#BeastMode: Random Thoughts About Mindset

What’s the one thing that’s going to take me to the next level in my entrepreneurial career? Changing my mindset.  I need to learn to love the process.  Carol Dwek talks about this in her book, Mindset.  It’s pretty great, and the more podcasts I listen to, the more I’m convinced that’s what it takes to get me to where I want to go.

I’ve realized something interesting though.  This sort of mindset requires a lot of focus.  I also believe in the idea of deep work, Cal Newport’s catch phrase.  I think that’s where exercise comes in.  At least CrossFit.  I think if I use CrossFit training as actually a way to practice focus and discipline, I can see how that will help me be a better entrepreneur.  Because going for the sake of physical health is not really doing it for me.  I can be doing a lot of things that are not as intense as CrossFit, and not as demanding.

I have realized that greatness lies in the pushing of intellectual boundaries.  For example, right when I want to stop researching smart metering contracts, that’s when I want to push on for another hour.  That’s where the magic happens.  Because then I discover interesting things and have insights I never had before.  And that requires focus, and discipline.

So one of the habits I want to cultivate is to go to CrossFit 3 days a week.  Learn to not only be ok with the pain, but love it.  And really be present, focus, and get through that hour like a champ.  I’m going to do that for the next 3 months, see what happens.

Random Thoughts on What To Plan Vs. What I Can’t Plan

I’ve realized that life itself is really hard to plan.  I liked what my friend Eve said in a comment on the last post- goals.  Goals are important.  My cousin echoed that and gave more clarity on what sorts of goals we can have.  1 year, 3 year,  5 year.  I don’t really know what the 5 year ones are yet, but 1 and 3 seem doable in my head.

But I also realized that goals aren’t planning.  Goals don’t tell you how to do something- they tell you what you want to achieve to make your life meaningful.  They’re also not really binary- even if you only achieve 70% of your goal, that’s still usually pretty great.

Planning is different.  Plans are binary.  They either happened or they didn’t. For example.  I planned my entire day last night.  Nothing went according to plan.  I may still be on track to achieve my goals, but my plans have failed.

I think, the sad truth is that most of us are poor planners.  I’m only saying that because I feel like I am a poor planner (and I also read this article that said as much).  I realize that I didn’t schedule in half the things that I feel are important (sleep, talking to friends, catching up on emails, reading, blogging, eating-yes I started scheduling those too).

Another thought- my excessive planning needs to be diverted to achieving goals.  Goals in work and goals in life.  And getting to be a better planner on how to achieve my goals (and also how to use my time) is going to be key.

Time as a currency.  Being able to understand time.  I feel like there’s something there that I’m missing.

Happy Friday

 

 

Kill Your Darlings – Goodbye 2016

I think 2016 was getting rid of a lot of things I didn’t need. Including limiting beliefs.  2017 is about sorting through the stuff that was pretty great in 2016, and moving it forward.

  • Home to me, is anywhere I have people excitedly picking me up from the airport.  So far, I have 2 homes.
  • Love is not reductive, it’s multiplicative.  It’s exponential.  If you leave your heart in one place, it doesn’t reduce your ability to love in another.  It’s like network effects.  It actually gets better the more people and places and things you love. Not less.
  • The best career advice I’ve heard: pick the thing that closes the least number of doors.
  • Don’t be a donkey: You have another 30+ years ahead of you. Remember that and don’t try to do everything at once. Contrary to popular belief, we actually do have time.
  • Sometimes the hardest thing to do is slowing down. I have no problems going fast and working hard, but I have huge problems slowing down and making the right map.  Take the time to make the right map. Know where you are going. You already have the skills to get there.
  • Money is important.  Having more than enough makes sure you don’t have to spend excessive amounts of time thinking about it. Having more than enough ensures you don’t let it rule your life. Tim Ferriss said it better. If you have money to solve a problem, it’s not a problem.
  • We’re all wrong. We should accept it and figure out how to be less wrong. Being right is overrated and..just untrue.
  • Keep track of the things you care about. How do you spend your time? What are you most grateful for? How have you grown?
  • Be open to listening to people. Especially the unpleasant things people you respect have to say. That’s the only way you get better.

 

Things I loved about 2016 and want to keep into 2017

  • I have amazing friends. Beyond amazing. I made an effort to spend time with them and I’m really happy I did. I want keep doing that.
  • Meditating. I’m up to 25 minutes and I think it really keeps me sane. I meditate every day when I wake up and now I pretty much swear by it. It’s gotten me through some tough times.
  • Fiscal responsibility.  This was the first time I just didn’t spend everything that came into my hands. And I’m really happy I didn’t. I felt really empowered when I could actually go on vacations and not worry because I had budgeted for it. Amazing. Who knew.
  • Vacations & Visiting people that I love: I’m really really happy that I get to come to the US twice a year. I love visiting Europe twice a year. I love spending Thanksgiving with my cousin and nephews in a new location.

