Thursday, March 22, 2012

Be Happy – Be Youthful.

The period of youth is pivotal for human development. Youth is a wonderful thing. In youth we learn; in age we understand. It is a critical period of personal change, when you consciously begin to explore and apply your knowledge, values and beliefs about individual and collective life. “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.

In your young age, you take on new responsibilities, becoming agents of change in your communities. Sometime, you may feel yourself as problematic children but no, you are ray of light for the elders if you lend your helping hands seeing that one day, you may also come to that stage. Your age group provides tremendous source of intellectual and social potential waiting to be channeled and developed towards socially constructive ends.

People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old. And then, indeed as the ballad says, you just fade away. Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.

It is true that the future will depend a great deal on the manner in which educational programs and methods are designed to release your latent potentials, preparing you for the world you may inherit. The connection between education and individual and collective wellbeing is well established and it is imperative to focus on a particular dimension of education, namely education in service of community which in our experience is central to the transmission of individual and community life.

Forces that influence the intellectual and emotional development of a child are not confined to the classroom. Media, technology, family, peers, the wider community and other social institutions convey messages that may be reinforcing in some respects and contradictory in others which could add to your confusion, about identity, moral purpose and social reality. As such formal education needs to go beyond the exclusive aim of helping you to secure gainful employment. Educational processes need to assist you to recognize and express your potential while developing in you the capacity to contribute to the spiritual and material prosperity of communities.

Usually, we divide our life span into three parts – our childhood starting from our birth. Our youth starting from our adolescence and our old age when we feel ourselves tired even to finish our daily routine. It is frankly admitted that during our childhood, we have to depend on others for meeting our own needs. But as soon as we attain our adolescence, we dream to reach heights of our life and start to scale those heights. With the passage of time, some of us do achieve the heights and some may not do but time factor impacts our age decreasing our productivity. Here, we need to be happy. For that purpose, we may have to awake ourselves and keep the sense of being youthful always alive after attaining adolescence and to the last breath. The day we start to feel that we are getting old, our worries regarding the security of our future may snatch peace of our minds. Hence, we need to eliminate our thoughts of being old.

If we keep ourselves youth always, we would like to maintain our body and spirits in the same way. It is essential to keep our energy and vigor up for which we may have to regularly undertake physical and mental exercises to tone up with some supplements as be prescribed by our health care taker. In the process, we may have to give up some of our addictions and demerits also for which we need to study ourselves to know what our weaknesses harm us and in what respects. If we introspect ourselves more vigorously and try to keep away those factors which are responsible to make us old whether they are physical, mental, financial or social, we would be able to keep ourselves young always. What are physical factors which can reduce your youthfulness? They can include extraordinary exertions, lack of proper medical services, long illness or injuries. Mental factors may include unpeaceful family life, indecent environment, inferiority complex etc. Financial troubles like unemployment, business loss or short of finance to meet the essential, social and other requirements can also affect your health. Social circumstances which are not conducive to your status or outlook may also lead you to break down. For being happy, you need to work hard to overcome such conditions. If you succeed, you will not be old at any time.

Be Happy – Be Youthful.

Monday, March 19, 2012

In India, Jaitley files for Rajya Sabha, is worth Rs 158 cr

It is good that the politicians all over the world are growing to be rich. In some countries like India, they are required to declare their assets while filing their nomination forms for election to any constitutional body. But it is not fair for the democracy that the law making system is controlled by the capitalists. A capitalist can not permit the law making body to make any law which may damage his present and future interests.

Democracy should not mean a system for rich and to be managed by rich. We must do something to ensure that we should fix up a maximum limit of worth as the SURVIVAL WORTH, to enable a person to live his life comfortably and those who have worth more than that fixed limit, should be debarred to participate in politics. If a person having more than the survival worth, still wishes to participate in politics as per his own addiction, he must surrender the extra amount of the worth to the State. This action will enable other citizens who have the qualities to prove as worthy Statesmen but are not able to come forward due to paucity of the richness at their end.

Similar action should be taken for those families whose worth is more than the survival worth but still get reservation benefits on the basis of their caste or religion.

Be Happy - We May Make Our Politics Free Of Money.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Be Happy – Be Disciplined (Part 5).

Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backwards, or sideways. Actually, a mind that is disciplined, controlled, is free within its own pattern; but that is not freedom. The end of discipline is conformity; its path leads to the known, and the known is never the free. It is life-inhibiting, is at the very least curtailment of vital activity insofar as the latter cannot develop as it wishes but is confined within specific limits and subjected to specific rules.
It is the undisputed fact that all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. It is not crazy to think of discipline as a chariot. Without discipline we would drive ourselves crazy. It is the duty and the hope of all who would enjoy the benefits of society and of instruction. It is the process by which energy is directed along certain lines to the exclusion of others. Instead of being expended in many ways in unreflecting response to every stimulant applied, it is concentrated and made to focus itself upon a single point, or rather is confined within certain narrow limits. Discipline is often spoken of as acquired power. A more exact statement would seem to be that discipline is ability to make energy effective by confining it in a certain channel.
With the modern civilization where we treat right is the might, discipline is a necessity, as a regulator of society, so that those who break its rules may be taught the necessity of obeying them.It brings us effort, sacrifice and suffering. Later it brings us something of an inestimable value: something of which those who live only for pleasure, profit or amusement will always be deprived. This peculiar indefinable joy which one must have felt oneself to understand is the sign with which life marks its moment of triumph. It is an index to doctrine.
Discipline and punishment
Discipline and punishment refer to the methods and motivations that drive us to create an ordered society. Discipline can include punishment in its regimen, but it is not always the case. It refers to training methods that are used to impart a body of knowledge to a disciple, and while punishment can be used for training as well, it has also been inflicted for retribution or vengeance. Both discipline and punishment are readily witnessed in institutions or anywhere that has an established authority figure. What follows is some great advice on developing discipline. No matter what you aspire to you will find it requires a certain level of discipline. And if someone does not follow the discipline, he must have some punishment for the welfare of others.
Engaging in genuine discipline requires that you develop the ability to take action. You don't need to be hasty if it isn't required, but you don't want to lose much time either. Here's the time to act: when the idea is hot and the emotion is strong. Let's say you would like to build your library. If that is a strong desire for you, what you've got to do is get the first book. Then get the second book. Take action as soon as possible, before the feeling passes and before the idea dims. If you don't, here's what happens - You Fall Prey to the Law of Diminishing Intent - We intend to take action when the idea strikes us.
We intend to do something when the emotion is high. But if we don't translate that intention into action fairly soon, the urgency starts to diminish. A month from now the passion is cold. A year from now it can't be found. So take action. Set up a discipline when the emotions are high and the idea is strong, clear, and powerful. Fall on the floor and do some push-ups. You've got to take action; otherwise the wisdom is wasted. The emotion soon passes unless you apply it to a disciplined activity. Discipline enables you to capture the emotion and the wisdom and translate them into action. The key is to increase your motivation by quickly setting up the disciplines. By doing so, you've started a whole new life process.
Another factor of seeing the greatest value of discipline is to increase self-worth, also known as self-esteem. Many people who are teaching self- esteem these days don't connect it to discipline. But once we sense the least lack of discipline within ourselves, it starts to erode our psyche.
One of the greatest temptations is to just ease up a little bit. Instead of doing your best, you allow yourself to do just a little less than your best. Sure enough, you've started in the slightest way to decrease your sense of self- worth.
There is a problem with even a little bit of neglect. Neglect starts as an infection. If you don't take care of it, it becomes a disease. And one neglect leads to another. Worst of all, when neglect starts, it diminishes our self- worth. Once this has happened, how can you regain your self-respect? All you have to do is act now! Start with the smallest discipline that corresponds to your own philosophy.
Make the commitment: "I will discipline myself to achieve my goals so that in the years ahead I can celebrate my successes." Chart out your priorities, design your strategies, calculate your resources and discuss with your seniors and implement them with strictest discipline, you will find the astounding resulting.
Be Happy – Be Disciplined.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Be Happy – Be Disciplined (Part 4)

