Author: Kunaal

Top 7 books that helped shape my mindset in 2017

Top 7 books that helped shape my mindset in 2017

All my life I believed self-help books don’t help in any form. Let alone changing mindset. Don’t ask me how I got this idea. There many people who still believe books don’t help. As you may have already guessed my perception has changed and I am going to read The Daily Stoic again this year.

Here is my list of books:

1) The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

I have always heard about Stoic philosophy but had the chance to read it as it was in forms way beyond my comprehension. Ryan Holiday in this book lists down 365 philosophical extracts from various books and explains each of them in a very concise manner. I fell in love with it by just reading first few excerpts. Each of these extracts was mostly one-pager. Reading one chapter a day helped build my mental resilience and improve my overall quality of life. I will read this book once more this year till I get a firm hold on them.

2) Managing Time by Harvard Business Review

You can read this book within 30 minutes. I took away one idea of tracking every minute of the time I spent in the office. Just tracking itself gave me an insight into how I can manage my time better. I am not moderately productive. Managing time takes a lot of practice, and I hope to get better this year.

3) Choose Yourself by James Altucher

I love James Altucher. He has a fantastic way of telling stories which are relatable to a person like me. Choose Yourself is a simple read but it has given me the confidence to work on myself and not compare myself with others.

4) How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

I was born with anxiety and fear. Most of these anti confidence elements were mostly in my mind. Dale Carnegie installed a new software in my brain to deal with that did not even exist in the first place. It’s just Rs.120 on Amazon, but I feel its a must buy and worth much more than the value it provides.

5) Inner Engineering by Sadhguru

I always knew I had a Spiritual bent of mind but was also skeptical about it. Sadhguru explained in a language what is Spirituality and why we should look inside to progress in our life. I am proud that I understood Spirituality scientifically.

6) Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

Derek narrated his story of CDbaby authentically.  He expresses his love for contributing the community he believed in, on his terms. His email upon receiving order showed how small touch points with customers matter. I always believed in catering to small details with customers, and he made my belief even stronger.

7) Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath

I was good at my work and always a good performer, but I always felt something was missing. I thought I could do much more with my capabilities. But, I did not know what they were. I saw this book lying on most our HR teams desk.I decided to get a copy after knowing that it was the most sold book in the year 2016. I found that developing/mentoring people is what I got the most satisfaction. I love bringing out the best in people and can never get tired of it. I decided to do this much more often. I recently opened a channel called Lifeaholic just so that I could put my ideas in small videos.

With some strength provided by Stoic Philosophy to create my philosophy combined with my strengths, I decided to develop my philosophy. My channel is based entirely on the new Lifeaholic philosophy I created. I hope to touch and improve many lives with this philosophy.

 

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 7 – Retrospective Learning

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 7 – Retrospective Learning

Losing track of from your learning objectives is easy.

Nothing can be more frustrating than spending time on learning something and not getting good at it. We all fall into this trap. Nothing uncommon.

Imagine you have to cycle from Point A to B. There are multiple routes to the end location. Some are short, some are difficult, some are tricky, some have roadblocks, and some feel pleasing but misleading. You have to choose the optimal route based your skills. Also, you cannot spend endless time exploring all the paths as it will only delay when you reach point B. It will just leave you tired and less motivated to keep going.

Similarly, we have multiple ways to reach our learning objectives. Learning a particular topic is time bound. Also, a smart choice of a leaning path keeps us motivated to keep learning.

Which brings us to the question – How do we know we are in the right direction?

Retrospective learning is the answer.

Whenever you learn something, you must also ensure you keep applying the knowledge as you learn. You can do this by either solving a situational problem or teaching the concept to someone else or hypothetically implement it in another field just like we make jokes. While applying your recently gained knowledge, you will hit possible loopholes in your understanding. Which in turn helps you figure out where you need to focus your effort on learning.

You are very likely to understand and apply few of the topics faster, but some may take longer. You can choose to spend time on the weaker topics, but not for long.

I like to begin by directly applying the topic I want to learn. For example, if I want to learn Machine Learning, I start by implementing a primary method. Naturally, I may suck at the first attempt. Then I discover some topics and apply again. I get better by maybe 1%. I keep doing this till eventually, I gain mastery over it. Not only that I also teach it to others whenever I find the time. It helps me strengthen my hold on the topic.

Do you have any other ways that help you learn faster? Please mention your methods in the comments below.

 

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 6 – Sustaining Daily Habits

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 6 – Sustaining Daily Habits

Goals set. Daily habits are in place.

But.

There are days where our work demands more time and sometimes unplanned activities. Also, we cannot ignore our responsibility towards our family and close friends.

