Hack your life

Few years ago, a personality test revealed that I am an INFJ, the rarest of 16 personality types that exist in this world. Most of the time I was in senses, I used to ponder on why my brain is wired differently from the people I hang out with. Words that describe me are conscientious, determined, organized, planful, creative, thoughtful, introspective, value-driven, private and altruistic.

  1. I don’t quit. I work on my growth relentlessly until I achieve the goal I have in mind. I am my biggest critic. I always have a burning desire to achieve more. For me, it’s never enough. I have a purpose in life — To become better in my abilities and sharpen my skills with each passing day and I strive to make it happen no matter how long it takes.
  2. I choose friends carefully. I have few friends whom I trust. I don’t regret it. Less people I sit with, less bullshit I would have to deal with. And this gives room to pursue my hobbies and expand my horizon in personal development.
  3. More than people, I find solace in solitude and art. Be it writing or playing piano or do photography. But I also find it torturous to spend long time alone.
  4. I don’t share my knowledge in person unless asked. Instead my curious mind often comes up with zillion of questions for the problem the other person discusses. And sometimes, it helps them out. My contribution to the Tech community (GeeksforGeeks) is pure altruism.
  5. I give time to people who are worth my time and energy. Selfish, self absorbed, judgemental and negative people turn me off. I prefer to spend time on my hobbies instead.
  6. I am an easy going person because of good listen quotient and great understanding nature. I have been seen from many people at work as a great team player. Rarely have I met someone who didn’t enjoy a face to face conversation with me. From English literature to urdu poems, from politics to fantasy, from finance to technology. I can talk it all except sports. I don’t very much like talking about politics with serious people. I have seen it turning relationships sour.
  7. I choose who to travel with. Good companions make amazing trips.
  8. I walk out of an argument when it’s getting worse and not going anywhere. I cut off people when they sound judgemental and make comments unless they know me personally. It makes people think of me as a rude and arrogant person.
  9. I take constructive criticism very seriously and use it in my benefit. It has helped me in every aspect of personal and professional development in life so far.
  10. I am on open book if you know how to read well. Otherwise I might be the greatest mystery.
  11. Precaution is better than cure. I try my best preparing for a situation before it disturbs my calm mind and sleep. I like plans and value punctuality. I tend to be more of a meticulous person than a spontaneous one. My brain works like a decision tree and it likes to ponder on the various possible outcomes of a decision and decisions of that decision.
  12. I appreciate talent. You might not be the greatest pianist in the world. But if you play good, I feel fortunate to know you in person.
  13. I care for people I am close with. I usually put thoughts and conscience before saying something.
  14. I am fascinated by high quality things — Good food, nice cloths, great ambiance. I appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. I might disagree that looks don’t matter to me. But that would be a lie. I like beauty around me. Minimalistic by nature, I prefer to dine at finer restaurants twice a week than chilling out in below average eateries every alternate day.
  15. I am quite social and often come out as charming. I make friends instantly when they share some mutual interest.

What is your personality type? Have you tried rewiring your brain to improve it?

I am working on #8 and hope to come out of it soon.

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Success is a subjective term. I believe every step you take towards reaching your goal, is success. Once you reach a goal, you set a bigger goal. That’s the way life is.

Here are few things that work for me:

Starve distractions and Stay focused

Ask any wo/man who has succeeded in life and s/he will tell you that one of the most important ingredient was sharp focus. Distractions are anti-catalysts in the journey of success. Study says that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track after a distraction. A lot of context switches while you are doing something important , affects productivity. Put your phone on silent and try not to look at phone for notifications. Avoid using social media while you are at work. The best solution is to make a habit of checking notifications or messages twice a day.

Choose a hero to look up to

In the life of every person, there is someone who (s)he looks up to. It is the human psychology. We tend to choose a hero whom we appreciate. Why? The reason is obvious. Sometimes, we love the way our hero lives. Sometimes, it is his popularity. Sometimes, it is just because his dreams were what ours is now. He kept on improving each day, each week until one morning he became what he always wanted. And we start seeing the perfect version of ourselves in him. Each time we come across his story and picture, our inner self echoes, “Yes, this is who I would like to be one day”. But just choosing a hero is sufficient? No. The detailed reason is here: Choose your hero, but…

Set smaller goals

Big goals can sometimes be frustrating and frightening. Break them down into smaller steps and work towards them. Not only it will help you with better planning, it will also change your psychology that it is do-able. For example, instead of setting a goal to reduce 50 pounds in a year, strive for 4 pounds a month. Or better, a pound per week.

Choose your company wisely

Be in company of positive minded people. It has been said that you are the average of five people you spend most time with. To succeed, your mind needs to be full of positive vibes.

Don’t be afraid of failures

After failing thousand times, Thomas Edison said, “I didn’t fail. I know thousand ways in which a bulb can’t be made”.

