Don’t just set goals, set systems.

Goal Setting Is a Hamster Wheel. Learn to Set Systems Instead. | Adam Alter | Big Think

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 setting

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.

Mindset shift

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.

Hope this was helpful to you.

How to improve your Handwriting

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.

Side quests

Before you go on for Boss fight, some side quests need to be taken care of. These are the following three:

  1. Get your favourite pen
  2. Get some sheets of paper
  3. 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.

COpy letters

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.

Mix letters

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

Photo by George Milton on

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.

Enjoy Writing

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.

How to loose weight quickly

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:

  1. Eat lesser
  2. Choose you snacks wisely,
  3. Drink water, not Cola
  4. Choose a Workout you can do

Eat lesser

Photo by Total Shape on

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

Photo by Marta Branco on

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

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

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

Photo by Tobi on

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

Photo by

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

Photo by Andres Ayrton on

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.

Success! You're on the list.

How to improve your communication skills

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..

PhraseToneListener’s opinion
Would you like to go to a movie tonight?CompassionateOpen to suggestions, considerate of listeners’ choice, Polite
We should watch a movie tonight.AuthoritativeInconsiderate the listener’s choice

Let us take another example. Both are ads, aimed to introduce a certain Printer to customers.

PhraseTone Reader’s opinion
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.SelfishFocussed 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.CompassionateHumble, 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.

How to deal with Productivity Porn

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

Photo by Gabby K on

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.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

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.

Do more

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.

Be shameless

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.

au revoir

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.

Gratitude – a path to Inner Peace

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”.

Dalai Lama

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 – . 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

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.

Till next time.

How to get better at your engineering job

If you are just starting in an engineering job, you may find it overwhelming to cope up with the amount of information you have to process on a daily basis, most of which was not taught to you in college. And then there is a problem of getting better at your job. Getting better at your job is different to learning in school because there is no fixed theory for you to first learn and then practise, and you are learning while always being judged by your boss. For the sake of ease of writing, I am going to assume your boss is a male.

What am I doing wrong?

Task related mistakes happen in one of these three categories – input, process and output.

For example, if the task is to prepare a report about the structural calculation of steel connections, the input is all the communication regarding the task till you start working on it, process is the actual calculation, problem solving, design considerations, report preparation etc, and the output will be saving your work, presenting your work to the boss etc.

One other area of mistake is the non-work-related communication such as communication with our colleagues, body language etc.

How do I fix my mistakes?

1. Input mistakes

Understanding the task given by the boss

Being new to this, you may not know all the terms used during a conversation. When the boss is explaining you your task, always carry a notebook to note down the details and important terms. If you don’t know any term or a step of the task, ask before leaving his office and starting your work. Best to clear all the details when he is ready to discuss them. If he was in a rush and said he will explain it to you later, note it down, go to a colleague and ask him. Also, maintain a list of all the new words you hear. Best write it in an excel sheet so that you can go through them time to time. Use Anki or any other method of spaced repetition to recall those words for longer memory retention.

Forgetting what your boss said

As there will be a lot of information related to any task, such as, dimensions, alignments, algorithms, flowcharts, calculations, report format etc., you need to be able to record it. Use a notepad at all times when talking to your boss or wherever there is an exchange of information. Also, it makes you look serious about your job. Further, review everything as soon as you reach your desk because some of that you may have written in shorthand and even you won’t be able to decipher its meaning after one hour. So, rewrite the tasks and important info and make a step-by-step list by own. It should not take more than 10 minutes for you to finish.

2. Process mistakes

Taking too much time to submit

You may be getting stuck at one or several steps of a task. After writing down the steps, mark the difficult part where you may get stuck. Most of the time we get stuck because we want to solve that problem ourselves. It becomes a matter of pride and intellectual challenge. It works in college but it is not an efficient method at work because it costs you time and your time is worth money to your boss. And he will hate to lose any money. So, if you cannot figure out the solution in 15 minutes, ask a colleague to help you with it. Don’t be shy or fear any ridicule. You will make fool of yourself once but not asking will make a fool of you every time.

Calculation mistakes

Calculation mistakes often occur because of loss of concentration. First, get some coffee. Yes, you need to be fully awake and attentive. If possible, plan to calculate in your peak attention time, like mornings before 11:00. If not possible to choose or not a fan of coffee, chew a chewing gum, drink water at every 20 minutes or so and listen to some music you can focus with. I personally prefer some upbeat pop or when stuff gets serious, J.S.Bach is my main man. Stand up and walk after every 30-40 minutes of sitting.

Also, another reason of making calculation mistakes is that you did not consider all the information. Start by drawing a rough sketch on paper and applying all the loads. Go through all the loads Axes by Axes, the x, the y and the z. Consider all the angles and don’t be lazy thinking about difficult loading conditions.

