I Don’t Know What My Perfect Life Looks Like

I know you’re not really supposed to say that, especially since I’m almost turning 30, but I’m kind of tired of stressing myself out with planning things. I do think there’s some benefit to some life plan, I mean it logically makes sense.  But I also know that I made a plan and nothing (literally, I mean nothing) went according to the plan.  And I love my life. Like seriously, I’m so lucky.  I could have never planned this.  And I spent so much energy beating myself up over having failed plans (or at least my subconscious did) when I could spend my time I don’t know…enjoying my life and being happy as a clam.

Maybe there’s a middle ground. The controlling side of me hates the idea of not planning anything.  And I do think that planning is somewhat useful.  But maybe it’s around the types of things we plan.

Or maybe there’s a different approach.  Maybe I know what I’m optimizing for.  Maybe I know that I’m trying to grow the most as a person, all the time.  Learn about the world and other humans and live a life of wonder and awe.  Maybe it’s around not knowing, but just making sure that there are ups and downs to everything, and you accept whatever consequences life gives you.  I just know one thing. I don’t want to live a life with regrets.

As women (hell, maybe men too) we think about time bound potential regrets:

  • I want to get married (is this one time bound anymore? Probably not?)
  • I want to have a kid

Ok wow. I have ONE. Having a child.  So this is what it’s all about.  I’m also starting to question this idea.  Do I want a kid of my own? Do I want a child? I have no idea.  I think at this point I could go either way.  And maybe that’s enough for now.

I used to think life is like a game of chess.  But seriously, do you really need to be planning the end game when you make the first move? I mean who are you playing against- God? Your higher self? Life is more like…Blackjack.  I think we’re all kind of swimming along and we take it as we comes. Sometimes you nail it, you beat the house.  And sometimes, it just all goes to shit. But at the end of the day, you have to enjoy playing.  Whether you win or lose.

But it kind of sucks if you’re trying to play Chess when really you need to be gearing up for Blackjack.  I feel like the mindspace is totally different for both.  Maybe that’s been my problem.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll have more information in a few years.

Experiments & Projects for 2017

Now that I have the basics down, there’s a few experiments I want to run in 2017.

  • Project Self Made Millionaire: I want to try and become a self made millionaire. Anyone whose assets are worth $1M or more. Cash or otherwise. I’m giving myself 5 years. That’s an arbitrary number. I may reduce it down to 3, but this is the new project I’m launching. Mostly just to see if I can. I hate worrying about money. I want to never worry about money again.

 

  • Project Being an Athlete: I realize that health has everything to do with how you enjoy life. My new goal is to see what it feels like to be at 18% bodyfat. I’m not sure if I will like it, but you know what, you don’t know until you try. What do I need to do? What new habits do I need? What do I need to give up? Do I need to give up anything? How will I feel afterwards? Who knows. That’s the experiment for 2017.

 

  • Project Help People: I want to keep track of how many people I help and how I help them. It can be super basic, or it can be big, but I want to see how I can help more people. It makes me happy and it makes the world a better place. It’s a nice thing to do. I want to focus on people who are within my sphere of influence.

Lets start with three projects for the year and see where it goes.

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

My 2016

I thought it was pretty crappy until I watched this video by Marie Forleo.  I liked the 3 questions she asked, and when I started viewing my 2016 that way, it actually wasn’t so bad.

