Are you doing what you are doing professionally just for money? It is highly probable then, that you are in a system that is nightmare for a human being to be in. Because it is based on exactly one metric – money!
By the time you are reading this, 2023 is over. Now that 2024 is starting, you need to be asking yourself – what’s the plan? Action without strategy is the noise before failure.
Action without Strategy is the noise before FailureFrom “Sleep Your Way to Success” – Khurshed Batliwala & Dinesh Ghodke
I want you to think of success holistically. Yes, of course, you need to create the wealth you need. But wealth at the cost of health, relationships, your hobbies and your me-time is just not worth a lot. Once you have hit the finish line, you need to be able to enjoy the success you created. Heck, you need to enjoy getting to that finish line too.
Successful and Poor
You do whatever it is you are doing as a reaction. Your actions are not part of a well thought of strategy. You have no system (or very loose systems) in place to handle the day to day challenges that your business or your job throws at you – that life throws at you. You cope. You manage. You even mostly win. But at the end of it all, you are physically and mentally drained.
You have no inclination to even think about your health unless something goes really wrong. Exercise feels like punishment and eating healthy is tiring.
You take your relationships for granted – to realise that the same people who thought so highly of you, don’t think like that any more. And you keep thinking – I wonder why…
Your idea of leisure is to switch on the TV at night and fall asleep on the couch. Or mindlessly scroll through some social media until sleep overtakes you.
And another day dawns and you do it all over again…
Yup – you may eventually take home a lot of money. And you tell yourself finally that’s all that matters. You wish that things could be different. Then you look at everyone around you. They seem to be doing the same things you are. In those rare moments that you actually think, you make it ok for yourself to be the way you are. That’s life.
You are successful and poor.
Setting up a series of actions for a particular challenge is a system. It requires great thought and takes up a lot of time to create – but once it’s done and in place, things become so much faster and smoother.
For example, many people spend an inordinate amount of their time thinking what they will have for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Sit yourself down and write out a list of all the things you love to eat. Now, create a monthly or bimonthly menu. I know, its tedious to do this. I know, its going to take a LOT of your time. But, once you have this – just imagine how things could change.
You do not need to ponder about what you want to eat – its the second Sunday of the first month – you know breakfast is moong dal pancakes with tomato chutney, lunch is dhasakh with kebabs and a salad (a small piece of dark chocolate is dessert) and dinner is a green salad, mushroom soup with toasted bread, with an agile olio pasta. This means you know what groceries to get. Which means that there will be little to no wastage, because you don’t walk into the grocery store and get what you “feel” like, which then sits in your fridge until you throw it out because it has spoiled. This also means that you know what prep to do the night before for the meal. And how much time you need to carve out during the day on Sunday to put the meals together. Which means you now have so much more time to do other things – stuff you truly want to do but somehow never had the time to, over the weekend.
As you plan out your menu, you balance health with taste. You end up eating much healthier, tastier food than you ever would have simply because you have a system in place. You have saved money, you have created more time, you have reduced wastage, you have created health for yourself and your family. Just because you wrote out all the things that you like to eat and menued those out on a day to day basis!
Similarly, you could decide what you will wear each day. You could go the Steve Jobs way (I wouldn’t) and have just one thing to wear. That takes the friction out of deciding how to look your best every single day.
Do you see the power of a system?!
Setup systems like this for as many aspects of your life as you can. Especially the ones where you find yourself thinking a lot. This is a great place to start then – think of at least 5 things that you could create systems for in your life.
Just two things to remember, when a system affects others around you, then involve them as well in system creation. Get everyone’s agreement to be part of the system and cooperate to keep things going. Take time out and create or co-create those systems. Then let the systems work for you.
The second is always think about improving and tweaking the systems you set up so things could become even better.
And oh yes – no point doing all the thinking and strategising, if you don’t implement. Once you have everyone concerned agreeing to the way things should be, get into action. Deploy the system and let its magic blossom into your life.
