. I was horribly wrong. I realised the importance of fitness and communication much later in life. Learning a sport helps not just in developing strength and stamina but also becoming more disciplined, learning from our failures and facing challenges headstrong. We live in a very sheltered environment as far as school and college is concerned and have people around to help with our requirements. Once we are thrown into the real world, every new situation seems life threatening and we fail to blend in with the crowd. Learn to make new friends, talk to more people, learn about their experiences, participate in events that force you out of your comfort zone. That’s how you realise that every single person on this planet is dealing with their fear and insecurties and you learn to feel less intimidated by people, especially strangers.
  • Be financially independent : It’s very important to chase our dreams and passion and figure out the purpose of our existence. However, we also need to find a way to be financially independent along the process. Unless we have unlimited financial resources left to us by our ancestors, everyone needs to work for their survival in this world. Make sure you incorporate the golden habit of saving early on in your life, learn about financial planning, take advise from experts to grow your corpus, make financially sound decisons when it comes to material purchases, know your long and short term financial goals. Once you feel financially sound, you can take all the big decisions in life with more confidence.
  • Make meditation a part of daily routine : We all know the wonderful benefits of meditation however it can take a painfully long time for us to visibly see the changes in our life. Till that time, we are required to meditate cosistently without expecting any instant gratification. And that my friend, is an extremely difficult task. It’s better to think of it as a part of daily routine that we need to follow without fail like brushing our teeth or taking a bath. Yes, meditation is undoubtedly the best tool available within our control which can help in maintaining a sound mental health. And making it a daily routine is the best way to reap it’s rich rewards later on in life.
  • Everyday is equally important : Most of the days in my life are a waitlist for the special ones/the D days/an important day to look forward to. We feel happy on these special days and dread to get back to the “normal routine” to be followed on the other days. If we can learn to tweak this mindset, there will be a visible change in our happiness levels. The best way to do this is by maintaining a daily journal. It’s just a 5 minute daily practice that requires you to revisit your day and write down whatever made an impact on you that day. This small practice can help you be more grateful and pull your attention back to the present moment. Document your day, focus on making daily progress, make memories, click pictures, life certainly isn’t about those few special days, everday is equally special.

And that’s all I’ve learned and try to implement in my day to day life to feel at peace and more happy in general. Hope it helps you too!

Paradigm shift

Day 28/30

I signed up for a “time management course” to learn how to eradicate my procrastination once and for all. Guess who has been procrastinating on completing the minuscule 90 min course, ME! I can’t stop laughing thinking about this.

Anyways, time to get back to serious business. So I did try to make few changes in today’s routine based on whatever I could recollect from watching the first half of this course in an absolutely sleepy state. I made a very detailed hour by hour schedule yesterday for today and the best thing I could achieve from the extremely elaborate schedule was my meditation and workout. I have been off the radar for more than a month now. The plight of our country during the covid 19 second wave and the unexpected death in my extended family has put me in a very distracted state of mind.

There is no one way to calm an anxious mind. Anxiety partially comes from the feeling of losing control of our life. And I wish to tackle this specific aspect to win over my anxiety. Taking control of our life starts from the decision to try and take action. If there’s one thing you’ve been procrastinating on from quiet sometime for no apparent reason, like ordering a thing from your wish list or calling a friend, try and force yourself to do that very thing tomorrow and you’ve begun your journey of reclaiming control of your goddamn life. It’s honestly really weird that it’s our mind who wishes to achieve great things in life and the only thing that stops from doing all that is again, our MIND! How is that even possible?

Now that it’s established that everything that you need to change yourself is in your MIND, what stops you from working on it?

Is there a vision of a new you in your mind? A skill you want to develop, a language a want to learn, a job you wish to get, a life you wish to own? Make a list of all these things. Everything your best version should be doing and break it down into a daily routine. Don’t underestimate the power of compounding my friend! Oh, but what do we do to keep the lure of “instant gratification” at bay?

