Have fun

In India, it is common for older people to urge younger people to study hard, work a lot, be courteous, and whatnot. You know what I am talking about. Let me add one more item to this long list.

Have some fun! Enjoy your life!

You are young. This is the time when it is easier to have some fun in your life.

I know you have to work hard to achieve your aims. And you may be short of time since you probably have other responsibilities. Still, find some time to have fun, specially with friends. The friends you have now will last you your lifetime. At this age, fun is still cheap. One of the FEA students told me that he likes to go with his friends on bicycle day trips to nearby places. Or, you can just play card games together.

But, don’t overdo it. Keep a balance between your responsibilities and fun. This balance will make it easier for you to meet your responsibilities.

Do some learn-fun

What is learn-fun? Is this even a proper word? No, it’s a word that I made up. It means fun that also helps you learn. I am talking here about logical thinking, not learning a subject. Suppose you play chess. Then, it’s fun for you. It also forces you to think logically on your own – which is something many of us miss out in our schooling.

These days, my learn-fun activity is solving Sudoku puzzles. These puzzles do have numbers, but you don’t need any mathematics to solve them. Just logical thinking. They come in different levels of difficulty. I can generally solve puzzles rated as Medium difficulty in 20 minutes. I am able to solve only about 20% of the Hard puzzles I try – but I keep trying. Once, I got the solution to a Hard puzzle after trying to solve it for three days.

A “Hard” Sudoku puzzle

Why do I keep trying to solve puzzles that I find hard to solve? Mainly because it keeps forcing me to think logically. And, of course, when I do crack a Hard puzzle, I feel like I have climbed Mt. Everest!

For learn-fun, use your smartphone

Fortunately, learn-fun is cheap these days if you have a smartphone. There are so many free apps for chess and Sudoku. And there are so many other free logic-based free apps available. You have plenty of free choices.

And, you can go beyond logic to improve your command of English words. In the old days, people, including me, used to do crosswords – just for fun. These days, one of my friends plays the free version of a game called Wordscapes. You have to make words from some 5-10 letters they give you, and the words have to fit into a format.

What type of fun? Which type of learn-fun? That’s up to you.

Work vs. fun or work-fun?

When you work, your employer pays you. They pay because most people don’t like to work, and workers want money if they are going to work. And then they try to have some fun or rest on their days off. It’s work vs. fun.

Long ago, a wise man said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is work as fun, or work-fun.

Many of us are not so lucky – we have to take the job we get, and not the job we want or love. However, you have many more choices than my generation (people born before 1960) did because India has changed.

So, you should consider choosing a career for yourself that has a good balance between work and fun, and possibly leaning towards work-fun.

This type of career will make you more productive at work. And you will avoid work-related stress, which means you and your family will be happier!

“I don’t know what I am doing”. “I am not sure where I’m heading”. I have no clue what to do next”. Those are just a few examples of how we feel when we are uncertain about our next move and the only thing we think is “I am stuck”. This is that feeling when you don’t know how to get a move on it. I felt that way many  times in my life when I reached a point where my progression stalled. I wished that someone who was wiser and more experienced would just tell me what to do next. To be honest, I did not always have that “someone” to reach out to ask for help or advice. With time I realized that sometimes you’ve to make your way without much help from others to gain something you need. Every effort teaches you important lessons and prepares you for the next storm.

What kind of efforts?


1. Clear your thoughts every day: If you want to get unstuck, nothing is more effective than encouraging yourself. So, the foremost effort is to clear your thoughts and map your goals. The more the uncertainties, the more are the difficulties. Living with uncertain thoughts takes much of your energy, worrying about things that might or might not occur. The famous proverb “God helps those who help themselves” fits precisely here. If you sow a seed of uncertainty and dejection, the next day you reap the same. Similarly, if you sow a seed of hope and resilience, you reap the same next day.


Lesson learned: This self-talking helps clear some of the fog out of your vision enabling you to set clearer expectations for yourself and others who can help.


