So it has been a little more than a month since I dived from a full time job into a world considered as uncertain by many- Freelancing. As expected, it was a journey puddled with many ups and downs, many lessons were learnt, many mistakes were made and countless experiences were gained. So here I am, after one month of voyaging into open sea, recounting my experiences.
The first thing you have to be prepared when opting for freelancing is uncertainty. You are leaving the shores for open oceans, where the tides are high and sun is scorching above your head. There is a sense of fear, deep inside your heart. A fear of uncertainty. You are going against what is considered as normal by the society and are opting out of the regular “go to college, get a good job and work till retirement” cycle that dissolves the life of everyone around you. You have to thread your own path and can not seek guidance from most of the regular Joes around you. Sounds intimidating!
But as they say Seek it and you shall find it. Along with the fear of uncertainty comes the excitement of adventure. This uncertainty comes with its own set of advantages. You are not going to be chained to your cubicle from 9 to 5 for the rest of your life and will be free to explore the world. You can explore the talents hidden deep inside you and learn new skills and put them into use without bothering about petty office politics. All this is equally liberating. Just have faith in yourself and keep going. All it needs is a little courage and self-confidence.
The next thing you have to be careful is not to be bothered about what others think and say about you. Once you opt for freelancing, you will find a whole herd of people stacked up against you. They will tell you again and again that you are opting the wrong path and are destined to be doomed. You may be tempted to try proving them wrong. Never make this mistake. once you start working for “proving them wrong” instead of “following your heart”, your work start suffering. You will no longer be working for your goals, instead you will start doing things that get you their approval. Remember, freelancing has an inherent limitation that it takes time to build up, you have to toil hard for years before you start realizing the benefits. You can not compare yourself with the out of college grad who is getting a hefty package. Never do that. Have patience, it will pay off in the long run.
The third and most important thing about working as a freelancer is that you have to be careful about how you are spending your time. You must have heard this countless number of times that “Time is our most precious asset”. (Read more about how to utilize your time to become extraordinary) However, once you start working as a Freelancer, it assumes even more significance. As a freelancer, there are no deadlines from your boss- as you are your own boss (another wonderful merit of freelancing). However, this can make you lazy. You start postponing things. You loose track of the number of hours you spend doing mindless activities. If you start playing more games, watching more movies and having more fun time instead of spending more time mastering your craft and honing your skills, then you are going to perish soon and will ultimately give up. Always remember that every day counts. A day without practicing your art is a day pulling you away from your goals. So set deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
Also, keep learning new skills and be aware of recent developments in your arena. Remember, as a freelancer you should be the best in your craft to survive and get paid (finances are equally important). Practice daily, Be updated, work hard and follow a proactive approach and soon you be a seasoned sailor of the sea.
Wish you all the luck and success in your ventures. Happy Freelancing.
The Society that values perfection
You must have surely heard the adage “Jack of all trades, master of none”. This derogatory remark is used to encourage people to stick to one trade and achieve perfection in that field. The society is a perfectionist fanboy. We praise those who have stuck to a particular field and have pursued it through their lives and have become a master in it. They are masters in their craft, push the boundaries of their fields and are the pinnacles of perfection. They are showered with fame and money and people look up to them as their role models.
Contrarily, the Generalists or the “Jack of all Trades” as they are usually referred to as are not well received. They are considered as good for none and failures in life. They are generally kept devoid of well paying jobs and live their lives switching from one job to another. We teach our children not to be like them.
What We Often Forget about the Jack of All Trades?
In judging the Generalists through the stereotypical lense we overlook the advantages that accompany from being a Generalist. Let us have a look at what benefits we get from being a generalist:
- Learning new skills quickly: These Generalists have spent years learning different trades and often have very diverse set of knowledge from quite unrelated background. They can be good at programming and at the same time may be a good chef too. They are usually curious sapiens and don’t hesitate to try their hands at a new skills. All this ensures that they are quick learner than most of the people out their.
- They are inventors who have potential to change the course of mankind: They have shallow knowledge of various fields. They know their basics and are standing on crossroads of various fields. This peculiar position gives them the ability to combine their diverse knowledge from these fields to create something which is remarkable. As Carter Phipps in his book Evolutionaries pointed out that “There are truths that can only be revealed by a generalist who can weave these ideas in the broader fabric of understanding”. This result in them being inventors of inventions that have potential to change the course of mankind. Breadth of knowledge is most important if you want to be an innovator.
