Yeah so I’m gonna give you oodles of gyan on meditation and finding your passion and some such. Fat chance! If there’s one thing I learned in 2017, it’s the fact that I’m nowhere close to attaining nirvana. I struggled with trying to be that “Keep-Calm-And-Bullshit” person and somewhere in November (at the fag end of the year) realised that I’m human-er than most humans and I am mega-failing (not the normal standard #fail but an express one at that) at doing the gyan-filled goals the internet and Instagram is teeming with.
“Swipe up and stay healthy” it screams. “Stay focussed and be xxxx” says an Insta-story by a major influencer and here I am, struggling with big things like resisting Salted Caramel-somethings in my fridge and rechecking FB statuses well into 3 pm on a daily basis. And no one cares! 😦 Every swipe wants me to do something which I’m incapable of. And I am at that age (careening into 36 like a freaking race car driver with no brakes while eating french fries from the dashboard) when swipe left-right is out of the question, swipe up and know why your sun sign is an ass**** is more likely.
So I researched like a troll on heat and found loopholes and ideas that will resonate with “human-er” people like me. Also, to be honest, I think I found the solution to life’s problems – it’s stationed at “Suck-it-and-live-life” stop right now instead of “Leave-job-travel-more-meditate-more-and-switch-off-phone” junction. If adulting is a skill, dear children, learn this – adulting is not effing everything and “giving no fucks” – it’s about taking the challenge and meeting it mid-way in a place where the practical and monetary and passionate park their well-experienced asses. Give the “effs” but for the most important things, the ones that change your life for the better.
Any-whooooo, since we are on Jan 1 and I’m brimming with wisdom today, I thought I’ll give you my 20 rules – the ones that really will make a difference to your life and mine. If you’re following these, just occasionally check back with me to keep me on track. Coz my biggest talent is not following my own advice #truestory. I burned my midnight Insta-story oils to finally find my peace and I’m hoping this practical guide will help you too.
P.S It’s a long read. Not a buzzfeed-scoopwhoop article so get a drink or two, settle on the couch and just humour me, okay?
- Balance life-work-social life
Okay, I had talked about it before but please – don’t think balancing is possible. It’s a unicorn with mauve wings downing jello shots on a tree top. Found this beautiful creature anywhere? Thought as much. My 2013-17 was about finding that balance and often I would get frustrated if work got into my life at 11 pm on a Saturday or when my baby cries for attention when am busy filling out a questionnaire for an interview. I was frustrated like I could break a TV and get away with it and call it, mid-life crisis. But slowly I said to myself, fine no balance, what about prioritizing – every day is about prioritizing stuff differently. Today might be my kid’s school project, tomorrow is all about my new story at work. I started making lists of important things to do and it worked – stuff got done. I got away with minimal issues ( this method won’t guarantee smooth living and work situation, it will ease up situations, that’s all). So write down what you need for THAT DAY ONLY. And change it up according to needs tomorrow.
2. Travel more and have that nice 9-5 job – what?
Yeah did you not know that it’s possible? We read and re-read so many articles on a daily basis on how someone quit their job and traveled the world. But what we forget are the tiny details. How did they do it – did they stay in hostels, did they work on weekends? What did they sacrifice or compromise on to do it? Because everything comes with a price. And if you want to travel more and travel better in 2018, be mindful of how you earn your living. It also depends on what kind of a traveler you are. But mostly, the mindful thing because it’s not all glam, that side of Hostel-living. Neither should we quit our jobs to travel and complain about those who travel to eat at Michelin-star hotels. Some have earned that position – the one of eating at The Fat Duck by working #prettydamnhard, all 9-5. Nope, this year, just try this – wanna go to Peru and live in an Instagram-worthy hotel? Just work, earn, spend! Okay? Okay! And it’s a good thing you have a 9-5 to back your dreams, no? Just respect that, please. And your organization. And occasionally your boss.
3. Work on holidays
What the what, you say? It could be the worst advice I can give you? Not really. If you’re living in 2018 like me, face the fact that work is all around. It doesn’t mean you have to stay plugged but it’s okay to be plugged if something comes up. Make sure it doesn’t eat into your travel plans. I was in Lisbon this year and I was traveling with two lazy butts who did not wake up till 10 am every day. So what does a 6 am waking-up-person like me do? Finish important projects, work and plan my travel day. Or plan your work so well on the trip that you don’t derail anyone dependant on you. And this whole shut work all down is not needed – just watch what you need that day. I enjoyed my holiday because there was no pressure to not check work emails, I checked, I answered a few and chilled with my Porto Tonic.
