act2create: Notes for self before my first 10K Green run

When I began with my motive to be fit in January this year, I never thought I would be participating for any fitness events sooner this year. This Sunday morning, I am heading for my first 10K green run of my life. I have practiced and achieved the landmark of a 10K run during my practice phase and I am confident of my ability to complete it but I have failed on many occasions as well. I have failed so terribly that I stopped within 2 miles itself. Learning from my failures, here are the notes for myself:

  • Begin slowly. Speed will be gained gradually once you gain the momentum. The first 15 minutes are very crucial to be relaxed when running. It doesn’t matter if others are running ahead of you. Your focus should be to run slowly for the first 15 minutes.
  • Be sufficiently hydrated for the run. Your stomach should not be too full nor too empty.
  • Nervousness will pour in as this is my first run. Keep your head down and just run. Don’t stop until you have made it.
  • Your have practiced and achieved the same distance before very easily. There is every reason why you will make it possible!
  • People are staring at you is a myth. They are standing in the crowd to cheer you and they want you to succeed.
  • Breathe from the mouth slowly and exhale slowly.
  • The Chi running method is the most effective technique you possess. Put it to use and achieve success.
  • If you ever feel like stopping, remind yourself why you began in the first place.
  • If for any sad reason you fail in your first 10K run, remind yourself that the race began at 5.30 A.M. in the morning. Most of the people are sleeping on a Sunday morning. You moved out of your comfort zone and by simply participating you are one step ahead of those who never tried. This is not the last race of your life. So try next time.
  • You have done well so far. I am proud of myself!
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act2create: Trying to hold yourself back, the most important aspect of our life today!

As a child, we grew up in the era of scarcity. My father was the sole bread earner for a family of 5. With the little money he managed to earn, most of it was spent of our household expenses, education or only on anything that was totally necessary. The tax slabs were also so high than today that he could rarely manage to save money on non-taxable investments for gaining tax benefits. My birthday and the new year fell in almost the same time frame and I always had one common new year shirt and a jeans pant for both special occasions. If we needed something, we were told to earn it with performance. So a cycle, a toy or a game required us to fare good in studies or to secure a higher grade which I rarely managed to earn.

A cake was brought at our small home only during my birthday. I remember that for my two elder sisters birthdays were never celebrated for them. Money was scarce, luxuries always seemed out of reach and I may have tasted cheese or butter not until I was 7 or 9 years old.

The story today is however different. Today, me and my wife are the bread-earners for our family. Although combined, we do not have a high income but it can be termed as a decent one. With our busy office schedules, we both wish if we could spend more time for the family and especially with our 3 year old daughter. With the little time which we manage to spend with her, we mostly surrender to her demands and we fear this may create a wrong attitude in her since her early age. Today if my little girl insists on anything, we can buy it in no time. A pizza, lunch, dinner, ice-cream, chips, chocolates or you name anything is just a phone call away. Toys from China are cheaper and easily available. Stylist clothes, costly gadgets, top branded perfumes and accessories are being manufactured and sold more than ever before. The problem today is that, we all have too many choices!

When you are given too many choices and when you can pick anything or more than one, the chances are you won’t give it much of a thought. Ask yourself, do you really pause for a few seconds and take time to think if you should be really eating that piece of extra cheese burst pizza or that famous deep fried chicken burger. We generally don’t. If we all were really the careful thinker type personality, then we wouldn’t have problems of obesity, too much drinking or smoking.

In the world which is becoming smaller and smaller and also one big common market day by day the options are only going to increase for you and me going further. With so many options available, you need to choose wisely or you decide whether to not choose at all. Life isn’t difficult, it is simply made up of making choices and making the right choices. A right choice does not happen by fluke or by making instant random decisions but it requires clear thinking from both the perspective. Every choice has something good and something bad associated with it. You and I need to choose the one that has most good aspects associated with it from the long run perspective.