- Leadership Qualities: The leaders are expected to manage their troops. They are not expected to be the best but are more often the person with broad range of skills and interconnectedness. Using their diverse knowledge they are in a better position to take decisions considering multitudes of factors and therefore have better chances of success. As Tim Ferris explains “In a world of dogmatic specialists, it’s the generalist who ends up running the show. Is the CEO a better accountant than the CFO or CPA? Was Steve Jobs a better programmer than top coders at Apple? No.”
- Survival in time of Crisis: Think of the Great Depression that plague the Global economy from time to time. All the financial experts, “the specialists in their fields” are wiped out. The Specialists are trained to perform to their best in a particular set of environment. Change one variable and they lose their ability to perform. On the contrary, in such turbulent times, the Generalists survives and thrives. They use their diverse skillsets to secure different jobs and are able to tide over such period.
- Lead interesting Lives: The Generalists are not the people sitting in a cubicle five days a week, cussing their jobs. If they find something monotonous and uninteresting, they switch easily. Their skillsets allow them to work as they like, from wherever they and therefore, they lead a very interesting life.
The World Created by Generalists
Historically, Generalists are some of the greatest inventors. Kepler tried to understand how the planets moved around the sun, based on his understanding of light and magnetism. Similarly, Benjamin Franklin, Picasso and Leonardo Da Vinci are other famous Generalists whose works are recognized centuries after they left for heavenly abode. Charlie Munger, the partner of legendary investor Warren Buffett used his vast breadth of knowledge to make investment decisions that outperform the markets (According to Bill Gates, he has the widest breadth of knowledge he has ever encountered). Simultaneously, Elon Musk is using his diverse knowledge across varied domain to achieve breakthrough in various scientific arenas.
All these arguments points unilaterally to a conclusion that being a jack of all trades in this world is equally great and you can achieve phenomenal success if you apply all your skills wisely.
The Traditional Approach to Meditation
Meditation! What comes in your mind when you hear this word. Something similar to the above image. A person sitting in lotus position, closed eyes with beautiful background for inspiration. Well that is meditation is all about- Closing yourself to the outside world and contemplating with your inner self. It is the best way to get connected to your inner self, to discover who you really are and to find your purpose. There are thousands of way to practice meditation and the internet is filled with numerous ‘How to Meditate’ articles which promises to teach you the perfect way of meditating your way to heaven. What all these articles and methods miss is that most of us find it quite difficult to sit quietly for even ten minutes to gift ourselves the pleasure of Meditation. And even if we manage to do it for one or two days, eventually it loses to our crumbling work pressure and never ending deadlines. Most of us are unable to make it past a one week mark. Everyone knows meditation is vital and should be practiced, but we are too distracted to follow this sage advice. This is where “Distracted Meditation” comes into picture.
In this post, we are trying to unlearn our earlier approaches to mediation and learn an entirely different way to meditate. We call it “Distracted Meditation“. Instead of closing our eyes; we shall keep our eyes wide open, instead of stilling still; we shall constantly move and among all these activities we shall try to declutter our mind and achieve a Zen state.
One of the disadvantages of this ever connected life is that we are uncomfortable with stillness. We are habitual of looking at the small screens we have in our hands whenever we have a minute to spare- be it a checkout line at a store or our walk in the park. We are always connected and distracted. If our phone gets discharged, we get anxious; we start feeling left out and uncomfortable (read our take on mindless distraction here). So when we sit down for meditation, it feels like an alien thing to our ever connected brain. And humans as a species are known to repulse changes which are uncomfortable to them. So gradually we give up. This is where learning’The Art of Distracted Meditation’ helps us.
How to Practice “The Art of Distracted Meditation”?
In Distracted Meditation, we don’t sit still- in fact we are looking around letting our minds wander wherever we it wants. We also open our ears to the sounds nearby and are completely connected to the outside world. Then you must be wondering what are we doing differently. We are constantly writing. We are writing on a page whatever is coming to our mind. Everything, every word, every thought our mind jumps to. If it makes sense- jot it down. If it doesn’t make sense- even then jot it down. Vegetables from the shopping market, a familiar face, and work to do, a lyrics from a song, a random word, movie dialogue, book quote, coffee smell, wind on your face- write it down. Write everything that comes to your mind. This way, you will gradually start decluttering your mind. Once you write it down on a piece of paper (the good old pen and paper works best) it starts getting off from your mind.
Gradually, your mind starts emptying itself. Initially it may happen that you are filling more than five or even ten pages from these scribblings. Don’t be disheartened. Keep writing. Set an alarm for 10-15 minutes and start writing. Stop only when the alarm goes off. You will notice that as the days pass by, the amount of your scribblings gets lesser. Over time, you will have to write only a page and that’s it. However, it won’t be reduced to zero but that is not the goal here.