Discipline is necessary and good. The man under no discipline is like the spoiled child whom nothing satisfies. You can't raise successful children without it, but that does not mean that discipline should repress or tyrannize. Discipline should lead to powerful habits of direction, work, and good judgment. Good discipline produces strength, not weakness; creativity, not banality; responsibility, not self-indulgence. Always remember that discipline is like a two-edged sword; it is not only to correct children when they are wrong, but to direct them to a way that is right. Fair and reasonable discipline is like a fence that provides protection and defines limits, demonstrating both care and concern. A person without discipline is like a ship without a rudder in the storm of life. Discipline is like the helm of a ship; it gives direction. It is like a vaccine. It inflicts lesser pain now to avoid greater pain later.
Discipline is like sandpaper. It feels rough and abrasive when it's in motion, but the final result is a smooth and polished surface. He who hath not Discipline is like a race-horse without a rider. Self disciplining means self orientation for achieving the goals at the earliest, within the resources available and streamlining the efforts towards the target. Persistence is one of the most important pillars of self-discipline.
What Is Persistence?
Persistence is the ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings. You press on even when you feel like quitting.
When you work on any big goal, your motivation will wax and wane like waves hitting the shore. Sometimes you’ll feel motivated; sometimes you won’t. But it’s not your motivation that will produce results — it’s your action. Persistence allows you to keep taking action even when you don’t feel motivated to do so, and therefore you keep accumulating results.
Persistence will ultimately provide its own motivation. If you simply keep taking action, you’ll eventually get results, and results can be very motivating. For example, you may become a lot more enthusiastic about dieting and exercising once you’ve lost those first 10 pounds and feel your clothes fitting more loosely.
When to Give Up
Should you always persist and never give up? Certainly not. Sometimes giving up is clearly the best option. Have you ever heard of a company called Traf-O-Data? What about Microsoft? I am quoting their story just to emphasize over the importance of giving up.
Both companies were started by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Traf-O-Data was the first company they started, back in 1972. In 1971, a company called Logic Simulation was inventorying the streets in Kent, Wash. They placed traffic counting boxes, which had a hose going from the box across the street, on some streets. Each time a car crossed the hose, the box increased its count. The results were recorded as holes punched into paper tape, one of the main computer storage media of the time.
Bill Gates, when he was a high school student, got a job processing the data, to count the holes in the paper tape and produce a report. He also transcribed the results onto punch cards to be transferred into another computer.
Rather than doing all the work himself, Gates hired fellow students at Lakeside School. One of these fellow students was Paul Allen. In 1972, Gates and Allen purchased an Intel 8008 chip for building an automated car-counting machine. They formed a company, named as Traf-O-Data with its headquarters in Allen’s dorm room at Washington State University. Paul Gilbert, a friend of Gates and Allen, designed the hardware while Gates and Allen wrote the software. Because the hardware did not yet exist, they tried to write a program on the Washington State University IBM System 360 to simulate the 8008 chip. That way, they could program on the IBM System 360 and transfer the program to the Traf-O-Data device when it was finished.
Around this time, defense contractor TRW was looking for programmers. Both Gates and Allen were hired. While there, Allen developed the 8008 simulator to run on the TRW PDP-10 computers. This allowed Gates and Allen to begin work on the Traf-O-Data software.
After leaving TRW, Gates was accepted into Harvard University. With everything going on in his life, Traf-O-Data barely limped along. By 1974, Gilbert had finished the hardware, and Gates had mostly finished the software. However, the company had no device to automatically read the paper tapes.
An acquaintance of Gates’ father came up with a solution. The device would feel the paper tape with specialized metallic fingers to count the holes. It became known as the squeeze reader. A prototype worked well and a representative of the King County Engineering Department was invited to Gate’s parents’ home to see a demonstration. The squeeze reader failed completely, and no sale was made.
Traf-O-Data, now a partnership between Gates, Allen, and Gilbert, needed a professional paper tape reader. Gates used $3,400 of his own money to purchase an Enviro-Labs Model GS-311 Paper Tape Reader. Traf-O-Data used the device to process the paper tapes generated by traffic counting boxes and produced some revenue. Eventually, the State of Washington offered free traffic processing services, ending this revenue. In May of 1979, Traf-O-Data sent letters to clients saying they were suspending business. Gates’ first business had failed.
Much of the details of Traf-O-Data are lost. This is to be expected since the business was started and run by teen-agers. Gates has claimed that Traf-O-Data had revenues of $20,000 to $30,000 per year over its life. More reliable estimates put the amount closer to $10,000 to $20,000 total.
Some timelines report that Traf-O-Data was renamed Microsoft. This is incorrect. This fallacy is based, no doubt, on the fact that Gates and Allen were involved in starting both Traf-O-Data and Microsoft. Although Traf-O-Data did not become Microsoft, it is no doubt true that the experiences Gates and Allen had with Traf-O-Data helped both of them when they started Microsoft.
Gates and Allen ran it for several years before throwing in the towel. They gave up. Of course they did a little better with Microsoft.
If they hadn’t given up on Traf-O-Data, then we wouldn’t have such rich collections of Microsoft and Bill Gates today.
So how do you know when to press on vs. when to give up? Is your plan still correct? If not, update the plan. Is your goal still correct? If not, update or abandon your goal. There’s no honor in clinging to a goal that no longer inspires you. Persistence is not stubbornness.
If you’re growing at all as a human being, then you’re going to be a different person each year than you were the previous year. And if you consciously pursue personal development, then the changes will often be dramatic and rapid. You can’t guarantee that the goals you set today will still be ones you’ll want to achieve a year from now.
In order to make room for new goals, we have to delete or complete old ones. And sometimes new goals are so compelling and inspiring that there’s no time to complete old ones — they have to be abandoned half-finished. I’ve always found it uncomfortable to do this, but I know it’s necessary. The hard part is consciously deciding to delete an old project, knowing it will never be finished. I have a file full of game ideas and some prototypes for new games that will never see the light of day. Consciously deciding that those projects had to be abandoned was really hard for me. It took me a long time to come to grips with it. But it was necessary for my own growth to be able to do this.
I still had to solve the problem of setting goals that might become obsolete in a year due to my own personal growth. How did I solve this problem? I cheated. I figured out the only way I could set long-term goals that would stick would be if they were aligned with my own process of growth. The pursuit of personal growth has long been a stable constant for me, even though it’s paradoxically in flux at the same time. So instead of trying to set fixed goals as I did with my games business, I began setting broader more dynamic goals that were aligned with my own growth. This new business allows me to pursue my personal growth full-out and to share what I learn with others. So growth itself is the goal, both for myself and others. This creates a symbiotic relationship, whereby helping others feeds back into my own growth, which in turn generates new ideas for helping others. Anyone who’s been reading this site since last year has probably seen that effect in action.
The direct and conscious pursuit of personal growth is the only type of mission that would work for me. The value of persistence comes not from stubbornly clinging to the past. It comes from a vision of the future that’s so compelling you would give almost anything to make it real. The vision I have of my future now is far greater than the one I had for Dexterity. To be able to help people grow and to solve their most difficult problems is far more inspiring to me than entertaining people. These values started oozing out of me as I ran Dexterity because I favored logic puzzle games that challenged people to think, often passing up the opportunity to publish games I felt would make money but which wouldn’t provide much real value to people.
Persistence of action comes from persistence of vision. When you’re super-clear about what you want in such a way that your vision doesn’t change much, you’ll be more consistent — and persistent — in your actions. And that consistency of action will produce consistency of results.
Can you identify a part of your life where you’ve demonstrated a pattern of long-term persistence? I think if you can identify such an area, it may provide a clue to your mission — something you can work towards where passion and self-discipline function synergistically.
Be Happy – Be Disciplined.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Be Happy – Be Disciplined (Part 3)

