Tag Archives: Inspiration

How Can You Be Persistent?

Some things are easy. Doing them every day is easy. They become a routine and we don’t even question them. Writing, however, is not one of those things. Writing is easy when it isn’t careful. When writing is a form of telling instead of showing, it becomes easy, or easier. However, when you write in order to show the world how you think, writing ceases to be about conveying a better opinion or about expressing petty differences, writing becomes a way to introduce people to your mind, your thought processes, and of course, your being.

This new year I decided to write every working day. And I have been. But it’s hard. It takes time, effort, and considerable cognitive resources. Writing is fun when the ideas just flow onto the paper (or screen) and convey every thought that you wanted. It becomes a chore when your ideas take longer to express and harder to condense. Writing becomes a menace when the sentence doesn’t fit quite right or the word doesn’t seem exact. Now, no one is asking me to be perfect or write a Booker Prize piece nor do I expect myself to write the next ‘viral’ post, what I do expect, though, is excellence.

Excellence as a concept is fickle, but as an idea it’s magnificent.

The idea that I can be the best I’ve ever been at it, is exhilarating. It’s like the rush of sky diving, just without the cameras and the height. I may be better tomorrow, but today I’m better than yesterday and the day before and the month before that. Today, I’m the best I can be, as far as writing this piece is concerned. This piece, this idea, is excellent. And for now, that’s enough.

A lot of people have asked me what it means to persist.

This is what it means to persist. Writing for me, was easy, but then it wasn’t as good as it could be and probably will be in the future. When writing got hard, I learned more, I struggled more but I didn’t give up. To persist is to keep doing something even when it’s hard. To persist is to not stop. When you persist, you make time for whatever it is that you want to do.

To persist isn’t an abstraction, it’s a difficult reality.

When you persist, you’ll learn things you never knew before. When you continue to learn them, it’ll get difficult. What was once easy becomes convoluted. And that’s the beauty of persisting. You’ll change what you knew and alter everything you already know. In that way, you’ll grow.

Persisting is doing a little bit extra today than what you did yesterday.

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Image by Scott Webb

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How to Make Friends as an Adult

So, you’ve made it to that point in your life. Half the people you know are married, the other half are in their jammies. You’re stuck in the middle. And it’s clearly time to make new friends, but unlike childhood, where everyone was extremely receptive and excited about making new friends, adulthood, or ‘Adulting’ can be quiet different. People have their voices now and their vices. They have certain preferences and certain needs.

While making friends was easy as children, it becomes considerably harder as we grow older. Children, on one hand, are nonjudgmental, they are straightforward. They seek out new experiences, they are tolerant of other people and are more open to making mistakes. They ask questions all the time and move into new groups constantly.

Adults, on the other hand, are less tolerant of others, and more insecure of their being. We are more guarded of ourselves. We have had enough experience to be wary of some people and to instantly love others. The fear of judgment is a constant thought and novelty in situations is rare. We’ve been there, done that, seen it all. By adulthood, we’ve covered almost all emotional situations, have felt all kinds of feelings and the situations begin to repeat. We know who we get along with, who we don’t. We can rationalize our preferences and often we stick to them.

And now, in our time and age, mid-20s are a time of confusion. Before 21–22 usually, one is still following a set pattern. Twelve years of school and three or four years of college. After 30 usually, most people are either married or have steady partners, or their lives have settled down in known patterns again. Work and home, work and home. But that eight years in-between college and set patterns of life, are years of uncertainty, of mistakes, of making new patterns, growing, and learning.

So, for most of us, we are in that middle phase — often single, not ready to marry, in our first or second jobs, working hard every day, constantly tired, yet not willing to while away our life in bed – category, where every day is a new challenge. We face unprecedented social and virtual pressures. Between doing what we have to and being who we want to, we also have to help ourselves grow and prepare for tomorrow.

We know that we have plenty Facebook friends, so we can always plan something out. But realistically, that doesn’t happen. We get busy, they get busy. We get lazy, they get lazy. While it’s always good to catch up with old friends, it becomes extremely important to meet new people outside of your circle so you can grow a person. Even Facebook now-a-days puts people in a sort of “bubble’ where you only interact with people and events and information that you agree with and will respond to.

Hence, in order to be aware and well informed of everything that is out there, it is important to find the information yourself. That means you have to challenge yourself, be uncomfortable, and get out of your comfort zone. Mark Twain, anyone?

And the best way to do that, is to make new friends. While there are many ways to make friends, and here are 5 simple ways to make friends as an adult-

Join a Meetup — Meetup, if you don’t know of it, is a social networking site for people who like to do stuff. Every kind of event is organized and planned by various people and all you have to do is sign up and sign in. Ever been interested in Archery? Join a meetup. From book clubs to bar hopping, Meetup has everything with no strings attached!

