The three symptoms of killing our dreams

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A repost from Paulo Coehlo’s blog, it’s a piece from one of my favorite books, The Pilgrimage.

The first symptom of the process of killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the Good Fight.

The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the Good Fight.

And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we have refused to fight the Good Fight.

When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being.
We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.

And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoon.

[Photo from this year’s best collection, taken at Sai Kung, Hong Kong]

3 more tips to avoid clutter

 

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I continue to believe that a minimalistic and uncluttered life can lead to more productivity, increased efficiency and greater happiness. I’ve written several blog posts on my experiments with minimalism and tips to reduce clutter – at work, at home and life in general. Here’s a short version, because I think it all starts with buying stuff…

Buy mindfully:

  • Only buy what you need – really need. If it’s a temporary need, see if can be borrowed or rented.
  • Go with a shopping list and stay focused. Don’t be distracted by displays or special offers.
  • Don’t buy anything ‘just in case’ you might need it. Trust that you’ll find it ‘just in time’.
  • Always buy quality. It lasts longer, so costs less in the long run.
  • Don’t compromise on your style, size or color, otherwise you may be discarding it too soon.

Discard ruthlessly:

  • Once you buy a new something, get rid of the old one. Not tomorrow, not later, right now.
  • Find local charities or Salvation Army stores where the old stuff could go. If it’s too bad or old or broken to go to charity, then recycle it.
  • Give yourself limited space to keep your stuff. Once that space fills up, you know it’s time to reduce.

Use gratefully:

  • Whether it’s clothing, gadgets, books or other possessions, be grateful every time you use them. Remind yourself that millions of people do no have access to such luxury.
  • One of the biggest reasons for buying and accumulating stuff is being ungrateful for what we already have – that feeling of not having enough.
  • When we are grateful, we take good care of our stuff, and don’t discard/replace them easily.

If that sounds too difficult, just take one step at a step. And perhaps developing the attitude of gratitude would be a good start.

6 Key Ideas on Simplifying Your Life (and fit all your belongings in an 18kg bag or less)!

mush-panjwanis-possessions-in-an-18kg-bag.jpgDuring a recent move, I was proud to put together all of my personal stuff (everything that I own) into an 18kg bag. And the FB post got a lot of interest – some wouldn’t believe, some wanted to know what’s in it, some curious to learn how or why. And that inspired this blog post, and I am happy to share why I do it and how.

It’s a lifestyle! Accumulating less stuff; getting rid of unwanted things; keeping within a pre-defined space; staying organized… is not a one-time project. It’s a lifestyle. I started the process about ten years ago, and wrote the first blog post on the subject five years ago. That post covers how I got rid of all the books, reduced the amount of clothes, minimized all accessories, simplified and organized everything, and then applied the same principals to my office and desk.

Why de-clutter and simplify?

  • Easy to find what you are looking for, whether it’s a file on your computer or a travel adaptor
  • Take less space, whether it’s a wardrobe, cabinet or a shoe rack
  • Focus on quality instead of quantity
  • Spend more on experiences (books, travel, personal development, causes) and less on things (except those you buy for others)

Buy less, of everything

  • Buy only what you need, and only when you need it, not whatever is on sale.
  • Wait and see if you really need it. Then see if you can borrow it, before you buy.
  • Buy good quality so it lasts longer and you buy less often.
  • Buy only if there’s space to keep it, not find a space after you buy it.

Continue getting rid of stuff

  • When you buy a new one, get rid of the old one – clothes, shoes, bags, stuff
  • If you bought something but not using it, either due lack of interest or wrong purchase, get rid of it.
  • If you get a gift that you know you are not going to use, get rid of it.
  • If you haven’t used it in 6 months, get rid of it.
  • Only keep stuff that’s essential, makes life easier, or inspires you. Get rid of everything else.
  • When getting rid of anything, try to sell or give away to somebody who can make use of it or recycle. Trash bin should be the last option.