Discipline means to use your time best. How? Have you ever had the experience of looking back on your week with the sinking feeling that you didn't get as much done as you'd hoped? When building a successful career or a business of your own, your time is perhaps your most valuable asset, and your income is a direct result of how you spend your time. You cannot buy any more time than you're given, and the clock is always ticking.

You Must Keep a Detailed Time Log.

The first step to better managing your time is to find out how you're currently spending your time. Keeping a time log is a very effective way to do this, and after trying it for just one day, you'll immediately gain tremendous insight into where your time is actually going. The very act of measuring is often enough to raise your unconscious habits into your consciousness, where you then have a chance to scrutinize and change them.

Here's how to keep a time log. Throughout your day record the time whenever you start or stop any activity. Consider using a stopwatch to just record time intervals for each activity. You can do this during only your working time or throughout your entire day. At the end of the day, sort all the time chunks into general categories, and find out what percentage of your time is being spent on each type of activity. If you want to be thorough, do this for a week, and calculate the percentage of your total time that you spent on each type of activity. Be as detailed as possible. Note how much time you spend on email, reading newsgroups, web surfing, phone calls, eating, going to the bathroom, etc. If you get up out of your chair, it probably means you need to make an entry in your time log.

You may be surprised to discover you're spending only a small fraction of your working time doing what you'd consider to be actual work. Studies have shown that the average office worker does only 1.5 hours of actual work per day. The rest of the time is spent socializing, taking coffee breaks, eating, engaging in non-business communication, shuffling papers, and doing lots of other non-work tasks. The average full-time office worker doesn't even start doing real work until 11:00am and begins to wind down around 3:30pm.

You Must Analyze Your Results.

The first time I kept a time log, I only finished 15 hours worth of real work in a week where I spent about 60 hours in my office. Even though I was technically about twice as productive as the average office worker, I was still disturbed by the results. Where did those other 45 hours go? My time log laid it all out for me, showing me all the time drains I wasn't consciously aware of -- checking email too often, excessive perfectionism doing tasks that didn't need to be done, over-reading the news, taking too much time for meals, succumbing to preventable interruptions, etc.

You Must Calculate Your Personal Efficiency Ratio.

When I realized that I spent 60 hours at the office but only completed 15 hours of actual work within that time, I started asking myself some interesting questions. My income and my sense of accomplishment depended only on those 15 hours, not on the total amount of time I spent at the office. So I decided to begin recording my daily efficiency ratio as the amount of time I spent on actual work divided by the total amount of time I spent in my office. While it certainly bothered me that I was only working 25% of the time initially, I also realized it would be extremely foolish to simply work longer hours.

Efficiency Ratio = (Time Doing "Real Work") / (Time Spent "At Work")

You Must Cut Back On Total Hours To Force An Increase In Efficiency.

If you've ever tried to discipline yourself to do something you weren't really motivated to do, you most likely failed. That was naturally the result I experienced when I tried to discipline myself to work harder. In fact, trying harder actually de-motivated me and drove my efficiency ratio even lower. So I reluctantly decided to try the opposite approach. The next day I would only allow myself to put in five hours total at the office, and the rest of the day I wouldn't allow myself to work at all.

Well, an interesting thing happened, as I'm sure you can imagine. My brain must have gotten the idea that working time was a scarce commodity because I worked almost the entire five hours straight and got an efficiency ratio of over 90%. I continued this experiment for the rest of the week and ended up getting about 25 hours of work done with only 30 hours total spent in my office, for an efficiency ratio of over 80%. So I was able to reduce my weekly working time by 30 hours while also getting 10 more hours of real work done. If your time log shows your efficiency ratio to be on the low side, try severely limiting your total amount of working time for a day, and see what happens. Once your brain realizes that working time is scarce, you suddenly become a lot more efficient because you have to be. When you have tight time constraints, you will usually find a way to get your work done. But when you have all the time in the world, it's too easy to be inefficient. You Must Gradually Increase Total Hours While Maintaining Peak Efficiency.