Go to Floor 3 — Unless you work on floor 3, then you go to floor 4. The idea is, if you’re working in a corporate building, you get stuck to our floors. You get so caught up being on our floor and the floor politics that unless you absolutely have to, you don’t budge. You get lost in how little your floor is and sometimes mistake that for the world. Your floor is not the world, it’s a tiny -tiny section of a tiny part of a big world. Go to the third floor. Meet new people, broaden your reach and your space in the world.

Take Numbers — Once you’ve met people, take people’s numbers and message them. Don’t add them on Facebook, don’t tweet at them. Message them, get used to the awkwardness of ‘Hey, wassup?’, ‘Hey, nothing much’ because in between those two messages a lot of good can be unveiled. Instead of ‘nothing much’ ask them their hobbies or if they’d like to go for lunch. Fix a time to meet up with them and then actually meet them.

Meet Your Neighbors- Say hi. Literally, that’s all it takes! You don’t even have to do more than that for the first few times. Then one day, when they return from your favorite store, that’s when you talk with them and strike a conversation with them! Okay, maybe they don’t go to your favorite store, but given enough time you are bound to find a conversation starter.

BePatient — Adult relationships take time, patience and effort. Unlike being children where politics and sex don’t matter, as we grow older, they do. Everything begins to matter, from political inclinations to a sense of humor. We become choosy (which is a good thing) and become more aware of who we want to be with and who we don’t want to be with. So, while no one is going to be a tailor made fit, there are going to be people who are close enough.

Making friends is a considerable investment. As Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker and self-help guru, says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It is obvious then, that finding the right kind of people becomes even more important.

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Overcoming The Need to be Perfect In Order to be Great

There’s always one piece of art, book, or music composition that we think of when we think of the greats. From Mozart to Godin, we know and think of exceptional people to have been perfect in their art. However, the notion that exceptional people have to be perfect right from the get-go is misleading at best, and harmful at worst.

People’s idea that, to be great, their work needs to be perfect before it can be published or put into action, turns out to be the exact opposite of what they need to be doing in order to be great! Greatness, like perfection, is in retrospect, or, in the future. The only certainty for today is the work you put in now. So while you might work and produce a lot of pieces of your specific art, not each and every one would be exceptional.

One of the greatest American novelists, Henry James wrote over 20 novels, several hundred short stories, many biographies, travel writing, and literary criticism. The painter, Pablo Picasso is believed to have made over 50,000 pieces of work during his lifetime, averaging at least one a day and composer, Sebastian Bach composed over 1000 pieces of music.  However, all these artists are known only for a few of their works.

Seth Godin, one of the most well-known bloggers of our times and bestselling author of 18 books, writes one blog post every day. During an interview with Marie Forleo, he emphasized on the idea of doing something well enough every day, so that we can only get better at it!

Quantity leads to Quality

When you do something every day or do it many times, you can only get better at it because you are essentially practicing it. Be it writing or executing ideas or brainstorming creative ideas, the more you do it, the more you train yourself to get better at it. Hence, in order to create exceptional, revolutionary pieces of work, we need to first get into the habit of creating a lot of pieces!

Each Piece Markets Itself

When you create a lot of pieces, one step that ought to be common is maintaining a certain level of professionalism. While you are bound to improve in style, the basics must be solid. Each piece must be created as though it is the piece that all your other pieces will be judged on. If you’re a blogger, every blog post ought to be well written, spell checked, and free from errors before posting it.

As a writer and speaker, I make it a point to write on my blog every day and to speak at an event every month. The reason is not to get ‘famous’ or ‘rich’ but because I love doing it and because everytime I do it, I get a little better.

Whatever your calling, be prolific.

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5 Ways to Be More Confident in Public Speaking

Public speaking is slowly becoming one of the most desirable soft skills on the market. Every profession requires it in some form. Be it the conference room for a presentation or the TEDx stage to spread an idea, public speaking is an important facet of life. Having been a national level debater, given more than a dozen motivational talks and two TEDx talks, I’ve realized that while different settings require different approaches, some aspects are common to all forms of public speaking.