What you get from Practicing “the Art of Distracted Meditation”
Once you are done scribbling, you will realize that you feel much better- refreshed, unburdened, energetic and filled with hope and joy. Most of your problems are on that piece of paper. And it is quite possible that most of the solutions are also jotted down on that page. Also, looking over your writings over weekends, you can ascertain what bothers you most and take corrective actions accordingly. You will know what events in your life cause more mental agony and consciously try to avoid them altogether (if possible). This will have profound impact on the quality of your life. When your mind is decluttered, you will start aligning yourself to your life goals- away from mindless distractions.
The best thing about practicing this form of mediation is that – you can practically do it anywhere. Unlike the traditional meditation techniques, which requires you to sit still in a quiet surrounding, you can practice it almost anywhere. Be it on the way to your daily office commute, or while sipping your favourite latte. You also don’t need a beautiful set of fancy stationery. You just need a pen or pencil and you can practically scribble anywhere- a piece of old newspaper, a brochure, pamphlet (I won’t however recommend writing in any of the digital mediums for the obvious reasons). This flexibility give it an added advantage over the traditional meditation practice. You are not still and uncomfortable. You are just going on as usual, it is just mind is becoming decluttered and calm. Therefore, you are more likely to practice it for prolonged period and reap its benefits.
Start practicing this form of meditation and do let us know how “Distracted Meditation” helped you in your life. We shall be glad to hear your stories.
The popularity of blogs have risen phenomenally in the past decade, thanks to the easy internet availability and the small computing devices you have in your pocket. As per the State of the Blogging world infographic, by December 2016 more than 6.7 million people blog on blogging sites, whereas more than 12 million people blog via social media network (Facebook posts, etc.). Also, it is worthwhile to note that on an average 23% of our online time is spent on the blog or social media sites. At the same time, a leading research has shown that the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015 (Goldfish have attention span of 9 seconds).
All these studies and researches points unilaterally to one conclusion- our inclination to read small interesting content in short span of time has drastically reduced our ability to focus for prolonged period. You may argue that blog are a meaningful way to fill small time gaps we have in our daily lives. However, in this blog post, we try to analyze as to how blogs are detrimental to our overall growth and well being and why you should stop reading them. A blog post dedicated to stop reading blogs. Ironical, isn’t it?
One common argument we hear in favour of reading blogs is that they provide useful information at our fingertips, thereby helping us in learning new things. However, we miss the underlying fact that blogs being limited in size of content do not provide all the relevant information and therefore our knowledge is insufficient. We can not accomplish any meaningful task on the basis of our knowledge built solely from information contained in various blogs. Such tasks generally require in depth learning, which can be acquired only from books and research papers. Therefore, it is always more advisable to read one or more books on any topics rather than to go through blog posts related to them.
Have you ever started reading a blog and as soon as it ended, you scrolled down to find a similar interesting post and then another one after that and so on. These are a result of complex algorithms working behind those web pages who try to track every keystroke of yours and predict what should interest you more. These clickbait articles make sure that you binge read those small pieces of information continuously without realizing that they have gobbled hours of your workday. The website generates revenue from web traffic and therefore they benefit a lot when you are constantly scrolling their pages, one article after another. However, all this mindless scrolling doesn’t add any meaningful value to your existing knowledge and consumes a lot of your time. After all what is the use of reading “10 best SEO skills you must acquire” just after reading “a comprehensive guide to SEO and online marketing”!
Of late, a new variety of blogging culture has evolved- one that comprises of sites such as Quora. These site provide information in question answer form that may seem meaningful and indeed they have some well curated content to offer. But again these “Infotainment” sites (as I like to call them), tricks us into believing that we are getting something useful in return of our time, while ignoring the fact that they are major reason for procrastination. Instead of doing the work we are supposed to do, we are tricked into believing that we are gaining knowledge and this reduces our guilt of not doing what is really important, since we constantly assure our minds that we are doing something more meaningful. Also, these sites are bombarded with useless questions (dating tips, shopping tips, etc.) which have been skillfully answered in a manner to arouse curiosity, thereby trapping us in an unending spiral of time wastage. The constant dose of dopamine we get from such scrolling makes us more and more addictive to such websites.
These are only a few reasons. There are hosts of other reasons which justify as to why reading blog posts can hamper your productivity and contribute greatly in wasting your time. All this justify the title of the post- You should stop reading this blog post, Right now!