Over a period of a few weeks, I was able to keep my efficiency ratio above 80% while gradually increasing my total weekly office time. I've been able to maintain this for many years now, and I commonly get about 40 hours of real work done every week, while only spending about 45 total hours in my office. I've learned that this is ideal for me. If I try to put in more time at the office, then my productivity drops off rapidly. The interesting thing is that the system that allowed me to optimize my effectiveness at work also created a tremendous amount of balance in all other areas of my life. Even though I was able to use this approach to triple my business productivity, I still gained plenty of time to pursue personal interests. Time logging is the intelligent choice to ensure optimal productivity without increasing your hours. But time logging need only be done periodically to provide these benefits. I do it for one week every 3-6 months, and over the years it has made a huge difference for me, always providing me with new distinctions. If I go too many months without time logging, my productivity gradually drops as I fall back into unconscious time-wasting habits. You'll probably find as I do that your gut feelings about your productivity are closely related to how much real work you actually get done. When you feel your productivity is lower than you'd like, raise your awareness via time logging, measure your efficiency ratio, and then optimize your efficiency to boost your productivity back up where it belongs. Time logging is a high leverage activity that takes very little time and effort to implement, but the long-term payoff is tremendous.

When you pursue the path of developing your personal productivity, it may cause you some days of hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing, but it does eventually pay off. I think many people are attracted to the idea of becoming more productive out of basic common sense. It doesn’t take much brainpower to figure out that if you use your time more efficiently, you’ll complete more tasks, and therefore you’ll accumulate results faster. Personal productivity allows you to create enough space in your life to do all the things you feel you should be doing: eat healthy, exercise, work hard, deepen relationships, have a wonderful social life, and make a difference. Otherwise, something has to give. Without a high level of personal productivity, you’ll likely have to give up something that’s important to you. You have conflicts between health and work, work and family, family and friends. Industry can give you the ability to enjoy all of these things, so you don’t have to choose work over family or vice versa. You can have both.

One thing more, you may go in some industry because it is only one tool among many. It will allow you to complete your work efficiently, but it won’t tell you what work to do in the first place. Industry is a low level tool. Working hard doesn’t necessarily mean working smart. But this weakness of industry doesn’t remove its powerful place in your personal development toolbox. Once you’ve decided on a course of action and see your plans laid out in front of you, nothing can do the job as well as industry. In the long run your results will come from your actions, and industry is all about action.

Calvin Coolidge observes that nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Be Happy - Be Disciplined.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Be Happy – Be Disciplined (Part 2)

As you are aware, disciplining yourself means regulating yourself towards achievement of some goal. As there are different muscle groups which you train with different exercises, there are different areas of self-discipline: disciplined sleep, disciplined diet, disciplined work habits, disciplined communication, etc. It takes different exercises to build discipline in each area. You may identify an area where your discipline is weakest, assess where you stand right now, acknowledge and accept your starting point, and design a training program for yourself to improve in this area. Start out with some easy exercises you know you can do, and gradually progress to greater challenges.

Progressive training works with self-discipline just as it does with building muscle. For example, if you can barely get out of bed at 10am, are you likely to succeed at waking up at 5am every morning? Probably, not. But could you master getting up at 9:45am? Very likely. And once you’ve done that, could you progress to 9:30 or 9:15? Sure. When I started getting up at 5am consistently, I had already done it several times for a few days in a row, and my normal wake-up time was 6-6:30am, so that next step was challenging but achievable for me partly because I was already within range of it.

I have personally reaped tremendous benefits from pursuing the path of self-discipline. When I was 20 years old, I lived in a small studio apartment, and my sleep hours were something like 4am to 1pm. My diet included lots of fast food and junk food. I didn’t exercise except for sometimes taking long walks. Getting the mail seemed like a significant accomplishment each day, and the highlight of my day was hanging out with friends. At the end of a month, I couldn’t really think of many salient events that occurred during the month. I had no job, no car, no income, no goals, no plans, and no real future. All I felt I had was a lot of problems that weren’t getting any better. I had no sense that I could control my path through life. I would simply wait for things to happen and then react to them.

But eventually I faced the reality that trying to wait out my life wasn’t working. If I was going to get anywhere, I was going to have to do something about it. And initially this meant tackling a lot of difficult challenges, but I overcame them and grew a lot stronger in a short period of time.

