Decisions form the basis of our lives. Life is full of them and evolves as a result of them.Image

Every moment in our life demands a decision – right or left, latte or flat white? red or black? Thai or Mexican? chocolate or nuts? drive or walk? slow or fast? NZ or Aus?

We’ve to take some decisions quickly, while there’s plenty of time to think about others. Some of them have transient impacts while others leave long term effects, which we may regret or feel happy about.

Every time we have to take a decision, we try to take the ‘right’ ones. So, why is it that some of them turn out to be the ‘wrong’ ones? Or is it just our impression of it?

If you feel concerned about any decision, these 3 key steps may help to judge them, without being judgemental about your capabilities:

  1. Think of the state of your mind when you had to take that decision.
  2. Reflect on the circumstances surrounding that decision.
  3. How did you feel after making that decision?

It’s important to remember we will never always be able to take the ‘right’ decisions, because what seems right today may seem wrong tomorrow! It’s also our perspective around our decisions that influences how we feel about them.

In most cases, we can learn from our decisions to help improve our future decisions.


New year, New Lessons

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”

T.S. Eliot

Every year brings along with it a range of events, incidents, developments and changes. Good or bad, these contribute to the evolution of humanity and the planet, leaving lessons behind.

The year 2010, like all other years, was no different – it kicked off with a lot of expectations for everyone. It also left us with the tapering end of the economic recession that the world was experiencing, or rather suffering from, for a few years.

Did we realise the gravity of this world-changing event that impacted upon everyone’s life? Have we learned suitable lessons from the downfall and the recovery process? Are we changing our habits? Have we taken steps to avoid recurrence of another such disaster?

Earthlings are always struggling to deal with a multitude of questions, small and big, looking for their answers and solutions. Every new year brings hope toward that end – hope for happiness, success and prosperity.

Happiness is the ultimate goal of every being, every thought and every activity. It’s the solution to most problems, but most of the time it seems to elude us. Do we still learn lessons and mend our ways and methods for happiness-hunting?

The lesson is to embrace happiness in whatever we do, irrespective of the outcome.

As Nelson Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”


Festive food and fitness

Food and fitness are two of the most important agendas that drive us through our life terms, literally speaking. The lack or abundance of either of these can drive us crazy as well (literally speaking in some cases)!

These assume added significance during the festive season and as Christmas approaches. We come face to face with a feast of foods, and a mountain of challenges – food selections, dealing with temptations, and the after-effects of feasting.

A lot of advice is usually thrown at us on how to be compassionate and humane toward ourselves by not crossing our limits when making diet decisions. There cannot be any standard set of rules for everyone, considering we all are different from one another.

But these 3 tips appeal to me the most and sound quite practicable and reasonably easy to follow:

1. Don’t ban foods – As soon as we decide to exclude a list of items from our diets, because they are supposedly full of sugars and fats (and quite decadent and sinful as a result), we start to agonise our bodies more.

Unless suffering from a compelling condition that doesn’t allow us to have certain foods, it’s advisable not to deny ourselves the pleasure of savouring some great dishes, especially during the festive season that brings along a sea of scrumptious treats.

2.  Moderation – Now that we have decided we will have a ‘no ban’ policy, we need to be a bit more responsible with our attitudes. So what do we do?

The best way to enjoy the whole range of foods we crave for is to take care with the serving sizes – this means we get to have them and not let them afflict our bodies with misery.

3.  Exercise – A simple way to burn off any extra calories we might have (and which we usually) deposited into our bodies is to match every meal with at least 10 min of physical exercise.

So it would mean at least 30 min of exercise for three meals a day – a swim, a run, zumba, dance, aerobics, a gym session or a brisk walk (even if it is up the road to get another treat). The purpose is to be on top of the tricks our delicious foods play on us once inside the body.

Simple, isn’t it? If it still sounds hard, do we deserve to indulge in any gastronomic adventures!

Have a fun festive season!

Finding Focus

It’s a challenging time for humanity – we seem to be losing focus!

It may not occur to most of us how we keep getting distracted more often now than we used to till a few years ago.

Though it’s usually at work, distractions catch us at other places too and in the midst of other activities, be it eating, playing, exercising, talking, thinking, shopping, reading and even sleeping!

There may be different reasons people for the inability to focus on ‘task at hand’ – lack of sleep, nutritional issues, personal circumstances, health problems or general boredom – but a common cause seems to be information overload!

We’re quite lucky living in an age of rapid technological development making information easily accessible through a variety of tools. There are thousands of gadgets and apps around that make it possible for us to literally carry information wherever we go. But that’s a different story.

All the ease of having so much information every day, every hour and right to the minute available to us means our brains are facing this enormous and challenging task of absorbing and processing a baffling amount of data all the time.

This can be incredibly demanding for our brains and quite mindboggling for our minds, as they are not used to handling such a situation before. And on top of that, there can be the pressure of keeping up with all of it, to be socially and professionally competitive in this milieu.

Considering the pace of the changes and the fact they are not going away anywhere, we will have to learn to live with them. Not only that, we will have to work towards the mission of conquering these new challenges to beat the distractions and regain our focus.