Not making your work checkable

One of my most frequent mistakes was not making my work easy to follow. Generally, when you set out to either draw, model or calculate something, you will use various help lines, sketches, formula and reference material. But if you do not put the correct references where they belong, no one would be able to understand where did you get those values from. Make clear sketches and paragrapgh references to your work. If drawing in Autocad, make sure to pack all the help lines in a seperate layer, so that it can be displyed neatly when needed. The main idea here is that your boss or the person checking your work should not waste his time figuring out how you did it. He should be simply able to see it.

Error in preparing the report in the right format

Your boss may get pissed at little details like the orientation of an image or the font size being irregular because he wants to send this report to a client and this report will represent the company itself. So, it needs to be done in a standard way, down to the font size so as to maintain a level of professionalism and reflect expertise. Ask about an example report from last project and ask if there are any changes to be done with the format. If none, then stick to the script and if yes, note them down and do them before submitting the report back.

Not saving your work

This is a rookie mistake not to save your work if you are working on a software. Because software crash and then you lose your last 2 hours’ worth of work. Again, your time = ka Ching for your boss. So, press cltr + S and save him money.

Not using the office method of file management

File management is one thing you cannot learn in college. Every company has its local server where it stores files. And then there is an order of folders and location for each type of file. For example, if a project is about the planning and design of a road, there will folders named – incoming communication, outgoing communication, structural design, drawing, tender documents etc. Save your files in the correct folder and with specified name. The file name is a major game changer when it comes to work place maturity. Learn the right way by asking your boss or colleagues.

3. Output mistakes

Executing everything your boss asked you to do

It will be taken care of if you are writing boss’s instruction down and following a step-by-step workflow. If still it happens, then it was because of some distraction, forgetting where to start from the next day, or because your boss modified some details too late in the job and it was one of the things in the start. To avoid these, take a pause before submitting your work, and review it. Did you check your list? is every concern addressed? Was anything updated? is any details marked red? just pay attention before submitting to these clues.

Communicating your ideas to the boss

This one will require some courage. Now we are in the realm of personal development. You may at some point want to ask your boss about an unrelated topic in your job or make a suggestion to him about a project which you may be your proposal for something new. How do you do that? Ideally, to be taken seriously, you need to be ready to start working on your proposal if asked. So, collect some background information about how you would execute it, or the numbers or steps related to that idea. Then find the right time. Technical communication is part timing and part data. It is okey to have partial knowledge about the data part because you won’t have all the information till you begin to work on it. Observe when your boss is not on the phone and is less engaged with people. Dealing with people requires energy and we don’t want him to be drained before listening to your idea. Then ask for permission to share some ideas and be precise about your idea. Start with your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a collection of sentences in which you will explain him your idea in an elevator ride from his office to the ground floor. Then after he decides to listen further, get into detail. If not, try later with a different idea or a different pitch.

4. Communication

Communicating with your client

You may not get a chance to talk to your client in the initial months but once you get to, be structured with it. There must be a mix of personal plus professional communication. No one likes to talk to a robot, so do not be one. Ask about their day before this call, to know a little about their mental state and also to establish a caring relationship. If they want to get to the details right on, ask about their plans for the day or weekend after the work discussion. Or if you know them from last call, ask about that last task. Ask about their opinions and suggestions. If nothing, ask about the weather in their city. But if your company is charging the client for the phone call and you are providing the solution on this call, be specific to the task from the beginning and talk about personal stuff at the end of the call. This way your client controls the time they want to talk and they won’t feel that you are stalling to make money, which would look unprofessional.

General communication skills

This is a topic worth its own article but I’ll try to sum it up here. There are verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal is your language skills and non-verbal is your body language and dressing sense. To improve your verbal skills, learn the work-related vocabulary. Note down the new words you hear on a paper and keep making a list. Just read it without trying to remember it whenever you get time and make an excel sheet too if time permits you. As you will not look at that list anywhere outside your work as you have a life too, try to revise is every other day for just 10 minutes before starting a task.

Non-verbal communication is dictated by your body posture, facial expressions, tone and loudness of your voice and your dressing sense. Sit straight mostly, slouching posture shows you are bored or lazy. Try to smile whenever you greet someone. Be cautious of your voice as it changes with your emotions. Depending on the discussion, your voice can quiver, become too loud in excitement or anger, or too meek under pressure. Try to be mindful of this. These are subconscious reactions of our body to different situations which are either perceived by the body as rewarding or punishing. To avoid being awkward, this subconscious reaction needs to be controlled. Being mindful of your emotions will help you tame those changes.

Non-work talks with co-workers

If your get time to talk to your co-workers, use it well to develop healthy work relationships. If you are an extrovert, you are already laughing at the very notion of me suggesting you to talk because that is why you probably changed your job. But if you are an introvert like me, you should try to engage a little everyday with your colleagues. It is actually not that hard. Being an introvert, you are already good at listening. Use it. Ask about their weekend, the weather, any sports you follow or if nothing strikes, what are they eating. And build up your questions from the opening question. Follow up one or two question and then diverge to a different idea because you are not interrogating them. Also, talk about your side of the story too.

Am I all better now?

Yes, you are. But always keep an amateur mindset. Keep learning the trade, keep making mistakes. Just try not to repeat them.