Reading or hearing about how other people are doing better than you is frustrating especially when you started out similar to them. But the past is the past and one can only fix the future. Starting this year, you can make few small changes to your life and allow them to compound increasing your quality of life. None of them are radical or original, in fact none of them has anything to do with even money.
Stop reading or watching the daily news … completely
If you want to make more money, you need to carve out more time from your already busy life. Most of us read the news or catch up on sports/entertainment/social media if we get just 5 minutes of free time while waiting for a work call to begin or just before sleeping at night etc. 5 minutes turns into 1 hour because the media knows your brain more than you and tempt you with just one more supposedly important article you should read. I also suffer from this bad habit. So this is my main resolution this year : completely stop reading daily news in any and all forms including discussing with anyone in person. Personally the biggest benefit is that I get a proper 7-8 hours of sleep since I don’t read on my phone before going to sleep so I wake up fresh the next morning.
I tried this “giving up news” experiment last year when my son was a new-born and I barely had any time for sleep let alone news. Amazingly I did not miss anything important and I had more time to read about parenting a new-born baby which is far more important than things outside of my control. On a side-note, if you are a father I recommend reading this Manifesto for fathers on how tiny distractions pull you away from family time.
Fix your sagging energy – it could be vitamin deficiency
Even after sleeping for 8 hours, I would feel tired and drowsy by 11 AM. In my corporate job, this would be my cue for a coffee break and then again at 3 pm and sometimes at 6 pm also. But my fatigue recently increased more than could be explained by sleep deprivation alone. A visit to the doctor revealed that I had really low Vitamin B12 levels. I now take daily supplements Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 and I can notice the change in my energy levels. Read this article for a good explanation of this epidemic in India. If you are a woman, you need to check if you have iron deficiency or a thyroid problem
I also take a 30-minute nap in the afternoon around 3pm. This helps me get out of my post-lunch sleepiness and I’m energised to work again. If you are at the office, simply shut your eyes, get comfortable right in the office chair and meditate for 20 minutes wearing a noise-cancelling headphone. Inform your boss and colleagues of this before-hand as workplaces can be conservative. You can even book a conference room at work for this purpose.
Current work culture requires you to work long and hard. Most of this is unproductively spent keeping up appearances. Solid work can be done in just 4 hours a day in a “Flow” state. My tip to get into a flow state is start working on the easiest task first thing at work. Before I know it, I’m in a trance state tackling complex work. That’s because small wins incentivise us into the work mode while a complex task can be off-putting.
The human body is like a battery. You need to recharge it efficiently and also use its energy efficiently to be productive and not be tired all the time.
Exercise daily or atleast start walking everywhere
As soon as I entered 10th standard, I was forbidden to play after school because it was supposed to make me “too tired” to study in the evening. I realised much later that this is a myth. In fact exercise helps your mind become even clearer allowing you to be more productive in a shorter time … again the “Flow” state. The problem is that a person who is just starting to exercise or play a sport will feel tired initially before they get used to the regimen. Then it is all benefit from that point onwards. My former boss would run a mini-marathon every day before coming in to work in the morning and he was the most productive person I’ve ever worked with.
Because exercise also releases feel-good hormones you will feel less need to consume junk food or junk entertainment to make you feel better after a hard day’s work not to mention the social aspects of friendship. You don’t even need to go to the gym – simply walk a few rounds in the park, load up a yoga video from youtube right at home, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the grocery store and walk back with the heavy bags or play a favourite sport of yours.
Work on making more money when the world is sleeping
This could be early morning or late night depending on your preference. Now that you have spare time from not reading the news and being more productive at work from fixing your energy level through exercise and “flow” state, you are ready to make more money.
Spend an hour each day exploring ways to make more money using your track record and skills. Research what other people in your industry do to earn more money. Sometimes it might just be learning a new skill or even searching for a new job and understanding what you need to do at your current job to make the cut. Honestly you know best. But understand that spending an hour daily on your deepest needs will make you a happier person at work and life even if progress is slow because you know your needs are being addressed finally.
Publicly write and share your progress
This is not just for accountability but for visibility. One of my friends used to blog regularly about every new semiconductor chip that came into the market because he was interested in the new features. He would even predict the kind of features that a company like Apple is planning based on their including the chip in their next laptop or phone. This led him to jobs in the chip industry and frequent calls from venture capitalists interested in picking his brains.
Even this blog on financial independence has been linked from Times of India, Outlook Money, CNBC, Mumbai Mirror and The Goodmen Project etc just because we kept writing about our progress and learnings regularly every month.
You can start writing a blog based on your interests and cross-post it on LinkedIn, Facebook etc. Trust me – whether you seek a better career or want to start a new business or just want to make a social impact, your visibility as a person who knows what they are talking about will open doors for you.