Till the age of 18, I had only one friend and I hadn't spoken to more than 3 people from my school. I was always been an introvert. The only time I remember talking in class was when I was asked some question from my teacher.
I grew up this way only, talking to a small bubble of people in my family and very close friends. I never thought I would become an Entrepreneur.
If you would say this to 18 years old Samar, he would probably spend his next few hours hiding himself under the bed and crying. I hated interacting with people. I hated when guests came to our house and asked me questions.
When I was in my college, I decided to work on this. I tried to interact with people. I tried to sound smart but would end up embarassing myself.
In my second year of college, I participated in an act where my job was to just say "and the world will get to know that in coming years". It was an act on Machine Learning and how it will change the world in coming years. I practiced this single line for several days and was so sure that I'm gonna nail it.
When the moment came, I was an stage and couldn't mutter the words. Another participant took my place and he spoke my words. So I was just standing there for the whole act. It was embarassing.
I was never good in studies, never good with social interactions, never had any vision about life. I was destined to fail in life.
But my life turned out to be OKAY.
My life didn't change in a moment, or a week, or a year. It took me 7 years to take control of my life.
I started 3 successful businesses, made crores in revenue and helped 2500+ people in achieving their goals.
And I am still the same introvert inside, but I don't fear interacting with people. Instead I look forward to connect with like minded people.
This article is my story of How I conquered my fears, uplifted my life and set a mission to help a million people by 2025.
You'll learn the guiding framework which helped me take control of my life and how you can achieve all the goals that you have set for yourself.
So Let's get started.
My life improvement started with making a shift in my mindset and how I see the world of self-improvement. Over the years, I have learned 5 guiding principle which had the most impact on my life.
Fixed vs Growth Mindset
When I was 15 years old, I was a skinny kid. I was small and lacked confidence. I would not talk to anyone, won't ever argue. I never interacted socially and lived in my small bubble.
My Father who works in the Army used to say something which took me a decade to understand. He would say that "a man becomes what he thinks he is". He would tell me to imagine myself being fit and full of confidence. At 15 years old I would argue with him that it's not how the world works.
I never understood what he said till the age 22. By the age I had started reading a lot. Since I was not good with people, I would spend hours reading at my college library. I read all kind of books. I started with Science Fiction, later read some inspiring fictions (Alchemist), then moved to self help. From last 8 years, I have been reading a book every 2 weeks.
My father had never heard about the book "Think and Grow Rich" yet when I read the book, I connected with it. I said to myself, "isn't this the exact thing, my father has been telling from 7 years."
Another life changing moment came from a book Mindset by Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck is a researcher at Stanford University and in her book she told a idea about "Fixed mindset vs growth mindset".
Here's how Dweck describes the difference between these two mindsets.
In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.
— Carol Dweck, Stanford University
That was my moment. I learnt that any problem I had, can be changed if I put enough effort on it.
I have been saying that "I am not good with social interactions". That was the thing stopping me from improving that area. I had created a belief and then that belief acts as an easy excuse to avoid social interaction. The fixed mindset prevents you from falling in the short-run.
In my case it was saving me from embarassing myself in front of others. But in long-run run it hinders your ability to learn, grow, and develop new skills.
When I started implementing growth mindset, I would deliberately seek out the experiences which would help me improve my social interaction.
I don't remember the exact moment when this mind-shift happened. It happened over several years but now I understand, what my father told me.
"A man becomes what he thinks he is".
It means that when I think that I am a fit person full of confidence and when I truly believe it, my brain will start changing my actions in such a way that I make it happen.
There is so much power in your beliefs. If you truly believe something, there's a magical force in nature which would make sure that it happens.
Identity based Habit Change
Another Powerful thing that helped me a lot in life is the idea of "Identity based Habit Change." When I start with some goal or want to incorporate some habit in life, I choose an identity around the habit and would make sure that I am following the Identity.