 

Sometimes The World Breaks You Down

It’s really funny because now that I’m reviewing all the things that I want to change (because you know what they say, if you keep doing the same thing expecting different results, that’s literally defined as insanity), I’m realizing that most of the things I want to change have me going back to the way I used to be.  And by used to be, I mean how I was growing up.  How I was back in high school.  How I was in college (at least the first two years).

I think the biggest difference is that I didn’t know what the real world felt like back then.  I didn’t have anyone telling me that I couldn’t do it, or my own experiences telling me how difficult things would be and how I’m just not measuring up (yet).  And I thought the way to cope with the world was to…assimilate. Believe the constructs people told me to believe.  Being nice doesn’t pay off.  Hard work isn’t enough.  You need to be doing the right thing.  You need to work your ass off to make it.  Oh yeah, you’re probably not going to make it.  You’re not going to make the money you think you’re going to make.  Life doesn’t work out the way you think.

And to be honest, a lot of that is true.  Except here’s the thing- the solution isn’t changing the ways I thought I needed to be changing.  In fact, the way to deal with it, turns out, is to be the way I used to be.  That’s the only way to really solve these problems.

I used to work so hard.  Now I know what I need to actually be working hard on the right things (because I have done most of the wrong things already).  I need to be optimistic.  But at the same time, I need to live in reality and accept that I’m wrong most of the time.  But guess what-so are you.  The only way to win is to accept it as fast as possible and change.  Oh yeah, you know what keeps people sane? Turns out, it’s actually gratitude. Life is just a bunch of data points, I prefer to string them together to form a narrative that brings me the most joy. Also, money is super important.  Really really important.  It may not be the only thing that makes you happy, but let me tell you, if you don’t have enough to pay your bills and live the life you want, it’s a bitch.  But you know what? If I work hard enough and I keep my eyes open to reality, the money will come.  It will.  I know it.  I don’t know how- oh wait. I do.  Because that’s the way I used to live before I stopped believing it could be that easy.  Let me redefine easy.  Facing the hard things, and putting in the work to get the things done that needs to get done.  Also, no is not really a word I was familiar with.  (Stubborn much?)   It just means you don’t see the win-win I am seeing.  So clearly, I’m just not articulate enough.  Solvable problem.  Everything is a solvable problem.  I’m also not made up of my emotions.  Emotions tell me something is off, but it doesn’t guide my decision making.  I make decisions from a state of joy.  Not fear.  Like when you go to the grocery store when you’re hungry.  Terrible idea.  Best example of fear based decision making though, turns out.  Learned my life lesson.

Finally, thanks Derek Sivers.  I’m really really really trying not to be a donkey.

This is what my jet lag is telling me.  I think it could be decently right though.

Happy Holidays

Time Vs. Money

I realized that ever since I was a small child, I have tracked the use of my time like Donald Trump tracks his money.  It’s been my most prized possession ever since I can remember. And to this day, I am probably one of the biggest time Nazi’s on the planet.  Because, in the true startup sense of the word, I figured that when you spent time on the most important things, value would be generated.  So if I optimized my time, my life would generate value (both monetarily and otherwise)

Except here’s the thing I realized.  Both time and money are manmade concepts.  Both of them are fictitious.  Both of them are only used by humans to understand more abstract concepts which our brains can’t fully comprehend:  Value and life.

All of which to say, neither of these things is the point.  I used to think that if I managed my time the best way possible, I would somehow discover the meaning of life.  That’s not true.  That’s pretty much the same thing as saying if I generate and spend my money in the most efficient way possible, I will discover the meaning of life.  Again, not true.  I’m  not saying that both aren’t important, and both don’t need to be managed (they do). I guess what I’m saying is, I used to think I knew the point, and now I’m saying no.  I’m back to square one.  That is definitely not the point.

I’m also saying that my appalling lack of money management skills is really harshing my vibe and I need to get on that, stat.

So really what I’m saying is that I have no idea what is the point.  All I know is that I need to be less of a time Nazi, use some of those skills to manage my money better, and then…with our powers combined…figure out…what the hell I am doing with my life.

That’s pretty much where I am at right now.

