Hi, I am Yasir, a Civil Engineer, working in Germany. I am a firm believer that we should leave the world a better place than we came in. Along these lines, this website is dedicated to helping you, motivating you and supporting you in your journey to a better and happier life. As with everything in life, including you and me, it is a work in progress but I am dedicated to being there when you need me.
Like millions of young people across the globe, you may be starting your college this year. Here are some suggestions for you to make the best out of your college life.
To two men living the same number of years, the world always provides the same sum of experiences. It is up to us to be concious of them.
Albert Camus, The myth of Sisyphus
The next 3-4 years of your life will be the most stimulating years of your life. These years will help you gradually move from teenager to adulthood. It is a brilliant opportunity to learn about the world you are about to become a tax-paying member of. These are some of the things you could do to not miss out on this golden opportunity.
Take it slow
It is not that i am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours.
My first advice is to hold your judgments.
You are going to meet different people from different parts of the country, some even from different parts of the world. Don’t be too quick to conclude about someone’s habits, culture or goals. Whenever you get a chance, talk to new people. Try to listen to their stories, experiences and opinions. You will not get to meet so many new people in such a short period of time again in your life. This will broaden your perspective about how people live, which is what you must aim to learn, a way to live.
Find your voice
Knowing yourself is the begining of all wisdom.
As you are learning to accept that the world is weirder than you thought, you must also find some things to stand for or stand against. Voice your opinions. If you are not so vocal, write them in the privacy of your journal. Just listening or reading to yourself will make your thoughts about matters around you clearer. Understanding your preferences is important because when presented with a choice, such as choosing a career or a life partner, you must know what you want. The choice you will make will have real life-altering consequences.
It all starts with testing the boundaries of your comfort zone. If you have been studious throughout your life, try going to a couple of parties and see what is it about. If you have been the star of every party so far, try to isolate yourself from the crowd for a while. If you like food, try to fast once a week. See how that feels and what do you like or do not like about that situation. The more you challenge yourself, the more you will learn about yourself.
Learn to speak
Your success in life will be determined largely by your ability to speak, your ability to write and the quality of your ideas, in that order.
Prof. Patrick Wilson, MIT How to Speak, IAP 2018
Speaking in a formal environment is essentially a presentation skill. I mean that you need to learn to be an orator. Speaking in a group presentation, presenting your thesis, and speaking in an interview are some examples of this. Statistically speaking, you may be one of the people who fear public speaking. That is why working on this skill during college is necessary.
Formal speaking is a skill just like any other and hence, can be improved. One effective method is to write notes and practise before a mirror. Write in short bullet points and not whole sentences. This will allow you to learn to speak by looking at your audience and not forgetting what you are talking about. This is just one of many methods available and I do not want you to stick to just one. Try out what works for you and practise. Take lead in projects and fight if you must for a chance to speak. This is the safest and lowest stakes public speaking forum you will ever get. Use it well to hone your skills.
Meet your heroes
I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what i am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the begining.
Michel Foucault, Truth, Power, Self
Wouldn’t it be great if someone showed you a movie of the next 40 years of your life? And not just one, 10 different versions of what your life could be? And you could choose any of those paths and with some preparation and luck, live an exciting life.
Well, that’s not possible. Sorry.
But you have the next best thing.
Learn the life of the people who inspire you. Learn about the events which shaped their lives and the situations in which they grew up. Examine each milestone, each failure and everything in between. Choose people from your field of profession, cultural and religious background or any criteria in the way you relate to them.
These introspections will tell you at least two things:
They lived and worked in very different situations than you.
The opportunities they got were a combination of being in the right place at the right time, talent and perseverance despite difficulties.
These humbling truths will guide you to choose your profession and your life partner, two decisions that will be responsible for most of your excitement or lack of it.
Discover your ambition
“I bargained with Life for a penny, and Life would pay no more, However I begged at evening When I counted my scanty store;
Life is a just employer. He gives you what you ask, But once you have set the wages, Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire, Only to learn, dismayed, That any wage I had asked of Life, Life would have willingly paid”
Jessie B. Rittenhouse
For me, this poem reminds me that what I am doing today is just what I have settled for right now. Neither my present job defines my being, nor does it limit my potential. I can aim to be something seemingly impossible and work my way towards it and with luck and preparation, achieve it. It is possible. Hard work is your vehicle to reach your aim while your ambition is the fuel that makes that vehicle move.
Sometimes in your life, you will go through a phase, where just doing the same thing day in and day out would be the only option. Don’t worry, we all go through it. It too shall pass.
Imagine a life for you. What inspires you. What excites you. Try to find something which allows you to help humankind. This one thing can hold together your life when things get tough and everything seems to fall apart.
Develop a hobby
A foolish consistancy is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by the little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, self-Reliance
Break routines and find some activities not related to your curriculum. That can be any sport, playing a musical instrument, standup etc. And dedicate yourself to these pursuits. Try many things but come back to a few which give you peace of mind. Become proficient in them. These hobbies will always help you settle in a new city, make new friends and find people with a similar passion. These will be social skills that will not only entertain you in your personal time but also increase your value to the people around you.
College life can be many things. If I have learned anything from experience, you will have free time at your hand. Utilise it well and you would not regret it.
If you already watched this video, you know what the heading meant. I wanted to share this message with you because I think you can benefit from it too. As we all share this habit of setting goals, because that is how we were taught as a method to live life successfully. But as described by Mr. Alter here so wisely, it is a failed system. It has inherent design flaws. You fail until you reach the anti-climax of achieving your goal. But even that is not enough, you are never satisfied. Even worse, now your hunger is increased and you set an even bigger goal, meaning longer period of failure. So, what is actually this magical system of System setting that overcomes these flaws?
System is, simply put, a habit.
Anything you do repeatedly, over a period of time, becomes a habit. In order to achieve a goal, you break that into smaller, daily steps and do that regularly. I mentioned about this small step in my earlier blog about Optimising our Ordinary lives.
The challenge for you is not to define smaller, daily, doable steps to get to a goal but to forget about the goal altogether.
If you have to complete a project at work in a week, you can define smaller steps in that project, and do them daily and you would be surprised how natural it was to be on time, without stress. Of course, it is more complicated than that because there are other people who do not care for your system and there are people who will keep messing with your schedule. But if you are focused on doing that one thing daily, nothing can stop you from being on time.
Prioritise: how to make a task list
When you have created your daily habit but still have a lot of other tasks in a day, write them down. These can be anything, related or unrelated tasks. This list will protect your habit and keep you on the track.
Then, mark all the tasks you have to do today, another group for tomorrow and the rest of the items in another group. The first group can be named A, the other B and the third, C. Now in group A, mark the task you must do first as 1, making this task A1. Then mark the next important task as A2 and so on until all the tasks in group A have been assigned a number. This is the proposed order of doing things. Now do the same for group B and then for group C. Hence, now you have prioritised all the tasks that you are supposed to do today and in near future. Try to make this list as exhaustive and inclusive as possible. Include every task, even if it is taking out the garbage because this will remove unknown and unscheduled tasks from your planning and give you greater control over your day.
Try to do this at least once a week in the beginning. Not every day is as thrilling as today and some days you might wanna relax and let loose. This list-making method is an absolute hero at taking care of everything, so use it as frequently as you need it.
Changing yourself takes courage before anything because you have to accept that you are not perfect and have a flaw. Be a gentle critic of yourself. Then, once you accept flaws in your methods, you can change. And some of the information above may help you do it.
How to choose a career to follow at the age of 16 is a difficult task, especially if you have Asian parents. Here is a guide to help you navigate through this difficult decision making process.
I’ll get right to the point.
To choose a career in India, or any Asian country in general, is a special type of problem. The main obstacles– our own loving parents and the lack of time for hobbies. I am, myself, a product of such a society. So, following is an insider’s solution to tackle this problem.
Steps of construction
Go through these steps, one-by-one and follow a timeline. I will provide my understanding of each section as you proceed and provide a sample timeline at the end. The steps are:
Step #1: Find out which technology excites you.
Step #2: Find a place that teaches a course in that technology.
Step #3: Find out what kind of jobs one can do after that course.
Step#4: Find out more places and respective courses in that same thing.
Step#5: Create a list of the top 5 courses of your choice.
Step#6: Convince Parents.
Step#7: Apply and wait for the results.
Step#8: Pack and leave the nest.
Step#1: Find out which technology excites you
If you know what excites you
If you have an idea of what excites you and you also know how to turn that activity into a profession, Congratulations! You have completed step 1. You can skip reading this next part and go straight to step 2.
If you are not sure what excites you
Don’t worry, we all have been there. First point is, that it does not have to be just one thing for the rest of your life. It can be many things over the course of your life that excite you. Second thing, if you think there is nothing exciting, you just need to look from another perspective.