When I started with the writing habit, I would say to myself that "I am a writer and I write daily." I took it to another level. I started introducing myself as a writer and a blogger.
The idea here is same what my father told. Before you become something, you must believe that you have become the thing.
The Practicing Mind
Real peace and contentment come from realizing that life is a process to engage in, a journey down to a path that we can choose to experience magical.
I love treks and have been trekking a lot.
My first trek was when I was 24 year old, It was a 13 kms long trek from McLeodganj. The trek is triund trek if you are interested to go. It's a great trek for beginners.
When I was trekking, I was so eager to reach the top.
I felt that there is a great view from the top and it would make me joyful when I'll reach there.
I was almost running on my way to the top. I didn't rest on the way and sipped water while running only.
When I reached the top, I was disappointed. The view was great but I was hoping more. I was expecting that to make me joyful but It didn't. I was sad actually.
Now the thing is the view from top should make me joyful, instead it made me sad because I expected too much from the top.
While I was coming down from the trek, I was slow. I noticed few sheeps were climbing a vertical rock. I sat there and watched them climb a vertical rock where the fall would definitely kill them. I was amazed by this.
Coming down, I noticed a glacier down on the way which I somehow didn't notice while I was climbing up.
I also noticed that people have broughts guitars and they are singing on a place midway through. I sat there for few minutes, It was all whimsical. Good music, a great view, cool breeze in the mountains and a maggi.
I talked to hundreds of people. There was a group of doctors who are trekking for the first time and their excitement was overwhelming. I learnt a lot from those doctors.
Do you know?
- Bones are 4 times stronger than concrete.
- You are taller in the morning than you are at night.
- The heart circulates your blood through your body about 1,000 times each day.
- Eyelashes last about 150 days.
- Babies are born with 300 bones – adults have 206.
Then when I reached from where I started the trek. It struck me.
The important part of a trek is not the top but your journey to the top. You are supposed to enjoy the journey. DAMMIT!
That's is the same philosophy that I now try to follow with life.
ENJOY THE JOURNEY.
When we subtly shift toward both focusing on and finding joy in the process of achieving instead of having the goal, we have gained a new skill. And once mastered it is magical and incredibly empowering.
Goals: My Process to Achieve Goals
It was the year 2013 when I decided that I would like to start doing freelancing alongside my studies. The first goal that I set for myself was to make $800 by the end of the year, which by the time was 3 months away. The goal was simple: Make $800 from freelancing in 3 months from now.
From that time, at the start of every project, I have been creating goals. I have created goals in all areas of my life – business, health, relationships, social, spiritual. Every time I set a goal, I take feedback from the last one, examine what went wrong and aspire to do better this time.
Goal setting is one of the most powerful activities that I do to have a successful outcome. It was always important for me to learn more about setting a goal and how I can improve the process. It was a continuous cycle of setting a goal, doing the work, taking feedback and improving on it.
Why is it important to have goals?
For me, a goal is not just a dream that you have. It’s a tangible and a concrete idea of the future. It is a set target and a measurable objective. Before I start working on something, I need to have a clear vision of what it would look like once it’s done.
A goal gives you a sense of direction and an objective. And when you have it, you take control of your actions in a way that leads you to it.
A goal also keeps you focused. Instead of juggling unrelated tasks, goals aim your attention on the tasks that will yield results. Having a clear definition of the goal will keep you moving and lays a plan to work from.
My 4 step process to create and achieve a goal
I have used the same 4 steps to start my freelancing career, then start my first company and now I have used it to start Taskwall and TheProductive. The same 4 step process will help you with any goal whether it’s starting a business or a personal goal like losing weight. Successful Goal setting has four elements to it:
- Clear and Concise Goals
- Plan of Action
- Preparing for contingencies
- Progress tracking
When I have to decide on a new goal, I start in the early morning because that’s when I am most active. For the first two steps, I start with a pen and paper.
1. Set clear and concise Goals
When setting a goal, aim to have the utmost clarity for it. The more clear is the goal, more are the chances of you achieving it. There is an acronym used for setting clear and concise goals – SMART.