Few suggested ways include meditation, yoga, counting backwards in your mind, concentrating on objects, relaxation exercises, visualisation techniques and brain teasers like crosswords. Though some people tend to regain their focus by gorging on coffee, tea, chocolate or sweets, it’s usually temporary and can even lead to more anxiety and unease.

The power of focus can’t be emphasised more – it is one of the most important ingredients for us to achieve our goals in life. So, let’s focus on rediscovering our focus!

ps: Please share your experiences with distractions and your efforts to regain focus.

Dealing with tragedy

Making sense of any tragic situation in life can be extremely difficult, especially at the time of the tragedy and particularly by the victims and/or their loved ones.

The Pike River coal mine disaster that has reportedly consumed 29 hard-working, brave and daring miners – all part of a close-knit West Coast community, is one such tragedy that New Zealand as a nation is struggling to come to terms with.

The mine, a $300 million-plus investment, has been a viable source of income for the people living in the area, providing direct employment to more than 150 people and secondary benefits to the local and national economy.

On the flip side, every such operation involves risks and dangers as part of everyday activity, and people in the job are well aware of it too. It’s very important for the companies and people associated with these activities to follow strict set of safety guidelines on a regular basis, but certain results cannot be controlled by humans, especially when dealing (or shall we say ‘messing’) with nature.

Our thought process can get clouded and visions foggy when dealing with such tragedies in life, as usually they come out of nowhere and catch us unawares.

Robert Francis Kennedy said, “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”

And rightly so! Risks and dangers get attached to any life-form the moment it’s born.

The human spirit has immense fortitude and strength – the best we can do is live life to the full, while remaining mentally prepared for any eventuality. Life teaches us valuable lessons all the time, if we are prepared to learn!

‘Cycle’ of challenges

It’s obviously a very saddening and tragic phase when five cyclists lose their lives on our roads in as many days.

On one hand it maybe just a co-incidence that it happened that way, but on the other hand, even a single such tragedy is highly unfortunate as it’s usually preventable.

Every time there are such incidents (actually accidents), a debate rages on the rights and duties of cyclists and drivers of other (bigger) vehicles. But no considerable lessons seem to have been learnt.

Apart from any other lessons, the most important thing to remember for everyone is awareness of the rules.

A few pointers for cyclists (NZTA website):

1. You may use a bus lane, as long as there isn’t a sign forbidding this.

2. If you’re riding with other cyclists, don’t ride more than two abreast. Ride in single file when you’re passing other vehicles – including parked vehicles, or when you’re impeding traffic behind you.

3. Use a clear arm signal if you intend to turn, reduce your speed or stop.

4. At intersections, you must follow the same road rules as motor vehicles, or get off your cycle and walk across.

Then there are rules around the roadworthiness of cycles, equipment for cyclists and most importantly courtesy on the road. It says:

“Be considerate to other road users. If the road is narrow, check that you are not slowing the traffic flow, and let motor vehicles pass as soon as it’s safe.”

It’s apparent that drivers of other vehicles (cars/buses) usually travel faster than cyclists and therefore have less time to react to hazards. Also, sometimes cyclists’ behaviour can unsettle drivers, such as when cyclists appear hesitant or change direction suddenly.

The drivers of bigger vehicles have equal responsibilities when it comes to maintaining the dignity of traffic rules. Let’s not forget here we’re all those ‘other’ drivers at times and ‘cyclists’ at other times.

Considering so many cyclists share the roads with other vehicles, has any thought ever been given to training for cyclists (in other words ‘licensing’ process) to make sure the cyclists are not ignorant of road codes? Would it not be beneficial for everyone if cyclists become ‘adept cyclists’ before they hit the road?!

ps: Your invaluable feedback on this sensitive issue will be much appreciated.

As soon as the term ‘networking’ is mentioned, you conjure up different images in your mind, depending on your background. The term can be used for a variety of situations – social, business, electrical, computers, electronics or even mathematical networking!

For the purpose of this post, we will talk about business networking only. To a certain extent though, business networking in these times also involves social networking.

Networking in business and for business is a skill that can be learned and practiced while being in business or even before starting a business. And if you’re a ‘networking nerd’, you can master it to a fine art.

The simplest way to start is to keep it simple and uncomplicated!

1. Research and narrow down on the business networking organisations/events in your city compatible to your business and suitable to your style and passion.

2. Before attending an event, be sure of the agenda in advance. Obtain all the information about the details of the event including start and end times, number and the kind of businesses attending and whether refreshments will be served.

3. Adhere to the dress code for the event, if specified, as it’s very important to present yourself professionally, even if it’s business casual.

4. Be prepared to give out your business cards at the event – it’s the most cost effective way to get your name out there.

5. Don’t forget to ask for others’ business cards.

6. Spread the word about your services and project yourself as being resourceful and helpful – every business always looks for people who can contribute to their professional growth.

7. After every such event, make sure you update your records with the new contacts and stay in touch with them.

Networking for your business is a slow process of relationship building that can open you up to a whole new world and change your business and social perspective, providing a mutually beneficial opportunity for the parties involved.

ps: Please share your networking experiences – good or bad – and the lessons you have learnt from them.