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My TEDx Talk At University of Manipal

The first rule of public speaking is confidence. That confidence can be built up with a little bit of help. And here’s 5 tips on how to be more confident in public speaking –

  1. Wait before you speak  – Starting to speak as soon as you stand on the stage can seem as though you are fumbling or nervous. As soon as you get onto the stage, take a moment of silence before you begin your talk. While it may seem awkward to you, the audience will often perceive it as confidence.
  2. Close your mouth fully – Every time you take a pause, even if it is to breathe, close your mouth fully. If you leave it open, it seems as though you have forgotten something, or are trying to remember something.
  3. Speak Slowly – Whatever your usual speed, try to speak slower than that (unless you’re really slow already!). It’s hard to resist the temptation to speak fast, but on stage, when one is nervous, one often tends to speak faster than when one is not nervous. Hence, on stage speak slower than you usually would.
  4. Pause – People take time to understand and digest what you’re saying, so take pauses in between new ideas.
  5. Ignore the frowns – Many times people look serious or frown or shake their heads. Ignore them completely. You don’t know what’s going on in their minds. So, instead of thinking negatively, ignore them.

Public speaking isn’t a talent, it’s a skill that can be worked on. Practice your speech and rehearse the above steps for your next talk!

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My Guest Talk at Mody University

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The Art Of Complimenting

At least once a day, I see and hear compliments that, though feel nice, seem superficial. They feel half-hearted and incomplete. In fact, there are only about a handful of times that I’ve received a compliment I liked and that genuinely resonated with me.

The more I looked around, the more I saw people feeling the same way. And then I realized that complimenting someone is an art form. To really compliment someone, is an art that takes time, effort and energy. Complimenting someone is a form of communication, and like most types of communication, compliments too, are a dialogue that can have a lasting impact on someone.

The beauty of compliments is that when done right, they bring out the best in people and remind them of all that is wonderful about them. Compliments remind people of their best selves and become a way for them to see what they are putting out in the world.

While many time people give compliments for the sake of it or to flatter someone, a genuine compliment is one that can really strengthen a bond, create a bridge and deepen connections.

For that reason, I urge you to stay away from fake compliments and to try and embrace genuine compliments.

Most people we know, have something good about them. Find it.Take your time and really search a person. See what makes them, them. Find their strengths. Try to see people for what all they put out in the world and all the good that they do. If you have to, take a little longer and search a little harder and when you’re ready follow these simple guidelines –

 

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The Fear Of Running Out Of Things To Say

Any blogger will tell you this, at some point in their lives, they’ve wondered what to write about. And that’s a reality.

Even in life, at times we don’t know what to say. With friends, we can reminisce about the past, about future plans, and about the present.  With strangers or acquaintances, we don’t know what to say. We stare at the ground awkwardly and hope someone will talk about something other than the weather, traffic or the upcoming movies.

This fear of running out of things to say, and the awkward silence that follows, is actually an amazing way to connect. Seriously.

When we run out of things to say, often two things can happen – we blank out or we dive in further. Going blank, helps our mind wander away, to day dream, and to simply stop thinking for a while.

If we dive in further into the conversation, we are introduced to a whole new side of a person. Often a sensitive vulnerable side, that we didn’t see when we first began the conversation. Of course, we may come across people we don’t particularly like, but that’s okay too.

Not knowing what to say, doesn’t need to be a negative thing. It doesn’t have to be a buzzkill. It’s just a pause. Not a full-stop, but a pause and every conversation, relationship, and situation in life needs a pause.

How To Learn From Your Mistakes

Life is full of errors. On a daily basis, we do something wrong. Left the milk to boil too long, sent in the wrong emoji, didn’t have your meds. But these are small things that don’t hurt anyone (much). Every once in awhile, we make mistakes that can hurt us or others. These mistakes then, begin to matter. We become conscious of the consequences.

Till here the process is pretty sorted.  Make mistake -> See bad consequence -> Don’t want to feel bad again.

Yet, more often than not, some mistakes we continue to make. Why? Why is it that when we decided to not be angry again, do we suddenly burst out with anger? Why is it that when the situation is tense, our resolutions fall through? It’s often because we don’t know how to learn from our mistakes. In the process listed above, we have a problem, we have a consequence. We don’t have a solution. And that makes sense. Solutions are hard work. They require mental and physical effort.

If there was a solution though the process would look a lot like

Make Mistake -> See bad consequence -> Solution -> Don’t feel bad again.

The solution, though not a one glove fits all, but a medium size that almost fits all.  Learning a from a mistake requires you to deconstruct it, see different triggers and components and then practice the solution. So the complete process looks a lot like this.

Make Mistake -> See bad consequence -> Introspect and break down mistake -> Practice Solution -> Don’t feel bad again

Learning from your mistakes is an active process of control and repetition. Control your natural urges, practice your preferred response.

The Need to be Good

Everywhere we look, there is someone doing something we love, but doing it better. Personally, there’ll always be that one friend, acquaintance or an inspiration who is better at a hobby you want to do. Someone who, knowingly or unknowingly, manages to upset you.  While jobs are inherently competitive, personal lives need not be. We often complicate our lives by competing in our professional and personal lives.

But here’s the thing – we don’t need to.