Use technology

  • Unless you can’t live without the touch and smell of physical books, go digital. There’s a long list of pros and cons, but I only buy ebooks and only read on my iPad.
  • Covert all important documents, photo and videos into digital copies and put them all on Dropbox or iCloud. In my recent round, I took photos of loads of ‘emotional-value objects’ and threw them all out. These included large photo frames, desk gifts, crystals, accessories and more… all with thank-you notes, names, or messages printed/engraved on them. These were in a large box, which I don’t have any more!
  • I’ve stopped using notebooks or diaries and pens for a long time. All notes are digital.

Learn to live with less

  • So what do I have in that suitcase? Clothes: formal, casual, summer, winter, gym and swimming gear. Shoes: just two pairs. Gadgets: MacBook, iPad, cables. Lots of socks and underwear; last few copies of my book to give away; pack of business cards; travel toiletries in mini sizes; travel adaptors. No ties, accessories, notebooks, stationery or camera.
  • Living with less inspires gratefulness; helps you keep organized; reduces stress; gets you more focused… is extremely easy to pack and move and unpack!

I know it’s easier said than done. I understand this may not be for everyone. I am sure there are people who can be happier with more, but for me, less stuff equals more happiness. I am happy to answer any questions and offer further advice to anyone who is starting on this journey or wants to get to the next level of minimalism.

 

 

Everything you want to have, do or be… is possible!

I have this birthday ritual to look at my dreams, goals and plans, and make any necessary adjustments. During this year’s exercise, I also updated my travel list and learnt that I have been to 39 countries and at least 133 cities. I have around 20 more countries in the to-go list. I hope this post inspires you to follow your dreams, and reminds you that the four steps do work, starting with a list.

Mush Panjwani's Travel Dreams

While I was at it I couldn’t help thinking about how it all started. I think it was April 1986, around my 21st birthday. I was juggling with university, three tuition jobs, my first sales job, a newly married life, and a lot of dreams. It was no coincidence that I found an audiocassette by Zig Ziglar about dreams and goals. He ended the motivational talk by suggesting buying a notebook and making three lists: everything I want to have; everything I want to do; everything I want to be. And I did. I think there were 89 things on the three lists, considering that I did not have much and had not done much.

Over the years, my lists have become more specific with dreams and goals related to personal development, well being, relationships, money, contribution etc. I have added, deleted and edited hundreds of dreams, fulfilled many and still have many to go. Writing and publishing my first book, trekking to see Mount Everest, raising happy and successful kids were some of the most fulfilling goals which all started under one of the dream lists. The four steps usually work, if you have the faith and commitment to your dreams.

Looking forward to any comments or questions 🙂

Train to Lhasa
Train from China to Tibet (Lhasa). Another travel dream!

Mush Talks #13: Julia Wong of ‘Triple Lanterns Cafe’ talks about dreams, happiness and slowing down

Triple Lanterns Café is one of the stilt houses in Tai O Village (Hong Kong), offering beautiful views of the canal, the bridge and sunset, besides great pizzas, cakes and coffees. What makes this café really special though is Julia, the owner, who is always happy and cheerful, and ready for a conversation with every customer. During our visit to Triple Lanterns yesterday, we talked about the story behind the café, dreams, happiness, success, customer service and the importance of slowing down to enjoy life… parts of which were also captured on my phone. Here’s an edited version, and I hope it inspires somebody to follow through on their dreams…

More about achieving your dreams, happiness and positivity at Mush Talks #1-12

5 More Tips to Get Results!

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I continue to apply the four steps to achieve anything with great results. I also get excellent feedback from people who have learnt this and accomplished much! When I see someone struggling with four steps without much success, it is usually due to a dream they don’t believe in, a goal not specific enough, a plan not detailed/clear enough, actions not consistent or persistent enough. The most common challenge is with the action (or lack of). So here are five additional tips to get result while working on your dreams, goals, plans and action:

