Take small steps instead of perfect steps…

To work towards a goal be it personal or professional we have two choices: 

• Take multiple and frequent steps towards the goal – Quantity of steps

Take infrequent but perfect steps toward the goal – Quality of steps

Here is an experiment that elaborates the difference(Courtesy: Atomic Habits):

ON THE FIRST day of class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film, photography students, into two groups.

Everyone on the left side of the classroom would be in the “Quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work (No. Of Photos) they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on. 

Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “Quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but it had to be a nearly perfect image to get an A. 

At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the Quantity group.

Reason

During the semester, “Quantity” students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. 

Meanwhile, the Quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo. 

Dont get bogged down to make it perfect

It is easy to get bogged down trying to find the optimal plan for change: the fastest way to lose weight, the best program to build muscle, the perfect idea for a side hustle. We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action. 

As Voltaire once wrote, “The best is the enemy of the good.”

The problem with perfect quality steps is most of the time we don’t even know what’s a perfect step and are scared to “NOT GET” the perfect steps. Hence won’t even start towards a goal. It’s very difficult to find out the perfect steps and leads to analysis paralysis.

Whereas small frequent steps give us confidence, make us more proficient in the skill, giving us a much better chance. So let’s keep taking small but frequent steps even if it’s inaccurate towards our goals and achieve them.

Why are you thinking?

Thinking is considered a waste of time today. 

Imagine, if you found someone sitting alone in a conference room or someplace with no laptop, no devices, with just a pad/pen thinking? What will be your reaction? 

It will be like – “This guy is a nut case, what is he doing?

But he is thinking, reflecting and getting things in perspective or solving a problem.

Thinking, reflecting, and getting deeper into our own consciousness have given human beings all the ideas, inventions, & discoveries around the world. In fact, Einstein used to call it “Thought Experiments” and that’s what gave him his best inventions.

How can someone solve any problem without thinking? “Thinking is the most productive work and that’s what differentiates us from animals”.

But still, we spend much less time “Thinking” nowadays. Here is why we stopped giving importance to “Thinking”:

Its derogatory to make time for thinking

Similar to the above scenario (Sitting alone in a conf room), there are numerous examples, where making time to think is disapproved. What are you thinking? Why are you thinking? These questions are asked more as criticizing the person as if thinking is a crime.

The person who wants alone time to think is considered anti-social. 

Instead of thinking you should be working or discussing with colleagues etc. Should be doing something productive, why are you wasting time on thinking :). To hell with that – “Thinking” is the most productive work one can do.

Too many distractions 

When was the last time you sat down for 20 minutes without doing anything, without mobile/laptop, without TV, without any distractions? 

Before the mobile or internet era, at least while traveling, we use to enjoy scenes and in the process think & reflect. Nowadays because of mobile (or a device), we listen to sound bites, watch movies, chatting, texting in media, or on calls. 

Can we sit in a room for 20-30 minutes without distractions? When do we have time to think?

Can’t be alone, thinking is so boring, makes us uncomfortable

We can’t be in solitude today. Flexing our thinking muscles makes us fidget and cannot do it for long.

Our excuse is we always have more exciting things to do.

Yes, thinking is boring initially, but as you do more often, you start enjoying it. Thinking is a conversation you are having with yourself, how can it be boring? 

It’s just that we lost our thinking cap because it’s considered unnecessary.

Thinking is replaced by copying others or social pressures to conform

Most of our life is spent analyzing & copying peers or doing things under social pressure. What are they doing? What others will say? etc.

Hence most of our decisions are already made by others. Look at your decisions, it’s driven by peers or neighbors or social rules. Yes, I agree, there is nothing wrong with being influenced. But in most cases instead of reflecting whether it is good or bad for us, we just copy or follow.

Copying is easier so why think? But as we mature and reflect on our decisions, we realize that most of what we copied or followed without thinking was not right for us.

The world does not want us to think

In today’s “materialistic world” no one wants us to think, Govt, Companies, Big brands, Social media. In fact, they want us to stop thinking and just listen to them, consume what they say, buy what they want, do what they say.