Success is a journey where you just have to be right once. It’s a long process and it requires patience, perseverance, sharp focus and dedication.

Learn from your mistakes

It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Make a mistake once, and it becomes a lesson. Make the same mistake twice, and it becomes a choice.

Get to know why are you doing this (Passion)

Last night I was watching a movie on the life of dancer. Her mentor asked her, “Tell me, why do you dance?” The answer was important for her success, simply because it defined her passion. She had the passion of a bullet. Passion keeps you going no matter how difficult the path is.

Get great mentors

Being in touch with great mentors helps to streamline your vision and get guidance in right direction. I was fortunate to have mentors like Sandeep (GFG Founder), Venki (GFG moderator) and Narasimha Karumanchi, especially Venki with whom I used to discuss technical problems for hours.

If you like this, you might my other posts in Hack your life Archives

Copyright © 2018, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

 

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Life can be smarter, better and more efficient by following 3 Cs: Consistency, Choices, Communication. More on these below:

Consistency

Whatever you do, be consistent. Be it waking up in the morning or playing piano or reading a blog.

Choices

The less you involve your brain in thinking about stuffs that don’t add much value, the more you would get to spend time in creative stuffs. Reduce choices in day to day life. Ever wondered what Zuckerberg’s wardrobe looks like? He purchases apparels of same color and design. It helps him keeping focus on important things.

Communication

What is the first thing besides dressing sense you notice in a person you meet first time? We get to know a lot about a person by the way (s)he talks. Communication plays a very important role in your professional and personal fronts. Public speaking is one good thing you would like to master. Watch Ted talks and practice speaking in front of mirror. It would help boost confidence.

Be in company of smarter people

It is said that a person is known by the company (s)he keeps. If you are in company of smarter people, you would get to learn more. A wise man once said, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re probably in the wrong room”.

Plan your day in advance

Note down things you want to do before you start your day. Not only this will help you manage your day efficiency, but it will help you remember easily forgettable stuffs. There are things you remember when you are not thinking much, but are easily missed when your have a busy schedule. Example, calling a friend, responding a mail or paying bills

No much TV series

If you are a TV series fanatic, you must be knowing how addictive it can be. It can affect your sleep if you don’t control your addiction. Watch less of series

Time management

Learn to manage time. It would help you achieve more in the same amount of time. More on this can be read here: Manage time like a boss and become more productive

Adapt to the change

Smartness is a continuous process. You need to work towards it each day. In this fast paced agile world, things change rapidly and you must adapt to the change or you would be outdated. Learn a new language or a new skill.

Take a walk and think

When you’re stuck in a problem and no solution seems to strike your creative brain, take a walk and think. It helped me many times in situations where I couldn’t think anything working while sitting in front of a monitor.

Practice

Remember 10,000 rule. The principle holds that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field. Practice a skill you want to be good at sometime each day.

If you like this, you might like other posts in the Hack your life series.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

 

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My thoughts in this article have greatly been inspired by not-so-famous deductive genius brilliant TV series Forever. You probably don’t need to put a gun on my head to make me say that this is by far one of the best series I have watched.

“It’s not the number of years we live that matters. Our lives just add up to a series of moments. We never know when or where they’ll happen, but they stick with us marking our souls forever.”

This quote has home my heart since the time I came across it the first time. It resonates with my soul and propelled me to look life from a different perspective altogether. It taught me that life is not only about making money and living lavishly. It is far beyond that. It is about exploring yourself. It is about realizing your true potential. It is about witnessing what as an individual you can achieve. Nothing is permanent. You can’t be happy all the time. And those sad times too shall pass.

Over the years, I have been trying to explore the things around me to know what I like and what not. There are times when I wonder if I have started becoming a kind of philosophical person. While trying hard to get sleep in late night hours, I often end up questioning myself the definition of a perfect life. And then I hear the echo of a familiar voice in my head telling me that the life needs not to be perfect. We must learn to enjoy imperfections. Happiness is quite subjective and a perfect life is myth. What makes you happy might be worthless for others. The secret mantra is to invest time in things that pump up adrenaline rush in your brain. You can do it for hours without whining about it. I ain’t a morning person. But when it comes to photography, I wake up anytime I want.

When I was ten, all I dreamed was a fleet of luxurious cars and a big bungalow. The reason was simple. I wanted to be happy and those celebrities with big shiny cars and lavish homes always had a big smile on screens. As time passed and I grew up, I realized how wrong I was. While all I still want is happiness, my ambitions have changed. Instead of chasing happiness, I do things that make me happy. Happiness was perhaps, never a thing to be looked for.

“However long you live, even though that might prove a very, very long time, you must tell yourself to live every day, every hour as if it could be your last.”

