Choose to have fun

DChitwoodWhenYouHaveFunAs we recover from the aftermath of the festivities around us and gear up to deal with more, it is perhaps, an opportune time for us to reflect on the feelings and emotions that we go through as we celebrate.

Many of us find ourselves in a situation where we believe we have to attend a party, even though we know it is really not going to be fun. These might be parties at work or social gatherings with the relatives whom we don’t really connect with much at all. Let us dwell on these for a bit, keeping in mind my interpretation of the fundamental principle of life, which says that, in every situation, we have a choice. If we do decide that being somewhere would be an utter waste of our time and effort and we would rather spend time doing something else, perhaps it might be wiser to politely decline and to be done with it. What a great opportunity that opens up for us – we can plan to do something we have wanted to do for ages and get really creative with that time.

Should we, however, lose the reasoning battle with ourselves and the people around us who matter, we might need to consider engaging in some self-talk.

Back to the principle – we do have a choice. We can go to the party wallowing in self-pity, feeling a misfit and not end up happy (just like we had known and hence, planned) or, we can decide to have a great time even before we land up there.

Visualization is a great tool in helping sportsmen gear up for victory and it does apply really well in day-to-day life too. Here’s how: Imagine that you will have a great time and start from there. Work your way backwards – to have a great time, what do I need to do? Look good, for sure. Go on, indulge yourself – get creative with what you wear. What about who I take along? Pick someone who will ensure you will have fun. You can always seek permission to bring a friend along – try it.

Think about how you would want to engage with people, what would you want to talk about? Has there been something on your mind you want to know more about or is there something you are dying to tell someone? Is there someone you know who might be in the least bit interesting, whom you could consider talking to? And really, this does not imply planning for a flirtation but it could really just be a simple act of thoughtful networking. Find out more about what a couple of women whom you can connect with might be up to. Find out more about the recipes of the food you like. The point being – do whatever it takes – but make it a fun time for yourself. You can decide to have fun, even before you land up somewhere. Give it a shot! Cheers!

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

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Forward, rewind and replay

122/365 || ResetAs I was sharing my life story with a fabulous story coach of international repute today, who is creating a pool of inspiring life stories across the globe, I discovered a pattern about the way I have been making decisions in life.

Making a decision, almost always, is about weighing the options one has and then thinking about the pros and cons before weighing in on one of the options. I use ‘almost always’ because there are times when accepting what comes our way and making peace with it, is sometimes, the only good choice to make when not many options are available to us, other than denial, of course.

So let’s say, something happens, which you were not expecting to happen. You now need to deal with it and make a decision. How do you decide? Try this. Take each option and fast forward your life post making that decision. e.g. If I take up this job now, then this might happen..and then that might happen…then…and you arrive at a certain set of things that might or might not seem appealing. The further you are able to fast forward, the better you might be able to choose. Hold these thoughts and start focusing on the option which seems the most appealing to you. Make that a ‘wannabe’ goal for yourself. Now move into a rewind mode..get back to where you are today. An then start playing your life afresh. So, if that is what I might end up with, then this is what I need to do now – to get to it. It works. This is really nothing but using your intuition for making decisions. The decisions you might end up making as a result of this would be better accepted by you and hence by people around you and are likely to leave you a much happier person.

The key is to stay focused on what would work for us in the future and the vision that we find compelling. That way, we would find our vision pulling us towards it and our chances of realizing it would be much higher.

We could, however, also use the converse of this technique to one’s benefit if our intent is to focus on something we have been neglecting for a long time, like health, for instance. Say, you want to lose weight but find that you are not able to exercise or follow a diet. In this kind of a situation, when we already have a pre-determined goal, if we focus on the things that can go wrong, we might be propelled towards action. So let’s say you have been advised to lower your cholesterol levels and you want to reduce your cholesterol by changing your eating habits. What could possibly happen if you don’t do something about it? And then..? And then..? And…is that what you really want? If not, then what should you do about it..now?

Every time you catch yourself slipping back into your comfort zone thinking you might want to take action some other time, fast forward to the worst possible outcome. Make that your driving force. You will do something about it because you don’t want to end up like that.

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

Life Beyond Family

family-wordleRecently, I was in a mentoring walk organized by a national forum for women entrepreneurs in Gurgaon. As women were introducing themselves, one woman started talking about how her husband’s illness had pushed her into a situation where she was left with no choice but to learn about managing finances and running a business. She spoke about how she had always assumed that he would be the earning member in the family and now, with his illness, she decided that she would need to do whatever was needed as she held their future in her hands.

Growing up in India (and this may be true for many other countries as well), many of us learn to be dependent on the men in our families for various things. From buying groceries or milk to repairing electrical fittings to driving us around or managing finances, we have created an ecosystem for ourselves which kind of exempts us from these activities. While it is helpful to divide responsibilities, it is important to ensure that we are fully capable of managing these activities by ourselves at any point in time, without waiting for an adverse circumstance to present itself and to force us into action.

This might mean some additional effort on our part. It could mean exploring online delivery of groceries or learning how to drive or even attending a Finance 101 class to understand how to manage inflow and outflow. It is important to think of these things before we find ourselves in a situation which is desperate and we find ourselves not having the time or the resources to gain these skills.