15 Lbs Later…

Through working at a startup, I realized that the result doesn’t really matter if you don’t know how you got there and why it works.  I’ve always been decent re: size and weight, but I’ve never known how or why.  So I decided to conduct an experiment.  The first phase of the experiment is done.  The first phase is breaking it down to first principles.  Which means eat whatever you want when you want it, and don’t force any exercise.  Actually in my case (for other reasons), I had to actively hold myself back from exercising (so limiting it to 1-2 times per week at most).

The result is as you’d expect.  I’ve gained 15 pounds.  But I think I’ve gained more insight about myself than I ever knew.  Which is where the next phase begins: testing out these hypothesis to see how to get to the ideal version of myself.  And more importantly, figure out a routine/lifestyle that I really love to keep it there.

Learnings:

  • I love exercising every day, in some way, shape or form because it helps energy move through my body.  We are physical beings and doing some form of physical activity honors that fact.
  • I use exercise to avoid my life.  Every time I’d go to the gym, I’d forget about my problems and I’d feel good.  But my problems never went away, they just accumulated and made it that much harder to deal with later.
  • I have an absolutely atrocious relationship with food.  Deep down, I think the more food I eat, the more weight I will gain, and I will hate life.  As a result, I don’t eat enough, and when I don’t eat, I don’t sleep.  Add a little bit of stress and you have the trifecta of awful right there.

 

New things I do:

  • I’ve been reading a lot of new age buddhist philosophy and it’s been helping me adopt better life coping mechanisms.  I try to face problems and unpleasant emotions head on, no matter how awful they are.  I’m not the best at it, but I’m learning.
  • I try and eat as much as I can, and not as much as I think I calorically need. This results in a lot of takeout ordering, but man I’m getting so much more/better sleep its insane.  I can’t go back now that I’ve discovered the joys of a good night’s rest.
  • I’m actually starting to enjoy food.  WHO KNEW.  It comes and goes but sometimes I can now tell between food that I really really like and food that I don’t like as much.  I know it sounds bizarre, but that’s huge progress for me.

 

Phase II:

  • Now I get to bring back exercise! I’m so stoked.  I’m trying out doing 30 minutes a day through this app, daily burn.  I’m only on day 3, but I already love it.  I’ve never had a problem being motivated to go to the gym (i.e. I think I’m in the minority) but so far it’s working for me.
  • I want to decouple daily exercise from hobbies that I enjoy. For example, I used to couple yoga and my daily exercise but I think…I want to try and keep those separate.  It’s an added bonus that I have hobbies that keep me active but I don’t want to rely on that for my daily exercise.  I don’t know if that makes sense but…I think separating the two is important.  Daily exercise you can do anywhere, anytime. But yoga/other active hobbies (at least right now) I can’t.
  • When I exercise, I actually chose to eat more and better food.  It’s weird endorphins that get released after a workout, and maybe I’m an alien, but after a good workout I feel like my body is so clean, I don’t want clutter it with junk, I want to cook something.  Unfortunately that only lasts for about 30 minutes, so I’m figuring out how to keep this urge going but lets see.
  • I don’t know how I’m going to handle the food thing.  Because I’m a terrible cook, and I know I need to change the way I eat.  I think it’s going to have to be something about actually learning to enjoy food.  I started, and now I need to continue.  I know, I’m super weird, I’m probably the only one that has this problem but…yes.  This is the area I need the most help with.  Lets see.  Still figuring out what to do.

 

It’s a work in progress, but… I’m pretty excited.  Because once I figure this out for myself, I hope I’ll have a routine and lifestyle set for the next couple of years.  Which makes me pretty happy.

The Difference Between What You Should Do To Earn Money And A Hobby

I think the major difference between doing something for a living and doing something as a hobby is your ability to contribute and innovate in that field.  I think that we are all creative innovators, in some way shape or form.  I think the thing that you want to do for money is the thing that you feel so strongly about that not only do you work every day to get better at it, but you think you can contribute something to that body of knowledge and push the needle, in your own capacity.

It’s a concept I’ve been struggling with.  How do I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing as my vocation? How do I know I picked the right thing? I realized something important at my dance class today: yes, I want to get better at dance, absolutely.  But do I want to contribute to the field of dance in some way, shape or form? Not really.  I don’t want any expectations, I don’t want any stress, I don’t want to feel responsible.

And I think that’s the main difference.  With startups, I want to get better but I absolutely want to contribute to the industry, read about it, talk about it, and create a bit with other smart people.  Push the envelope.

It’s one of the few things I feel that strongly about.  Where I don’t mind being held responsible to give back.  Leave a mark, in my own right.

And if you’re not passionate enough to make that commitment, maybe it should be kept as your hobby, and not your vocation.