Today when I look back over my life, I don’t remember every small detail. Things of the past that sounded big and turning point were just small speed breakers in this long journey. You see, memories are slippery things. They have a tendency to fade over time. What I haven’t forgotten is those beautiful moments I lived on the way. Moments that put a curve on my face whenever the brain decides to take a walk down the memory lane.

“Be in company of someone who renders you with the same feeling as when you see your food arriving in a restaurant.”

If there is one thing that saddens me today, it is the void of the special person. Having lived through my fair share of life, I can tell you the most difficult to endure is loneliness. Happiness of achieving something is only worth when it is shared. Life is a game and one that we must play. No matter how careful we are, there is simply no way to go through this life unscathed. But, fortunately for us, it’s a game we don’t have to play alone.

“What kills you is not what causes your heart to stop from beating, but it is what prevents you from living.”

It is said that life is beautiful because it’s finite. People usually wish to live long. The common misconception is that it’s the death that annihilates us. Truth is we die long before if we don’t learn to appreciate the life we have been bestowed. How many of us wake up in the morning and truly appreciate the privilege to be alive and healthy? The moment we start acting like life is a blessing, I assure you it will start to feel like one. Today is nothing but the result of our doings of the past. What we do today, will shape tomorrow.

If you like this, you might like other posts in the Hack your life series.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Sometimes you would find the goal is too far,
Sometimes you would find things to be falling apart,
Sometimes you would feel everything is wrong,
Sometimes you would feel sadness in every song,
Sometimes the world around would seem to down you,
Sometimes noone would understand what you’re going through,
Sometimes your friends would leave you alone,
Sometimes your sorrows would break you bone by bone,
Sometimes you won’t be able to think straight,
Sometimes you would lose faith in your fate,
Sometimes your every effort would seem to fail,
Sometimes you would be left frustrated as hell,
Sometimes you would feel like ending up your life,
Sometimes you would feel you have no choice,
If you’re fond of roses my friend,
Of the nearby thorns, must not you be afraid,
You must believe in yourself and be strong,
You must fight back and right what is wrong,
Push harder, try again,
Whatever you do, must not you loose your sane.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Every single day you make a choice

So you had a bad day? What did you do? Did you corner yourself in a room and cried like it was the end of the world?

A bad day is just another day which would pass. The question you should ask yourself is how can you avoid such circumstances in the foreseeable future. There are certain things in life which are beyond your control. You can’t do anything about them. But few things if taken action at the right time can save you from experiencing another bad day. Let’s say you arrive office a bit late and a mail from your manager is sitting right in your mailbox which reads “Urgent! Meet me when you are in office”. Suddenly you realize that you made a blunder last night at work and while you knew this, you procrastinated to proactively inform your manager in advance. Now you are screwed. You get comments like such kind of mistake can’t be tolerated from a person at your level. You either come back and keep cursing your manager while comforting yourself with excuses like “Well, this was only first time. How can he be so mean?” or you focus on improving yourself, take a note of the incident, analyze what sort of actions lead you to do this mistake and how do you plan to not repeat it. You see the difference. While the first choice won’t add any value to your personal and professional growth, the second choice not only makes you a better human being, but also helps you to see and tackle the situation from a different perspective. This is called as “Not going below the line”.

There is no secret ingredient. It’s just you

When I was preparing for Joint Entrance Exam (the toughest exam for engineering in India), I observed a very common pattern. About 70% of my friends gave up that they can’t clear it right before few months. To succeed in life, you must first believe that you can. There is noone in this world who knows you better than you know yourself. Your strengths, weaknesses, your skills and what are you good at.

Planning and Execution will keep your life stress free

I worked on two important projects at Microsoft. Both were critical for two reasons. One, tight deadlines. Two, to make Microsoft mission come true.

While working on these two projects right from the beginning to their completion, I realized how important planning is. If you don’t plan well, chances are you would freak out sooner or later. People usually tend to procrastinate when it comes to planning. They think that it will just happen as time progresses. Successful people spend a lot of time planning and less time on execution. That’s why people with huge experience are given the planning phase of the project. Sometimes, a decision tree is helpful to make calls and minimize risks in future.

Continue reading 7 important lessons to hack your life

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Have you ever felt that you are not able to do something because of less time? Have you ever wondered that why few achieve so much in the same 24 hours while you struggle to be good at one thing? It’s not always because you are comparatively less efficient than other guys . Efficiency is nothing but a measure of productivity against time. And if you learn to manage time efficiently, the productivity would automatically bump up. The question you should ask yourself is,

The most successful people are the busiest and they can still find time. Why can’t you?

Life is all about setting priorities right and if you do not learn to focus on what is important and what is urgent, sooner or later, you will find it slipping out of your control.

I often get questions on how do I get time to do so many things. To summarize, I do fashion photography, play piano and write blogs apart from my full time Software Engineering job.