Jobs change all the time. Some best paid jobs of today may not exist in coming 10 years, all due to changing technological landscape. If you do not keep up with changing technology in your chosen field, whatever it may be, you will find it hard to be valuable to the society. Or in other words, be jobless. On the other hand, if you keep up with the changes and update your skills accordingly, you may end up being the leading person in your field. Beeple is such and example. His digital art sold for $69 Million. Being a traditional graphics designer, that would have been hard to imagine if had not learned about NFTs.
What to choose?
So, start by finding a technology that you find exciting. That can be technology of travel, carpet making, engineering, medical science, food, painting, financial systems, education, film making, acting, language or Space. By technology, I mean the inner workings of your field, the rules and devices which make things happen and knowledge of under-the-hood of your favourite product.
how to choose?
And if you are confused about what to choose, you need a reason to chose. You need to find a “why“. Why should you do this job or that job, Why does this profession feels better than the other? Questions like these are very important because this “why“, is the basis of job satisfaction and your productivity as a member of the society and your organisation. And trust me, if you think that money and affluence are the only goals worth pursuing, without a solid “why“, it’s just a matter of time before you burnout or feel lost.
This why will serve as a guiding compass in the uncertain future. Just like a compass always points to the north, your reason, your why, will help you go in the right direction.
what is a good reason?
There are many ways to find your reason. For some people, this reason can be money, happiness, stability, safety, altruism or, excellence. But I find excitement is one of the key factors related to all these others. It is not only at core of them but also what makes these other values worth perusing. Let me provide my reasoning behind it.
To earn or achieve any of these targets, you need to spend time doing your chosen activity or profession. During this time, you will make mistakes, encounter resistance, criticism and disappointments. Successes, if any, would be small, short lived and mostly celebrated alone. So, you need to stay disciplined and motivated to stay on this path. And if the goal is a far off fantasy land with all your wishes come true, it may seem too far, especially when you are down. You may loose motivation, have self doubt and as result, give up. This means you will be again where you first started, faced with choices. Only this time you will be a little wiser but older. This happens to people more often than you would expect.
Excitement is a good value to work with. It is an excellent reason because it is linked to our neural pathways, which have developed overtime. If those pathways are not that rewarding, that means you need to adapt to a new way to do things or try something new. Excitement is an emotion which connects your inner self to the outer world. Excitement is happiness. So, if some activity excites you, it will also make you happy. And isn’t happiness the whole purpose of doing anything we do?
Following is a very small guide to explore your choices regarding technology.
Long approach (time required: 1-3 months)
Step #1: To get an overview of what it means to find a work-life balance and why is it necessary, read any or all of these books:
Step #2: Follow the exercises provided in the books to get a better idea about your interests. Then, make a list of top 5 activities that excites you.
Step#3: List the technologies/techniques needed to learn to master those activities.
Short approach (time required: 1-3 days)
Step#1.1: Take a free personality test at 16personalities and read the sections named ‘Introduction’ and ‘Carrier path’. You can also read the Biographical description of some well known people in your profile type to see if some of your characteristics, ambitions and situations are similar to them or not.
Step#1.2: Pick 2-3 people from the list given in the introduction whose work inspire you. Observe the common theme there. If their professions are similar, that is your area of interest. If they have varied Professions, that means you may find more than one thing exciting.
Step#1.3: Come back to the result of the test and pick the list of famous people from your profile again the next day. See if you pick the same people as last time. If your new list remains the same, lock target on the excitement. If not, feel free to update the list. So, by the end of this exercise, you must have a list of carrier choices which are exciting to you and are also actual professions.
These two exercises are meant to guide you in the direction of self exploration. There are of course numerous other way for self exploration ranging from meditation to joining a personality development course to doing multiple internships overtime. Feel free to choose whatever method works best for you and remember the goal: to find what area of knowledge excites you.
Step#2: Find a place that teaches a course in that thing
After selecting your area of interest based on what excites you, you need to find a master to learn from. Or in our case, a group of masters in form of a course. A master is someone who can guide to through the process of learning and self discovery. A master can help you figure out your personal best way to learn and show you the possibilities on this path of learning. If you have 3-6 months time, you can try to find a short term course of 3 or 6 months to get a feel of the technology you want to learn for the rest of your life. But most of you will not have the luxury of time because of the pressures from parents, peers and the society. I do not like this way and I strongly believe that no one should be allowed to jump to a bachelor degree directly after school without taking a gap year to explore other choices or testing your ideas.
But let us get back to our present reality. we are locking on to a degree program in a limited time.
So, start researching about the places that teach such a thing. Start with Google and type “Course on …..” fill in the name of your area of interest. If you want to work with marine animals, type “Courses on Marine Animals“. It will take you some time to get to the correct words to type but you will get there. Google is like a Genie from Aladdin. He can find you anything you say but you have to be careful what you say.
So, after you have optimised your search tag words and have reached the correct name of courses, try to find what is the course content of that program.
What is the syllabus?
How much time is for practical training?
What is the qualification of course instructors?
These information can be easily extracted from the course website. Also, check YouTube for videos related that course to learn about the actual experience.
Step #3: Find out what kind of jobs one can do after that course.
Now that you have the name of the course that you want to learn, its time to see what kind of jobs one can do after it. Every field of knowledge is ever expanding and new roles related to it keep emerging. So, there is probably more than one kind of job that you can do after you complete this course. You will have plenty of time during your 3-4 years of study to make that choice but before joining that course, it is good to know that you have choices.
So, we head to Facebook and LinkedIn for research and type in the name of the course you want to do. It will give you a list of people who are related to that course, most probably, graduated from the same one. Look at their resumes, locations and the companies they have worked with. You should message them and ask about their experience and recommendations of the course. Do not hesitate, people are happy to help if you ask nicely. Not all of them will reply but even if one of them replies, you can take their guidance in your decision making. You can some of the following questions to them:
Did you find the course updated in terms of actual industry demand?
What was the biggest challenge for you during the 4 years of study?
What was the first job you took after college and how did you find it?
What is your ambition in this profession?
Do you want to do a masters course? If yes, then in which field and why?
These are some of the things you can ask without falling into the trap of asking about salary, job perks and other monetary questions. And avoid asking obvious questions like ‘What is the chance of getting placed after this course? because of course if you did well, you will get a job. And you will do well because it is what excites you. Studying will be fun, not work if you choose wisely.
Step#4: Find out more places and respective courses in that same thing.
So far you have done the basic research about the field of technology you want to learn and found at least one course, which is taught in some universities/colleges. Now is the time to cast a wider net and look at some similar courses.
You should also search for the variations of the original course you selected. There might be something you did not notice or simply did not care to check because you were focussed on only one course. Now is the time to do a more open minded search as see what are the possible variations of that course or the field. Ask yourself:
What can be other applications of this course?
What other fields can be combined with this field to make a new specialisation?
Is there a course with just the parts I like?
What are the highest paid jobs from this field?
What kind of master courses are offered based on this course?
Step#5: Create a list of the top 5 courses of your choice.
To be sure to get an admission in your desired course, you need to make a list of 5 courses in different colleges. If you are sure, you can make a list of 3 colleges. The main criteria should be that these all should teach similar course content in order to choose one direction and maximise the chance of getting an admission.
If you are making a list of 5 colleges, they should look like this:
College #1 – Hardest to get admission in.
College #2 – Moderate chance of getting admission.
College # 3, 4 & 5 – Good chance of getting admission.
If you list consist of 3 college, then
College #1 – Hardest to get admission in.
College #2 – Moderate chance of getting admission.
College #3 – Good chance of getting admission.
The main criteria to filter a course can be found in the course requirements. Course requirements will give you an idea about how hard or easy can it be to get an admission. Although you will not know for sure but still you need some criteria for classifying the courses. These are:
Academic requirements – minimum percentage
Language requirements – International course require a English Language certificate from TOEFL or IELTS.
Application Deadline – Last date to submit your application
Recommendations – Letter of recommendations from your faculty.
Financial requirements – These are your personal limits to which you can take a loan or use your parents savings to pay for college tuition fee and accommodation, food and travel fees. We will consider this in a while.
Step#6: Convince Parents.
There are two ways to fund your education. One is that your parents to the initial investment and you manage to support your studies by earning from a part time job. Other is that they fund all the course fee. The last is that you do not take any money from them and only use your savings for admission and late for semester fees, pay from earnings from a part time job. If you are lucky, you will have no problem with convincing your parents about your future plans and getting money from them to support you in perusing the plans.
But assuming you are not that lucky, let us make up lost luck by hard work.
So the problem with parents is that most of them have their own expectations and ambitions from you. Mostly it will be one of their repressed dream that they could not fulfil or if they could, continuation of their legacy by including you in family business. Also, they tend to have very telescopic vision of carrier choices and lack knowledge of existence of other fields out there. Also, they do not consider you an adult yet, who can make life decisions. Maybe even you think so about yourself. This aspect of parenting is very different in eastern and western world. Western world focuses mostly on self-reliance and independence while most of the Eastern societies cultivate a culture co-dependence of family members.