Apply the 1 level up rule. Tomorrow, make a plan to get 1 level better in your goals from yesterday. For example, one extra rep in your workouts or 1 extra page of your book or 1 extra chapter in your studies. Just 1 level up. It’s a relatively small number so won’t be difficult to achieve. However, every drop counts to make an ocean, this 1 level up progress will make a considerable dent in the progress of your goal. Sounds easy? So should we get a head start on the biggest project of our life? The future me that I would be proud of.

Let’s do this!

Get over it

“You just can’t let life happen to you, you have to make life happen.”

― Idowu Koyenikan

Day 2/30

Today has been a pretty lazy day. I was so inactive throughout the day that I chose lying on the bed, thinking about nothing whatsoever over blogging despite making a commitment to myself (and my blog). For the longest time, I wanted to find a foolproof way to make my weekends productive. I know, we need to rewind and rest, that’s very essential for our physical as well as mental well being. However, I mindlessly waste my weekend, doing absolutely nothing and that makes me feel extremely guilty by the end of it. I don’t wish to have those extended guilt tripped thoughts anymore.

I know few ways (through years of watching ted talks, reading 100s of self help books and observing my thought patterns) to overcome the lazy mode and get around to do something. I know it’s weird that I still end up being unproductive when I am totally aware of the techniques to avoid it. The key here is “intention“. When you really wish to do something in life, you do it regardless of the hurdles and problems you face. When your mind has given up on you and your life, all you wish to do is “NOTHING“.

I’m sick of doing and feeling “nothing”. I don’t know my purpose in life yet but I do know that it would most definitely involve “experiencing life in it’s glory“. It’s challenging, hard, hectic but beautiful nevertheless. In order to do so, we need to may follow the below steps :-

  • Positive self talk/affirmations : Have you ever tried complimenting yourself in front of the mirror? Try it as soon as you can. It may seem a little awkward at first but soon you’ll get used to uplifting yourself than shredding yourself to pieces. Indulge in a little self care session of talking about your achievements, your goals, your skills, yourself in general. This will surely uplift your mood, charge you up for the day ahead and make you feel really great in your skin. You can add this as part of your daily routine (especially at bedtime) so that you wake up energized, ready to seize the day.
  • Make a to-do list : I cannot stress enough on the importance of this step. If we don’t know what we are supposed to do during the day, we end up wasting time doing nothing. It’s very important to be aware of your tasks for the day and the time slots to complete it. A to-do list prepared the night before gives you enough motivation to wake up in the morning and provides the direction to complete all your tasks in an efficient manner. “When in doubt, note it down!
  • Meditate and workout : These activities are known to make people happy, positive and energized. Doing it first thing after you wake up makes you feel productive right after staring your day and sets the tone for the rest of the day. If you are a beginner, try by doing it for just 5 mins each. You will most definitely feel better after it’s done and dusted. If you have done it before, be insanely consistent with it. No excuses!
  • Live in the present moment : Meditation helps in focusing our attention on our breath and ignore the chatterbox that lives rent-free in our mind. Journaling is a great way to rethink about the day, find out the highlights of the day and write it down for posterity. This simple yet powerful activity is sure to bring your attention back to the present moment. Procrastination is fear in disguise (at least in my case). When I fear that I might not be able to do a task, scared to attempt a new thing, avoid social interactions, fear that I might make a fool of myself in front of others, I procrastinate. Work on being confident in your own skin, do the things that scare you the most, attempt new things, this will help in developing your confidence, from scratch.
  • Cut out refined sugar : Sugar feels great for your taste buds but your body despises it. It makes you feel bloated, adds unnecessary weight to your mind and body, makes you feel lethargic, has zero nutrient value, pulls you ten steps backward from your fitness goals and breaks you out at times. Find out ways to avoid cravings. I used to crave something sweet after my lunch each day. I have started to drink green tea right after lunch to curb those cravings and so far it’s working well. Of course I lose track many times and eat beyond limits, but it’s great if you cut it out completely from your diet to feel better about yourself (mind and body).
  • Portion control your meals : It’s no suspense that eating excess food drags you down and makes you feel drowsy and lethargic. Be grateful for every meal and eat mindfully. Remember that food is a necessary fuel to help you survive. Don’t associate your happiness levels to the amount of food on your plate. Eat right and feel good throughout the day. I just saw a brilliant technique to avoid overeating online. 30 mins before your schedules meal, drink water so that you don’t confuse thirst with hunger.

