Too many people belittle their work by drawing on lesser motivations than the ones available to them.
It is a mistake to draw on motivations that are selfish, short-term, and extrinsic. Examples are: I want to make money today, I want to be famous today, I want others to pay attention to me.
The right motivations are long-term, intrinsic and in service of something greater than the self. It is the motivation to discover truth, to have joy and to solve problems without knowing how you will be rewarded.
I will draw primarily on creative work here, but deep motivation…
Last week I returned to creative writing after a while. Here’s my routine has been:
Turn off your phone. Then run. Then walk. Then meditate outdoors. Then walk some more. Then watch the turtles and fish from over the bridge. Try to forget all about yourself. Meditate while walking back home.
Return and take a cold shower. Finally, write. First write in a notebook and then on your laptop. Return to the notebook if words don’t arrive. After forty minutes, stop.
My eyes had been closed for a few minutes when an old world rematerialized, like coral lifted from the bottom of a lake.
I had been meditating with a friend. We were sat on a black stone slab under a small banyan cove curated for some such purpose by people before us. It was a cloudy afternoon in Singapore.
I started by counting my breaths.
Brea — the rambutan is a fruit with a tough red exterior sprouting tens of thin green spindles. The treacherous hide in no way resembles…
When we left India for Singapore, I was eight years old and we had lived all this time in the university campus off the main city of Lucknow. It seemed to me at that time that I had sprung from the Lucknow soil, like the neem tree in front of our house or the peacocks that would announce the twilight. It was as if I was rooted there.
I remember having this conversation with my sister several times as a child:
“Where’s Delhi?” my sister would ask.
“In India”, I would launch with ease. …
You’re stressed. I bet it’s for good reason too.
Now I can’t promise you that things will be alright. Sometimes things end up worse than you expect. And the thing that’s making you stress out? I can’t do anything to make it go away either.
Possibly, probably, neither can you.
You can’t make the presentation, the interview or the exam, go well. You can’t stop your body from ageing. You can’t fix the pandemic.
You can’t control other people. You can’t predict the future. You can’t make your loved ones happy, and you can’t always heal them.
If I can’t…
Failure is horrifying. It is literally defined as the inability to get what you want, or to get what you don’t want.
So why do I think you should try to fail more this year?
Because failures are crucial to meaningful achievement and self-discovery. And when you can see them this way, failures won’t feel like disaster, they’ll be challenges that help you bring your best to the table. Let me explain.
Failures have two great qualities:
You could not learn as much about yourself from a laundry list of successes as you would from one well-timed, well-analyzed failure.
Trust me, when it comes to talking “goals”, I can talk. I can talk your ear off discussing my strategies for success. I know because I’ve done it so many times before.
I’ve talked about day-trading my money till it’s 16 times what I started with. I’ve talked about writing bestsellers. I’ve talked about building social enterprises that save lives.
In fact, there’s rarely been a time when I haven’t barraged my close friends with plans for future success. And most of these times, I never even ended up trying.
Now, for the first time in my life, I have…
Today I got caught in a loop of negative emotions that I just couldn’t escape. All I could do was stare at my phone as a wave of anxiety spread like dilute acid in my stomach.
This was unexpected. In the last year, I’ve made tremendous progress in my mental health due to a sustained meditation practice, changes in mindset, and flourishing relationships. All in all, I’m more confident that I know how to cultivate a happy and healthy mind now than I ever have.
And still, all of a sudden today, I was that guy again: tumbling in loops…
Even though I love the self-improvement genre, I despise its common trope: productivity.
Nobody should strive for sheer productivity, because productivity distracts us from the true goal: doing work that matters. Here’s why:
Productivity is about completing the greatest quantity of tasks possible. A productive day is one spent ticking off a long checklist, a calendar packed with meetings, and an 8 to 12 hour-long workday.
But these tasks have nothing to do with making progress. While productivity is about busyness, progress is about effectiveness.
Progress requires the accomplishment of a few key tasks. Progress is five sales made, ten-pages…
In the span of 70 days, I made over 500 sales calls for the education consulting company I was working for.
Looking back, my first call feels like a disaster. Because, by call 500, I was having more enjoyable and genuine conversations all while getting more customers on-board and having a larger proportion of them eventually buy our premium packages (over $10,000).
The changes I’d made were simple but not intuitive. And they helped me feel like I actually add value to peoples’ lives. I never thought I’d enjoy making sales calls, but I’ve started to.
Below are the specific…