But this is the time to change it. If you do not follow your plan, you are doomed to follow someone else’s plan. So, we start by convincing ourselves that I need to take charge of my life. No matter what happens after I decide to go on this path it, I will not back off and keep moving forward. It is my life and not anyone’s property. Be responsible for your own fate.
Now to the parents. They mean well and wish the best for you but they probably also had a plan about your profession even before you were born. Sometimes love can act like a golden chain, tied to your leg. It can keep you safe but will also limit how far you can go. They will not take this chain off until they trust you that you can make your own decisions. That may not happen anytime soon but we have to start somewhere, right. So, to convince your parents of your plan, you need to convince them of your decision making abilities. If they trust you to make a decision, they will most likely let you make it.
To convince your parents, you need to show them your decision making process. You need to show them your work so far. What is that you want to study, the names of the courses and the job prospects after that. For them, the most important thing is that will you be able to earn decent amount of money to support yourself. So, prepare this part well. If you can show them the profiles of some people on Facebook and LinkedIn from your research, it may help. Also, if someone replied to your questions, show that. It is a proof that you are able to take action and get results. You have to win this argument because your life literally depends on it. Prepare your whole presentation in advance and ask for an appropriate time when you can present it. Ask them formally that you want to show your research to them that want to have a discussion about it.
Suppose they get convinced and fully support you in your decision. Best case scenario, right. But let us face the possibility of rejection, the worst case scenario. To mitigate failure to get their approval, you need a backup plan.
Here is the time for first big decision of your life, whether to follow your plans despite opposition from your parents or follow their suggested carrier path and follow your plans on the side. If you have the time to save enough money for admission by working part time for a year or two, take that that path and work towards your chosen carrier. If you do not have time, choose the path thought by your parents but make a plan to study your field. Maybe your university or college has some course in your field too and you can switch to it in the second year of your course. It is a long shot but if you are trying to salvage your idea, this might be your best practical shot.
Main idea here is, present your best idea but be prepared for whatever outcome it generates and keep on your choose path. Whatever path your decisions lead, just remember your compass, and seek excitement. You will find your goal.
Step # 7: Apply and wait for the results
Going ahead with your best case scenario and successfully convincing your parents, you start the application process.
As you have the list of colleges and courses ready, you know the application deadlines.
Prepare each application with the same care and responsibility. If you need to get letters of recommendations for each course and letter of motivation(LOM), prepare each one custom and modified according to each course. Do not send a general sounding LOM to every college.
Check for spelling and grammar errors in all written documents.
Check if all necessary forms are signed and dated.
Check if the colleges require attested copies or normal copies of your certificates.
Apply at least 15-20 days before the last date of application, if possible as early as possible.
After application is the period of wait. It can excruciating to wait for the results as you have no way of knowing it otherwise. Find something that will keep you engaged like doing a short term course as a primer for the course you want to do. Or just chill with your friends if they are free. It will be the last time for most of your friends to spend time with you as they too will soon leave to follow thier paths.
Step # 8: Pack and leave the nest
So, you did it. You got admission. Congratulations for the beginning of a beautiful friendship with work. This day marks an important day in your life because you are going to face the world on your own for the first time alone. But do not worry. They are also going to face you for the first time.
This also marks the start of your skill development – both hard and soft. Hard skills are the technical aspects of your trade and the soft skills are the emotional skills that you need to successfully work with other. Some of the most important soft skill to learn are:
Ability to work in a team and
What you should learn during your studies is a discussion for another time. For now, following is a summary of all the steps and a possible timeline.
Handwriting can be improved, at any stage of life. The only difference between improving your handwriting being in school vs improving your handwriting as an adult, is the amount of practise. As an adult you will get less practise to actually write and ponder over the shapes you just drew.
It is actually easier than it looks to improve your handwriting. Let us explore how.
Before you go on for Boss fight, some side quests need to be taken care of. These are the following three:
Get your favourite pen
Get some sheets of paper
Free your time (even 2 minutes count)
It is important that you know your tool. Choose a pen that you find the most satisfying to write with. It can be a ball point pen, ink pen or a roller pen. As long as it feels right in your hand, it is fine. My present favourite is Lamy ink pen because of its smoothness on the paper.
Any type of paper will do as long it is not made of raw pulp, hand made or anything that drinks ink. Check if it is compatible with your pen. Also, it should be smooth enough to let the pen skid without getting stuck in it.
And lastly, time. Just start with 5 minutes. And if you still like it after 5 minutes, you will make time yourself.
4 Steps to improve your Handwriting
Start with the Alphabet.
It is a good place to start to improving your handwriting by practising Alphabets. Back to school but his time with your choice. Following are the 26 letters of the English Alphabets for you to observe and practise.
Following Alphabets are a guide for you to practise. If you don’t like it, try a different one. Or maybe change these and make new ones. As long as you take care in drawing each letter, it’s fine.
Do not rush
I learned to write fast because I needed to. Writing fast is one way to write your language paper in time in exam. So, I had to balance the handwriting and speed to get the best marks. But you are in no rush now. You do not need to write under a time constraint. So, whenever you write, do not rush and write with half the speed you previously used to write. It will instantly improve your handwriting.
I used to pick typography as a kid from sign boards, tv ads, movies, even from cartoons. Keep your eye open for any interesting letter and add it in your arsenal. Try any letter couple of times with different styles and see how it fits. If it doesn’t, leave it. Full disclosure, I picked my ‘f’ from Professor Dumbledore’s handwriting in Harry Potter.
Try to scribble on any piece of paper you get and try to write as many possible versions of a letter as you can. One way to do this is to write different words with the same letter such for practising a with other letters, write apple, bat, create, master, camp, lamp, arc etc.
Benefits of having a good handwriting
Leave A lasting impression
Writing something is literally leaving a lasting impression on someone. When someone will look at your handwriting, they will make an assumption. Your handwriting can make you look confident or meek, optimistic or pessimistic, careful or careless.
If you are fascinated by your handwriting and try to improve it, every written piece can become a relaxing experience. Doing something you like makes you happy. So enjoy writing, enjoy making each alphabet and it will bring you enough joy to write.
Train your brain
Good handwriting requires a good hand-eye coordination. It automatically takes a lot of concentration to do something good and repeat that. Once you reach a level that you do not require any longer to write well, challenge your handwriting again and start the process all over. Your brain loves challenges because they keep it fit.
That’s all folks. Hope you have fun improving your impression on this world.
Ok, so you are looking to loose weight “Quickly”. But how quickly ? In one month, one week, one day? And how much weight are we talking about here – 10 kg, 20 kg or, 50 kg ? So, what is the correct rate of loosing weight?
According to the Centres for Disease control and Prevention, the healthy rate of Weight loss is 0.5 kg to 1 kg per week. So, if you want to loose 10 kg, it should ideally take 10-20 weeks, that is, 3 to 6 months. So, pace your progress accordingly otherwise you risk loosing hope by failing to meet unrealistic goals like 5 kg in one week.
I am not an health expert but just like you, I once searched for an answer. I am sharing what I found and used in my life so far.
These are my tips:
Choose you snacks wisely,
Drink water, not Cola
Choose a Workout you can do
Eating lesser is far better strategy than eating salads because eating salads is tough. I tried making salad one time but ended up with a green fodder. A goat may have loved it but I ate it just to prove it to my wife that I can make a salad.
do it like this
Eat in a smaller plate and each every time in the same plate. Eventually, in a day or two, you will find a sweet spot between food and hunger where you are not hungry but you can still eat more. Stop right there. Get up, wash your hands and drink a gulp of water. Walk away, that is your cue.
Choose your snacks wisely
Your snacks are the ones that is killing your hard work of eating lesser. As you will get hungry again or maybe soon after eating, you look for comfort snacks. First step to avoid eating junk is not to buy it. You are lazy enough not to go shopping just for snacks right when you are hungry. Good, use this as your strength.
do it like this
Next time you go shopping, buy unsalted peanuts. Instead of Chips and cupcakes, buy some nuts like almonds, pistachio, walnuts and raisins if you can. These are rich in minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, which your brain needs but cannot produce. Buy at least one fruit, such as Banana, which is easy to eat and you enjoy eating too. These are superfoods that enrich your body and mind. Plus they keep you lean.
Drink water, not Cola
Do you have any idea why you drink Cola or any other carbonated soft drink for that matter? Because it quenches your thirst? Well, is Water a joke then? Because it digests food – No it does not, it stops the digestion because it is alkaline and your stomach acid is well, acidic. Makes your burp? Well, that it does. But is a Burp enough price to pay for all the damage it does? Let me name the one biggest reason not to drink it – Sugar. All the carbonated drinks are laced with sugar and if not, even zero sugar drinks have some kind of replacement sweetener. Sugar is evil. It literally modifies your brain‘s pleasure and reward centres to eat more sugar, keeping your weight out of control.