  1. What did I do, create, or experience that I’m really proud of:
    1. Personal Finance: My personal finances were an absolute mess.  They were a shit show and a half.  I am so proud of the strides I have made there (which probably now brings me up to “potentially-maybe- functioning”, but I will take it). And I have two of my cousins to thank for that- Aarthi and Bharath.  They were kind of like…dude.  Ok we have a lot of work to do. Lets pull it together.  And they showed me how.  I appreciated it so much, because I feel so much more empowered now.  It was really embarrassing at first asking for help because then I had to admit that I was really really terrible at this stuff (which I figured most people know already and somehow I missed the boat), and they could have made me feel really bad about it, but they never did.  They helped me so much and were so non judgemental about it, I hope I can pass the favor on one day.  I have a long way to go but I sincerely appreciate all the help they’ve been, and their inspiration.
    2. My relationship with my boyfriend: Yeah that was really tough.  It was a tough year for both of us.  But I’m proud of us for sticking it through and working through the tough times.  I usually cut and run (which I can’t say I didn’t try to do, or consider doing), but this time I stuck with it, and I’m so happy I did.  That was real work, but I think the best relationships are.  Because through that work, I feel like I’m a better, less judgemental, more understanding person (or at least I hope I am!)
  2. What mistakes did I make that taught me something:
    1. Pivoting the business sooner: I knew deep down something was wrong way before I acknowledged it logically and did something about it.  Now, I know that if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right.  Period.  Look into it, and figure out why.  Then change as fast as possible, or you will see massive explosive failures which light up the sky like fireworks.  Of your own pain and embarrassment.   Better sooner, and smaller fireworks, than later and large public displays for everyone to see. Yay.
    2. Don’t put out crappy work: You know how they say it’s better to put out something than nothing? That’s not always true.  I didn’t realize there was an important caveat: the caveat is that it has to achieve a certain level of excellence.  It doesn’t have to be perfect (i.e. better than nothing), but it also can’t be crappy- because then nothing really is better than something.  I’m guilty of totally putting out crappy work. And it’s really shameful and awful and I’ve been trying to turn it around the latter parts of this year.  But a good lesson.
    3. My word should be my word: I’m so guilty of being flakey, it’s kind of insane.  I have good intentions, but a lot of times I don’t exactly monitor what comes out of my mouth and suddenly I hear myself making these promises and I”m like..wait what? Can I actually do that? Yeah.  That bites me in the butt.  So I’m working on not saying things which I can’t actually do.  At least to the best of my knowledge.
  3. What am I willing to let go of: My limiting beliefs.
    1. “If I work too hard, my friends and family won’t love me”- I didn’t even realize I was thinking that until recently.  But that is such shit. Of course they will love me.  I think they’d rather I not be broke.
    2. “If I create a successful company, I won’t have time to spend time with people I care about”- uhhh…how about we create a successful company first and see what happens, huh? Also, I’m free to let go of anything I don’t want to do.  So at any point, if I don’t like something, guess what.  I don’t have to do it. How about I get myself in a position to actually make this choice, instead of pre-deciding these things?! Sheesh.

That was my year in review.  What does yours look like?

This Video Is Blowing My Mind

Ok exaggeration, but I feel like I resonate with so many things in this video that I do- I didn’t even realize it was a terrible phenomenon!

My friend sent me this video by Simon Sinek about millenials in the workplace.  I think I’m right on the border but it seems like nobody can agree on what the cutoff is.  The Atlantic says it’s people born between between 1982 and 2004 and I have no reason to disagree with the Atlantic so lets go with that.  Anyway, I think I fit because a lot of the things they talk about hold true for me.

I definitely have this idealized version of what I want to do in the world.  Sometimes I think it’s pretty entitled, but I’m not sure where to draw the line between entitled and I Have  A Dream, Martin Luther King style.

I think it has to do with what needs to happen to make your dream happen.  I think it’s basically…are you living in reality? I think the things I have a hard time with, and the thing a lot of people have a hard time with (and by a lot, the data points I have gathered include two friends I spoke to yesterday in San Francisco, so yes now they are representative of ” a lot of people”) but it has to do with the fact some good things in life take time.  We were discussing that yesterday.  Somehow, though it sounds logical, in practice, I don’t think we take the time to acknowledge that.

I’ve learned that the hard way too I think.  Lots of failures- and a lot of failure has to do with my own ideas on how long things will take.  I really like this article that the same friend sent me a few months ago, which addresses this point.  Good things are painful, and awful, but at the end of the day, rewarding.

I have come to the conclusion that MOST good things in life take time. And by time, I don’t mean days, or weeks or even months.  I think they take YEARS.

So now new questions arise: In this new timescape, how do you prioritize?  Especially since we don’t have to do everything at once, and also, since sometimes you can start with small steps on one thing and bigger steps on another thing, how do you make sure you’re covering your bases?