While starting off my daily habits, I faced many challenges do sustain them. Many years of habits were hard to shake off. Habits such as spending pointless hours on Social Media. Hours spent worrying, thinking about my future and dwelling on the past. Feeling of guilt if not doing the things I like. Fear of missing out. To shut these thoughts, watching movies and binge-watching TV series.

The fact is we are a generation with knowledge on our fingertips. For the previous generation, knowledge was power. Our generation has so much knowledge; we don’t know how to use it. For us, fighting distractions have become of prime significance.

What do we do in such situations where distractions are a part of daily life? 

I know I will reach my goals if I put in the daily hours. However, on days where distractions win, I ensure I do my daily activities even if they have to be for few seconds. It helps me to sustain the habit and not break the continuity.

Reading is one habit I wanted to cultivate. To sustain the habit, I read minimum one line with full awareness. If one line was not possible, then I just read just one word.

Writing is one habit I still struggle with, so I decided to write my original quotes. Now it has become a game. I try and summarise every situation into one line quote. I plan to use them in my articles. I got the idea of the quote below when I too tired to even sit.

Make your daily goals so tiny that you can achieve them even if you are half asleep.

Yes! that’s it. The solution is simple. For any habit, make it so tiny that you can do it every day.

Please share your experience of starting a new habit and how you overcame challenges to sustain the habit?

 

Goals Goals Goals! Where do you go after the first few months of the year?

Goals Goals Goals! Where do you go after the first few months of the year?

Every year we set goals expecting we will work on them. Like everyone, I did set my goals religiously every year. For most of my life, I forgot about my goals just after a few months of the year. Naturally, I was filled with the feeling of guilt and resentment for the rest of the year.

2017 was different. I realised if I did the same things and expect different results; I was only making a fool of myself. So I consciously made an effort to all those things that I would usually not do.

I started by choosing a driving force that will keep me going. I did not want to be mediocre. I decided to do more things I loved and most importantly do them every day.

Out of the many things I did at the start of 2017, here are top 3 of them that helped me significantly.

1. Read Books and started reading articles on Medium

I did not like reading books. I forced myself to read not just any book but those that will help me execute my goals.

I began by reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I then read 4 Disciplines of Execution by Jim Huling and Rajan Kaicker. Both of them significantly changed my mindset.

If books are still not your thing, read Medium. It’s the best self-help platform I have come across. I still read one article per day. Interestingly it has answers to the questions I ponder over.

I quickly put all the knowledge I gained to action.

I decided to read, write, and learn to play the keyboard. To keep myself up to date on the career front, I decided to learn technical skills from Lynda and Coursera. I decided to get up early, exercise and meditate to improve my productivity. I made self-journals, made notes, made to-do lists to keep my mind organised.  Taking cold showers was for learning to face my fears daily. Make videos on my YouTube channel. Spend quality time with family. Inspire people. Do those adventurous activities I always wanted to do.

Seems impossible?

It did to me at first. Its 11 months now and I have successfully installed these habits into my daily routine. Also, I learned to Scuba dive, and the experience has been satisfying. Check out my experience in this video.

2. Start with just one goal and break it down into small tasks

I did not build each habit from day one. I started by taking the 52-week challenge on Goodreads. I recorded the time it takes to finish one book. A 250 page for me took around 6 hours. So, I needed to read 50 pages in an hour for six days in a week. One day for a buffer. With this strategy in mind, it was easy for me to sustain the habit.

I always have a strong Why for any activity I take up. It helps me stay motivated.

Why 52 books?

If Bill Gates like personalities, despite their busy schedules find time to read daily, I could do it too. Moreover, since I had read a few books, I knew how they could significantly impact my thinking. And I wanted to do it because I started enjoying it. I now have a mini library and a gifted myself a Kindle after I read ten books.

Image of a book shelf
My Mini Library

As of today, I have read over 27 books this year falling short by 50%. A phenomenal achievement for a person who has not read even 25 books in his whole lifetime. In 2018, I will give another shot at reading 52 books.

When you learn to master one habit, you now know how to develop more habits and sustain them. You brain ticks automatically to make more space for your activities.

3. Tracking the progress of all your activities

Cricket or any other sport is exciting because there is a scoreboard that is visible always. By looking at the scorecard, you can instantly tell if your team is winning or losing.

Similarly, if take each goal and track your progress daily, it keeps you going. The day you see you have done 21 days without missing a day you will know you have built a momentum. Now don’t break this chain. If your goal is to read every day, then read minimum one line to keep going. One quote that made a difference was from one of the most famous comedian Seinfeld. It was on writing new jokes every day.