When setting goals, keep in mind all 5 points from SMART goals. For example, you are working on social media growth for your business. Be specific about what you want to achieve with it like, “I want to have 2000 followers on all social media platforms in a month”.
2. Create a Plan of Action
After having a clear and concise goal, what comes next is making a plan for it. One mistake that many people make is, never having a plan of action in place to know how exactly to achieve the goal. Creating an action plan and visualising the activities required activates a different part of your brain that cements the goals in your mind.
Your action plan is a list of activities required for your goal and includes all the tasks you need to get there.
3. Anticipate fallbacks
While we always seek success for our goals, we should also keep in mind that the path to the goal will not always be smooth. Often we are met with obstacles on our way to the goal like not following the routine, things taking more time than anticipated.
Having a proactive mindset helps you fight obstacles and prepare for contingencies in advance.
With the plan of action, make a list of the potential obstacles you may encounter. Then make plans to overcome them.
Make time in your routine for change of plans if something unexpected comes up.
It’s important to be prepared. Be patient if problem-solving gets tough or deadlines seem unachievable. Believe me when I say that, things will go offroad, but you must be prepared for that.
When I have a concise goal and a list of activities, I try to come up with a few problems that could stop me from achieving my goals. After I have the list of problems, I try to find a solution for each. I believe this step is equally crucial as the first two. It helps you prepare for uncertainties that surely will come up.
4. Set progress tracking and monitoring
When you have everything planned, it now comes to making the progress. After having a plan of action for my goal, I add all my tasks to Taskwall. If it’s a new project, I start with creating a project and adding tasks to it.
If it’s a small goal for an existing project, I start with creating a milestone for the project.
No matter if you are checking your tasks from a piece of paper or some online application, you should always make progress. Work for your decided routine every day without an exception.
The other part to achieve your goal is monitoring, monitor your activities, how much time are you spending? Whether are you making any progress or not? I start every week by checking my productivity reports from Taskwall which helps me improve and plan my coming week better.
Once in a while, you would lose your track but the key is to pull yourself up and keep doing the work. If you are working on your daily activities, improving your productivity along the way, the progress is inevitable.
1% Improvement Rule
Before starting my first successful business, I failed at 8 businesses. I never looked at the failure the way most people look. I always try to know what caused me to fail. What can I do to make it better next time?
From my initial failures I learnt that I am failing not because of something external, but the reason for my failures is internal. I am lacking the discipline and often I get too lazy. That was the only reason I was failing with my goals.
I was not failing because of the market condition or my Idea was poor. I was failing because I was not showing perseverance. I was not seeing through my business.
Initially when I started, I would try to make the business successful in 1-2 months and when I am not able to, I would give up and start with another Idea.
Later on in life I made a simple rule that whatever I start, I will work on that for atleast 2 years before I start judging it or give up on that.
That realization came to me when I learned about a Japanese Philosophy about Kaizen. Kaizen is about embracing the philosophy of small and continuous improvement.
To explain Kaizen, I will give two examples:
- How a Cycling team improved 1% everyday and won tour-de-france.
- How I used Kaizen to remove my social Anxiety
When I was in college and learnt about the value of small incremental steps, it was a life defining moment.
The reason I wasn't able to work on my social anxiety was that it looked like a huge leap from where I am now. I was an anxious person and the idea of interacting with others made me very anxious.
When we set goals, our goals are always in a distant place in future. And when we think of our present moment and compare that with our goals, the goals seems very distant away. This is the source of constant anxiety in our lives.
To get rid of this, all we need to do in make small progress on our goals, every single day.
If you start out with $100 at the beginning of the year and you were able to increase what you have by 1% every single day, at the end of the year, you would have $3,778.34 = $100 * (1 + 1%) ^ 365. That is 37.78x what you had at the beginning of the year. Get that 1% every single day!- Zappos
When I implemented this for the first time, my goal was that I want to be confident around others. I should not feel uncomfortable while speaking to others.
