One year in Pakistan, and no looking back! (3 Tips to Manage Change)

Mush Panjwani with Shanzeh

It’s been more than a year since I left half my family and a very comfortable life in Hong Kong, and moved to Pakistan, in September 2017. And I am often asked how can anyone willingly move back after spending over 20 years abroad; how has the experience been; and how do I manage to stay so happy and positive. It was a combination of things I’ve learned over the years and have applied in many situations, particularly in dealing with any change…

Manage your expectations: I didn’t expect anything in Pakistan to be similar to HK – effective government, efficient systems, easy public transportation, organized traffic, law-abiding people, beautiful weather or the basic stuff like security, electricity, water, Internet etc. Those are the luxuries that most countries/people do not experience in a lifetime. So I rarely found myself getting frustrated about the weather, traffic, government or lack of any of those things I often took for granted in HK. Everyday I experienced what I had expected, so there was no disappointment.

Focus on the positives: An essential part of being happy in any situation is to be grateful for what you have, which is only possible if you are always looking for, acknowledging and appreciating all the good things in your life. And there are a lot of good things about life in Pakistan, which we did not have in HK, or may not have in many parts of the world e.g. local fruits, vegetables and meat (instead of imported); varieties of great food from around the world; beautiful country with lots to see and do, from Karachi to Kashmir and everything in between; lots of opportunities for entrepreneurs (and businessmen too); good people (mostly nice, kind, friendly, helpful, awesome); hardly any natural disasters like earthquakes, tornados, typhoons, volcanoes, tsunamis, or even flooding!

Be the change: Instead of complaining about things, we can try to be the change we want to see in Pakistan. At a personal level, it’s things like following traffic rules (very difficult though), reducing power/water consumption, being more tolerant with people who are different (Sindhi, Panjabi, Pathan, Shia, Sunni, less educated or civilized). At business level, we can do that by supporting good causes – e.g. equal opportunities for the transgender, women empowerment; minimizing disposables and reducing waste. And most importantly, being positive and spreading cheer!

Few other things that made the change exciting for me were:

  • Starting Coffee Wagera as a hybrid of social-commercial enterprise that becomes a force for good and a model for other businesses.
  • Introducing the concepts and teaching the principles of ‘Happiness at Work’ in Pakistan for the first time, through my training programs.
  • Supporting Hur with his training at Special Olympics – one of the best non-profits in Pakistan! They are preparing him and many others for the Special Olympics World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
  • The excellent support of family, friends and the business community. And finally, the secret: the love of Shanzeh (my granddaughter) and the opportunity to spend time with her 🙂

 

 

Why I celebrate the day I got fired…

Mush Panjwani's Coffee WageraToday is the 5th Anniversary since I got fired from Time Life / Educational Technologies in 2013, after working with them for 16 years! I was very positive that day, and every year it becomes more obvious why that was one of the best things that could happen. Losing my job made it possible to:

  • Start my own training and consulting company, Dinchack – and positively influence the lives of 2000+ people through 50+ training sessions in 5 countries in the first year alone.
  • Join Learning Time as a Director Sales, Marketing & Training – and help develop and launch awesome early learning products in 18 countries in 3 years; travel to many new places and work with many more wonderful people.
  • Start a direct sales company, A Better Chance in Pakistan – and help make it one of the top three distributors of Learning Time in two years.

And I am thrilled to reveal my next venture, a coffee shop in Karachi! Coffee Wagera is scheduled to open on 1st April. More about this dream in the next blog post 🙂

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change. At such moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back…” ~Paolo Coelho

PS. Thanks to my family, friends, clients, everyone at Learning Time and A Better Chance for their tremendous support during these years, without whom none of the above was possible.

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.

Three Years with Learning Time: ‘Thank-You’ by Mush Panjwani

Yesterday I completed three years with Learning Time, and these have been some of the most exciting and fulfilling years of my life! It’s been an opportunity to work with distributors and sales teams in many countries, participate in and organize international events, contribute to the development of some amazing new products, set up a distributorship company in Pakistan, learn many new things, touch the lives of many more, help parents become better and children excel… above all, do what I love doing! Here’s a collection of some of the photos from three years…

Thanks to the founders/partners of Learning Time: Shad, Zishan and Waseem

Thanks to everyone else who have/had been part of this exciting journey:

Bahrain: Ranjan, Abdul, Senthil…
Egypt: Samir, Raghda…
Ghana: Luke…
India: Parul, Sagareeka…
Indonesia: Ema, Toni, Efa, Wulan, Akmal, Sylvi…
Kuwait: Furqan…
Malaysia: Subra…
Mauritius: Armoogum, Keshan, Vidu…
Nigeria: Margaret…
Oman: Zafreen…
Pakistan: Salima, Jahangir, Sheeraz, Madiha, Sumaira, Sana…
Philippines: Rene, Nic, Ferd, FM, Bernie, Flor, Kaye, Mark, Rahm…
Qatar: Noel…
Singapore: Jay…
Sri Lanka: Amila…
UAE: Ketaki, Kanchan, Joseph, Naushtath, Ener, Edmond…

To the support team: Nagu, Emad, Zameer, Rini, Albin, Azmath…
And to Jamal and Zoher too!

Mush Talks #12: ‘Goal-Setting Made Easier’ by Mush Panjwani

I am extremely encouraged and humbled to see that Mush Talks have had over 36,000 views on YouTube since the first one in May 2016! This one was recorded at Hong Kong airport this morning, edited during the flight, and uploaded during transit at Dubai airport…

This talk was inspired by how Mashal (my 19-year daughter) fulfilled her dream of going to the US with her own money, through the 4-steps I’ve been using and teaching for many years: Dream, Goal, Plan and Action. She had been working part-time and on weekends, with her full-time studies, and saving for over two years. What made it possible was her focus on small goals – the number of hours she needed to work every week and the amount she had to save every  month – and doing it consistently. She left yesterday for three weeks of holiday and three months of studies at the Savannah campus of SCAD!

Here are some quotes about ‘small steps’ for further inspiration:

  1. Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. ~Vincent Van Gogh
  2. Each step you take reveals a new horizon. You have taken the first step today. Now, I challenge you to take another. ~Dan Poynter
  3. It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward. ~Old Chinese Proverb
  4. Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. ~Robert Collier
  5. Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still. ~Chinese Proverb
  6. Have a bias toward action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away. ~Indira Ghandi
  7. I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. ~Helen Keller
  8. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. ~Confucius
  9. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~Lao Tzu
  10. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking you complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one. ~Mark Twain

Mush Talks #11: ‘Three Benefits of Waking up Earlier’ by Mush Panjwani

I could script these talks, do a few rehearsals, record professionally with mics and lights, edit better, put music and effects and titles and captions… but then I wouldn’t be able to do one a week. I hope these zero-cost productions are still good enough to inspire some.

You may watch Mush Talks #1-10 here. And please feel free to leave comments below 🙂

Mush Talks #10: Become Happier by Making Others Happy

Wow, I am so happy with myself – 10 videos in 12 weeks! Also quite surprised and extremely grateful at the number of views, particularly Mush Talks #2 (6800 views) and Mush Talks #9 (4100 views). Thank you for watching and sharing!

Five related quotes:

  1. The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up.
  2. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. And the way to be happy is making others happy.
  3. The happiest people are the ones who make others happy.
  4. If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.
  5. Give what you want to receive. If you want happiness, make others happy.

You may watch Mush Talks #1-9 here.