“Take a big calendar and mark the days you wrote. For chains and don’t break them. If you are not writing every day, you are getting good at not doing it.” – Seinfeld

It’s been nine months since I started using the app called HabitHub to track my habits. Simple to use and keeps me motivated by quotes daily. While writing this blog, I got the following quote:

“Winning starts with beginning.”

Reading Graph
Percentage completion of my daily reading habit

Good luck setting and achieving your Goals for 2018!

I always thought my life is not that interesting

I always thought my life is not that interesting

We all insecure, not in all aspects but few of them. Some people are completely insecure.

I was insecure too. Maybe I still am.

I wanted to write. So, I bought a website. Learned how to use WordPress CRM.

In November 2013, I wrote an article One Sided Love and published it. It contained not more than 200 words. I felt a sense of achievement. However, it did not last long. I realised my Grammar was weak; I had few words in my dictionary, and I feared to express my sincere self.

It is now exactly four years since I first wrote my first article. The journey is amazing. At first, I wrote with my insecurities at its peak. Maybe I still have some vulnerabilities but don’t fear expressing now.

The decision not live a life of mediocracy has propelled in making my life exciting and full of possibilities.

Today I enjoy the process of writing and expressing my true self. I write and make courses for my YouTube Channel daily. I enjoy being in this space. My goals before lacked a sense of direction. Now, I dare to dream bigger.

What made this difference in my life? – Comparing myself to others. 

I used to compare myself to others which made me feel small. I decided to work on myself and erase this need to compare myself to others. It was a slow process, but it worked. Now I race against my yesterday’s version.

I think to myself, If I can write 500 words in one session, I think I can write 1,000 words also. I push myself to achieve the targets I set for myself. More often I meet them. When I reach my goal, it fuels my motivation levels.

The process of working on yourself it lifelong and I have committed to this journey. This shift in my mindset has made my life interesting and enjoyable.

This journey would not be possible without the timely support of friends, family and mentors. I will be forever thankful to them.

If you think your life is not that interesting, Think Again!

Moreover, if you think your life interesting, do leave your story in the comment section. 🙂

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 4 – Overcoming significant hurdles

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 4 – Overcoming significant hurdles

A journey without hurdles is not a journey you should not wish you had. Ekalavya had faced many obstacles during his practice. Most of them involved with fighting himself.

One year back I set a Goal to write a blog every week. The most significant hurdle I faced was my grammar and the number of words in my dictionary. I think I had probably under 500 words when I started. Both of them seemed enormous in my mind. Without wasting time, I started learning grammar. I installed an app and began building my dictionary.

Facing Hurdles is a sign of progress. If you don’t have any, success may be delusional.

Perfecting grammar is a long process. I still wanted to write and not wait till I learned proper grammar. I bought a subscription of Grammarly which is an app which corrects my grammar as I write. Before I purchased the subscription, I ensured I built the habit of writing four days a week. It was sufficient to help me publish one blog every week.

If you look at the first blog, I wrote and compared with it my recent ones. You will observe a stark difference. It is effortless to give up when the work you produce it ugly. All I had to do was to set my habit and then remove my most significant hurdles.

Am I satisfied with my work?

No, not yet!

Have I improved?

I might have improved 1%. I still have a long way to go. Today I am enjoying the process rather than worrying about reaching the end goal.

What hurdles have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 5 – Protect your schedule

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 5 – Protect your schedule

Once you have your sound habits in place, the next step is to protect your schedule. We now know that mastery is all about doing it every day till the rest of your life. Our schedule plays an important role.

Suppose you have four habits in a day and you need to 30 minutes for each activity. It means you have to schedule 2 hours each day outside your day job working hours. Ensuring you get the 2 hours every day would say you have to start early.

Getting up early in the morning was never easy for me unless I have some adventure activities lined up in the morning.

I first started getting up around 8 am. Slowly improved the time to 6 am. Currently, I am now targetting 5.30 am. It was not an easy journey. I used to get up to a task, feel sleepy and fall back to sleep. I have more hours a day. It is easy for me to complete 90% of my activities every day. Of course, I still have to fight the distractions and battle the obligations thrown at me by friends or office colleagues or family. Dealing with family and friends is a different topic altogether.

Getting up early in the morning is an art. You can do it by carefully monitoring your quantity of food during dinner time. Light and less spicy food work well for me. As a person who does not drink coffee to get me activated in the morning, this formula works for me. You have to figure out your formula.

In this process of closely monitoring and protecting my schedule, I found new respect for working women. They have additional responsibilities apart from their regular work. I have seen many ambitious friends in my circle who have managed squeeze in time for their interests. Thier schedule has more activities than we could ever imagine. We can take inspiration them and learn from them on how they handle a packed schedule daily.

If you have not yet built your schedule, I believe you should get started with it immediately.