4. It’s ok to be on your smartphone
Actually no, it’s not. But if we still do it, let’s at least stop lying to ourselves and start moderating the usage. Also, no reading scoopwhoop-type articles that do nothing, wasting time on timelines, insta-stories during work etc. I’ll find my balance, soon.
5. Meditation is not for me, you too?
Try a new skill, a new something that calms you down. Mine is cooking – am secretly trying this year to cook more of the recipes I had pinned on my board. Also quick question? How many of you actually cook the pins from your food board? I was a hoarder who hoarded pins, now am trying to use them. Pinterest-cleanse!!!
6. Figure out your besties and work on those relationships
Duck faces on Instagram with people don’t mean they’re your BFFs. Think for a bit about the ones that matter – ones who care about being friends with you and work on those relationships. Plan trips with them, spend money to meet them. My besties and I plan carefully, strategize and meet up – it’s good for the soul. Others are just background noise.
7. Give up toxic foods: Sugar / Smoking – things you know are practically death
There are two kinds of food. One, straight up baddies that lead to ill-health. Two, ones that need to be moderated. It took me a few years to figure that out. Smoking, sugar, and overeating are known to get you into the fat zone and ill-health zone faster than others. Carbs and fatty cheese can be eaten mindfully. The past year, I denied I had health issues – I was on borderline Thyroid and I told myself – “whattt? It’s all good, let’s have another Dominoes pizza, this time with double-scoops of pepperoni”. Big mistake! I finally reached a place where I had no energy and I was literally in tears. So I stopped, went and got my tests again and started following the medicine trail and a bit of diet advice. So, I now know that I can stop when I’m full. I can eat veggies sometimes, I can limit carbs and maybe, cut down sugar without weeping bucketfuls.
8. Have a social life that builds to a good life
I love social life. But personally, am tired of partying with not-my-friends. I also on a side note became an introvert – I hate going out. That’s not good though. Anyways, I think your social life should be about hanging with people who matter. And that should translate into a good evening, a nice drink, nice music, pouring your heart out, dancing a bit and meeting up with a new agenda the next week. Not mindless partying and wasting time and money on people you care least about. After a kid, I realize that if I am spending an hour with someone and carrying a half-crying kid to a restaurant where she will fuss, it better mean something. If not, stay at home, watch Netflix and actually really chill.
9. Criticise less, prop up more
I can identify good criticism from plain assholic behavior. Ooh, new talent alert! I like healthy advice and genuine “no”s from my friends as long as they give me a good explanation and better debates. Also, be around those who prop you up more and tell you I told you so but hug you enough times for you to know that they mean well.
10. Balance out experiences with material comforts – it’s not wrong.
Okay, I’m all about kayaking in the Ganga and finding that hidden flower on the Inca trail. But hello, it’s okay to spend your last few minutes at Duty-free buying that Gucci bag (after calculating tax + value for money +guilt-free emotions) if you want. Let no one tell you that both are mutually exclusive. They are not. Wanting nice things is not frivolous. I want a Prada Saffiano and the Fendi Peekaboo next year but you know, I might not get them coz I’m borderline broke. But it’s nice to know that I’m not a terrible person for wanting them. Just touch that napa leather and tell me you don’t feel anything. Nothing? Holy sweet potato fries!!!!!
11. Crib only if you can do something about it
I have figured out an algorithm. Everyone has issues and problems, but hey, why don’t we try this – do something about it after the 4th or the 5th sesh with your girlfriends. This is applicable only to issues that are self-created or those with work or with family or with friends. Not the accidents, the unusual and the very serious ones. I had a few of my own in 2017 but this year, I decided to work on some, let go of some and ignore many.
12. Make the effort to respond, mail, meet with people who follow up, people who care
I have always had many friends – what with the great school, college and work experiences I had. And some, over the years have stayed on as good-er than good friends. But this year, am gonna make more efforts to see them, meet them etc. Life gets in the way, but with a little (financial) help, we can meet in Paris ( midway for her in the US and me in India). Hai na?
13. Learn one new thing but don’t ignore practical things
This year, I’m gonna learn two languages ( hopefully) – Spanish because I love it and Malayalam because I need it. I have been married to a Malayali for 10 years now and I know a fair bit but really, why should I not learn it better. Same for Telugu – it’s my mother tongue and I have never read a novel in Telugu. I should no? Basics first, over-the-top things later.