I tried a few methods other people have but it just feels overwhelming. Le sigh.  Maybe I need to experiment more.

I Thought Dreams Died After You Had Children

I have realized that is just plain false.  A quote by Derek Sivers is quite relevant here, I think.  In an interview they asked him what advice he would give his 30 year old self. I listened intently as, well, I would be the target audience. He said, don’t be a donkey. Let me explain.  The story goes that a donkey was stuck between eating hay and drinking water.  He was hungry and thirsty and wanted to eat and drink at the same time but couldn’t do both so he was paralyzed into doing nothing.  So he died. Of hunger AND thirst.  So here’s the thing.  We can do everything we want to, it just doesn’t have to be RIGHT NOW.  That hit home for me.  I don’t have to do everything right now.  Or today. Or even tomorrow.  Sometimes it’s ok to put things off for later.  But I can start working on little bits of it now.

I think the moms I know do it best.  My cousins wife, mother of twins, does an amazing job of that.  She has dreams and she has a life but that doesn’t take anything away from being an amazing mom.  Same with my godchild’s mother, my friend Prajakta.  She still travels and thinks about her career and such, but again, is still an amazing mom.  Are their dreams the same as when they didn’t have kids? Probably not.  But why is that any better or worse?  They’re still dreams, they still excite you and you can still pursue them. Just..in a different way than before.

I guess maybe I’m stating the obvious, but I suppose I have this really warped view of the world and I’m only starting to realize that.  The world isn’t as terrible as the news makes it out to be.  It’s actually quite decent, turns out.  

When You Are Your Own Biggest Dream Crusher

Lately, my day has been starting with WTF Anu.  WHAT ARE YOU SAYING.  Is that what you really think about yourself and what you want to do with your life?  Just kidding- that’s what it SHOULD have started out with, instead of just being in a funk and accepting the heresy that my brain tells me, about myself and my life, as absolute truth.

Turns out, I’m my own biggest dream crusher. Of all time.  Kind of like Candy Crush, but much more sinister, and less fun. My problem is that now that I’m heading home, I remember all the things that everyone says about how I’m making (X,Y,Z) decision totally wrong. And I’m screwing up my life.  And I’ll regret it forever.

Also I’m probably killing puppies.  Not really, but the way they look at me, you’d think I was.

I have mostly realized that I don’t really have an absolute plan.  If I say anything otherwise, it’s mostly lies.  Apparently, this goes against nature, mankind, God, and Monday Night Football.  I’m only assuming this, because it seems to be heretic to say these things.  It is unfathomable to not have a, come hell or high water, this is what I will do plan.

And by plan, maybe because I’m a woman, or maybe because my ovaries expire soon and I can’t get a refund or whatever, my plan needs to include a man. A man plan.  Hell, at this point maybe a woman would be ok.  I’m not really sure.  It doesn’t matter.  Point is, significant others need to be involved in this plan.  Because I won’t be able to procreate and make sure our human species doesn’t die out.  Because we are close to extinction and me spreading my genes will save us from destruction.  Oh wait. That’s a different Will Smith movie.  Right.

Which begs the question, WHY AM I TRYING TO ANSWER QUESTIONS WHICH I HAVE NO ANSWERS TO?! And more importantly, why is my brain beating me up for not being able to answer these questions? It’s like those kids that just keep asking why all the time.  At first it’s cute, then it makes you think and you are happy to think about it, but after the 5th why, you’re just over it.  It’s really unproductive and annoying. I’m at the 6th Why. Now it’s just tiring.

I can’t tell you why I choose to do the things I do.  And more importantly, why do I need to? And why do I feel inadequate for not having answers? Does that make these decisions wrong? No. I think it just makes them hard to explain. Two very different things.

That’s the hard thing about hard things.  Sometimes they don’t make sense.  You just need to jump and hope you fly.  And if you don’t, know that you won’t die, and you can try again tomorrow.

After all, isn’t tomorrow another  day or something?

