In retrospect of last two years, I created an opinionated list meta skills that could help add little more meaning to our monotonous lives.
#1 Ask for what you want. If you don't ask, the answer is always no.
A few influencers have made this mainstream these days and I am happy they did. We always wait for that one chance, that one promotion, that new opportunity we deserve. We wait in eternity for it to show up. In most cases, it either doesn't or comes too late after trading hands.
The reason we don't ask is due to the fear of failure. Through our education and culture, we are taught to repel failure. It is projected as an end, a bad thing., an omen. Most learnings come from failing and reflecting on it (reflecting is important). Fear is evolutionary and we need it. Strengthen your mind to accept it as a stepping stone rather than a dead end.
Eg. Want that promotion? Ask your boss/colleagues what are the internal KPIs to be considered for it ( these are highly dependent on the company culture). If you meet them ask your boss to be considered for that promotion. If they say no, ask for feedback. Now you know what to work on or to find a new job.
Find that silver lining, embrace that failure. Its not the end, its a stepping stone.
#2 Systems for growth
Goals are just a list of desires. No desire is fulfilled without putting the work required for it. Setup systems that will help with the goals. They will be different for each type of goal.
Example - What to get better at a programming language or tool? Set aside 40-50 minutes in the morning OR 40-50 minutes at night to practice in tranquility. The best time is before everyone wakes up and after everyone is asleep.
During these 40 minutes, you are not allowed to use your phone or any other device. All you will do is practice for that skill, no distractions. Do it for the sake of doing it. Don't measure or expect any outcomes. Outcomes will show up at the right as a result of "deliberate practice". Find a system that works for the skill you want to practice.
Read Atomic Habits for more on this topic.
#3 Explore other fields
You work in tech? If yes, read about other fields - economics, music, history, geography etc. Play an instrument. Play a sport or just take walks in nature. Pick something other than your day job field. Something that feels fun. It will give you an area to experiment and decompress. Mental health is a real thing. Learn to take care of your own brain. Applies to fields other than tech too.
#4 Express your thoughts
Blog, tweet, journal, post videos etc. Share your unique perspective to the world. The world beyond your work, home needs to know who you are. Current time is driven by global economy. Let the world hear what you have to say.
Remember when someone says something to you on the internet, they are talking to your online version. Its not you, but only a tiny subset of your personality.
#5 Allot time > Manage time
Time management is very personal and customised. You cannot act on a prescription written by someone and hope it works for you. In general, strategies that allocate time to a bunch of activates at certain time work better that trying to micromanage the heck out of your calendar. Follow GTD philosophy with Deep Work (both are timeless books) to feel accomplished of the work.
Find your time management system with 3 steps -
- Observe and record how you spend time
- Eliminate distractors.
- Allot time to activities, work and fun.
Each step will require work and reflection. There are tons of good book and articles to get you started.
#6 Eliminate distractions, embrace boredom
Batch mobile notifications. Book time in calendar for self reflection. Keep the phone 20 ft away while working. Work in undistracted chunks, recharge and redo. Knowledge work is a marathon and not a 100 meter race.
Don't reach out for the phone when feeling bored. Daydream, lie on your couch for a moment. Embrace boredom. Boredom is essential for creativity.
Learn to say NO to things that would distract you from your current task. No matter how tempting it is. Dedicate yourself to the task at hand. You will have to say NO to many things and its okay to do so.
Remember, enthusiasm is common, endurance is rare.