14. Shop mindfully – Wear strategically
I don’t know how to avoid shopping on Koovs, Zara, Forever21, H & M, Lifestyle etc. So many sales and such nice clothes that cost like nothing. But this year, am gonna wear the stuff I like, stuff that means something. Not stuff that’s like “ooh-it’s-on-discount-from-5000-to-200” so I must wear it. Am trying to also multi-task my accessories instead of buying anything that comes to my FB Feed saying buy me. I’m trying out new indie labels so this year might be promising on that front.
15. It’s tacky to not be part of the political discourse
I could not vote. It’s complicated – our papers are from Andhra and Kerala and Baroda and Chennai and it’s a bad cocktail of excuses. Also, because it’s last in my priorities to get my voters card. Plus, we shift cities so that’s that. But this year really made me sit up and take notice of things going around and the only reason I did not crib about the poor way this country is being treated is that I did not vote! No beef? Love-Jihad? Non-vegetarian issues? Religious crap!!! Embarrassing and worse, it’s in our hands. I told my dad about this once and asked him “why should I vote, my one vote won’t make a difference” and he replied “because it’s your country and it’s always good to have a say in your governance whether it works out or not. And good governance” he replied, nonchalantly. I took politics too lightly. But with a kid now, I want her to be proud of her country and have a say in it – it all begins at home and well, I want to leave a better country for her. Maybe we won’t change too much, but we will change the stupid things. No beef it seems, nonsense!
16. Wear sunscreen, also Vitamin C, also AHAs and BHAs
Just when you thought I was running full steam into philosophy, I stopped over at the glam side of things. This year I realized that wearing sunscreen alone does zilch to your skin. Sorry, Baz Luhrmann. I used to be a person who invested in makeup. New mascara with magnetic caps, bring it on. Blush/ bronzer combo for travel, ooh. New shiny gloss, why not. This year, I invested in the stuff that doesn’t need makeup to look good. I still swoon at the latest matte lipstick but I now prioritize good skincare over it. Vitamin C is now gonna be part of my routine, occasional AHA and BHA action and slight retinol love. Even gonna check that Dermarolling thing out. Not that these will magically erase years of sun damage and non-care but it’s baby steps in pretty Zara shoes.
17. Work so damn hard that the universe has to give it to you
I realized that we can cheat, deny and do everything we want to do to avoid the big question – “how do some people do better than others?”. The answer is here – hard work. It’s the lamest reason we think coz it’s so out there, so common like freaking vada pav. But it’s the magic potion – work hard, get paid, enjoy life fall into place like a pack of cards. I remember my dad’s advice again “you either work hard when you’re young and enjoy later or work hard when you’re old and enjoy now – but there’s no escaping hard work because you have to do it to get somewhere in life.” Unless you are Abram or Taimur. And as Abhishek Bachchan stands as an example, even being a superstar’s son might not make you successful so beware Taimur.
18. Be nice. On social media.
Everyday social media is crib-crib-crib-mindless debate-bad political discussions- ooh new insta- filter. But really, am tired of the cribs. And the solution refer to point 11.
19. Work is not everything. Find a freaking identity that goes beyond it.
I was in my 20s and I decided that my work is my identity. Let me work at the biggest magazine houses and the greatest companies because – Latha of xxx is what fluffy dreams are made of. Brrgghhh! Cut to 2017, I realized some great truths that helped me make better career decisions.
- work anywhere but be yourself
- 24/7 doesn’t automatically make you a better worker. It only means you time manage badly. I am a flexi-timer so my time management is screwed, but we all got to work out our shortcomings, innit?
- Life must always come first, then work, it’s actually healthy. We work so we can live better and live so we can work better.
- Passion at work is overrated, the kind of passion that asks you to sleep and wake up with a laptop. Do well, work hard and find ways to enjoy it.
- You must love what you do though. But don’t expect it to not have the mundane entwined with it. Even the awesome-est of jobs will have regular follow-ups and mundane checklists to do. No job is a cakewalk – it just looks like “Suits” is playing on social media because some choose to only showcase the fun/glam side of work. Good PR move.
- Be loyal. Be sincere. Try every day to do better. Not just crib about what you are not getting.
- And no, startups and big companies are one and the same. Both pay you for work you do. So in 2018, paying people less or making people work till 2 am because you’re either one of these companies is NOT COOL. Work is work.
20. Be a feminist.
Be one because the world needs it. Women everywhere are subjected to the worst just because they’re women. You can do your bit.
So among other things: love your family, live well and try every day to be better. I’m trying and failing for 36 years now but baby steps.
Pic via Pixistock