Fast forward fourteen years, and it’s like night and day. I get up at 5am each morning. I exercise six days a week. I eat a purely vegan diet with lots of fresh vegetables. My home office is well organized. My physical inbox and my email inbox are both empty. I’m married with two children and live in a nice apartment set. A binder sits on my desk with my written goals and detailed plans to achieve them, and several of my 2012 goals have already been accomplished except some problems one of my friends created foolishly. That too would be solved in due course of time. I’ve never been so clear about what I wanted, and I’m doing what I love. I know I’m making a difference.

None of this just happened. It was intentional. And it certainly didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of years of hard work. It’s still hard work, but I’ve become a lot stronger such that things that would have been insurmountable for me at age 20 are easy today, which means I can tackle bigger challenges and therefore achieve even better results. If I had tried to do everything I’m doing now when I was 20, I would have failed utterly. 20-year old boy wouldn’t have been able to handle it, not even for one day. But for 54-year old Vinod, it’s easy. And what’s really exciting for me is to think of what 78-year old Vinod will be able to accomplish… relative to my life path of course, not anyone else’s.

I am telling you this to impress you, not with me but with yourself. I want you to be impressed by what you can accomplish over the next 5-10 years if you progressively build your self-discipline. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it. The first step is to openly accept where you are right now, whether you feel good about it or not. Surrender yourself to what you have to work with — maybe it isn’t fair, but it is what it is. And you won’t get any stronger until you accept where you are right now.

Vince Lombardi mentions that the difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. Your willpower can play miracle in your life.

What Is Willpower?

Willpower is your ability to set a course of action and say, “Engage!” Willpower provides an intensely powerful yet temporary boost. Think of it as a one-shot thruster. It burns out quickly, but if directed intelligently, it can provide the burst you need to overcome inertia and create momentum.

Willpower is the spearhead of self-discipline. It is a concentration of force. You gather up all your energy and make a massive thrust forward. You attack your problems strategically at their weakest points until they crack, allowing you enough room to maneuver deeper into their territory and finish them off.

The application of willpower includes the following steps:

  1. Choose your objective
  2. Create a plan
  3. Execute the plan

With willpower you may take your time implementing steps 1 and 2, but when you get to step 3, you’ve got to hit it hard and fast. Don’t try to tackle your problems and challenges in such a way that a high level of willpower is required every day. Willpower is unsustainable. If you attempt to use it for too long, you’ll burn out. It requires a level of energy that you can maintain only for a short period of time… in most cases the fuel is spent within a matter of days.

Use Willpower to Create Self-Sustaining Momentum

So if willpower can only be used in short, powerful bursts, then what’s the best way to apply it? How do you keep from slipping back into old patterns once the temporary willpower blast is over?

The best way to use willpower is to establish a beachhead, such that further progress can be made with far less effort than is required of the initial thrust. Remember D-Day — once the Allies had established a beachhead, the road ahead was much easier for them. It was still challenging to be sure, especially with the close quarters fighting among hedge rows in France before the Rhino Tanks began plowing through them, but it was a lot easier than trying to maintain the focus, energy, and coordination of a full scale beach invasion every single day for another year.

So the proper use of willpower is to establish that beachhead — to permanently change the territory itself such that it’s easier to continue moving on. Use willpower to reduce the ongoing need for such a high level of sustained force.

Let’s put all of the above together into a concrete example. Suppose your objective is to lose 20 pounds. You attempt to go on a diet. It takes willpower, and you do OK with it the first week. But within a few weeks you’ve fallen back into old habits and gained all the weight back. You try again with different diets, but the result is still the same. You can’t sustain momentum for long enough to reach your goal weight.

That’s to be expected though because willpower is temporary. It’s for sprints, not marathons. Willpower requires conscious focus, and conscious focus is very draining — it cannot be maintained for long. Something will eventually distract you.

Here’s how to tackle that same goal with the proper application of willpower. You accept that you can only apply a short burst of willpower… maybe a few days at best. After that it’s gone. So you’d better use that willpower to alter the territory around you in such a way that maintaining momentum won’t be as hard as building it in the first place. You need to use your willpower to establish a beachhead on the shores of your goal. So you sit down and make a plan. This doesn’t require much energy, and you can spread the work out over many days.

You identify all the various targets you’ll need to strike if you want to have a chance of success. First, all the junk food needs to leave your kitchen, including anything you have a tendency to overeat, and you need to replace it with foods that will help you lose weight, like fruits and veggies. Secondly, you know you’ll be tempted to get fast food if you come home hungry and don’t have anything ready to eat, so you decide to pre-cook a week’s worth of food in advance each weekend. That way you always have something in the refrigerator. You set aside a block of several hours each weekend to buy groceries and cook all your food for the week. Plus you get a decent cookbook of healthy recipes. You learn about Weight Watchers, and find out where the closest one is to you, so you can go to the first meeting and sign-up. Setup a weight chart and post it on your bathroom wall. Get a decent scale that can measure weight and body fat %. Make a list of sample meals (5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners), and post it on your refrigerator. And so on…. At this point all of this goes into the written plan.