Since last few years, I had been living the life of a night owl. I used to sleep late in the night and wake up in the early noon. It’s hard to believe but I used to be proud of myself for a such a crazy schedule. I followed this insane routine for 7 years and then I thought for a change. Months of efforts didn’t work out well for me. Our body is not a robotic machine which can be changed to work in a different environment as easily as the tap of a button. t adapts slowly to the changes we wa It must be given proper rest to function it well.

Waking up early morning can do wonders

Sometime back, I got a chance to visit US on a business trip. People who visit there often complain about the jet lag for days. My bad schedule in India worked there like charm. I woke up at 5 in the morning and slept at 11 at night. Every morning, I felt charged up. I was way more productive.

Continue reading Manage time like a boss and become more productive

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In the life of every person, there is someone who (s)he looks up to. It is the human psychology. We tend to choose a hero whom we appreciate. Why? The reason is obvious. Sometimes, we love the way our hero lives. Sometimes, it is his popularity. Sometimes, it is just because his dreams were what  ours is now. He kept on improving each day, each week until one morning he became what he always wanted. And we start seeing the perfect version of ourselves in him. Each time we come across his story and picture, our inner self echoes, “Yes, this is who I would like to be one day”.

But the question is, does it help by just following them. Sure, it is motivating. It elevates your desire to do something. It boosts up your will to achieve what you wanted. However, until and unless you do not work freaking hard, improve yourself day by day, that chosen hero remains in pictures. Like we see Hulk in Marvel movies. Remember not all people are blessed with quick learning abilities. We have to keep trying hard to know what works for us best.
I personally had many heroes in my life so far. When I was learning programming, I chose a hero who knew infinity as compared to me. When I was doing photography, I chose a hero whose shots just made me feel wow. When I was playing piano, I chose yet another hero whose fingers seem to turn into bots.
What I observed while following my passion is that even though, I chose my heroes, I made great progress in one while very little in other. What were the things that went bad and I couldn’t do well? Was my execution plan wrong? Was it the lack of motivation? Did I not have enough passion? Well, it was about my devotion and the efforts I needed to put.
To fix this, I made an execution plan. I set an achievable goal. Like, at the end of this summer, I would shoot at least 10 great photos. Or by year end, I would learn to play a song X on piano in melody and arpeggios. And I keep on checking myself every two weeks or so about the progress I make and the areas where I lag. This trick is working great for me so far.

Don’t follow a person. Follow your dreams. Chase your passion. That is going to define who you are. Be your own hero.

Who knows, by doing so, you will become someone so unique that people will start looking up to you. That said, we can’t compare between Beethoven, Mozart and Bach. All of them have made significant contribution in the music realm.

Let me end this writing with a small inspiring video of Matthew McConaughey at the 86th Oscars® in 2014 | Best Actor for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. Whenever I feel low, watching this speech of him helps me a lot.

In his words, this Oscar goes to my hero, that’s who I chase. Now when I was 15 years old, I have a very important person in my life come to me and say, “Who is your hero?”. And I said I don’t know I gotta think about that, give me a couple of weeks. I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says “Who’s your hero?” And so I thought about it and I said you know who it is, it’s me in 10 years.

So I turn 25, 10 years later that same person comes to me and goes “so are you a hero?” And I was like, not even close. No, no, no. She said “Why?” I said because my hero is me at 35. So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero is always 10 years away. I’m never going to beat my hero. I’m not going to obtain that, I know I’m not. And that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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1. Travel while you are young
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye
Traveling changes the way you think and perceive the world. Do adventures. After all, life is all about adventures, isn’t it?

2. Lower your expectations
Don’t keep too much expectations from anyone. Expectations might hurt you

3. Don’t take life too seriously
No one has ever escaped it alive. Those with coins enjoy drenching in rains peacefully. While those with currency notes in their pockets keep looking for roof

4. Choose friends wisely
Have a small circle of friends who share your interests. They don’t need to be in the same group. If you’re interested in music, find someone who is that crazy as well. Love to shake your legs in DJ? Find a dance partner and your happiness will be doubled

5. Love finds its way
Stop chasing love and start pouring that energy in something new, something exciting. Love usually comes when it’s the right time

6. Be optimistic
A hopeless person is as good as a dead. Hope keeps you telling there are things worth fighting for

7. Keep smiling
You’ll attract good people full with positive energy around you. Noone wants to talk to sadistic people

8. Get a good tight sleep
Keep your worries out of sight when you go to bed. A good mental health is the secret ingredient of happiness. And a good mind needs a peaceful stress-free sleep

9. Don’t tie your emotions with materialistic things
Broke your car? No problem, you can always get it fixed. Sometimes, it can be difficult but not impossible. Spend money in experiences and you will cherish it for the lifetime

Bonus tip from our favorite headmaster of magic:

Happiness-can-found-even-darkest-times-one-only

Copyright © 2016, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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