Every time you decide something, you use energy in your brain. The more things you need to decide over the course of a day, the more tired you will feel as the day draws to a close. A system will mean you don’t need to “decide” about a few things any more. What you will eat on Monday. What you will wear on Thursday. When you will answer your emails. When you will take the dog to get groomed. This is all sorted.
You are not reacting to life. You are responding, From the outside, you still look as if you are doing more or less the same things that others are. The difference is that they have to think and plan all the time. They are reacting. You have already thought and put a system in place. This saves you from having to make decisions. You already made those decisions. Precious brain energy is conserved. You will suddenly find time for things you wanted to do but never could.
Pre-deciding mundane stuff and putting systems in place for that could be the game changer you are looking for.
Systems and decisions are a function of a clear mind.
If your mind feels muddled and tired, there is no way you can create a great system. You can try. You will fail. The first thing then is to ensure that you have a calm clear mind. You need a system for that!
Systems and Decisions are a function of a Clear MindKhurshed Batliwala
Fortunately, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar has already created a done-for-you system to handle the mind. It’s based on breathing in certain rhythms and is called the Sudarshan Kriya and doing this technique creates a dual force in the mind which is otherwise impossible. You are relaxed and focused at the same time.
Normally, you feel relaxed only when your mind unwinds, and is all over the place. To do productive, creative work, you need to focus and somehow focus only happens when there is stress. Regular practice of Sudarshan Kriya and the meditation that happens after you do the breathing calms and cleanses the mind from inside out. You can be relaxed and focused.
There are many other ways to tame the mind but none as effective, easy to learn and practice and quick as the Sudarshan Kriya. In 2024 and beyond, I sincerely invite you to learn the Sudarshan Kriya and if you have already learned it, then, to integrate its practice in any system that you are putting into place.
The mind becomes your friend. You stop reeling in the fear of the future and burning in the anger of the past. Most people regret the past, fear the future and are paralysed in the present. Instead, you will learn from the past, plan effectively for the future and begin to take rational, intelligent action in the present.
A Deciding Matrix
Going from low to high, you have Resources on the X Axis and Impact on the Y Axis. Make 4 quadrants.
Resources translate to money, time and effort to get an activity done. To achieve something, how much money, time and effort do you require to invest?
Impact is how big the effect of doing that particular something is in your life.
Quadrant 1 – low investment of time, money, effort, low impact on life.
Quadrant 2 – High investment of time, money, effort, low impact on life.
Quadrant 3 – High investment of time, money, effort, high impact on life.
Quadrant 4 – Low investment of time, money, effort, high impact on life.
Now, think of the various things that you need to do in your life and map them into these 4 quadrants. Watching TV is quadrant 2 for example – high investment (of time), low impact on life. Going on a trip to Alaska might go into quadrant 3 – High investment but fabulous impact… and so on.
Most people will answer emails which is a Q1 activity (or Q2 if you get a lot of emails). This preference for low investment, low impact activities creates the delusion of busyness. You go from one mundane activity to the next – super busy throughout the day, yet feeling hardly any sense of achievement. You feel you are getting nowhere and stuck in a rut.
Others will take up Q2 activities. You need to put in crazy effort, and you have almost nothing to show for it. This means you are frittering away your time, effort and money on stuff that hardly matters.
Here is what I would do – Prioritise Q4. The activities in Quadrant 4 are Low investment, high impact. Doing them first seems obvious, but most people don’t do this. This is typically because they have never thought about scheduling their life like this.
Then move to Q1 – the impact is low, but so if the investment. Get Q1 sorted before you move to Q3. Finally, only if you have the time and the inclination do Q2.
You can even do this exercise each day. Think of all the things you need to get done that day, and map them out to the 4 quadrants. It takes hardly 10 minutes to do this, but in those 10 minutes you will have a clear snapshot of all the things you need to sort out and in what order that particular day.
It is said that if you have 10 hours to cut a tree, spend 8 hours sharpening the axe. Setting up this matrix, creating systems, doing Sudarshan Kriya are all sharpening the axe. When you know what to do and do it – well, you are on your way to getting to where you really want to be. And you are going to get there sooner than you thought you would.
Success becomes inevitable!
All the very best and a Happy New Year 2024!