Then you execute — hard and fast. You can probably implement the whole plan in one day. Attend your first Weight Watchers meeting and get all the materials. Purge the unhealthy food from the kitchen. Buy the new groceries, the new cookbook, and the new scale. Post the weight chart and the sample meals list. Select recipes and cook a batch of food for the week. Whew!

By the end of the day, you’ve used your willpower not to diet directly but to establish the conditions that will make your diet easier to follow. When you wake up the next morning, you’ll find your environment dramatically changed in accordance with your plan. Your fridge will be stocked with plenty of pre-cooked healthy food for you to eat. There won’t be any junkie problem foods in your home. You’ll be a member of Weight Watchers and will have weekly meetings to attend. You’ll have a regular block of time set aside for grocery shopping and food prep. It will still require some discipline to follow your diet, but you’ve already changed things so much that it won’t be nearly as difficult as it would be without these changes.

Don’t use willpower to attack your biggest problem directly. Use willpower to attack the environmental and social obstacles that perpetuate the problem. Establish a beachhead first, and then fortify your position. Habit puts action on autopilot, such that very little willpower is required for ongoing progress, allowing you to practically coast towards your goal.

Let us discuss about need of Hard work in discipline next time.

Be Happy – Be Disciplined.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Be Happy – Be Disciplined (Part 1)

Have you ever imagined what may happen if Earth stops to make round on its axis for a single moment? There would be no life on earth from that very moment. Nature works according to its discipline. Discipline means a particular code of conduct or order. If that is not followed, there would be punishment to regulate. Discipline is one of the main pillars of our modern life.

If we wish to be happy, we need to be disciplined, we need to follow the code of conduct to ensure that every other member of our society does not get disturbed with our acts. For an ideal society, we need to have self-disciplined.

We can define Self-discipline as our ability to motivate ourselves in spite of a negative emotional state through our readiness of accepting the difficult circumstances, having strong willpower to fight against the odds, doing hard work, and persistence.

Self-discipline means whipping yourself towards the code of conduct you choose to live with by Acceptance, Will Power, Hard Work, Industrious attitude to fight against the odds and your Persistence. It is “A WHIP” — a convenient way to remember them, since many people associate self-discipline with whipping themselves into shape. Really, it is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state.

Imagine what you could accomplish if you could simply get yourself to follow through on your best intentions no matter what. Picture yourself saying to your body, “You’re overweight. Lose 20 pounds.” Without self-discipline that intention won’t become manifest. But with sufficient self-discipline, it’s a done deal. The pinnacle of self-discipline is when you reach the point that when you make a conscious decision; it’s virtually guaranteed you’ll follow through on it.

Self-discipline is one of the most important personal development tools available to you. Of course it is not a panacea. Nevertheless, the problems which self-discipline can solve are important, and while there are other ways to solve these problems, self-discipline absolutely shreds them. Self-discipline can empower you to overcome any addiction or lose any amount of weight. It can wipe out procrastination, disorder, and ignorance. Within the domain of problems it can solve, self-discipline is simply unmatched. Moreover, it becomes a powerful teammate when combined with other tools like passion, goal-setting, and planning.

Building Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger you become. The less you train it, the weaker you become. Just as everyone has different muscular strength, we all possess different levels of self-discipline. Everyone has some — if you can hold your breath a few seconds, you have some self-discipline. But not everyone has developed their discipline to the same degree.

The way to build self-discipline is analogous to using progressive weight training to build muscle. This means lifting weights that are close to your limit. Note that when you weight train, you lift weights that are within your ability to lift. You push your muscles until they fail, and then you rest.

Similarly, the basic method to build self-discipline is to tackle challenges that you can successfully accomplish but which are near your limit. This doesn’t mean trying something and failing at it every day, nor does it mean staying within your comfort zone. You will gain no strength trying to lift a weight that you cannot budge, nor will you gain strength lifting weights that are too light for you. You must start with weights/challenges that are within your current ability to lift but which are near your limit.

Progressive training means that once you succeed, you increase the challenge. If you keep working out with the same weights, you won’t get any stronger. Similarly, if you fail to challenge yourself in life, you won’t gain any more self-discipline.

Just as most people have very weak muscles compared to how strong they could become with training, most people are very weak in their level of self-discipline.

It’s a mistake to try to push yourself too hard when trying to build self-discipline. If you try to transform your entire life overnight by setting dozens of new goals for yourself and expecting yourself to follow through consistently starting the very next day, you’re almost certain to fail. This is like a person going to the gym for the first time ever and packing 300 pounds on the bench press. You will only look silly.

If you can only lift 10 lbs, you can only lift 10 lbs. There’s no shame in starting where you are. I recall when I began working with a personal trainer several years ago, on my first attempt at doing a barbell shoulder press, I could only lift a 7-lb bar with no weight on it. My shoulders were very weak because I’d never trained them. But within a few months I was up to 60 lbs.