Look at it from their perspective, if all the decisions you take has to be taken by your independent thinking, will you never keep buying unnecessarily. Nope, if you reflect, pause and think why I am doing this? You will stop it and will become more sensible.

They don’t want us to think but to react, that’s what benefits them the mosts.

So how to get back to thinking

It’s simple – “Start thinking”. We all are culprits of not thinking enough, not analyzing enough, and let life happen to us in a zombie mode.

So relax and start thinking, let it grow on you. Make thinking time, take being alone time and be in solitude for some time daily. Let’s remove all the distractions while thinking, switch off everything else.

Thinking can be in different forms: 

• It can mean introspection, 

• It can mean sustained reading or writing. 

• It can mean the concentration of focused work alone.

• It is something where you brain is driving instead of being driven.

Thinking is the most productive work, and the more you do it..the better you become at life and enjoy doing it!

How to avoid bad decisions…

Success can be defined as avoiding failures. Failures happen mostly because of bad decisions.

So how to avoid bad decisions? Here are the top reasons why we make bad decisions

We are sometimes stupid, biased human beings

We like to think that we can rationally process information like a computer, but we can’t. Cognitive biases explain why we made bad decisions but rarely help us avoid them in the first place. It’s better to focus on these warning signs that signal something is about to go wrong.

Warning signs you’re about to unintentionally do something stupid:

• You’re tired, emotional, in a rush, or distracted.

• You’re operating in a group or working with an authority figure.

The rule: Never make important decisions when you’re tired, emotional, distracted, or in a rush.

We solve the wrong problem

The first person to state the problem rarely has the best insight into the problem. Once a problem is thrown out on the table, however, our type-A problem-solving nature kicks in and forgets to first ask if we’re solving the right problem.

Warning signs you’re solving the wrong problem:

• You let someone else define the problem for you.

• You’re far away from the problem.

• You’re thinking about the problem at only one level or through a narrow lens.

The rule: Never let anyone define the problem for you.

We use incorrect or insufficient information

We like to believe that people tell us the truth. We like to believe the people we talk to understand what they are talking about. We like to believe that we have all the information.

Warning signs you have incorrect or insufficient information:

• You’re speaking to someone who spoke to someone who spoke to someone. Someone will get in trouble when the truth comes out.

• You’re reading about it in the news.

The rule: Seek out information from someone as close to the source as possible, because they’ve earned their knowledge and have an understanding that you don’t. When information is filtered (and it often is), first consider the incentives involved and then think of the proximity to earned knowledge.

We fail to learn

You know the person that sits beside you at work that has twenty years of experience but keeps making the same mistakes over and over? They don’t have twenty years of experience—they have one year of experience repeated twenty times. If you can’t learn, you can’t get better.

Most of us can observe and react accordingly. But to truly learn from our experiences, we must reflect on our reactions. Reflection has to be part of your process, not something you might do if you have time. Don’t use the excuse of being too busy or get too invested in protecting your ego. In short, we can’t learn from experience without reflection. The only reflection allows us to distill experience into something we can learn from to make better decisions in the future.

Warning signs you’re not learning:

• You’re too busy to reflect.

• You don’t keep track of your decisions.

• You can’t calibrate your own decision-making.

The rule: Be less busy. Keep a learning journal. Reflect every day.

We focus on optics over outcomes

Our evolutionary programming conditions us to do what’s easy over what’s right. After all, it’s often easier to signal being virtuous than to actually be virtuous.

Warning signs you’re focused on optics:

• You’re thinking about how you’ll defend your decision.

• You’re knowingly choosing what’s defendable over what’s right.

• You’d make a different decision if you owned the company.

• You catch yourself saying this is what your boss would want.

The rule: Act as you would want an employee to act if you owned the company.

Fish looking for the Ocean…

Fish looking for Ocean

I heard this story about a fish. He swims up to an older fish and says: “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.

The ocean?” the older fish says, “that’s what you’re in right now.

This”, says the young fish, “this is water. What I want is the ocean!

-Soul

We are running to get life, while life is running away!