Fictional case in point –

If you love writing, and you write a blog. So does your friend. Your friend writes a wee bit better than you do. And you’re upset about it. While it’s okay to be upset about it, if it begins to consume your day or your emotions, then you might want to reconsider.

Why does this upset you so much? Is it because you have a point to prove? Is it because you want to be the only one who writes? Or is it because she/he is better at it than you are?

Whatever the reason, one thing we forget is that IT SIMPLY DOESN’T MATTER. Your friend could be better than you. Could have won a Pulitzer, could have a following of 1 million readers. Why should it matter? Unless getting a Pulitzer is your goal, or having a million followers is your goal, why should you compete?

Our lives are already so messed up with the amount of competition and pressures that we have, why should we ourselves add to those? The point is that one doesn’t have to be good at everything one likes to do. One can pick and choose. Some things ought to be done just for the fun of it. Nothing more. Make your lives simpler. Pick your battles and more importantly do things because they make you happy, not because you have to be the best at them.

 

Choosing Yourself

NaNoWriMo is happening. That’s the National Novel Writing Month. In November every year, writers world over decide to try and write a novel of a minimum 50,000 words. Why NaNoWriMo is in November and not any other month, I couldn’t tell you, but what I can tell you is this- if you decide to do it, do it for the joy of writing.

And the same rule applies to all your hobbies. Every passion today seems to be shared by a million people, at least. Writing, sky diving, rafting, mountaineering, knitting – you name it, there are at least a thousand  people doing it and many who are way better at it than you are.  Hence, whatever you do, there will be someone better and regardless of your goal (to keep it to yourself or become a pro at it), it can be intimidating or demotivating to do something that so many people are doing or that so many people are already good at.

The best reason to do anything is to do it for yourself because you enjoy it.

Life is too short to not have personal goals and hobbies. Constraints will always be there, but if you pick and choose what you will do and what you won’t do, you can squeeze in time for things you love. Doing what you love, will definitely make you happier and if philosophers are to be believed, happiness is the ultimate purpose of one’s life. Within your life constraints, try to do one thing that makes you happy. Every day choose yourself for at least a little while. So, for all of you NaNoWriMo fans, do it, if you love it.

How Can We Truly Be Ourselves?

Caroline McHugh, founder of Idology, reflected in her Tedx Talk that people are truly themselves either when they are babies or when they are older. Babies don’t know better and older people don’t care enough to conform. This got me thinking, is there anyway we can truly be ourselves? Can we escape the inevitable dilemmas of who we are and  just embrace ourselves without a second thought.

Upon pondering even further, I came to one conclusion yes we can  truly ourselves as long as we embrace the idea that who we are may never be one a definite answer.

Who we are is an evolving process that includes growth, shift in perspectives, formation of new perspectives and also, failure and discomfort. We can be truly be ourselves when we embrace the uncertainty and live life on the terms we have set for ourselves. Life is ever-changing and hence we can not predict or plan in advance so, how we react to life and how it will impact us, is not something we can plan for.

What we can plan for is what we perceive to be good, bad, acceptable and unacceptable bearing in mind that even those notions of right are wrong are subjected to change. So our plan dwindles into a simple three-step process.

  1. Do I like what I am today?
  2. Can I accept that my views may change?
  3. Can I learn to not care of what others think?

These three questions, if answered with utmost honesty, will help us decide where we lie in our lives and how we can be truly ourselves. If we like ourselves on any given day and realized that life and its’ events can change us and yet not be bothered by what people think, then we are already being our truest self! If however, and more commonly, we can mark off only one or two of the questions, then we realize what we need to work on in our life. Do we need to work on acceptance? Do we need to work on our mental growth? Do we need to work on our self validation and self-esteem?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then that’s what we do! We find out our weakness and work towards eliminating it. One weakness at a time, we become stronger. The steps are simple, but definitely not easy. It is so much easier to fall back into a pattern that we’ve always had. It’s so easy to be the way we’ve always been. But progress is difficult and being our truest self is even more daunting.

We see ourselves mostly with a tinted, flawed lens. We see our vulnerabilities and weaknesses and are afraid of letting the world see them. Instead why don’t we turn our weaknesses into strengths and wear them as a badge of honor, of all the battles we’ve won and all the lessons we’ve learned? Changing how we see ourselves then becomes vital in how we can be our truest selves.

Hence, in order to be our truest selves, we must see ourselves for who we are, embrace it and learn to be proud of it. Not everyone will like it, but if you follow the three steps mentioned above, you’ll realize that you don’t need anyone to like you. Those who like you, will like you with your weaknesses and those who don’t, don’t deserve to be in your life.

I hope this helps you feel prouder and more true to yourself. I’ll see you next week. Till then follow me on facebook and twitter.