I had my 26th birthday recently. With the little experience I have of life, I learned some important lessons which I wanted to throw some light upon…
It’s often said that ‘money can’t buy happiness’ and ‘money isn’t everything’, and things like that. But really, does money not matter in the well-being and happiness of an individual, a family, or even a nation. It does. Well, we need to understand that although the sayings are partially correct the void of money can certainly hinder your progress towards reaching your full potential and leading a fulfilled life. Apart from the fact that money lets you have all the things needed for a comfortable life, we should also understand that money gives you the freedom to do the things you actually want to do unconstrained.
Most people work because they have to and not because they want to. They don’t have a definite purpose but actually are in pursuit of comfort and financial security. On the contrary, many of the billionaires of the world have enough to sustain a comfortable life throughout their lives, but they still work, often more than an average person, because they are working towards a goal and they love their work. In fact, this is the reason why they are billionaires.
But, there are also the ones who often become money blinded or power-hungry that they forget why they wanted it in the first place. They just want to achieve their goals come what may, by hook or crook. This is the pitfall of making money (or even power ) the central theme of your existence.
Money is just the means and not the end. It’s not real.
It really is just a medium of exchange for goods and services. But if you use it the right way, you can unleash the enormous power it brings. The power to change, the power to improve, it gives you the leverage to follow your dreams without any constraints and indeed make this world a better place.
In Hindu mythology, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity is the wife of Vishnu, who is known as the preserver in the Hindu trinity which means the giver and provider of things. He also protects and maintains the order of the world. In this sense, prosperity is important for the well-being and order in the world. We can see this difference between the poor economies and the rich ones, be it standard of living or other parameters.
The United States, the land of opportunity and the land of prosperity have gone too far in the pursuit of wealth. People have become so materialistic because of the culture which promotes it.
Health is Wealth
And it’s not just the physical health, but also the emotional health that matters. Too many emotional upheavals or high levels of stress can have a detrimental effect on your well-being.
Many rich people have been seen saying that the single most thing they regret, is that they should have cared better towards their health.
So how does health translate to wealth?
The answer lies in the understanding of what it takes to be wealthy. If you want to be wealthy on your own, you are your biggest asset. Your skills, knowledge, character, and habits would in turn make you successful and wealthy. And in today’s knowledge world, it is even more important with enormous opportunities for growth if we have the right mind-set. And we all know that money has a compounding effect. It grows more rapidly as you have more of it. But ultimately it is your own hands to make this happen. And thus reiterating, you are your biggest asset and so take great care of it.
The pillars of health and well being would be diet, exercise, sleep, and a low-stress lifestyle. And it's important to realize the fact that they are all correlated to each other. A good diet ensures a good exercise session and vice versa, good exercise ensures higher energy and less stress, then diet, exercise, and low stress ensure a good night's sleep. Good night sleep in turn rejuvenates your body, repairs your injuries, cleans your mind which at the end keeps you motivated enough to do all of the above.
It is imperative to see health in a holistic way.
Now when you do all these things in unison, you in turn are making yourself a superman. Your mind becomes sharp, body energetic, and spirits high to take any challenge in the world. You get more creative and focused as well. And when you do it consistently, the fruits are rewarding.
Your success has a very high correlation with your well being.
Quality over Quantity
After reading Steve Job’s biography, I found one thing common across his minimalistic way of life and business style which translated onto the products that Apple made. He always went after quality with the mantra of ‘less is more’ and that ‘simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication’.
This simple attitude and difference in thought process can make the lives of two people completely different who seemingly started at the same place. One who favors quality often gets it, the quality of life.
This choice or the two roads comes up many times and it is again your choice, the decisions you take that ultimately affect your life. Be it the people you chose to be with or not to be with, or the type of books, digital content you consume, products you buy, the food you eat, so on and so forth. It is your very choice (if you have it) and the emphasis on quality which indeed shapes you as a person. This emphasis on quality over quantity is because in the long term, quality rules.