Do it like this
Keep a couple for bottles of carbonated/mineral water at home. Normal water, just with that fizz that make you Burp. Problem solved. Drink it and see what you miss. The taste you miss, is from the sugar that was killing your gains.
Also, remember to drink at least 1-2 bottles (1-2 litters) of water daily.
Choose a Workout you can do
This is a big one. No one wants to deliberately hurt their bodies. Most of us don’t do it until we are shamed beyond our limit or a doctor tells us to do. But even then, we shamelessly forget the pressure in some time and go back to being our old self. But the problem was not exercising itself. It was the type of exercise you choose.
Do it like this
Start with the simplest thing you can do and build up from there. Is it walking? Good. Walk for 10 minutes a day, slightly faster than normal. Increase 1 minute daily in your walk until you reach 40 minutes. So, today you walk 10 mins, tomorrow 11 mins, and so on until you reach 40 minutes per session. Then if you decide to keep sticking to walking, add 1 minute running to it. So do 1 minute running and 39 minutes walking. Next day, do 2 minutes running and 38 minutes walking. keep adding the running and subtracting walking as you go ahead. That way, you are competing against yourself, not repeating a boring routine and getting better at something.
Walking is just one example and maybe it it not for you. Maybe it is cycling, swimming, boxing or dancing. There are many things you can on your own. Choose one activity and keep adding difficulty in that to improve your performance and keeping it interesting.
Pro Tip: Get someone to do that with you. Your success rate will increase tremendously by just committing to someone.
Get enough sleep
This may be problematic to you because of weight but it goes on in adding to that weight. Sleep is one of the most mysterious human behaviours and Scientists are still not 100% sure that they understand why do we sleep. But the best guess is that in this time our body repairs, resets and reboots itself.
Do it like this
Wake up at a fixed time. No need to get up at 5 am, just choose sometime you can do daily. The first couple of days in starting a new routine are difficult but if you keep your alarm far enough, you will have to get up. Then drink a glass of water and go start your day. In the evening, do not drink any stimulant drink like tea or coffee at least 3 hours before going to the bed. Then 1 hour before going to the bed, keep you phone away from you. And go the bed with a book in hand or your partner. Make best routines for the best results.
Make realistic plans
Setting up a really tough plan, with things you have never done in your life before for a long period of time is a recipe for disaster. You will fail, loose hope and go back to being the older you. You have to be realistic in your assessment of your limits and expectations and then make a plan you can actually follow. But the goal should be to have such good habits that you do not need to plan.
Do it like this
First, find out how much weight you have to loose weight. Then, calculate how much time it will take to loose that weight. As I said above, ideal would be to loose 0.5 kg to 1 kg per week. Set a realistic goal and as you will make progress, you will pick up better habits and eventually, a healthier lifestyle. That’s how not only will you loose weight, you will also keep it away.
It is important to stay in a healthy weight range to avoid getting sick. But please beware of the beauty standards on social media. Loose weight to get healthier, not to get a body like a supermodel. It is far more important to have a healthy, flexible and strong body than looking cosmetically good.
Have fun changing for better.
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I’ve been speaking for a long time. I have won Debates and Extempores in school and college and sometimes, I manage to win an argument or two against my wife, which I must say is more impressive than all other wins combined.
Here are some of the fine thoughts that I have on how one can improve their way of communicating so that they can make a compelling argument that may reach out to their audiance’s logos, pathos and ethos.
The complexity of communication
Communication means transfer of ideas from one person to another by the means of our senses. We communicate in our personal life and professional life differently because the place, person and time determine the type of words, tone and logic we use to communicate. To complicate matters further, most of us get no training for doing this in life other than our actual experiences of what works for a certain situation and what does not.
In life, three things will dictate the level of your professional success – your ability to speak, your ability to write and the quality of your ideas
Patrick Winsten, American Computer Scientist, MIT
Another feature of Communication is that it is an interactive process. It has a feedback loop. The person you are communicating with will give you suggestions about what works for them better and what does not. These suggestions can be direct instructions or subtle hints.
Some people are more perceptive of these hints and are, as a result, become excellent speakers and communicators. Great Orators can sense what their audience is thinking and they move a great number of people to action just with their words, a really tough task if the audience is not paid to listen to you. Others can write books filled with stories of information that can keep you sitting for hours, staring at some words etched on a page. They are communicating, just with different mediums.
So, it all comes down to this. What makes communication great? What makes people listen to you every time you say or write or gesture something?
Improving the Fundamentals
There is one trick that nature uses to create all the living and non-living things around us. It repeats the same step in different situations. How do mountains and volcanoes form? The tectonic plates move and when they press against each other, they either go up or down. Repeat that with continental plates, you get Mountains. Repeat that with Oceanic Plates, and you get Volcanoes. How does a tree grow so complex and tall? Each branch divides into two similar branches but smaller in size. Repeat that couple of times, and boom, a tree. And repeat that in Brazil, you get a Rainforest. Repeat that in the Himalayas, you get Pine trees.
Learning from nature’s simple yet powerful rules, we are going to form some rules about communication and we are gonna define ways to do that so that we can use them in different situations to generate different solutions.
Rule # 1: Speak with a compassionate tone
Tone means the character you reflect in your voice. It is present in both the written and spoken word. For both, it is important to focus on the balance of facts, emotions and the need of the listener. It becomes easier to control and modify if you focus on the welfare of the listener and the needs of the listener. Even if you are expressing your need to have something, you should take care of the listener’s ability to do that. Let’s see the example below to show what I mean..
Would you like to go to a movie tonight?
Open to suggestions, considerate of listeners’ choice, Polite
We should watch a movie tonight.
Inconsiderate the listener’s choice
Let us take another example. Both are ads, aimed to introduce a certain Printer to customers.
P55 is the best product in the market in its segment. Our products have stood out the test of time and our customers have rated us the best in the service category.
Focussed on self, not very humble
Our P 55 printers are designed for your business needs and our services are focussed to keep your projects on time. We take pride in serving you the best product and services.
Humble, considerate of customer’s needs
A compassionate tone comes from an honest wish to be gentle to other human beings.
Whenever possible, practise the most compassionate way to say something in your head, and then say those words until this becomes your second nature. If it is not clear to you what is a compassionate tone, just watch someone you admire talk. For example, I like how Tom Hanks talks. He is one of the most liked people on Earth for a reason. You like him just by hearing him.
Rule # 2: Always have greetings ready
First impressions are hard to shake off. It is better to practice some form of greetings and goodbyes to make you stand out and sound confident. If you start with a good handshake and a confident introduction, the next words coming out of your mouth will have a better chance of being heard and remembered.
So, Practise the 1-2-3 of a greeting: Eye contact-Handskake/Gesture-Greeting in words. This will improve your reactions to sudden encounters and you would start off communication by sounding confident as a Leader.
Rule # 3: Do not start with a joke
Humour is a powerful tool to create a personality around people. It reflects intellect and openness to criticism. But never open a conversation with a joke. The danger with that is that in the beginning, people may still be adjusting to your tone, voice and loudness. Your well-timed and hilarious opener may as well be not heard at all because people were not adjusted to your talking. It’s best to put some jokes later or in the end.
Rule # 4: Know your volume
The correct speaking volume can help you become a much better speaker because then people can actually listen to you longer without having a headache. How to find it? Next time you speak to a friend, ask them to spot your volume. If it gets too high or too low, they should warn you. This was, in some time, you will notice yourself and control it.
Rule # 5: Understand the central issue
Whether you are debating in college or talking to someone at work about a new issue, to effectively be heard, you must always keep an eye on the main topic. You may get distracted by your own argument because maybe you just a long winding example of something not directly related to the issue or your opponent created some diversion, you must reorient yourself to the topic asap. Ask what is the end result of this debate? Is my next argument going to being me closer to it? Was the last argument going in the right direction?
Successful communication not only conveys your point to the listener but also tells you what the other side is feeling about the issue. Communication goes beyond words and gestures but also involves empathising with the person in front of you. All the steps and rules above are there so that you may understand the person you are communicating with, so that you may speak in a way that they understand.
So, understanding people around you will automatically improve the quality of your communication.
I am not against productivity. If anything, I am pro-Productivity. But you gotta admit, there is too much of good advice floating on internet and at some point you have to realise that you received all the good advice you needed to do this task, and you should now get up and just do it. But most of the time, what we do is watch another YouTube video and another after that, until the YouTube algorithm is done with suggesting you similar content or your brain just gives up. Result, we end up feeling exhausted and under more pressure to do something with our lives because all these other awesome people of YouTube are nailing it.