Just some thoughts.

What Happens When You Pursue Your Passion

It’s really funny, because sometimes I forget that oh yeah, this is what I want to do with my life.  Say what?  Because I’ll be honest.  Sometimes I still Google, what should I be doing with my life.  And then I read articles like these.  Which basically talk about how you can…end up where I was 4 years ago.  Which is fantastic and awesome.  But what happens afterwards? What am I supposed to do now? Is that all there is?

I think that I have realized a few things.

  1. Life is not all about work.  I’ve said it a bunch of times in different ways, but sometimes its hard to understand that, especially when you’re doing the thing you’re super passionate about.  And especially when that’s what most people talk about when they say “pursue your passion”.
  2. Having a job you love (or at least don’t mind) is a pre-requisite to the rest of your life.  A pre-requisite to having a fulfilling life, at least in my opinion.  Which means that this is just the starting point.
  3. Now I sort of…need to figure out all the other things I want to do and be in my life.

Le Sigh. And so it goes.

Defining Success

I was walking down the street in San Francisco the other day when I came to a depressing realization: I can’t define what success means to me.  It’s such a vague and nebulous term hijacked by motivational speakers and parents around the world.

So, of course, on the quest for some semblance of truth, I started asking…literally everyone I met that would humor me, how they define success.  The best “success construct” that I heard, came from my friend Kristen:  Success is a state, rather than a destination or point in life.  It’s a continuously evolving solution set that expands and contracts with time, and incorporates various ways to reach this state of being.

Which makes sense, because that’s how, grammatically, we define success.  She IS successful.  They ARE successful.  Successful, is an adjective describing a noun (i.e. you) and your way of being.

So if success is a way of being, how do you populate that solution set? And more importantly, how do you choose to be in that state? Meaning that you have to consciously make a choice, every day, to commit to doing activities that will get you into that state of being.  What are those choices you have to make on a daily basis to get you there?

I’m not entirely sure, but I do think my solution set encompasses a few things:

  • Something about personal growth.  I can’t stand it if I am not a better person than I was yesterday.
  • Something about Love:  Re-connecting with some of my favorite people in the world over the last two weeks has been amazing.  I think love in all it’s forms and definitions is important.  On some level, I feel like this is what it means to be human.
  • Something about financial well being: I like stuff, turns out. I’m still trying to figure out what, and how much. But something about having enough financial freedom to do what you want to do with your life. And buy the things you want too.
  • Something about living with integrity: I don’t want to do things I don’t agree with or believe in.
  • Something about fun: I think it’s incredibly easy to lose this, and entirely undervalued as we get older, but I don’t think life is worth living unless you are having fun.

And that’s all I’ve got so far. But I suppose it’s a start.

I’m Tired of Being Unhappy

And so, this weekend, I decided to…stop.  I think it’s as simple as that. I swore to myself that from this moment on, I’m just…going to choose to be happy.

And guess what, once I made that choice, I started choosing other things that just made me happy. Like deciding to skip dance classes and hang out with my favorite (ok only) Godchild, and cutest ChickenMcNugget in the entire world, Ananya (and of course her awesome parents). And then, since I was choosing to be happy, I also decided to redecorate my room. And yes, I think it’s quite amazing.

Current stuff I am loving which help me stick to my choice to be happy:

  • The Spirit Junkie: It’s just as hippie as the title suggests, so if you are allergic to that kind of stuff you may want to avoid it, but I actually like the premise of what she has to say and it’s been helping me quite a bit.
  • The Book of Secrets: Yes, this is the same guy that started a sex cult in Pune, and I can see where that is coming from, but this book isn’t really about sex.  I think it’s about centering, and let me just say I use a lot of these techniques during the day. I’m still only 20% done with it, but I already think it’s awesome.  Fun Fact: I had a hard time going to sleep, and when you replay your day backwards in your head, you actually not only feel more centered, it knocks you right out. The best.
  • Ik Onkar, Song from Rang De Basanti: I have this on repeat, it’s so soothing and I love it. It makes me feel like..everything is going to be ok.

Those are the ones that are currently trending in my life right now, but I’m sure others will come my way.  But I’m really stoked thinking about this topic. The Happy Startup.  What would it look like if you followed your passion AND you were happy.  Because it turns out, just because you follow what you want to do, you don’t automatically end up happy.  In fact, most people running a startup I know aren’t happy.  Including myself. Which is weird because if you ask any of us we’d say yeah I wouldn’t trade the job, but GOD I WANT TO PUNCH SOMETHING.  We live in an oxymoron.

So anyway, here’s to positive change.