A very important aspect of being independent is emotional freedom. This is not relevant for you if you already have a set of friends that you hang out with and are able to have fun without your family around. Too often, those of us with families, especially those of us with children, tend to start believing that there is no happiness for us outside of our family. We tend to make excuses when our friends ask us out for a movie or if we need to travel without our family. While the emotional attachment is good and understandable, this could pose a risk over time. Not being able to find ways to be happy outside of your family might leave you with no ways of being happy when children grow up and move out for further studies or when your spouse travels for long periods.

Finding your own space, developing your own interests and hobbies, having your own ways of having fun do not mean you are a selfish person or you do not love your family. These, in fact, go a long way in ensuring your long term happiness and as a result, the happiness of those around you, including, of course, your loved ones.

It is healthy to do your own things and have your own life. That is, in fact, the very essence of true independence.

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

Take a break from the before spiderman in you

blog-3My 4 year old daughter loves Spiderman (she loves Barbie too, so I am not worried, really ;)). I was watching Spiderman 2 with her the other day and I realized that, well, each of us, is like Spiderman (minus the web, let me explain).

In one scene, Spiderman was utterly and totally frustrated with his evening sojourns and in that moment, he received advice from his dead uncle’s spirit. He said to Spiderman – ‘You have a choice’. The next day, Spiderman decided to take a break from being Spiderman for some days to get back to being himself. He dumped his costume in a garbage bin and walked away…and he was happy!

Of course there is a longer story to it else what would the kids watch, right? But let’s hold the story at that point when he dumps his suit.

Isn’t that so much like each of us? Each day, we try to be something – something that is superlative, something that we believe the world expects of us, something like Spiderman. Sometimes, carrying the weight of being that somebody seems like a burden to us. It might be the weight of being a dutiful son or daughter when all you want to do is to go out on a date..it might be the weight of being a mother when all you want is to travel away to a quiet place..away from the madness..it might be the weight of being a star employee when all you want is to just say ‘that’s enough..let me be’ or some other weight…we all tend to carry some weight at some point of time.

All it takes is letting go of that weight. I know we might believe that we are not in a position to let go of the weight and we don’t have a choice. But, well, we do. Imagine that you are wearing a costume of that responsibility and imagine dumping it into the garbage bin, just like Spiderman! Now imagine that you are free and are living the life you want to. What costume do you imagine wearing now? Once you have visualized it, imagine placing it in your wardrobe forever. You can wear it any time you want. You can get really creative with this and let your designer instincts come to the fore.

The point being..you can choose to not wear the weight that you feel is wearing you down..let go of it. Even if it is for a while, you can let go of it. Wear something else instead…which makes you look better and makes you feel happier. You could wear the costume of a lovely princess instead of a dutiful daughter or wear the costume of a highly successful and dynamic woman instead of a full time mom…or anything else you might. Be who you want to be. There’s no stopping Spiderman..is there?

Note to my readers: This is how the Belief Closet methodology works. It is an extremely powerful technique to help you change your beliefs. It was introduced to me by a practitioner of this methodology and I can totally vouch for its results.

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

A resolution to redesign

slide-0We are who we are and where we are is the result of the choices we have made in our lives.  Many of us who hold full time jobs, tend to live our lives in the time left over after all our ‘work’ is done.

While our jobs might be very gratifying and intellectually stimulating and might give us plenty material comforts, what it might not give us, is quality time for ourselves. Yes, I mean ourselves. Not our friends, not our family or children but ourselves.

We are moving into an age of ‘new traditionalism’ wherein concepts such as ‘family first’, ‘material pleasures are not the end goal of our lives’ are gradually taking over. Smart people are taking a leap into radical careers, redefining their work in a manner that gives them more time for fun and fulfillment.

As a result of this evolution, we are seeing many people, especially women, opt out of their traditional corporate lives to take on much more liberating, deliberately designed, often revolutionary, careers. So why not consider designing your life in a way that your happiness is the focus of your life and your work life is designed to support that and not weaken that construct?

Designing your life starts with a basic understanding of the kind of person you are, of the things which have always excited you and the things you really love to do. Not just this but another critical question to be answered is, as an individual, what things do you regard high in value. The introspection is the toughest and the most critical step in getting started with the redesign.

The next step is really fun! It is to imagine your dream life and pen it down – write about it or use pictures to describe it. What really helps is to chart out a week in as much detail as possible – in an ideal life, what would a typical week look like?

This, superimposed with what your priorities and your passion, can throw up some interesting revelations, often resulting in stark and revealing conclusions. For instance, you may realize that you are really not in the right profession as that does not play to your strengths or that you may, really, be in the right profession but need to fundamentally restructure your work life in a way that it fits into the ideal week much better, perhaps even consider relocating to a different city.

The question is, do we believe we are ready to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort zone to create a better life for ourselves?

The good news is that there are professionally trained coaches who can help you in making this change.

Cribbing is passé. Action is in. Be the change you want to see. Design the life you want to live and allow yourself to make the changes you need to make to live that life.

What better resolution than redesign your life for happiness that lasts? Happy 2014!

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).