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.

10 Inspiring Quotes on Overcoming Fear + Bonus Video of My Skydive!

While packing for the move, I saw some of my childhood pictures that reminded me how scared I used to be, of so many things – darkness, loneliness, dogs, water/drowning, heights and more. And I realised how so many people go through their entire lives with one or more fears. That inspired this blog post. Sorry, no ‘Mush Talks‘ this Sunday.

I am not an expert on overcoming fears, but have successfully applied a simple strategy for anything I was scared of: Jump right in. That’s what made it possible not only to overcome many of the fears, but enjoy some of the most memorable adventures like scuba diving, skydiving, zip-lining, swimming with whale sharks etc. I hope these quotes and the skydive video inspire you to overcome at least one of your fears. If they don’t, then just jump right in!

  • There is no illusion greater than fear. Lao Tzu
  • The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela
  • He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out. Karl Augustus Menninger
  • Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. Unknown
  • I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today. William Allen White
  • Fear is only as deep as the mind allows. Japanese Proverb
  • Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Helen Keller
  • The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear. Gandhi
  • Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the ability to act in the presence of fear. Bruce Lee

You may view some more of my travel videos here.

20 Chinese quotes that pack 4,000 years of wisdom

Year of the Monkey

  1. A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.
  2. Better to be a diamond with flaws than a pebble without imperfections.
  3. Be not afraid to move slowly; be afraid only of standing still.
  4. A gem will not be perfect without carving and polishing, nor a man perfected without trials.
  5. Deep doubts, deep wisdom; small doubts, little wisdom.
  6. When you drink water, remember the spring.
  7. If heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.
  8. Dig the well before you are thirsty.
  9. If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t do it.
  10. Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself.
  11. A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.
  12. A book holds a house of gold.
  13. A filthy mouth will not utter decent language.
  14. A thousand cups of wine do not suffice when true friends meet, but half a sentence is too much when there is no meeting of the minds.
  15. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
  16. Do good, reap good; do evil, reap evil.
  17. A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.
  18. One generation plants trees, the next enjoys the cool shade.
  19. Studying is like rowing a boat upstream; if you don’t move forward, you move backward.
  20. Be patient in one moment of anger, to save yourself hundred days of sorrow.

The image is of one of the best Chinese New Year cards I received this year, from none other than the most creative Stepworks team; click to see the beautiful animated version.

Wishing you a happy Year of the Monkey!