-Anon

Why be happy only 10% of our lifetime?

Small things in life.

Why be happy only for the big moments in life?

Why can’t we be happier, laugh more and make merry for the smaller moments?  Why can’t we lower our bar to get excited and be happier about the small things?

If we divide life into two parts :-

The first part – Smaller, daily, or routine things that happen. It constitutes 90% of our lifetime. Smaller things like:- 

A casual laugh with friends.

An emotional smile with your other half.

The tasty food.

Smell of Coffee.

Sunlight in your face.

Playing with your kids.

Helping others sometime going out of way.

Play games with your family & friends.

These smaller moments happen almost daily and frequently but we choose to either ignore it or bypass it watching in a drunken stupor looking something beyond them…something bigger, holding ourselves back for the big moment to come.

Second part – Bigger, larger life events that happen. It constitutes 10% of our lifetime. Bigger events like:–

Got selected into a good job.

Got your salary hike.

Bought something new and bigger than your neighbours. A car, A house.

Travel to some exotic place.

There may be more, but the above does not happen more than 15-20 times in our lifetime.

So why depend on these bigger moments that are rare to make us happier and keep waiting?

Sure we should strive for the bigger moments but if we are happier with the smaller things in life i.e the 90% part, these 10% will automatically be with us.

This is the reason children are happier most of the time as they are happy and excited about smaller things in life.

So smile 🙂 ! Be happy and be excited for the next small thing that is coming your way today.

Let’s stop setting Goals…

Why we set up Goals? A simple answer is to be successful. If you are a sports-person winning the sport. If an entrepreneur then achieving a revenue level or key metrics.  And if a student aiming to excel in exams to get a good career.

At the same time, I am sure our fellow sports-person, business competitors, or classmates are also setting similar goals.

But only a few of us achieves these goals.  So what differentiates between setting Goals and achieving them –

The Systems(Process) is the differentiator, which we build consistently not Goals.

Here are few problems with setting Goals:

Winners and losers have the same Goals

Every Olympian participating wants to win gold, but only a few wins it. Every candidate wants to get a good job. And if successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal by itself cannot be the differentiating factor between the winner and the losers.

It’s with the systems, the process that makes winners achieve their goals.

Achieving the goal brings only a momentary change

Imagine you worked hard and got your dream job, but after joining you got complacent in the job. As your performance drops, you start feeling frustrated and if you don’t mend ways soon you may have to leave the job.

Achieving the goal only changes our life momentarily. Maintaining that level or as we aspire more we need to be always performing or learning at that level, in fact, keep increasing our bar.

So Goal even if its achieved, is temporary, not a long-term achievement. 

Goal restricts our happiness and limits motivation

Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone. 

In this case happiness was always something for future self to enjoy. 

When all the hard work is focused on a particular goal, motivation to keep working hard drops once we achieve it. Whereas in life there is always the next level of aspirations.

If we enjoy the systems, the process we will be much happier and will be consistently achieving success.

Goals without Systems makes us dependent on luck

Without proper systems, we may achieve a goal or may not there is no surety. In the end, it’s about performance but unless we are sure about ourselves, it’s left to chance. Mentally it is accounted as being lucky if we achieve the goal or unlucky if not.

Edison’s failed 10,000 times before perfecting his electric bulb, do you think he was dependent on luck or goal setting? If he would not have followed the process diligently, again and again, it’s not possible to achieve such a feat.

Even luck favours Systems and Consistent hard work. 

So enjoy the process, build the systems and don’t worry about goals, it will follow you around.

Why I stopped reading self-help books…

No matter how many self-help and motivation books I read if things do not move as planned the feeling of despair creeps in.

But if we look at it closely things rarely move as per plan for anyone, it’s either good or bad based on our perception of the situation.  

In the end, nothing is as good as it seems or as bad as it seems. And the feeling of despair will go away as the new day comes.

So whenever the feeling comes in I remember this quote from Gita:

Whatever happened, happened for the good. Whatever is happening, is happening for the good. Whatever will happen, will also happen for the good.

– Bhagavad Gita