What is Productivity Porn
Productivity Porn is any group of content aimed at arousing your interest in Productivity. The keyword here is arousal. It is generally a series of related videos suggested by YouTube or Instagram based on your likes and searches. The main property of Productivity Porn is that is captivating enough to keep you hooked but you end up spending more time watching than actually doing something about it.
My experience with Prodcutivity Porn
I have also been an addict to Productivity Porn for almost 2 years. This is how it happened. I am curious person and a learner. So naturally, when I go to YouTube, I look for advice such as, how to earn Passive income, how to improve your health, how to write better, best books to read and similar things. Then I would click on some video, watch it and before it is finished, I would go to another similar video. Then after couple of motivation and guidance filled videos, which could potentially make me millions and make my life exponentially better, I would jump to the new marvel trailer or something else to ease my mind. But then, filled with anxiety about not doing anything, I would not get up but go back to watching more helpful advice. And as I was interested in my topics, this continued till I had to shut my laptop because of some worldly concern like food or sleep or my daughter asking to play with her.
How I coped with it, or better said, How am I coping with it right now may not apply to your situation but it is worth looking at. I realised it was a problem after 2 years because I was thinking about writing more, watching videos on it, talking about it but didn’t actually write anything. I mean, I would write something everyday but that was for my eyes only, never showed it to anyone. The Problem was – that I wanted to take all information in before starting. FOMO – Fear of missing out, held me back. So, I decided to take a step back and start again, this time, one thing at a time. I decided if I wanted to watch something, I would type it in the search bar, look for the answer and only if I did not get the right answer the first time, would I go the next video. If I did get the correct answer, I would use that information to do that step physically and would not watch another motivational or guidance video until I am on the sent step. This discipline has helped me write thousands of blogs. Just kidding. It has not but at least it took me this far that I am talking to you right now.
How to discipline yourself against Productivity Porn
I am going to be a bit ironical here and give you advice about how to not take too much advice. But Please before you move on to the next page or video, take time to implement at least one of the following steps.
Always type your query
Whenever you want to know something, you ask. Similarly, whenever you want advice on YouTube, type your query every time. And keep refining your search. Sometime you won’t have a clear idea about what is the correct keyword to look for. For example, if you wanted to know how to increase your website’s searchability, you need to type SEO in the search bar with your question but you will start with that first question and eventually learn this word and use it to refine your search.
As a general rule, what you do with the information you receive, should take more time than you spent listening the advice. If you want to learn guitar, and you spent 30 minutes listening to the advice on how to play a guitar, you should play the guitar, tune the stings or just walk around the house holding it for 31 minutes.
Sometimes it is our lack of courage to show our work to the world that pulls us back. But that is the thing. Everyone thinks like that and most of the time, they are not thinking about you. Everyone is at the centre of their world and whatever you do, however disastrously wrong, they will get over it in a minute. They will go back to their own world, thinking about themselves. So, use initial this time to practise, make mistakes and embarrass yourself. Show your work to your partner, your friends, share it on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube. Who cares. In fact, how to get more people to watch you will become your primary concern after sometime. So before you go from being embarrassed to show your work to excited to show your work, be like the child you once were, curious, walking funny, talking with weird made up worlds. Eventually you learned how to talk, walk and curb your curiosity like boring adults and you did fine. So just do that again and you will be fine again.
Look at the small picture
What you want to do with your choice of activity or the productivity increasing tip will change with time. So, do not get obsessed with defining your life 5 years own the line doing this thing. If you want to plan, plan your day and how to integrate this new advice into your life in that day. If that day is not today, then tomorrow. But choose a day and apply the advice on that day.
Refrain from spending money, Except on a book
If we get zealous about an activity, we tend to throw our money at it as a way to commit. Don’t do that until you have spend a month or so doing it for free. Maybe guitar was just a phase. Maybe writing is not really what you want to do. It is better to spend some time using the infinite free material on the internet before putting your hard earned money in it. Business want your money. Don’t make it easy for them.
Read a book
If you want to test your commitment, read a book on that topic. It takes much more commitment to read a book than reading a blog post or watching a video. Plus there are no distractions and suggested booklist with each page you read. And as an added advantage, you will actually learn something. Test your limits of commitment to your new habit of Exercise, Nutrition, Music or investing with this step.
Hope you had a good day and survived with just minor bruises which can we healed by a good night sleep. Take good care of your mind and body tomorrow, and let me know if you wanna talk about something. I’ll be glad to.
We are all grieving. We are grieving the loss of our freedom, our social life and our life before 2020 Pandemic. In this time, Inner peace or the calmness of mind is the super power we all need. Between home office, lockdowns and disruption of our travel plans, we all need to stay calm and live our life without ever going on a Rampage. Inner peace is wonderful to have but how do we achieve it ?
Before we explore the actions, which take us towards inner peace, we should be aware of the other emotions, which may appear before us.
Understanding our emotions
“In order to find the new world we needed a map, and in order for us to find a calm mind we need a map of our emotions”.
Paul Eckman, a Psychologist and leading researcher on emotions, developed a catalogue of emotions and in 2016 launched a beautiful website by the same name – http://atlasofemotions.org/ . It guides you through the jungle of emotions by categorising them in 5 major groups – Anger, Fear, Sadness, Disgust and Enjoyment. Then he presents all other related emotions in each group on a scale of low to high intensity. Further, he suggests what action do we take when we feel them and what can be the counter measures for each. It is quite a lovely use of infographics and I suggest you visit it for getting an overview of the range of emotions we feel.
On this website, in the group “Enjoyment”, one can find “Peace” in middle of the scale of low to high excitement. It is neither as basic as a sensory pleasure nor as exciting as Ecstasy. It is in balance and that is what we want to aim as our default mode of living in daily life.
This catalogue serves as a guide for what actions do we take when we feel certain emotions but it does not guide us on how do we achieve one of them, let us say, the emotion of peace. Of course, the website leads you to more websites where you can do some courses on managing your emotions to help you “Cultivate Emotional Balance”, but we are not going anywhere, are we? We are looking for something that we can do from the comfort of our beds, without changing the pyjamas.
So, How does Gratitude help us achieve this inner peace ?
What is Gratitude ?
Gratitude is an Action and not an emotion. Simply put, It is any act of thanking someone for their contribution in your life. Let us explore the key words here.
act of thanking: being grateful, thanking someone in person or even thinking about it, or thanking the right conditions and timing for your actions.
their contribution: acknowledging that someone else helped you along the way, physically, emotionally, financially or in any other way.
your life: your life story is written by your actions but what or who lead you to those actions, are also important. When you look back on your life from present, you should be able to recognise those faces.
Thinking of Gratitude as an action makes it a tool, something that you can use to build or fix something. and Gratitude is a multipurpose tool because it can help us in many ways.
Why is Gratitude good for me ?
Gratitude for us is like drinking water. You can go on with your day without drinking more than 2 glasses of water but in the long run, it is going to cause you metabolism problems. Also, if you drink too much water, you will take above average toilet breaks and in extreme cases can even drink yourself to death. Seriously. Check this out if your don’t believe me https://www.healthline.com/health/how-much-water-can-kill-you
Similarly, Gratitude is required in the right amount. Too little will cause you attitude problems and too much will wear you out. So, in between the two extremes, of being a ungrateful waste of humanity to being everyone’s punching bag, there is a sweet spot, where you can exist and have all the benefits of using Gratitude without feeling the burnout.
To the more curious, here are some benefits of Gratitude in your life:
Long Term Happiness
If you want happiness to last for more than a few moments, you need to have some control over how to generate it on demand. And I am not talking about the thrills generated by the Dopamine rush, which we get while seeking pleasure. Like when we are eating Ice cream. I am talking about the happiness, by courtesy of Serotonin, which you get when you think about the feeling of eating that Ice cream on a perfect sunny Saturday. But as eating Ice cream is limited to some perfect days and is enjoyable to think about certain number of times, we need something more perineal and deep. Hence, Gratitude. When we express Gratitude to someone or something, we generate a long lasting and replicable feeling of joy and happiness.
No matter what you have achieved in life or what you have done for others, to brag about it is like baking a beautiful muffin and licking it all over before giving it to someone. Yukk, right. It is still beautiful but no one other than a complete sucker for you would like it. And how can you be more humble ? Yes, by expressing Gratitude. Even if you generated a billion dollar empire on your own, without any mortal’s help, you can still thank your customers for putting their money in your pocket when they could have gone to your nearest competitor. They did you a favour by choosing you, not the other way around. On the other hand, if you are earning a living by doing a job, you have tons to be grateful for, starting with your parents who raised you to the partner who puts up with your weirdness to the kind lady at the supermarket who said “good day” to you even when she was tired from her day’s work.