For example, it may be expensive to buy a premium electronic product initially, but the life cycle cost would be actually lower. That is because people often forget to take into account the durability, the low maintenance cost, and most importantly high productivity and lower stress that comes with it.
You may have a hundred friends on Facebook or acquaintances but if you don’t have those few quality close friends, you would feel socially disconnected. The country that spends on quality infrastructure be it roads or buildings, benefit in the long term, and that too with a big margin. I know capital is expensive but even if you take into account the interest rates, you would be surprised to find that thinking long term and focusing on quality gives the best result. It’s what the wise do. Take the example of a tech company that hires a few high quality highly paid educated engineers, who are able to generate as much revenue as a company with hundreds of mediocre employees. This is the power of quality.
But why do most people still get caught up in the short term quantity lure entanglement?
The reason could be that they don’t realize the importance profoundly enough, or they have limited resources and so they discount their future to meet the needs of the present. India is a great example of that because a country with a billion people with limited resources thinks that they cannot afford quality. India is a price-sensitive market and people often buy low-quality cheap products. And when most of the people have this mentality, the country as a whole gets into the trap of poverty. They don’t realize that investing in bullet trains is in turn going to improve the economy much faster than investing in other less expensive but low-quality counterparts. This thinking needs to change.
Long term thinking
Many studies show that one of the most important attitudes for success and well-being is long term thinking. People who take decisions having a long term holistic perspective in mind not only do well individually but also contributing to a company or a nation.
A simple testament to this is the marshmallow test. A sample of 3-year-olds was given a marshmallow and was told that if they can wait for 15 minutes without eating this one, they would get another one. Later on, the kids who waited for the second marshmallow sacrificing that in the moment urge or short term pleasure turned out to be much more successful compared to their counterparts. Well, this attitude of theirs to give importance to the long term benefits rather than short term pleasure and having the self-discipline to achieve that in turn made them successful in life. And it also has a compounding effect. Not only our self-discipline gets stronger with each decision just like a muscle but also life often rewards those who can sacrifice immediate gratification for the long term delight.
Long term thinkers often hone their skill of using their intuition to see through the fuzziness of the future. Over time, they are able to predict outcomes which most people can’t, roughly speaking, giving them an advantage of lower uncertainty. Be it investing in the stock market or business strategy, those who take decisions having long term benefits often win in long term and that too with a big margin. This is also true for relationships, the ones who invest in building their relationships with love and understanding in their youth reap benefits later in life.
The ones who work hard during their education and early career years achieve exponential growth placing themselves at the top of the economic ladder. Those who invest in building their habits, health, and lifestyle early in life enjoy the well-being lifelong. The economies which take decisions keeping the next generation in mind eventually prosper. Those who keep a long term vision for their company rather than petty immediate profits become great over time.
For all this one has to show the wisdom, courage, and patience but the benefits are enormous.
One should think big, and not get caught up in the details.
The saying goes “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Another saying by Abraham Lincoln goes “If you give me 6 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four sharpening the ax”. Planning is such an important tool to do the right things while doing things right. Yet many people fail to recognize the importance of this art. No wonder why a think tank or a planning team can make or break an organization.
Effective planning calls for simulating or foreseeing the fuzzy future in order to make decisions about how we want the future to look like. Simply put, it requires to determine what can happen, what should happen, what is desired to happen, and how it should unfold.
True leaders also ask why it should happen.
But apart from giving clarity and a structure, by having a bird view of the course of events, you can manage resources and time in an optimum fashion. Also, you can avoid any pitfalls or dead ends or wrong turns. Having a plan is being smart about things at the end and avoiding unnecessary energy on things that don’t add any value. For individuals, having a plan ensures that they don’t have the illusion of free time and can help as a procrastination buster.
A plan acts as a rudder to your ship, you know where you are going and where you want to, but obviously you can change course later if needed.