I guess that’s all I have for today. I am going to follow these steps this moment onwards. I’m tired of living a directionless life and it’s high time that I change (for the better). Let’s do this!

When things seem uncertain

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity. ” 

-Gilda Radner

Everything in my life seems uncertain at the moment. Ever since I turned 30, I feel the presence of a ticking time bomb right above my head. I don’t know how much time is left for it to blast but not knowing it makes me want to quit everything and move to a place far away. My mind keeps making desperate plea for clarity and peace.

The past week has been emotionally taxing. I never used to experience any mood swings or emotional upheavals as part of PMS before. However, anxiety has somehow befriended my hormones to give me the choicest of fears to deal with right before Aunt Flo decides to strike with cramps.

In the middle of this mental turbulence, I gave a job interview through the reference of one my closest friends. On the outcast, the job seemed perfect but I just couldn’t convince my mind to take it up. The job timings were odd (from 12.30 pm to 9.30 pm) and I’ve felt mentally harassed and tortured while working in these timings before. It would have been a different case had I enjoyed working in a corporate set up or I was passionate about my career choice. The primary reason I work in a corporate is to make myself and my family financially independent. My “job” and career as an accountant always feels like a routine, is burdensome, stressful and drains me of my energy as it’s far from my personality and purpose in life. Don’t take me wrong, I am grateful for my current life and all the opportunities I have been blessed with. It kills me to feel constantly “unfulfilled” and “unhappy” in life.

Even the thought of working at this new organisation made me feel extremely stressed and unhappy. I knew that I couldn’t put myself through any more mental pressure for the sake of increasing my pay scale. I finally told my friend yesterday that I couldn’t go ahead with the job process. I might have lost out on a great job opportunity that could have made a huge upswing in my earning capacity. However, I couldn’t bring myself to say “yes” to it, believe me I thought about it, A LOT. Surprisingly I don’t feel dejected by it at all. All I feel is extreme “uncertainty” and “anxiety” about my future.

As kids, we never looked for reasons to be happy. Now, happiness feels like the most expensive commodity in my life. I constantly feel the need to prove myself, work hard, go through pain and turbulence to “earn my happiness“. It feels like I’m on a constant wait for something, someone, to change the course of my life and make it better. Is there an end to this phase of my life? I hope there is because I’m EXHAUSTED of waiting.

I have decided to make 2021, MY GLOW UP year! Even if I start the year on a great note, I know for a fact that I WILL relapse back to my depressed self soon enough. It’s not because of the occurrence of a setback or failure, my positivity usually wears off when I realize that I’ve lost control of my life.

For 2021, I’ve decided to take cue from my “weight loss experience” and be “consistent” with my goals, by hook or by crook.

My mantras for 2021 :-

  • What this means is that, my focus would be on my efforts in present moment rather than expected results in the future
  • I’ve decided to give my best in the present moment, work hard to become the best version of myself and have faith in the UNIVERSE to unfold things in my life, what it considers BEST for me
  • Stop fighting against all situations in life and fear that the Universe has turned it’s back on you
  • Document everyday, each day is special
  • Trust the process, go with the flow.

I guess I’m all set for the new year, are you?

My ideal daily routine

#72/100

“Successful people aren’t born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t like to do.”

William Makepeace Thackeray

I was going to talk about my dream life today but thought that’s too vague a topic to discuss. For some people, their dream life would be to own a mansion and live like a princess for the rest of my life (people like me!). Let me narrow my thought process to a daily routine, the ideal one. What do you absolutely need to do in a day to have a feeling of fulfilment at the end of it? Have you been struggling to implement certain habits in your routine that’s sure to benefit you in the long run? I sure have. What makes you struggle with these habits and you end up delaying it every single day? In my case, the regret of not following a good routine piles up every single day and ends up frustrating me one fine day to the point of absolute resentment towards my lack of discipline.