Genuine good behaviour
If you are thinking that are you a decent human being or not, I have god news for you. You already are or are at least starting to be. And just to make sure you are, include Gratitude in your ever expanding arsenal of good actions. Gratitude is such a strong key habit that it will shape your perspective and in turn, will help you make your thoughts positive. Remember, it always starts with one small step. Just one good thought a day will move mountains of negative emotions in some time.
Solution to Anger/Jealousy
Holding anger or Jealousy in your heart against someone is like holding a burning piece of coal in your hand and thinking, that it is harming your enemy. Just like that burning coal, Jealousy will just harm you. And it is easy to hold on to it because you are hurt and you want revenge. You want closure, which we sometimes do not get. You are not alone in feeling that. Also, there are different degrees of this anger. Anger towards your boss for unnecessarily yelling at you is not the same as the anger towards someone who took enjoyment in tormenting you in school or someone who harmed your family member. It requires different degree of effort to overcome such emotions. But it is a good start nevertheless to find something in this situation to be thankful for.
If you express Gratitude towards your team members, you automatically open yourself to their ideas. You become more collaborative and appreciate each other in a group environment, which in turn, will boost the productivity of your whole team.
Sense of Purpose
For many, Gratitude is a way of life. They devote their life to help others because they feel such strong need to express gratitude that it overtakes their whole existence and guides them to help others. Their work becomes an extension to their act of expressing Gratitude. Even if that person is not you, you can still include Gratitude in your daily regime to remind you that there are people other than you and you have responsibility to serve your fellow humans.
Knowledge of limits to self
Can you do anything and everything ? If yes, how dare you not help all those in need right now? Hopefully, you said no. See, sometimes, we forget our limits and make mistakes. For example, it will be a mistake to buy a new iphone on credit because, 1 – you would have lesser to pay when you pay upfront, 2 – you would be under a debt for 1-2 years. Similarly, when you do not have any idea about what you cannot do or can do, you sometimes make mistakes such as trying to raise a child without ever reading any parenting books, or trying to take an exam without studying. You should be thanking those parents who have been though life and want to share their experience for your betterment.
And as it takes time and mistakes to learn to use any tool, it takes time and patience to learn to use Gratitude.
How to show Gratitude ?
Expressing Gratitude is a three step process.
Step 1: Recognise that something in your life is good.
Step 2: Recognise that the reason for that goodness is not just you but someone or something other than you.
Step 3: Thanking them in person or in your thoughts.
Let us see an example for this. I am sitting in my comfortable writing chair, writing this piece. This is step one. I realise that this is good. Next step is to recognise that to have this time to write, I must have some free time, which would not be possible if my wife and daughter did not realise that I need this time alone to write. So, the reason for this good, me having the time to write, is not just my decision to write it but my family’s understanding. And the last step, Thanking them. I just did, with a hug for both. Gratitude all over the place.
How to avoid burnout from Gratitude?
Set a minimum
Thank at least one person or one situation per day that has helped you to become the person you are today. It can be someone in the past or some one you met today who generated a feeling of thankfulness in you. Thank them in your thoughts.
Set a maximum
This is more important to avoid the burnout because if you go on to thank everyone you want to thank in person, you will have to spend a lot of time finding the right moment to say that to them and it requires much more courage to say thank you to their face than in your head. So, use this rule instead – say Thank you to your partner and children daily, Say thank to your parents once every week, say thank you to your friends twice a year, say thank you to your relatives once a year and thank strangers or new acquaintances once your lifetime.
Or make your own rules. But make an upper limit to the thanks you give in person as per your interactions to sound sincere and not flattery.
A parting word
Thank you for reading this till the end. I hope you find peace in your life and start your day with a new outlook.
Let us have a conversation about optimising your life. To set the mood, let me put on some Gandalf style declaration: “this article is not about becoming great or achieving something extraordinary in your life. It is about living an ordinary life to the fullest”.
All right, mood set. I will now proceed with my monologue, like an overconfident villain explaining his plan to his captor who will eventually find a loophole in that plan and eventually kick his butt. But my monologue will not end in a butt kicking, instead it will end in lifting that butt and putting it somewhere useful.
Also. Talk to me. Answer my questions in your words in your head before reading ahead every time a question pops up.
What is a small step ?
There is huge power in small, consistent actions. Tiny drops of water can overtime carve mountains. One breath at a time is enough to keep us alive. One day at a time lived adds up to a lifetime. Each meaningful step completes one part of the journey. Anything you want to do or have, can be broken down to small very do-able steps. This is the small steps I am talking about.
Why should I take these small steps ?
If you are human, your belly size will start expanding with affluence. If you have money, your money will eventually run out. If you are in a relationship, you will eventually disagree on something. If you like gadgets, you want to buy the new iPhone. These all examples illustrate one single fact. I like iPhone. And also, that even living an ordinary life requires keeping up with the changes around us. This keeping up with life requires calibration of our habits and routines and optimising your resources such as time and money to the best of your advantage. The ordinary and extraordinary life just differs in the frequency of calibration and optimisation. So, did you get your answer ? My answer is, to keep up with life and if possible, be prepared for the coming changes.
How to create a small step ?
Human mind is unique. Our vision, the ability to imagine multiple futures for us sets us apart from rest of the life on Earth. I can not think of any other animal being able to imagine an alternate ending of Avengers: Endgame where Antman goes all diabolical over Thanos. Can you imagine your cat pointing towards a new nap pillow she really likes. No. We can imagine futures. So, how this juicy knowledge nugget helps us ?
You can imagine what you want. You can imagine yourself with six-pack abs. You can imagine yourself writing a book. You can imagine yourself retiring from a job at the age of 30. All sorts of amazing things. And then there are those non-goal goals of keeping up with life, remember, like keeping fit with age ? So, we can imagine a future, where we are up to date with the challenges of the life and if required, we can imagine additional wishes. Because we are not boring ass robots but interesting, sexy ass humans.
And after you have imagined yourself a future, you can now trace it back to your present situation to chart out a path. First, you need to locate, where you are. What is your present waist size ? How much writing have you done so far ? How many sources of passive income have you created so far ? Second, calculate what do you require to reach your end goal. How much weight do I need to loose, how much do I need to write, how many sources of passive income do I need to create ? And please do not limit your imagination to my examples. These are just illustrations to guide your thought process. I am just the train conductor, you can take any passenger with you on this journey.
How often should I repeat the step ?
Past exists in memories. Future doesn’t exist yet. Present exists in a day.
A day is the smallest unit of life. An hour is too small, a year too long. Biologically, we are programmed to wake up with the sunlight and go to sleep with the advent of darkness. During a day, we have periods of sharp concentration and high energy and then contrasting periods of lethargy. There are periods when we want to socialise, and then those where we just want to be with ourselves. So, in essence, a day is a representative slice of the full spectrum of our life.
The best way to optimise a process is to tweak its smallest unit. So, my suggestion is to do a small step everyday. Workout for 20 minutes everyday to reach from a 40 inch waist to 28 inch six-pack. Save €100 each month to buy that iPhone next year. Make a part of your tube video daily to put up 2 videos a week to create a sustainable passive income source from YouTube. The path may seem exhausting but the alternative is hard too.
How to keep myself on the path ?
This is where motivation meets grit. This is where life takes a turn for better. This is where you live. You have to balance your motivation and discipline to stay on your path. Motivation is like taking the first sip of hot coffee, which will slap you to attention. Discipline is like drinking the whole cup of that bitter coffee because you know you know you need it.
To invoke motivation towards your goal, put up a picture of your imagined future everywhere you can. And don’t overdo it, just good enough to remind you of the goal but not enough for people to call you a psycho. Write your goal as a statement and paste it above your bathroom mirror. Do not stick it above your laptop or somewhere in your constant view because then you will just learn to ignore it like you ignore a Microsoft update notification.
But the main driving force of success is discipline. Motivation is overrated. It is sheer grit and determination to do the necessary that takes one person places. But no one is motivated 27×7. Discipline gets the job done. The best way I found to install discipline in myself is to make the clock my drillmaster. I schedule my tasks so that I know when to start a task and when to stop. I suggest you to do the same and schedule your one small step at a fixed time of the day. Do not bother about arranging everything in your day with fixed timings but focus on doing that one thing at a fixed time.
What if I need help in any of this ?
I am not inventing these ideas here, people have already done all of these things and much more. And these same people can help you too. Just look at their journey and examine it with our questionnaire.
My imagined future: What do I want ?
My present: What is my situation now?
My pathway: How to reach from my present situation to my imagined future?
My daily small step: What change do I need to make in my daily routine?
And commit yourself to taking that one small step each day for your calculated period of time. That’s it. You can now peacefully live a perfectly ordinary life with your imagined future. Isn’t that a nice feeling? Being stress free from uncertainty and controlling some part of your life.
