How standing for something bigger than yourself is related to motivation?

Do you take big goals in life and then find yourself dis-empowered and not take any actions at the first sight of a breakdown. Doesn’t demotivation and procrastination set in when we face setbacks and lower than expected results? I have seen this many times in my own life. I decide on a new goal and make big plans for it which leaves me motivated and ready for action. But as soon as I face a few setbacks and know that the targets I set are not going to be achieved, I give up even on what moderate numbers I can achieve. Why so?

At the same time, there have been times, when I have seen myself work out of my own capacity, even when the chips are down. These were the times where I didn’t even make an effort to stay motivated, but somehow I went out of my skin to give my best. I have often wondered what has been the difference in these two cases? The difference I have observed is standing for something bigger than oneself.

Are people counting on you for something?
What I have observed is that people who were doing their best were often those on whom others were counting on for something. For example – I have seen my mother beat cancer three times and do things during her treatment that has astonished doctors and relatives alike. The kind of courage she showed made one of the top chemotherapy specialists of the country remark – “You are the only patient I have seen who keep on coming smiling and asks for one more round of chemotherapy!!” And she has gone through around 20 rounds of chemotherapy, and all have been miserably painful and unbearable for her. But what gave her this power?

What do you stand for?

What do you stand for?

I think it was because she knew her family was counting on her. Both of us brothers were still studying, and she wanted to see us achieve success in life. That is what she always told the doctors – “I am not dying now, before seeing my children grow up.” I am sure she would have given up far more easily if she wanted to get back healthy only for herself, as any cancer patient will testify that chemotherapy is even worse than dying. But she had a purpose larger than herself, and that made her victorious over cancer.

I have seen the same with myself when I was with InfoEdge in Noida leading a team of 14 people. Knowing that they were counting on me made me do things which I was neither willing nor capable of doing at that time. And that year is still one of the most humbling and learning experience of my life.

It is so easy to give up when you only think about yourself

When you are only worried about doing something for yourself, it is very hard to keep yourself motivated when you don’t see the expected results happening. We found it the most easy to give up on our promises to ourselves as it doesn’t seem ‘wrong’. That is why it is so hard to motivate ourself in the face of challenges and obstacles when we want something only for ourselves. It is so tough to take the tough decisions and keep going when we don’t have some bigger purpose to serve rather than just our own desires.

So the next time you find yourself dis-empowered, try to work out of a context which is bigger than yourself or what you want. The minute you stop focusing on yourself, all of your pity, self doubt and worry will melt away. You will find courage to deal with things, and a new found peace and satisfaction in your lives. You will do the hardest of tasks without getting tired. The more you think about yourself, the weaker you will become. The more you recognize that your life is serving a bigger purpose, the stronger you will become. And this holds true in all areas of life – family, work, business, etc.

And as I write this I realize that I have no such purpose left in my life bigger than myself.. and I know I need to find, or create one soon..

How letting go of SaleRaja could be one of my best decisions ever?

It was December 2009, and although I was still working on SaleRaja, it was now more as a burden than for interest. I was stumbling in the timelines for feature changes that I had set myself, my enthusiasm was low and I was unsure about what the future had in store for me and SaleRaja. Finally, after managing SaleRaja alone for the whole of 2009, I decided to let it go and focus on my career through a job. That means I was soon looking for a job when at one time I thought that I would not have to find another job ever. My motivation levels were at an all-time low, and I was confused and unsure about what next?

But I decided to take a break from entrepreneurship, focus on my career through a normal job, and come back to entrepreneurship some years later. It was not an easy decision, and it took me around six months of consideration to finally stop running SaleRaja as a business. Looking back now, 16 months after that decision, I can laugh over those uncertain times and say that it might be one of the best decisions I ever took. The first few months were tough, as I was confused, low on confidence and struggling to find a direction in life. But after that, and till now, the going has been wonderful. I have done things in the last one year that I never thought I could, and would do, ever. I am listing below everything for which I am really grateful in this past year.

I had always been good at writing, but used my writing skills only when writing letters, emails, or when somebody asked my help with it. Hence, in January 2010, I started as a blog where I would write about different things I feel about, my experiences, my life, etc. I could only do so because I was free and there were no SaleRaja deadlines to follow. It was not easy at first, and I was not able to write more than one post per week. Writing was like a pain in the ass and I had to put in a lot of concentration, patience and effort to research about a topic and write an article. But slowly and steadily, I started enjoying writing and I am writing around 15 articles every month now. Many of my articles have been well received and been shared a lot through social media like facebook, twitter, etc. Now I have plans of writing and getting a book published in 5 years.

Reading Books
I started reading books during the last few months of 2009 when I was struggling with SaleRaja, but I made it regular only after Jan 2010. I started reading two books every month and have been following this practice till now. I have read autobiographies, self help books, and a few business and fiction books too. These books have allowed me to take a peek into the stories of so many men and women, and the perspective of life I got after that have been amazing. I have a small, but good library now and have a lot of books in my to-read list.