Thinking is difficult as we mostly operate in a subconscious mode but thinking is necessary to make better choices. The famous author Napolean Hill titled his book as “Think and Grow Rich” and not work hard and grow rich. When you take time to think and most importantly clearly, you see the whole picture. To conclude, don’t just pick randomly or anything. Back every choice with enough good reasons. Choose wisely from a long run perspective to be happy!

act2create: Why money isn’t everything

We all go through school, college and higher studies for one good reason, “to ensure a good living and a great future“. We do not just settle for the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter but we look beyond them. The Maslow’s hierarchy does a good job of explaining the stage of human needs but everything that we need to add to our lives requires a price to be paid. The price is hard work, sacrifice and departing the hard earned money. Among all the different types of needs, the basic need of food, clothing and shelter is the most important of all for a human to fulfill.

Being the bread earner for my family, I am afraid at times if I won’t be able to fulfill the basic needs someday. What if I lose my job, what if I am no more then how will my family cope up with the huge home loan and my daughters future education. What if ….what if….what if…. and there are many such questions which concerns my mind. The solution to all these questions is to look beyond little money and earning more money. To answer my concerns, I have few investments and insurance policies. Every month, I need to pay the price for them called “EMI/installments/premium” to silence my concerning questions. In doing so, I have to stay away from my family and I head towards my office for a 9 hour heavy duty and 4 hours of daily travelling. In office, my boss expects me to work harder and better than his expectations every time and honestly I do have my own set of expectations which do not match with my existing work profile. Finding the precise work profile isn’t the easiest thing to do in a highly competitive job market today.Thus, my daily living comprises of hard work and sacrifice and most of us have a more or less similar kind of story to earn a salary every month. If you are a business owner or a professional, you too have your unique concerns.

Most of us think and firmly believe that more money could solve our problems. “If I had more money, I would be more happy, I could afford a luxurious world tour, a luxury car, a bigger house, etc……and the list goes on”. The truth however is somewhat different.  More money can help you afford more materialistic things but they do not guarantee happiness forever. Take for instance a digital multi function watch or the smartphone which I bought last year. The minute I got it in my hand, I was feeling happy and it kept me happy for the next few minutes till the next day when my friends liked it as well. The feeling of owning something you love makes you smile. It only made me smile for a day or two. Every morning before I leave for my office, I wear the watch and carry my cellphone with me everywhere but the same smile does not originate. After a year of usage, I am constantly looking forward to a new watch or a cellphone and although I don’t intend to purchase a new one now yet I keep browsing through the online shopping portal. Today, the online shopping sites are flourishing more than before. People are basically looking for things that will make them happy. We buy things at times which we necessarily do not need but we hope that they will make us happy and they will serve a purpose.

If you are somebody like me who’s an 80’s kid then you may remember games like Pacman or Mario. In comparison to the kind of games which we have today, they are very basic. They only had simple navigation and jump function  controls. These games were not very easily available. Hence even if any one friend had a TV Video game, then all of us gathered at his residence and we played them turn by turn. We laughed, jumped and smiled together. Today, there are Xbox, Playstations and Smartphones who have high end graphics and great sounds. Kids these days are busy using them individually and the innocent joy which we experienced is not seen with the new age kids. Parents have substituted time with family by giving their kids more. More does not necessarily mean happiness.

We all know about some famous actors from around the world who gave memorable performances and they committed suicides or died due to drug overdose. They had everything that many aspire for i.e. name, fame, money, respect and you can name it. Yet, they were not happy.They had more, but they were not happy. If money meant happiness, then we would see the richest people on the planet smiling all the time 24/7.

Happiness originates from a fine balance of pain and pleasure, work and play, ups and down, good and bad experiences. Happiness originates from gratitude. Happiness originates from a hug from a friend when you need him the most. Happiness originates from the smile of the girl whom you love. Happiness originates from appreciation of hard work. Happiness originates from knowing that somebody will open the door for you even if you are late from office.