Everybody has answers, they just don’t have the right questions sometimes. I hope these are the right questions for you, right now. If not, let me know what are your worries and challenges today and maybe, together we can find their solutions.
If you are thinking of coming to Germany to explore a new future, you must feel what I felt when I first thought of doing this – need of guidance. Don’t worry, I got your back. I will guide you through every step, process, and document list required to get to Germany. So, let us get into it.
A little background for context here. At the time of applying for various masters courses in Germany, I was working in India in a PSE, NHPC Ltd. since 2011, was married and had a 1-year-old daughter. With a stroke of luck, I was posted at Faridabad (Practically Delhi) where I went to Various Education fairs and started thinking of a way out. I applied for 3 courses, got 1 rejection, 1 no reply and luckily enough, 1 admission. I took a study leave from my company to do a masters degree. I came to Germany in 2016 to do a M.Sc. in Natural Hazards and Risks in Structural Engineering at Bauhaus University, Weimar. I graduated in 2018 and got a job offer in my last semester just before my Defence. I went to India, resigned my job there and came back to join my first job in Germany.
Following is my timeline, mostly reconstructed from my emails during this period.
My chosen course, NHRE, required me to send my application 1 year before the session started to be considered for a scholarship. So I sent my application in October 2015 for October 2016 (winter semester) admission. I did not get the Scholarship, which was a bummer, but no one else from India got it that year either so it didn’t hurt that much.
During the first 5 years of working in the Public sector, I was well off but unsatisfied. If I just wanted to work for money, I could have just keep collecting my pay check and I would have been fine. Most of my batchmates were already buying their first house in their third year of working. But maybe unlike them, I was not able to find meaning in my work. The learning curve was not as steep as I wanted which was partly the fault of the place of my postings. My first posting was in an under-investigation hydro power project and the second was in non-civil engineering related department. And this could have been my whole life, being transferred to inactive projects or departments as the transfers are random and no one had any influence over it. I wanted to join the private industry because I felt that I was not learning enough and the life was too easy for my taste. Also, if I had to change my job location in every 3-5 years, why not do it on my own terms. In short, my guiding motivations were – get more control over my working conditions, further education and exposure to more core work, better life style, chance to see the world, you know…things like that.
Why choose Germany?
If you had asked this question to me around 300 years ago, it wouldn’t really have mattered because the situation was bad everywhere. But in today’s time, where you live can have exponential effect on your life and the life of your next generations. So move to wherever you think you would like to live for now and don’t plan the rest of your life right. We live life in 5 years long blocks and after that you will again change your course of life. So, for now, go to any country where you can get free education, universal healthcare and ample job opportunities. On my list Germany came on top.
These are some of my reasons to choose Germany.
Some reasons only became clear to me when I started working in Germany but these were enough for me to make my decision.
So, at this point of our discussion, I believe that you have decided to come to Germany. Congratulations. You have made the right choice. So, let us move on to the next question, which is:
How to come to Germany?
In my understanding, there are two main processes which allow you to come and work in Germany:
Apply for a work search visa a look for a job
Get admission in a masters course and find a job during the course.
We will focus our attention to the second option. Following is an overview of the whole process .
Phase 01 – The Application
Even before you decide to do anything, you must first gain sufficient information to make a move. I will call talking to Alumni, visiting Education Fairs, Visiting free counselling and any other resources like this article which might help you get an idea of what you may be getting into. Early on, i tried all these things. Free counselling from the advisors on www.hotcourses.com was very helpful for me as I got to talk to someone about my situation and difficulties. There may be one or two things that may completely rein the whole plan and you will not know them until you either talk about it to someone with experience or do them. Money and support of your family are couple of such things. Make a rough estimate of how you will overcome your challenges, write your pro and cons and the options you have. If your plan does not look good even on paper, it will certainly not turn out well in the real world.
Finding a course
To find what courses you can do, go to www.daad.de to browse through the course list. This website is available in English and German language and is easy to navigate. Go to Find a scholarshipor Courses of study to find a course which is taught in English. The general selection criteria are – above average academic performance (>70 % aggregate in Bachelors), TOEFL score above 6 or IELTS score above 679, and a completed bachelor degree in the respective field. Some courses are open to other branches as well.
Prepare a list of your top 3-5 courses. Make separate checklists of documents for each course. Also, check the deadlines on the university website of each course because the admission time may differ for each. Many German university take admission in both summer and winter semester and the deadline to send your documents to them depends on that.
Sending your documents
There can be two ways to send your documents depending upon the university preference. 1st is that you get attested copies/normal photocopies of all the required documents and send directly to the university by post and/or mail. If your have to send your documents by post, you can choose a courier company which offers express post with tracking and confirm delivery date. I used blue dart for sending my documents from Delhi to Weimar, who delivered my documents in 4 days.
here is an example of application procedure on the course website.
This is an example where you need to send your documents by post and online.
The 2nd method is that the university requires you to upload attested scanned copies of all the documents on an intermediator website. Most of the time, you need to send your documents by post too. This website checks the validity of your documents for the university and then forwards your application to university. When your documents reach the university, then it is evaluated against all other applicants.
Phase 02 – The Wait
This part is actually the most difficult one. It involves awaiting judgement on your future aspirations. After getting all excited about a new direction of your future and actually having done something about it, now you have to go back to your old life, pretending like nothing happened.
But there is a way to decrease this agony.
Invest your time in preparing for the best case scenario. Before you get to the VISA interview, you still need to get your finances right, open a Blocked Account and plan your travel arrangements at home and in Germany. If you are employed, it will be a good time to reflect on your exit strategy from this job. You cannot talk to your boss regarding this but you can inform yourself about the provision of any Sabbatical leave, study leave or in case these two do not get sanctioned, resignation. As a general rule always have a timeline for your actions ready at least 2 months before acting on it.
Also, if you are married, you need to plan how your spouse and child are going to spend this time when you are gone. Take this time to consider their finances, even when they have to stay with their or your parents. If your spouse works, they should this time learning German up to B1 level so as to find work in Germany. If not, they still need to have a A1 level Certificate of German Language just in case you do not get a Blue card VISA in your first job. Inviting your spouse is a whole another hornets nest and I would like deal with that topic in another post. So, let us first focus on just getting your here.
Phase 03 – The VISA
The day you receive the email from the University confirming your admission, your should start acting on your timeline. First thing to do is to confirm that you received the confirmation letter as a separate signed PDF attached to the email because that is the only credible proof of your admission and neither the Embassy nor the bank will take that email as an alternative.
Germany offers two types of visa – short term and long term. Tourist visa is an example of short term visa which is of 3 months duration. Study visa comes under long term visa or national visa. Following are the steps to be followed for getting your visa:
The most important of these steps is actually checking what you require – from the Embassy’s Checklist. You may already have the documents from your University application and you will have to just tweak a little your motivation letter, but there are other things such as, what financial document will be considered as the proof, and will you be able to produce your Blocked account information on time to be considered.
First step is to go to the German embassy website of your area and download the list of required documents. There are 5 German embassies in India, namely in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata. You should download the list from the embassy of your area as there are minor difference in the documents required of different embassies.
Explanation of the items under the Checklist is as follows:
Valid passport: check that your passport is valid for at least for the duration of your studies plus 1 year so as to avoid any stress in future till you are well settled in your job. After completing your degree, you will require a job seeker visa for staying in Germany and seeking a job. It is of 18 months duration if your did your masters in Germany, although you would not need that long. But to be sure, have your passport’s validity for at least next three years from the start of your course.
Declaration for Additional contact and legal representation information: this is a form to declare whom can the embassy contact in case of any further requirement or the decision of denial of visa. You can be this person or you can chose to appoint someone (Lawyer/Family member/ Sponsor) to contact. If you are doing this on your own, like me, just write your name and sign it.
Copy of your passport’s data page: data page is the first page, where your passport number and validity date is give and the last page where the name of your parents and your address is mentioned. The last page also contains the file number of your passport (the bottom lines between <<< >>> symbols), which comes in handy while renewing your passport.
Statement of purpose / Motivation letter: this is short 3-4 paragraph letter containing information about your purpose of visit, duration and place of stay, date of return and intention to return back (it is supposedly expected that you will spend money there and come back. It’s just a gesture). The three parts of the letter are Introduction, Body and Conclusion. There are ample examples present on internet about the samples of motivation letters. Just type ‘German student visa motivation letter sample’ and check out some that make sense.
Proof of admittance to the study course/preparatory college: this you received in your confirmation email. If you still have not received yet, email your university and ask them to send you one because you need that for opening a blocked account too. I’ll come to blocked account soon.
Where not confirmed by the University in the admission notification: Proof of the language skills in the language of instruction for the study course or the preparatory course: this means your TOEFL or IELTS result.
