Nov 23, 2021

How our priorities get realigned

Sometime in Sept 2020, I had written an article titled "How to slow down?". In this article, I had mentioned my priorities in life in a particular order.

What 2021 has taught me is that such priorities can never be carved in stone. Life forces us to readjust and realign our priorities.

To give you an example, when my dad was in a critical state, I couldn't focus on my health and wellbeing for nearly 4-5 months. I was in that crisis mode and ended up feeling exhausted on all levels - physical, mental, and emotional. Yoga practice went for a toss, sleep was disturbed, stress levels were high because of the uncertainty. Simple, homecooked food and regular walks were the only habits that I managed to continue during this timeframe. Thankfully, that helped me sustain my current state of health.

From a priority point of view, those 4-5 months looked like this:

  1. Dad
  2. D and K
  3. Spiritual practice (prayers)
  4. My health and wellbeing
  5. Hobbies and interests
  6. Professional work

As things are settling down a little bit, the priorities are again getting realigned.

Another learning from this whole experience is that we end up facing the consequences of others' choices. As individuals, we might make lifestyle choices that are beneficial for our health. If others in the family don't prioritize their health or make the right choices in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, we end up bearing the brunt of it, in terms of mental, emotional, and financial stress.

As I had shared sometime back, medical expenses are extremely high - be it specialist consultations, tests, scans, inpatient stay, medicines, rehabilitation and recovery, caretaker assistance, and much more. It causes a huge dent in our financial plans. If this financial outflow has to be borne by a single member, the stress levels of that person hit the roof, resulting in an increased probability of getting into the trap of lifestyle disorders. And the cycle repeats itself for the next generation.

I read this somewhere - "People are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic lifestyle diseases (diabetes, blood pressure, obesity, etc), mostly during the times of crisis and high-stress levels". Stress is a major contributing factor, much more than food or exercise.

As we plan our future in our 20s-30s, it is best to think about these aspects and allocate a medical emergency fund, take insurance for our parents and in-laws, build financial resilience by identifying opportunities that increase our income.

Behavior change is so difficult, as we get older. I'll write a separate post on why I don't believe in this idea - "We take the right steps towards our lifestyle and others in the family will automatically follow".

Nov 18, 2021

Joy of learning

All of us have 24 hours in a day.

How we spend that time determines the quality of our lives.

How much time we invest in continuous learning determines the level of impact we create on ourselves and in society.

I firmly believe in this phrase "Learning doesn't stop at school or college". To be honest, I started enjoying learning only after I finished my formal school and college education. I used to study well during my school/college days, but the motivation was mainly due to extrinsic factors - grades, marks, competition, campus placements etc, rather than the sheer joy of learning.

As I stepped out of my college, I realized this - when the motivation to learn is more intrinsic, learning becomes super joyful.

Why does it become joyful?

Because we are not bound by a syllabus or a textbook

Syllabus free learning - a space where our curiosity decides the syllabus and not an educational institution. In the past few years, I have become curious about the subject of nutrition. This curiosity has made me understand nutrition from the perspectives of modern nutrition science, Ayurveda, Siddha principles, nature cure, food processing, and more. I also realized during my MBA programme that psychology as a subject interests me quite a bit. Since then, I have read many popular books and have done a couple of MOOC courses on psychology-related topics, out of my own volition, without an external push.

Because it is self-led and self-paced

The time taken to learn a particular subject is solely dependent on the individual - skills, prior experience, interest levels, ability to focus, and practice efforts. At school/college, all of us are given a fixed time to understand and master a concept. Some might pick up, say, differential calculus in Mathematics within a short duration, while some might need more time. When learning is self-led, the pace is determined by us. If the subject is of interest to us, we would be ready to invest more time and effort. There is no need for an external person (or an external factor) to push us.

Because the source of learning is decided by us

In an educational institution, the primary source of learning is via a professor/textbook / spiral-bound material (or that's how it used to be 1-2 decades back). When learning is intrinsic, the source can be decided by us, based on the mode of learning we are comfortable with. Physical books, audiobooks, podcasts, videos, author interviews, blogs, white papers, academic research, courses, workshops, 1:1 interactions with experts - the options are plenty.

Do you prioritize continuous learning outside of school and college? What subjects/topics are you curious about now? 

Nov 17, 2021

Book Review: Zero to One by Peter Thiel

 Most of the books I have read so far this year belong to the spirituality/philosophy/self-help genre. I wanted to shift gears and pick up a few books from other genres in the last 2 months of 2021.

Peter Thiel's Zero to One has been on my reading list for a while. It is a concise 200 pager without a lot of unnecessary fluff. As a result, it leaves the reader with a lot of important questions to ponder over related to building a startup

  • bold, new, unique ideas and not incremental improvements
  • importance of having a vision, a plan, and deliberate design to achieve the plan instead of a lean, iterative approach
  • importance of sales and distribution and not focusing only on the product
  • focus on durability and relevance instead of short term growth

The book poses an interesting argument on how monopolists drive progress, both internally as an organization as well as externally for the industry and society at large.

The chapter "You are not a lottery ticket" - one of my favorites - so beautifully explains the importance of shaping the future with a clear intention and purpose. Those who love 2*2 matrices, you'll find an interesting one here!

The author shares a lot of unique perspectives on setting the foundation of a startup right, the initial hires, company culture, and distribution strategy. The seven questions that every business must answer are a useful guide for any startup.

Zero to One is a relevant read for anyone working for technology startups or on the verge of setting up their venture.

Nov 8, 2021

Book Review: Karma by Sadhguru

 2021 has been one of the most challenging years of my life, on multiple fronts. Every challenge has invoked multiple questions about life and its workings. The Universe has been supporting me immensely in facing these challenges, by providing the right answers through multiple sources. One such source is this thought provoking book "Karma - A Yogi's guide to crafting your destiny" by Sadhguru.

Part I of the book talks deeply about the nuances of Karma. The very first chapter breaks the commonly held myth - that Karma is a mechanism of reward and punishment. Rather, it is a system of creating the blueprint for our lives. Whatever we do with our body, mind or energy leaves a certain imprint.

The book then explains how Karma is dependent on our volition and our memory (imprints/impressions accumulated over time). It was so fascinating to read about the different types of memory we carry, the nature of collective and individual karma. The short anecdotes interspersed throughout the book help us understand the concept better.

Part II of the book talks about how Karma Yoga at the three levels - physical body, mental body and energy body can help us create conscious lives.

I was able to resonate strongly with the chapters on physical and mental body, but I found the chapter on energy body hard to grasp.

It was quite an intense book, but when read at the right moment of our lives, will make a lot of sense and provide enough clarity.

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