Similarly, if you’re very undisciplined right now, you can still use what little discipline you have to build more. The more disciplined you become, the easier life gets. Challenges that were once impossible for you will eventually seem like child’s play. As you get stronger, the same weights will seem lighter and lighter.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. It won’t help. You’ll only find what you expect to find. If you think you’re weak, everyone else will seem stronger. If you think you’re strong, everyone else will seem weaker. There’s no point in doing this. Simply look at where you are now, and aim to get better as you go forward.

Suppose you want to develop the ability to do 8 solid hours of work each day, since you know it will make a real difference in your career. You may assume that an average office worker spends 37% of their time in idle socializing, not to mention other vices that chew up more than 50% of work time with unproductive non-work. So there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Perhaps you try to work a solid 8-hour day without succumbing to distractions, and you can only do it once. The next day you fail utterly. That’s OK. You did one rep of 8 hours. Two is too much for you. So cut back a bit. What duration would allow you to successfully do 5 reps (i.e. a whole week)? Could you work with concentration for one hour a day, five days in a row? If you can’t do that, cut back to 30 minutes or whatever you can do. If you succeed (or if you feel that would be too easy), then increase the challenge (i.e. the resistance).

Once you’ve mastered a week at one level, take it up a notch the next week. And continue with this progressive training until you’ve reached your goal.

While analogies like this are never perfect, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this one. By raising the bar just a little each week, you stay within your capabilities and grow stronger over time. But when doing weight training, the actual work you do doesn’t mean anything. There’s no intrinsic benefit in lifting a weight up and down — the benefit comes from the muscle growth. However, when building self-discipline, you also get the benefit of the work you’ve done along the way, so that’s even better. It’s great when your training produces something of value AND makes you stronger.

Throughout this week we’ll dive more deeply into the five pillars of self-discipline. If you have any questions on the subject of self-discipline (either specific or general) that you’d like to see addressed, feel free to post them as comments, and I do my best to incorporate them along the way.

The first of the five pillars of self-discipline is acceptance. Acceptance means that you perceive reality accurately and consciously acknowledge what you perceive.

This may sound simple and obvious, but in practice it’s extremely difficult. If you experience chronic difficulties in a particular area of your life, there’s a strong chance that the root of the problem is a failure to accept reality as it is.

Why is acceptance a pillar of self-discipline? The most basic mistake people make with respect to self-discipline is a failure to accurately perceive and accept their present situation. If you’re going to succeed at weight training, the first step is to figure out what weights you can already lift. How strong are you right now? Until you figure out where you stand right now, you cannot adopt a sensible training program.

If you haven’t consciously acknowledged where you stand right now in terms of your level of self-discipline, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to improve at all in this area. Imagine a would-be bodybuilder who has no idea how much weight s/he can lift and arbitrarily adopts a training routine. It’s virtually certain that the chosen weights will be either too heavy or too light. If the weights are too heavy, the trainee won’t be able to lift them at all and thus will experience no muscle growth. And if the weights are too light, the trainee will lift them easily but won’t build any muscle in doing so.

Similarly, if you want to increase your self-discipline, you must know where you stand right now. How strong is your discipline at this moment? Which challenges are easy for you, and which are virtually impossible for you?

Here’s a list of challenges to get you thinking about where you stand right now. If you take them seriously and fix up your priorities to implement, you will see the change in your life.

  • Do you shower/bathe every day?
  • Do you get up at the same time every morning? Including weekends?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Do you have any addictions (caffeine, nicotine, sugar, etc.) you’d like to break but haven’t?
  • Is your email inbox empty right now?
  • Is your office neat and well organized?
  • Is your home neat and well organized?
  • How much time do you waste in a typical day? On a weekend?
  • If you make a promise to someone, what’s the percentage chance you’ll keep it?
  • If you make a promise to yourself, what’s the percentage chance you’ll keep it?
  • Could you fast for one day?
  • How well organized is your computer’s hard drive?
  • How often do you exercise?
  • What’s the greatest physical challenge you’ve ever faced, and how long ago was it?
  • How many hours of focused work do you complete in a typical workday?
  • How many items on your to do list are older than 90 days?
  • Do you have clear, written goals? Do you have written plans to achieve them?
  • If you lost your job, how much time would you spend each day looking for a new one, and how long would you maintain that level of effort?
  • How much TV do you currently watch? Could you give up TV for 30 days?
  • How do you look right now? What does your appearance say about your level of discipline (clothes, grooming, etc)?
  • Do you primarily select foods to eat based on health considerations or on taste/satiety?
  • When was the last time you consciously adopted a positive new habit? Discontinued a bad habit?
  • Are you in debt? Do you consider this debt an investment or a mistake?
  • Did you decide in advance to be reading this blog right now, or did it just happen?
  • Can you tell me what you’ll be doing tomorrow? Next weekend?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your overall level of self-discipline?
  • What more could you accomplish if you could answer that last question with a 9 or 10?
Be Happy – Be Disciplined.