A screenshot from

A screenshot from

Landmark Education
Right after SaleRaja, I was looking for some kind of education to fill in the gaps in my skills which I had found during my stint with SaleRaja. I looked at MBA options, some short time courses done by IIMs and other B-schools, but nothing interested me. I started finding groups online related to business, entrepreneurship and started meeting like minded people in Bangalore, but that also didn’t sustain. Then I enrolled myself in the various programs of Landmark Education since July 2010, and am continuing this education even now. This could not have come at a better time for me. It has helped me get my confidence to a new level and clear a lot of doubts about life. Also, I met a lot of people through Landmark Education who are very successful and leading wonderful lives, providing inspiration and support. I can without doubt say this last seven-eight months of Landmark has been the best education of my life. It is ironical how we keep studying about specific skills / courses but never study anything about life and living in general.

Joined Yahoo
Yahoo, Google and a few more are the dream companies of many people. I was open to both startups and big companies when I started looking for a job again, and found myself in Yahoo in March 2010. Having spent the last one year here, it has given me my first experience of working in a multinational company. Dealing with different people and teams from Singapore, Brazil, Europe and US over the last year has given me much needed exposure about how work happens across continents, cultures and languages. In the future too, I am sure there is a lot I can gain from Yahoo and working here.

Waste Management Activities
In September 2010, I got intrigued by the idea of waste management and thought of a business idea around it. Since starting a new business was out of question, I got involved in waste management related activities in Bangalore to know more about its details. I took an initiative to implement waste management in apartments starting November 2011 and have got a decent response from that. I have met a lot of people who are already working in this area and am totally amazed by their energy levels. They have been a great inspiration about how to to live life responsibly. It also gave me the confidence to take new initiatives in any area, irrespective of my skills and knowledge in that area.

Dandi March 2
In March 2011, I got a chance to organize an anti-corruption walk in Bangalore. In less than three weeks, I put together a team and on 26 March, over 400 people walked over 11km under 4 hours to make this walk a huge success. These three weeks were one of the best of my life, with all my learnings in the past year put to test. I got confidence like never before after this event, and the Anna Hazare magic caught the attention of the whole nation soon after that. It was during this time only that some articles written by me attracted huge traffic from google as people searched for anti-corruption keywords on the internet. The success of this walk is the reason nothing seems impossible now to me.

What Next?
Although I have gained a lot in the last one year, I very clearly see a long journey ahead with lots to learn and do. I am in the most calm and peaceful state of mind that I have ever been, and with confidence that I can take on anything now. It has not been all uphill too in the last year, and I have tasted some setbacks too, but I have surprised myself with how well I have handled myself during these breakdowns. I have taken the lessons from the mistakes I have committed without getting frustrated and upset, and moved on to newer things. For the remaining of 2011, I have atleast two more initiatives lined up in the social space, so watch out in the coming weeks for more updates 🙂

Update – Pick a Fight was born soon after I wrote this post

How to use Incentives to get things done?

This post is not about how to get things done by others, but by yourself. I want to emphasize the use of incentives to motivate ourselves to do a task. We all need motivation to do any task, and more so if the task is repetitive or boring. Setting incentives for myself for any task, big or small, is something I have used all my life, and to good use.

Set milestones in your task
If you have a long boring task, break it up into smaller tasks and set milestones at regular period of time. I normally break up my tasks in a way that no two milestones lie more than 3-4 days apart. This helps me keep focus on the task at hand while the overall objective of the longer task is also not forgotten. Overcoming these milestones give you a sense of achievement and keeps you going. So the next time you have a task which might take 20 days, break it up into six or seven subtasks, set milestones, and get going, one milestone after next. It is easy to procrastinate or miss a few days in a 20 day task, but very difficult for a 3-4 day one.

Treat yourself after every milestone
Whenever a milestone is reached, treat yourself with something. It could be as simple as having an ice-cream or going to eat in your favorite restaurant which you won’t go normally. These small treats are the things which you might do normally too every once in a while, but tying them to a milestone gives you a sense of achievement and adds more meaning to it.

Don’t give yourself what you want, tie it to a result
During childhood, everything we two brothers demanded was never given to us directly, our parents always used to attach it to a result, most of the times academic results. If it was something small, the result could be as simple as doing your homework, or if it was something big, it could be tied to a good score in exams. I distinctly remember once when I wanted a cricket kit and that was tied to standing among the top three candidates in the final exams.

If you don’t achieve the result you wanted but worked hard, treat yourself anyway
Now when you set yourself some targets / milestones to achieve, sometimes you will achieve the results and sometimes you will not. That is very natural. But if I am sure I have given enough effort to the task, I go ahead and treat myself anyway 🙂 After all, the objective is to add some fun and motivation in doing of a task and not to discourage or demotivate.