Where applicable: Certificates of other academic qualifications: This is where you submit your certified copies of your degree and marksheet of your bachelor degree and school certificates. It is also helpful get character certificate from your university and leaving certificate if your degree is already complete.
Curriculum vitae: or CV in short, is your job experience, education and extra-curricular activities in chronological order. It should be around 1 page for freshers and maximum 2 pages for 3-5 years of experience.
Letter of motivation: this is different from cover letter in sense of details included. While the cover letter is only an overview of your application, motivation letter contains your personal reasons for choosing this particular course, university and Germany. It should connect your past activities to your present decision of choosing to go for masters and also, your future plans after getting your masters degree. For me, the masters program was an extension of my job and bachelors degree at that time. Also, as explained before, my reasons to choose Germany were the economic stability of the country, opportunities of growth in my field and international exposure. My future plans were to work in Germany for some years to gain experience of working in an international setting and then returning to India to lead in my field. Use these ideas to compare yours. I hope to write soon more on motivation and cover letter in a separate post as this is already getting too long.
Proof of financial means to cover the costs for the time of your studies by one of the following documents: – confirmation of a German / EU scholarship / stipend or – “Verpflichtungserklärung” (formal obligation letter) by sponsor living in Germany or – blocked account for the first year of your stay, amounting to 10.332,– € : this amount has been steadily increasing. In 2016, this was 8640 €. But what is it ? This is actually the amount that you need to save in a bank account in Germany which you will use to support your living expenses, namely room rent, food etc. in Germany.
Biometric Photo: 3 passport pictures according to biometric specifications, not older than 6 months: Biometric phot means a photo with visa specification. This is different form passport size photo. Just ask your phot guy for a visa photo, he knows. I am telling you just to make sure you don’t take it for granted that passport size photo is the same.
Visa fee: of 75 € payable in INR only: you can submit the fee in demand draft in the name of your respective embassy. Only Delhi Embassy accepts cash too but for rest of the cities, prepare the draft. The details are – In the name of Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, xxxxx (your embassy’s city name), payable at – xxxx (your embassy’s city name).
Travel Health insurance: that’s no biggie. If you have already booked your flight tickets, then you must have taken the travel insurance too. If not, then just go to https://www.policybazaar.com/travel-insurance/ and compare the cheapest one as it is one time thing and you will have to take mandatory health insurance once you reach Germany anyway.
There are three main question which need to be addressed in this list:
What is a Blocked account?
How do I open a bank account in Germany while sitting in India?
How do I get this money?
A blocked account is savings bank account in a German bank account with a monthly withdrawal limit. It means that you can only withdraw a maximum of 861€ per month (as of 2021) from this account. This provision is done to make sure that you do not send all this money back to India and start funding your stay by working part time, which is counterproductive as it will affect your student life badly. I suggest a modest balance of both part time work and using your saving.
To open a blocked account, there are 2 banks that offer this service in India that I know of– Kotak Mahindra Bank and Deutsche Bank. I used Deutsche Bank. Their procedure is like this.
You go to their branch and say I need to open a blocked bank account. Being a private bank, they send you to an agent expert for this. She explains you the requirements which are – valid pan card, Aadhaar, passport and the admission letter. Also, you need to first open a saving account in their bank with a minimum balance of 1 lakh INR. Then you go home and collect everything. You go to them next day and give all the documents, forms, and the check for 1 Lakh INR plus the Sanction letter of Loan or a check of the total amount (€10322 for 2021) for the blocked account. They give you a confirmation slip and ask you to wait till your welcome package containing your debit card for Indian Savings account with them arrives. Also, you submitted a form for opening a Blocked account and you are waiting for that too. After a week, arrives your welcome kit, blocked account still not opened. Then after around 3 weeks and lot of calls to than Bank official you get a confirmation email that your Blocked account is active. Print that email because this is what you are going to submit to the embassy as a confirmation of blocked account with the money in it. My confirmation email arrived one day after my VISA interview but the agent allowed me some time for sending the document as the processing itself takes around 10-15 days.
Now to the last question, how do you get that money. I took an Education loan from Credila Education services, which is a education loan expert branch of HDFC Bank. Other banks also offer loans so check out al the banks in your vicinity where you can prove your credibility. Education loan is given by the bank against a security. For my loan, my father provided the security as his PPF statements and salary slips and our house deed. Some of my friends took from SBI and some got scholarship from their state government and others paid from savings. I know this can be a big hurdle and you will need help at this point. Accept this fact and look for all possible sources for solving this problem. Moreover, you are asking for around 8-9 lakhs for blocked account and around 2 lakhs for travel and other arrangements for the first year. You can support yourself for the next year by some part time work but even then, you will require to show again 8-9 lakhs in your bank account for visa renewal. So, apply for a loan of 16 lakhs but do not take that whole amount from the bank. Let me explain why.
Credila offered to send me initially 12 lakhs for the first year for opening my blocked account and then more 4 lakhs if I required so. It means till the end of first year, my total loan amount was 12 lakh. But there was catch. My father had to pay a monthly sum of money for paying off the interest of the loan. This was an unusual burden for us because there was no Moratorium Period. Generally there is a Moratorium period in Education loans of 2 years and 6 months, meaning that you do not pay the loan during 2 years of your study and start paying 6 months of completion of your course. Also, banks offer different loans for different countries on different conditions. Anyways, that was the deal we were offered and we took it.
So, after you have spent last two months chasing these documents, you are finally ready to take an appointment for the VISA at the embassy. Arrange all the documents in the same order as mentioned in the list and prepare 2 set of copiesalong with original. The German embassy does not allow an agent to do this submission of documents. So, do not bother spending money on getting one. You have to personally go there.
Pay the visa fee and hopefully you will not be asked to submit any other documents or certificates. I was not asked for any.
Then you wait for another 15 days and then you get an email from the embassy which is like this “A decision has been made on your application for a visa. Please visit the embassy after xx date. Embassy opening times are as follows..”. It does not say that you have got the visa but you got the visa. Right now, in this moment my friend, smile. This is a life changing moment. Till now, everything was just an idea. This email is the conversion of that idea into reality.
Phase 04 – The Transit
Ok, enough smiling, back to work.
So, you go the embassy. You are still smiling despite the fact that they made your wake up too early for your taste. Nothing can ruin your day. You get your VISA sticker on your Passport. So, what now.
Next step is to prepare your journey and yourself for the first few weeks for Germany.
What to pack
Take one or two good jackets, couple of jeans, couple of t-shirts (You can find reasonably priced cloths in Germany), undergarments, socks, one frying pan, plate, knife, spoon and fork, sandwich maker is optional but I advise you to take it, your laptop and its charger, a universal/travel port convertor because European electrical ports are only 2 pin, not 3 pin. Do not take too much kitchen stuff because you will be living in a shared dorm with a shared kitchen with already stacked utensils. Pack some comfort food/snacks because you will miss that in a week. Also, delete any torrent downloading software form your laptop because its illegal in Germany to download anything unpaid and use torrent otherwise you can end up paying hundreds of Euros for a movie you didn’t even watch. Just delete them.
Also, you need some cash, around 500 euros for your first month expenses and till your German bank account is active. The blocked account I told you earlier about will have to be activated in Germany before you get a German debit card. You can convert your currency (eg INR) to Euro from a currency exchange agent such as Thomas cook or from many available at the airport too. They will charge a fee for the exchange. Also, it is handy to have an international prepaid card for other transactions.
Phase 05 – The Start
Then the excitement soars as you board your flight towards Germany. I had mixed feelings. I was sad for leaving my wife and my 1 and half year old daughter behind for no other reason than my ambition, but a part of me was also excited to do what I wanted to do.
But before you board that flight, it will be helpful to contact your student guide, who can guide you with the local train and bus bookings and also, can receive you at your arrival point. I was surprised to learn that Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s Train service, offers flexible ticket too. That means you can buy a train ticket between two cities and then you can take any train irrespective of timing. That is a good option if you are not sure about the time to be taken during arrival and other formalities at the passport.
When you arrive in the city and meet your student guide, who is a senior of the same course probably, you will be guided to your dorm room , which you have already applied for and received. In case you did not get a place, they will arrange some temporary accommodation for you until you find a place.
If next day is a working weekday, you will have to go to university registration counter in international office and register yourself. There you will received a Student ID card, which is also your travel card for all the Buses and Trains in your region. Then you will have to activate your Bank account and Get a health Insurance. Germany has two types of Health Insurances – Public and Private. Public Insurance means that you pay a monthly fee for your insurance but if you get sick, you not pay anything for the treatment. Private insurance means that you pay a smaller monthly amount and get secured for lesser number of ailments. Also your treatment will not be paid upfront by the insurance provider but will reimburse when you submit the bills.
So, there you go.
That is all you need to know before you reach Germany. If you still have doubt, feel free to write them in the comments below and I will answer your queries.