2. Take baby steps toward your goal every day: No matter how discouraged you feel, but any tiniest task or activity which you think takes you closer to your goals should be done every single day. Be it talking to people, reading, acquiring knowledge, or understanding process. In my case, when the last time I felt stuck in achieving my goal, I started communicating more. I flailed around, attempted to expand my network of people who are in the similar work area that I was targeting. While some responded, others did not. Some offered motivation, few were discouraging. With a mix of positive and negative responses, I ended up clearing some of the stones from my path. As a result, I made new friends, found mentors, got an opportunity to shadow someone’s work that I envisioned for myself. Another contact led me to a freelancing opportunity that helped hone my skill and to build my portfolio.


Lesson learned: Nothing happens overnight and things happen gradually, more often than they happen quickly. After all, baby steps are still steps!


3. Harbor a hobby: Our brain is a very efficient organ. If used properly, it has the power to change you and your life. Keeping a hobby helps you de-stress, discover yourself, bolster morale and build your confidence. Hobbies require creativity and creativity helps you experience newer things in life. Reading has always been my savior. I read anything, no particular genre or type of subject. Reading makes me feel empowered to an extent that my worries appear smaller to me.


Lesson learned: Attach yourself to something you love to do and let yourself merge into it. Our ability to sail through difficult times while entertaining ourselves adds more values to our purpose.



Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


When you look around you, you may see that other people have achieved a lot. And you may think that, compared to them, you are behind. And nothing to be proud of. No, that’s wrong.

Because what you’re comparing against is not correct. To keep it simple, let’s compare you and me. I am your mentor, which means that I have achieved a lot. How did I do it? Did I do it on my own, or did I have much help?

Let’s start with my grandmother (dadi), who lived with us in a joint family. She was born around 1890 in rural Rajasthan. Quite a backward place at that time. But she was literate – at a time when less than 1% of Indian women were literate. So, that put her in the top 1% right away!

My grandmother. 1979. Jaipur.

Then, my mother. She was born around 1920, and was a typical housewife. For example, she used to stitch all the clothes for her children when they were young. Hang on a minute. She was not a typical housewife of those times. She was fluent in English, and could teach some algebra and geometry to her children!

Because my grandmother and mother were accomplished, you can see that I grew with an enormous advantage. Education and learning came naturally, and I became successful in my school, college, and job. But, how much of it due to me? I did work hard, but my success is mainly due to my family background.

Now, let’s look at you. For sure, you didn’t get such a boost from your family background. Your parents have brought you up well. But, it’s not the same. Given their circumstances, they could not give you the boost I got. Yet, you are progressing.

You are standing on your own feet, while, right from birth, I was already high up on a ladder created by my family background.

So, it makes no sense to compare yourself to someone who had this family boost. Instead, ask yourself: Am I making a big effort to get ahead?

I will answer that question for you. Indeed, you are making a big effort. And, you are smart enough to know that a boost will help you. That’s why you have joined FEA.

But, FEA doesn’t give you a boost, like getting an injection. Here, you have to earn your boost by hard work and persistence! FEA + Your Hard Work + Your Persistence. This is a formula for success. Most of this formula is You.  And that’s what you should be proud of!

You will be successful. Sometimes, it comes later in life. I cannot say what form your success will be and when it will come. But, I know that in your old age (yes, you will grow old, trust me), you will see your children even more successful! They will be doing much better than you because you will give them a powerful boost. And, they will be proud of you – even more than I am proud of you.

These are the five that have that have worked very well in my life. Of course, there could be others but I think these habits will help you too.

I’m sharing this because my life (like most people’s) hasn’t always going in a straight line. There were many ditches along the road, and it was easy to have given up.

  1. Find a way to solve your problem. It might not be the fastest way or the easiest. It will keep you on track, and you won’t be disheartened.  For example, once in New York, when I was young, had lost my job and was not well off. I needed to earn every week to make my ends meet. I asked a lot of people that I knew in book publishing if they knew of an opportunity. One of them said he needed help setting up his office —files, responding to letters (pre-computers), answering the phone. I asked him if he had a typewriter for me to use in his office. He said “no.”

So, each day for a month, I took my electric typewriter in the subway to this person’s apartment and did his work. He recommended me for a publishing job at the end of that time. Success!