Thoughts Writing

Where would you rather be?

Did you ever wish that you would rather be in a different place than you are right now? I did.

I think it is normal for all of us to think of some dreamland where everything is going to be exactly in the way we want. A place that is anywhere but where we are right now. And it is often correct.

If someone gives me the power to transport wherever I want, I know where I will go. It certainly won’t be into my past. Not because I hate my past but because my present has always been better than my past. On that account, I will choose to go into my future. I anyway live so much in the future that I often forget to live in the present. So if anyone offers me a ride in the time machine, why not go along?

I think living in the future is a good thing. When you are excited about future, you rank your future self higher than your current self. Isn’t this what self-discipline and delayed gratification is all about? If you are so obsessed with present and believe that now is what all you have, then how are you going to visualize your future and live in way that future self will thank you?

Getting excited about your future self will give you hope, which in turn will give you courage and strength to tread your present challenges. Because you then think that present challenges are temporary and they will eventually pass. They may not really pass but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you believe in taking action and action is the antidote of despair.

So don’t ever feel bad about wanting to be somewhere else. It is perfectly normal. Grass may not always be greener on the other side but it is surely greener in the future. But don’t hate you present though; appreciate it and keep working. You will eventually reach your ideal world.

Habits Learn Resolutions Writing

Habits and streaks

I clearly remember that July night in 2013. I discovered Medium and was on reading spree. Just like how I used to read any and every blog in 2006 when I discovered blogging.

That Medium post was titled Deliberate Practice, one of my favorite subjects. It mainly talked about two points which I can’t recall at the moment. I have this weird habit of exploring a bit more about the author if I liked any post. That post’s author is Tony Stubblebine, CEO of Coach.Me (then That’s how I discovered Lift. I somehow like the old name, Lift, although they renamed it to Coach.Me inline with their business model.

Lift is a habit building app. You pick up a habit you want to build, do that habit every day and open the app and check that habit. You build theĀ  streak and you get better at habit. Eventually you just do the habit everyday without worrying about checking it in, unless you are keen on numbers. You also get props from strangers in the community. You can give props to other too.

Ever since I discovered Lift, I used it to track these habits: learn touch typing, learn planking, learn doing pushps on toes, getting rid of Facebook app on iPhone, meditate, exercise and a bunch of other habits. Besides getting obsessed with streaks, I also came across useful blogs like Zen Habits and interesting people like BJ Fogg and James Clear. These people and their blogs have been immensely helpful to me.

It is important to note that nobody becomes a super hero using apps. Nothing works until you do and you can work even without using technology. But I like using this app because it gives me a track of effort I spent. This helps me do the work on the days I feel like slacking. For e.g. By spending less than 2 minutes a day for the last 60 days, I am able to do 15 pushups on my toes in a row. Before that I could do absolutely zero. So I am more likely to continue the streak and in the process do more and more pushps. I can’t say how many. But I am certain that it will a few more than I was able to do last week.

So whatever habit you want to build, just do this. Download Coach.Me app. Search the habit and sign up to it. The app will tell you the bare minimum thing you have to do that day to earn your streak. Just do it. Check it in. Do it long enough, Boy! You built the habit you were wanting to build for so long. Then check the streaks and calendars, you will be surprised how little time it took and you wonder why did you wait so long. Good luck.


Learning to make a coffee.

Drinking coffee is one of the habits I formed in the past 18 months. This is less so because I need to calm my nerves or stay awake. My primary motivator has been to learn and operate a manual coffeemaker in the kitchen at my workplace.

Every workday during the 10 minute morning break at 10 a.m. I take my cup, go to the coffee machine in the kitchen. I grind some aromatic fair trade beans into handle, let hot water flow through the crushed coffee powder and collect the decoction into the cup.

Then starts the critical part on which the whole coffee drinking experience depends, which is to froth the milk. Pour some milk into a steel jug. Immerse the steel tube of the espresso machine into the milk. Turn on the knob that dispenses the steam via the tube into the milk. The milk swirls nicely and heats up to the required temperature. Stop injecting steam when the level of the milk raises and is about to overflow the jug. Then just pour the frothy milk into the cup moving the jug up and down. The process is fairly simple, except when frothing process becomes cacophonous and scares the people around. The result could be a jug of yucky tasting burned milk.

It is this process of frothing milk that challenged me and took over an year of consistent practice to master. In the beginning I was terrible. I failed nearly everyday. The noise is unbearable. The coffee is potable but tasted terribly. I kept trying but one day someone at the kitchen table made a sarcastic comment which tempted me to give up. But the next day I appeared at the machine with my cup to retry. I did well. The streak improved and I eventually got better. I do ruin milk occasionally but now I am generally good. I can claim that I can make an awesome cup of coffee.

The takeaway from this learning experience is much more than a cup of java. In this process, I learned the importance of small but sustained practice to learn some damn thing. And how not to give undue importance to others opinions, bouquets or a brickbats. I do get thumbs up from people who occasionally notice how well the coffee is coming up but I just smile and move on.

That’s my coffee making (and thereby drinking) experience. I will continue to practice and hence, drink. But I am sure I am not going to be a coffee addict as my trigger and incentive for this habit are unusual.