All the Self-Help ideas from my life till now and then some

April 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

I have read a lot of generic self-help ideas over the years. It’s all over the net – blogs, Quora, business articles. So to save time on such content, I am summarizing the most common and useful ideas I have found over the years.
  • Some interesting ones which gave me good results are marked with a star (*)
  • Underlines indicate helpful links

At the end, I have shared ideas and methods from my own experiences.

Read on !
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Advice I can recall from various books and blogs

  • Food – Eat more veggies. Avoid red meat. Stop when you are less than full. Drink lot of water. No smoking. Alcohol in limits
  • Exercise – Everyday at least 20 minutes. Push all parts of the body. Walk around in nature
  • Sleep – Get a good 8-9 hours everyday. Quality matters. No screens in bedroom. Eat 2 hours before sleeping. Wake up early
  • *Read – Non-fiction books. Read everyday. Read biographies of famous people. Avoid blogs, minimize social networking. Avoid mainstream media, and most of all, TV
  • *10 ideas – Be an idea machine and come up with 10 ideas everyday on something, anything
  • Skills – learn a new skill every year. Learn a language. To learn, practice everyday before going to sleep and just after waking up for 20 minutes
  • *Write – Learn to express ideas clearly. Keep a personal journal. Write a summary of every book or important article you read – this helps make the material concrete in your mind. Use the Flesch-Kincaid Index to check grade-level of your writing
  • Meditate – sit straight, observe your breath. If attention wanders, bring it back gently. Duration – 2 minutes is good, 20 minutes is better
  • *Spiritual Books – Bhagwad Gita, Tao Te Ching, Bible – anything, everyday
  • Gratitude – Everyday, give a prayer of thanks for all the good things in your life
  • *Positive Mindset – Every evening write down 3 good things which happened and why
  • *ABCDE Technique – Interpret events in a positive way
Relationships & Conversations
  • *Gratitude Letter – Send this to someone to mend the relationship
  • Thank you notes – Send them to everyone after meeting them first time
  • Listen. Smile. Praise. Don’t point out faults
  • Look at other person’s point of view
  • *Apologize for your faults up front. Be ready to admit you may be wrong
  • Connect people who can help each other
  • Create mail account for your kid/spouse and send pictures and notes to it
  • Focus on your strengths, focus on doing one thing very well
  • Do your research on the company you are applying to
  • Dress well for interviews. Be organized and courteous
Work and Productivity
  • *Sketch our ideas first. Use post-it notes
  • *Pomodoro – Do work in 25 minute chunks in which you shut out all distractions. Take 5 min breaks between chunks
  • Eat the Frog – Do the hardest task of the day first
  • Kanban method – don’t do new tasks until old ones are completed
  • Use Tools – Like Evernote to keep track of ideas. Use headphones to focus on work.
  • No meeting Wednesdays – Have a day of week at work when there are no meetings
  • Look at your To-Do list the night before
  • Write top 3 priorities on a post-it note everyday and focus on them
General Tricks & Gyan
  • Habits – Do the minimum needed (e.g., 1 push-up) everyday to get energy flowing
  • *Failure/Foolishness diary – Keep a record of your foolishnesses and failures. This makes you realize your infallibility. Gives tremendous humility
  • Intuition – Do stuff on hunches, follow your gut, try out new things and be a little crazy
  • Travel – Visit different parts of the world and understand the people there
  • Don’t be afraid of failing. Double your failure rate. Crank out that 1st version real fast.
  • Don’t be a spectator, get in the ring. Act within 3 seconds of the impulse to act (otherwise your defensive mind will stop you)
  • Avoid Debt. Cut the credit cards. Don’t invest in something you don’t understand
  • Fake it till you make it. Act confident and happy even when you are not
  • Be around positive and intelligent people
  • Savor every moment. Live in the present. Focus on fixing this day and future will take care of itself
  • Be a giver. Add value to every workplace, relationship, project
  • Take challenges and be uncomfortable
  • You can learn a lot just by watching
  • Have a system, not goals