  1. Make it a priority. Once you have figured out what you need to do every day, make it a priority. Allocate a particular time of the day for the action necessary to achieve the goal. Whether it’s time for exercise for your fitness goal, time for phone calls to achieve your sales goal, time for study for your personal development goal, or time for family for your relationship goal, you must block off the required time to do what’s necessary. And do nothing else in that time.
  2. Get back to routine. If you miss a day of the necessary action, get back to the committed routine the very next day, not next week or next month. It’s so easy to tell ourselves, ‘I missed a few days this week, so what’s the point; I’ll start properly next week, or next month.’ Never listen to that crap!
  3. Be persistent. You can’t plant a seed today and expect a tree tomorrow. You need to water it every day for a few days/weeks before you see the first bud. If it took years to put on that weight, it will take months to get rid of it. If you are learning something new, commit to the plan and stick to it until you succeed. Giving up is not an option if you are really committed to your goal.
  4. Change the plan. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal. If your consistent and persistent actions are not producing the expected results, stop and think, get some advice, check if you are doing it right. Maybe you need a different strategy, a change of direction or a modified plan. Make the necessary adjustment and go after your goal with renewed commitment.
  5. Stay positive and happy. Happiness is the foundation for all success, and positivity is essential for self-motivation. While you are working towards your goals, continue to acknowledge and be grateful for what you already have. Get inspiration from your dreams, and your ability to pursue them. Believe in your self and be positive about the outcome of your actions.

A little progress each day adds up to big results!

10 Reasons You Should Travel Solo at Least Once a Year!

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The first time I wrote about ‘five reasons I travel solo‘ was in August 2012, after my trip to Chenzhou in China. Since then I’ve been blessed with many more solo trips and experienced the endless joys. Earlier this month, I was in Da Nang and Hoi An in Vietnam, for a week, all by myself. I got to experience for the first time…

  • Living on USD20 a day, including accommodation, meals and transport!
  • Riding a scooter, and that too on the right side of the road!
  • Learning to make ‘Vietnamese fish rolls’!
  • Homestay in the middle of rice fields (way different from the B&B above the rice terraces in China)!
  • Taking a tour with a traffic police officer!
  • Starting an online travel journal on TravelPod!

Most of these wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t traveling solo. So here’s my expanded list of benefits, and why you should travel solo at least once a year:

  1. Plan easily. Pick your own dates and destination. The places-to-see on your list are not the same as the places your family or friends want to see. And finding a time that suits everyone is not easy.
  2. Try new things – accommodations, means of travel, food – and get out of your comfort zone.
  3. Have conversations with fellow travelers and locals. You learn a lot more about the people and places when you are on your own.
  4. Be more flexible with your time, destinations and decisions you make. Wake up for sunrise or sleep all day.
  5. Overcome your fears. Whether it’s fear of new places, fear of being on your own or fear of darkness… the more you travel the less you fear.
  6. Gain confidence by handling problems and situations on your own. You take your own risks and learn.
  7. Indulge in whatever you want, without being judged.
  8. Stay within your own budget. No compromises or overspending.
  9. Become a better traveler by observing more. You engage more fully with the people and places when you are on your own.
  10. Get to know yourself better. When you are on your own, it’s easier to listen to your heart and focus your mind. The extended me time is an opportunity to dream, plan, think, and even reflect on your travel experiences.

That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy traveling with family, friends or groups… solo travel just a different kind of great experience!

PS. One of the most common questions I got asked by fellow travellers and locals: ‘Your wife doesn’t mind your solo travels?‘ And the answer is, one of the reasons we have been so happy with each other for over 30 years is that we accept, understand and appreciate the differences between us. And we allow each other to do our own things. [Thank you, Salma!]

You may view all the photos from the Vietnam trip and the daily journal on TravelPod here, or a selection of photos on Facebook through this link. And more of my travel videos here.