But a plan at the end is imagination on paper with its own limitations and assumptions. Life is uncertain and things can go either way. So, having a contingency plan or ‘Plan B’ as some may call would be good to have as long as it does not eat up your focus from ‘Plan A’.
Always keep some buffer with respect to time, money, and milestones.
We don’t need a Plan C because it is wasteful to spend too much time on it. At the end of the day execution matters, aim for perfection may be unnecessary, simply paralysis of analysis. Time is fluid and flexible and so we may have to take some in the moment decisions without losing sight of our end goal. You can see it from the analogy of a football game, the team needs to have a strategy, a plan but what they need to be spontaneous to change strategy during the game.
Fear of Failure
Failure is an interesting word. It has a negative connotation in the vocabulary of some people, but little do they know that it is the stepping stone to success. It may or may not be a blessing in disguise depending on one’s attitude of dealing with the failure. It is a test of real character and attitude towards life, to never give up and keep going to chase your dreams. It is like a test that the world gives someone who is trying to chase his dreams, testing the intensity of one’s desire for the dream or purpose. But some people might mistake temporary setbacks as a permanent failure, a doomsday scenario. They do not know that each of the successful people whom they respect and applaud are where they are because they knew how to deal with petty failures and nevertheless focus on the real long term goal.
You can lose the battle but still win the war.
‘Success matters, failure does not’ said Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist and former entrepreneur meaning people only remember your successes and not your failures in the long term.
The reason why failure is such an important step in the path of being great is that when you try things and fail, you eventually learn from it moving towards a path to improvement. When you do it often, you finally succeed. It’s a competition between you and the world, that who’ll give up first. And when you fail and cope up with it, the fear of failure is gone, you embrace it leading you to take greater risks which eventually translates to greater rewards. Be it entrepreneurship, public speaking, investing, or chasing your dreams, it is the fear of failure that is one of the biggest hurdles to achieving your potential. Try and fail but do not fail to try.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take ~ Wayne Gretzky
One can improve in almost every area of life, but fear of failure and not having self-belief paralyzes one with inaction.
Action cures fear
They don’t realize that inaction itself is a failure in some sense.
But that does not mean you should try at everything and believe you will succeed. Being optimistic is good, but so is being rational. Calculated risk and not the risk itself is desired, making sure you put in the efforts and prepare to not fail in the first place.
But even if you do, accept it and move on. We have limited resources and energy, we cannot afford to waste it on things that are not worthy enough, the failures which do not have a salvage value. High risk and high impact areas, is what is being talked about here. Google, Facebook, and all successful start-ups work in this spectrum because they learned how to deal with failures rather than avoid it.
“It doesn’t matter what your probability of failure is. If there’s a 90% chance of failure, there’s a 10% chance of changing the world.” “Most technology startups fail. There’s a winner, and there’s 7 out of 10 that lose.” “I don’t mind failing, but if I succeed it better be worth succeeding for.” “I have seen too many startups where they have reduced risk to a point where they have a higher probability of succeeding, but if they succeed it is inconsequential ” ~ Vinod Khosla
Living to the fullest
When you tell someone to live to their fullest, often unarguably they nod and understand that living to the fullest means living in the moment, enjoying every second however it may be. But the reality is that there are good moments as well as not so good ones, to live every moment as if it is a positive experience might be good for your mental health but does not give you the incentive to go forward and change your future altogether. It makes you accept that you are a mere passive object, life happens to you and you should be satisfied with what you have. You should have gratitude. But, one should be content and satisfied to the extent that he does not forget to dream and chase his ambitions.
We have only one life and let’s live it to the fullest, Carpe Diem!, enjoy every moment still keeping the future in mind, because someday that future will become your present, and it’s better not to regret in retrospect.
Just be mindful.
In the end, one’s life is one’s own making more than one realizes. It’s the choices you make, how you think forms a larger part of how well you live your life while sharing your unique gifts to the world.
I write articles related to personal development, AI & Data Science, and whatever I think is worth sharing :)