Quite a mouthful? I know. Have a look at the inspiring Nike of Samothrace before the next round.
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What I can add from my life experiences

  • Study History – this is the best way to realize how lucky you are. You can start here or here
  • Read older books – at least 30 years old – thoughts and ideas follow fashions. They were different 30+ years ago
  • Big Minds – Read books or listen to Videos of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Read works of Plato. Read The Fountainhead  and Catch-22. Looking for something still tougher and more awesome? Read Nietzsche. Read these books again & again
  • Things change, so focus on core skills – analyzing ideas, writing, data analysis, relationships are mine. Identify yours. Try to find those which will be useful no matter what career you choose
  • Teach children – will teach patience and give insights into the learning process. Spend time with children in general. They have a lot to teach
  • Go for Quality when you consume, Quantity when you create – One great book teaches more than 50 average ones. One intelligent guy comes up with better ideas and insights than 50 average guys. When you create, create multiple samples for your work; multiple iterations improve quality drastically. Generate multiple solutions for every problem until you come up with the most elegant or lose all your energy
  • Keep in touch – Keep close friends informed about life plans and strategies. E-mail, blogs, or a newsletter work well. Meet and call frequently. Keep it personal
  • Learn new tools – they expand the scope of your skills. WordPress, Evernote, MS Excel, Adobe Illustrator, Picasa. Free tutorials are everywhere. Learn shortcuts keys and tricks
  • Discover books – Go to a bookshop and just browse. Find the books you find captivating. A good book is one which holds you
  • Draw – Anything and everything. It can release pent-up emotions. You don’t need to show it to anyone
  • Never hit below the belt – You can be angry or even rude, but never go under a certain level. People will treat you with dignity
  • Apologize right away – The very next second you realize that you could be wrong
  • The right industry & career role – It should fit with your values. Not excited by money? Don’t go into Finance & Banking. Also, work in the core function of a company. In FMCG, work in Marketing, not IT.  Programmer? Work at Google. Designer? Work at Apple. Sales guy? I guess you can work anywhere
  • Make others the hero – Congratulate people in public. Write on their FaceBook wall wishing them the best. Engage in ‘positive gossip’
  • Come back to now – List 10 things happening around you at a given moment to focus your attention back to this exact moment
  • Five years from today – To put problems in perspective, ask yourself – will this matter to me five years from now? Then you will stop sweating over little problems
  • Move to the right city – Life is like real estate business. It’s all about location, location, location. Has tremendous impact on everything you do
  • Pray – If you need to. Sometimes you need to
  • Listen to great Music – It lifts you up like nothing else. And dance, always dance. Even when alone. Especially when alone
  • Watch documentaries on Space – Looking at wonders of the Universe is an awesome experience. Watch Interstellar
  • Exhaust Yourself – When in distress, tire yourself out by doing mental or physical labor. Solve difficult puzzles. Calculate powers of 2 mentally, see how far you can go. Go for a very long walk
  • Keep your surrounding clean and organized – No need to be obsessive, but have a general sense of order & cleanliness
  • Speaking in Public – A very useful skill. Learnt best from observing TED talks and Steve Jobs presentations and of course, practice
  • Make friends from other cultures and countries – Helps you in knowing yourself better
  • Themed Reading – Read 3 to 5 books on a single subject one after the other. Will deepen your understanding drastically – another example of compounding effects
  • Learn new languages – Even bits and pieces. It’s fun 🙂
  • Learn to Cook – Nothing beats the taste of your own food and the happiness of serving others
  • Skills take time – Don’t expect to see solid results in anything without at least a 100 days of daily effort. If you do give that time, results will surely come. Key word is ‘daily’
  • Keep the door open – go to that party, that wedding, that startup event in the city. Put yourself in places where you interact with new people. You learn a lot and make friends

This has been a long and hopefully worthwhile post. I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me. Have an awesome life !

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