Happiness is not just money, it is in everything. You associate meaning with anything you like and it becomes a reason for happiness. Don’t let the world or the manufacturers of a product tell you what happiness is. Not even me. The decisions and choices you make determine the life you will lead. Decide to be happy and choose to live wisely.

act2create: Being a good listener, a rare quality for which you will be loved by everybody

We all feel the need to be loved and to be listened to. You recently or sometime earlier had an experience and you wish you could share that with somebody close to you. You wish you could speak your heart out to somebody you could trust. You wish somebody gave you a shoulder on which you could lean when things didn’t turn out the way you would have wanted to. You wish you could tell the story you have but the truth is there are too many barriers. Either you can’t trust the other person or you still can’t find one such rare friend.

I had one such rare friend but we our ways parted when we chose our respective careers. We had last met each other around 11 years ago and since then our demanding office hours and personal lives made it impossible for us to meet. I must admit that every good relationship has its own ups and downs. Ours was no different either. We had our misunderstandings, arguments and ego problems but honestly he was the most matured person and a keen listener who kept the negatives at the minimum. I sometimes wished I could be like him. No doubt that he is very successful today and reached career peaks which few dared to imagine. I am sure, even you know only a few people, maybe one or two with whom you can share your feelings. Such people are rare to find. They do not just listen with care but you can actually see that their feedback is genuine and in your best interests. There may be traces of their own self interests but as I said before, the ultimate decision maker in your life is only you.

Last year I read a book on “Getting Past No” by William ury who is a Harvard university graduate. In his book he mentioned about how to be successful in negotiations. He mentioned in his book that the most successful negotiators have a very unique quality in them whereas a poor negotiator has a bad quality in them. Its about “LISTENING“. Good negotiators listen with interest to the other person’s point of view first and then speak whereas bad negotiators speak “blah blah blah” and then they say, “So! What do you think?”.

Post listening to the other person’s point of view first, you are giving him/her the chance to express his/her interests and concerns. Once they have expressed, it is then your chance to derive a positive meaning out of it which is in sync with your objective and the opposite person’s goal to go ahead with the discussion.

Mutual perspective

While I am sharing my understanding and knowledge based on the book and my experience but I am myself trying to be one good listener/negotiator. Here’s what can be done to be one:

  • Let the other person speak at first
  • Display a positive body language and a nod to show that you are understanding to his/her point of view but do not fake it. Try to listen with keen interest as much as possible.
  • Question wherever possible to get more insight or ask for clarification in a positive tone.
  • Do not jump to a decision at the spot
  • Derive a positive meaning out of it which is in sync with your ultimate objective
  • Take the discussion further showing interests and benefits with the Mutual goal
  • Close the discussion with the mutual agreement

A change takes place when you make conscious efforts towards it. The art of being a good listener also requires an effort.

act2create: Most important tip to be successful, ignore what others think about you!

If you want to be successful in life, you need to reach to a point where what others are thinking of you is of zero importance to you

People always have opinions. You have opinion, I have opinion and we all think of certain people, things and situations in a certain way. Our minds are judgmental and we all create an opinion based on assumptions. An opinion need not necessarily be a fact.

A few years ago my father purchased a ripe mango from the local market. It had the most beautiful texture, size but it lacked the authentic smell of a ripe mango. Based on the visual presentation, he purchased this and it was decided that we would have a piece of it after the lunch was over. Eagerly awaiting for a bite of the beautiful treat the Mango was served after our lunch by my mother. The first bite which we eagerly took with the highest expectations of taste turned out to be the worst thing ever eaten by me. Honestly, it did not have any taste at all. It was neither ripe, raw or bitter. I cannot describe that further.

So in total we had two different opinions. First the look made it attractive and in reality the taste was hopeless 😦

We never stopped eating mangoes after that experience but accepted that fruit for what it was. The same is the case with we the people. Other people’s opinions should not come in the way from pushing yourself further.

If we could stop thinking beyond what others are thinking of us then we could achieve much more in life. The pressure of people makes the best sportsman under perform for a crucial match.

Forgive, accept and move one in life! That’s the best approach for a healthy life 🙂

act2create: The power of creation and making it count

I began with writing in 2014. It was my aspiration to be a blogger and a writer someday. I had one goal in my mind, to post effective articles. Articles which would make difference in people’s life but the most easiest thing in this world to do is to tell others what to do but doing it yourself is the most difficult. That’s when I decided that I would set myself as an example instead of telling the world what to do. With act2create, I have an opportunity to begin with the changes which I have always aspired in my life and simultaneously post my experience and journey so you can relate with my failures and success.