It’s Going to Take However Long It’s Going to Take

I’m somewhat sleep deprived, and in this personal hell hole which I create for myself, I feel the world caving in on me. Ok ok I’m being dramatic, but from going to sleeping 8 hours every day to have a day or two with 5-6 hours of sleep, I’m definitely being a sleep diva.  But you know what? I like being a sleep diva. I’m going to keep being a sleep diva because god damnit I love my sleep. I feel like the world is full of sunshine and rainbows and unicorns whenever I sleep enough.  JUST BY SLEEPING.  It doesn’t even matter what happens to me. HOW AMAZING IS THAT.

Except not today. No. Today I’m trying to prioritize 50 things which is really hard for me to prioritize in my sleep deprived brain. God damn you sleep deprived brain.  I hate you. I’m kidding. I love you. Except you’re being really rude right now. You need to stop saying all these terrible things to me. BRING BACK NICE ANU BRAIN ON 8 HOURS OF SLEEEEEP.

 

Ok yes this is rambling. But getting back to the point of all of this, I realized that shit takes as long as it’s going to take. Trying to hurry something, especially something creative, is a waste of time. If I want to produce quality, it’s going to take the time it’s going to take. Period.

And no whiney sleep deprived brain is going to do anything about it.

Le sigh. Back to trying to do my personal finances, pay bills, get a presentation done, finish a website, trying to get done in time to actually go out on a Friday night and not stay at home with television and computers, and grant applications. Oh. Clean email inbox. Oh. Bank not shutting down my bank accounts for not providing proper documentation.

Yes. All going to get done.

This Is The Story Of A Girl

Does anyone remember that song? That cried a river and drowned the whole world? I don’t know why I was thinking about that, as I am sitting in a coffee shop (yes, my new office), waiting for my business partner.  I am just coming back from a meeting which my friend invited me too – it’s called BNI.  At first I was skeptical, but as I sat there I realized something profound.  I know absolutely nothing about networking.  Not just networking, I know nothing about a lot of things. Most things actually.

I think the Zen Buddhists call it the beginners mind.  But let me rephrase that.  I knew something about it, and I got by.  That was my previous incarnation.  But now that I’m entering this new phase, I need to seriously re-skill.  And this is one of the skills I want to pick up.

A few other skills: understanding marketing.  My boyfriend helped me realize that marketing is basically storytelling, to a person who really wants to hear the story. Seth Godin says a similar thing.  Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King were some of the best storytellers out there.  And they had patterns for how they tell stories.  I’m trying to study them and tell good stories. Nancy Duarte has a great TED talk on this.  

Networking is just being helpful, but in an organized way.  This BNI chapter will help with that I think.  I was in awe at their dedication to the art and craft of networking.  They are of the opinion that spending 10K hours on something, with the right guidance, produces really great stuff.  I think they’re right.

Technical competence.  I am, for the most part, technically incompetent.  At least I was 6 months ago.  I’ve been working at understanding the new world language: web programming.  That term is vague for all the people that really understand this stuff.  But I took a course on the basics of bootstrap, and I wasn’t sure how effective it was.  Until yesterday, when I realized we need to redo our website.  Now I knew there was no way in hell that I was going to be able to redo it, but I think I made progress because my business partner sent me templates, and I could pick one out and knew what we’d need to change (i.e. if it was possible to change) to fit it to our needs. That was pretty exciting.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point where I’m making my own website, but I’m also betting that there will be great GUI’s for that in the future.  I want to focus on understanding what needs to be done and sussing out feasibility. And continue being able to do more on my own.  

I am a horrific designer.  My friend recommended a book, Design of Everyday Things.  I’m hoping it will shed light on this mysterious topic.  I desperately want to be able to build better product.  Right now, I think my skills are almost non existent. I need to at least be able to contribute to some sort of idea of excellence. Right now, I don’t even know what that is.  

I am passionate about being a great entrepreneur.  I think that means that I know a little about a lot of things.  I also have to figure out the things that I’m going to know a lot about.  I am currently gravitating towards marketing, and more UI/UX stuff on product.  Mockups and the like.  Product still terrifies me, which is clearly why I need to just dig in and work at it.  I’m going to start with that book. 

Le sigh.  So much to do.