This may not sound too much of an important goal but it was for socially-awkward and under-confident Samar.
The thing was, it seemed like a distant dream to me and I never dared to work on it. But when I decided to use Kaizen to improve my social interaction. I broke down my goal to "1 social interaction to a new person everyday."
It doesn't matter how I interacted. It should be a simple "Hi", "Good Morning", "What's the time?", or I could simply ask for a pen.
Now compared to my original goal, this seems very achievable to me. I did this and I just don't remember when I changed myself from socially-anxious to socially-confortable. By the end of my college, I would seek connecting with new people.
I have used this for different areas of my life. I tried it with my skills, my businesses, my health and my relationships. It works like wonder every time.
- Looking to learn quitar? Just practice for 20 mins, everyday for next 2 years.
- Looking to improve health? Work-out for 20 mins, everyday for next 2 years.
- Looking to start a YouTube channel? Work on it for 20 mins, everyday for next 2 years.
Discipline and Motivation
A paradox of life - The problem with patience and discipline is that developing each of them requires both of them.
At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it. In other words, it is easier to change than to remain the same.- Steven Pressfield
Most believe that they will do a task once they feel like doing it. Which is incorrect. As motivation comes after a new behaviour, not before it.
Motivation is the result of an action, not the cause for it.
Once a task has begun, it’s far easier to continue moving it forward. So, do something even though you don’t feel like it. You will feel better once you start doing it and once you have started you are more likely to finish it.
How to build Motivation
Most don’t feel motivated to do something because they are putting in too much energy in other parts rather than actually doing something.
If you are focusing at 5 goals in 5 different areas of life, you are likely to fail at most of them.
The first key to improve your motivation is: Prioritization. Prioritize and focus on the most important goal to you and either delegate or eliminate the rest.
The second key to improve your motivation is by giving your goals a time and place to live. Always aim for to start your goal activity at the time and place assigned to it.
The third key to improve your motivation is by Aiming for the start not the end.
When your motivation is fading away, Remember:
1. Mind is a suggestion Engine
Every thought in our mind is a suggestion, not an order. Pause for a few seconds when your mind suggests something. Example
- Your mind suggests to give up,
- Your mind suggests to postpone the tasks for today,
- Your mind suggests to watch a movie now and forget about the work.
- Your mind suggests to skip your work-out.
Make a rational decision and never give in to every suggestion made.
2. Discomfort is temporary
When you are feeling the discomfort in the favour of doing something. That discomfort will pass and you will eventually feel better after the discomfort.
- Example: If you don’t feel like working out, it will take only 1 Hour and it will pass after that.
- You don’t feel like doing your tasks, It will only take few hours and it will pass after that.
3. You will never regret the good work once it is done.
Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” We want the final result, but not the failed attempts that precede it.
We want the gold, but not the grind.
Anyone can want a gold medal. Few people want to train like an Olympian.
And yet, despite our resistance to it, I have never found myself feeling worse after the hard work was done. There have been days when it was damn hard to start, but it was always worth finishing.
4. This is Life
Life is the sum of a hundred thousand daily battles and tiny decisions to either gut it out or give it up. This moment when you don’t feel like doing the work?
This is not a moment to be thrown away. This moment is your life as much as any other moment. Spend it in a way that will make you proud.
This article was the summary of what I have learnt in my 7 years journey as an Entrepreneur. The journey was full of ups and downs. There were moments when I felt like I would break down.
I am not a successful person in the today's monetary values. What makes me successful is my love for my work and the joy my work brings into my life.
I love helping people and I experience a bliss of joy when someone get value from TheProductive Program.
If you want to bring change into your life, I would suggest you to start with something that makes you happy. Develop a growth mindset, set clear goals, enjoy your process and build discipline through a system.
Have patience, keep doing it for 2 years and, you my friend will see success in whatever you do.