In the last year, to begin with blogging and writing effectively I had purchased a 200 pages notebook and began with expressing my thoughts on paper. The book was filled completely in 3 months. I believed that firstly I would write in the book, rectify the article later and then post it on the blog. This however never happened and I only managed to fill the pages book. Till this date, nobody knows what I had written in those pages as I have never posted any of those articles online. It was although a good practice for me to begin with writing, it did not count.

Creation matters to keep yourself motivated. I cannot imagine the peace a sculptor or a painter would feel when he visits his own gallery filled with his creations. A creator feels the joy of a mother who has brought something to existence. A piece of ugly looking clay may turn out to be a million dollar artwork when shaped to beauty. Since my blog has gone online, I have managed to create 8 articles, I have made it count.

Your creation could make a big difference in the life of other people. Create what you think you can do best. Do not worry about whether it is good enough or not. Even if it may not seem the best to you, a step towards creation gives you the title of “creator“.

Do not hesitate, start small be consistent, improvise regularly and see the difference compounding over time.

act2create: The objective of your life should be……

While I am still a beginner when it comes to setting goals and streamlining my life, yet I would take this opportunity to identify one of the objective of your life.

A while ago I was thinking as to what is the objective of my life? Is it earning more than enough money, fame, recognition, being loved by many, having created a name or what is it? I checked across multiple blogs and posts through google but nothing really appealed or made sense to me. Maybe I wasn’t getting their point. Some said, what would you love to do if you weren’t being paid for it, while some said take a pen and paper and think of something which would make me cry but I didn’t cry either 😀 The most difficult part for this was getting an instant solution as soon as you begin to think. Unfortunately I couldn’t get an answer for myself.

I decided to keep this aside and thought my life isn’t that bad nor the best. If I am average and happy then it doesn’t matter. I am not answerable to anybody for this question and I breathed a sigh of relief. Something within my head didn’t stop looking for the answer. It was my subconscious which was looking for this unsolved mystery of my life. I remember it was afternoon and I generally hate to sleep in the noon on Sundays while everyone around you has feasted heavily and they are turning the hectic week’s effort into a good rest but somehow I lied down on the bed and closed by eyes. I laid down on my back and I was asleep in no time. It would have been not more than 15 minutes since I was asleep and I woke up with this statement in my mind.

“Your objective in your life should be to guide yourself in the right direction”

It was weird as I wasn’t really looking for the answer to this question but the exact words struck me forever. I woke-up immediately and decided to write this down but the lazy me decided to put this off as well. I went to the balcony and thought over this statement. I said to myself that it was a rather vague statement and nothing specific as I was looking for. I was looking for a specific objective like writing, teaching or maybe something which I loved deep down but never bothered to express. Yet this statement kept bothering me.

Alright, I know that I should guide myself in the right direction. Everybody does that. While staring outside the balcony window and thinking simultaneously, I realized the true meaning of what my mind had passed to me. The right direction itself referred to the choices which I needed to make. Knowingly or unknowingly we make too many wrong choices but we fail to realize the ripple effects it creates and compounds over our lives. We choose and we decide our own fate. From switching off the alarm and going to sleep the first thing every morning to switching off the alarm and waking up with enthusiasm for a morning jogging is a simple choice. From picking up the piece of creamy cake or the alcohol glass to choosing healthy foods and warm water is a simple choice. Saying to yourself that sometimes it is ok to make these wrong choices to staying adamant on the right choice even when the world decides to make fun of you is your choice.

You choose, you decide and you shape your own destiny. Guide yourself well for your own life and for your own good. It may not matter to anybody else but it will matter the most to you. Keep motivating yourself for the right path. Be your own life coach and don’t wait for miracles to happen. Set a single goal to begin and only settle till you have achieved it. Slow and steady even makes the slowest animal a winner.