Since we have established, motivation does little to achieve our goals. Pushing ourselves to have disciplined life ensures a happy life, fulfillment of goals (short and long term) and increased self esteem. These sound great, yet I’m unable to be consistent with my routine, what should I do? Try to recollect the first time you tried to imbibe a new habit into your life. The first few days are a struggle, once we get past the first month, our body reacts to the activity on an auto pilot mode. Once we reach that stage, absence of that activity in our routine makes us feel incomplete.

Although I’ve read many articles on the exact number of days to create a new habit. As per research it’s 21 days. However, I’ve quit many activities even after consistently following it for 21 days. My exercise schedule was set after a month. Blogging daily also became a part of my routine after a month. I guess, a month works best for me.

Now comes the struggle part. The first month is filled with doubts, confusion and irritation. After few days, we really begin to question ourselves if we actually need to put ourselves through so much trouble to stick to a routine. This is then time we need to distract our selves, use positive self talk, use any/all tricks in the book to continue the routine next day. What really works for me is to take each day as it comes. The big goal looks humungous when we are struggling to follow it every day. We need to take each day as it comes and just try to stick to completing the schedule set for the day.

I wish to achieve the below long term goals in life :-

  • Early riser
  • Reader
  • Best shape of my life (Mentally and physically)
  • Knowledgeable
  • Happy with my job

I intend to stick to a routine for the next 30 days to make powerful habit beneficial in achieving the above long term goals. I’ll see you at the end of 30 days to discuss my experience and outcome of this routine.

Thank God it’s Friday!

“Life must be terrible for working people, considering they spend every Friday night celebrating a two-day break from it.”

Robert Black

#7/100

When I was in school, we had 2 holidays in a week. One would fall in the middle of the week on Thursday and the other one was our beloved Sunday. I was so used to the 2 day holiday routine in school that adjusting to just one during my college days was bit of a task. As I was studying for Chartered Accountancy exams during those days, I had classes throughout the week, even on Sunday. However, the fact that I didn’t have a break from my routine even on a Sunday had little impact on me. Throughout the week I had work, studies as well as the company of my friends to keep me busy. I did long for a rest day or vacation or just some time to laze around however the lack of it didn’t make me unhappy.

Once I began my professional journey, I realized the true meaning and longing for the weekend. My only motivation to drag myself out of my bed on Monday was the lure of the weekend in 5 days. By the time it was Wednesday, I had already started celebrating the onset of the weekend. Friday became the most happy day of my life, no external situation or being could hamper my mood on a Friday. Usually there’s nothing that I plan to do during the weekend that I patiently wait for. Even when I note one mentally or physically write down a plan, I forget all about it on the Saturday morning. Weekend for me became a 2 day escape from my daily routine, the life that I’m required to live to earn a living.

Don’t get me wrong. My daily routine or rather weekdays aren’t that bad. I have a comfortable job. However, there’s something about what I do for a living that bothers me. Every night during the weekdays, I reluctantly fall asleep knowing that I’m not living my best life. Trust me, I wasn’t like this during my student days, I was oblivious to the situations around me and had limited worries to take care of.

So what’s the difference between my student days and now? Back then my only worry was preparing and excelling in my exams. That’s all I had to do. I truly believed that if I could just clear my Chartered Accountancy exams, I’d be able to erase the existence of stress, worry and negativity from my life.I felt that lack of money was the root cause of all problems in my life. As I became a full grown adult, I had the unpleasant realization that things don’t really work that way.

What is it in my current daily routine that I desperately seek a timeout from? My core personality highly disapproves my professional identity. I do not indulge in work on a daily basis that feed my mind, soul and inner child. That’s why they are desperate to be their true authentic selves during the weekend, when I don’t have any professional commitment. That’s why Fridays are special and weekends celebrated. I truly envy people who don’t experience such feelings, have a life they absolutely enjoy and don’t wish to escape from any part of it. For now I’ll try to find all those little things that maintain my sanity and keep me happy.