01 Jan 2015

Daily Musings

Short thought nuggets about the world as they occur to me.

What is the Daily Musings Page?

This page is meant to be an outlet for short thought snippets – no more, no less.

Why have one? Well, the goal, here is to write in free blog form more frequently. The theoretical backbone of daily musings is the following:

I. To produce more with perceived less.

Human nature underestimates what can be done in small increments over a long period of time and overestimates what can be done as a large chunk in a short period of time. A person authoring a book, for example, would likely get way more done writing an hour a day for a year than cramming it in 3 weeks – assuming, of course, that she sticks to that schedule.

It’s cool to think that in 30 days, I’ll have 30 awesome thought nuggets up here, especially given that a 5-minute post doesn’t seem all that bad to do everyday 😊

II. To set the bar low in terms of size.

By defining the Daily Musings page as short ‘thought nuggets’, I set the bar low in terms of size. This prevents me from procrastinating writing, because writing a tidbit seems far more manageable than writing an entire post.

In other words, it’s way easier for me to meet an expectation of a <500 word thought nugget versus that of a full on 1000+ word post. That comes with less cognitive resistance to posting (i.e. less procrastinating).

Eventually, I’ll take the date tags off and it’ll just be ‘Musings’. But for now, I totally need the extra accountability to continually re-visit and re-post.

III. To make a space for pieces in production.

A lot of the thoughts you’ll see here may end up as full blown posts. I’ve put them here in the meantime as a holding ground, allowing me to share them in a more raw form until I have the time to scale them into full posts.

Blog Launch! | August 27, 2017

This baby is going live!

From this in July:

To this in August:

To this in February:

LOL. Yep.

This blog is the culmination of 1000+ small, entirely insignificant milestones — getting the favicon up, customizing the CSS to look just right, writing a bazillion posts that quite possibly no one may read, proofreading the bazillion posts that quite possibly no one may read, etc. And it’s been so great to see the website ‘grow up’ into what it is now. I love it so much ❤️

Job v. Career | August 8, 2017

An interesting insight from the podcast I listen to, Happier in Hollywood.

It’s not hard to stand out because most people don’t.

What you do from 9-5 is your job. It’s what you do from 5-midnight that’s the career, what makes you stand out.

Milan | August 1, 2017

Today is my first day in Milan, Italy.

My host took me on a tour of Milan, working our way from the outside in. He had a way of pointing out details I’d never normally notice – art on columns, the architecture of the city, even pointing out the handle of a store and the way it was designed. I’m so un-attuned to art.

I think the overall change in how I explored with him versus how I explore by myself is a matter of attentiveness - going slow and embracing all the details not just the most ostentatious ones.

Otherwise, Milan is really great. Traffic wise, people actually stop for pedestrians.

And most interestingly, people of South Asian descent seem to occupy lower waged occupations here in Italy. I’ve seen a fair number of South Indians busking the streets and in other lower waged occupations. This is very much unlike the U.S., in which South Asians and Asians at large occupy the ‘model minority’ role.

On Aging | July 14, 2017

“Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.”

Read more insights like this in the post What Part of Aging Do You Wish Someone Had Warned You About?.

Automating Good Decisions | July 30, 2017

“[They] build a life that requires fewer decisions by surrounding themselves with people who embody the traits they prefer. Over time, they’ll naturally pick up those desirable attitudes and behaviors. At the same time, they can avoid the mentally taxing low-level decisions that sap the energy needed for higher-stakes decisions.”

Source

Long Term vs. Short Term Relationship Views | July 29, 2017

“You can treat your boss and co-workers as merely temporary colleagues, or you can deliberately treat them in a way that leads them to become lifelong fans of your career success.

I have old bosses and former co-workers from 15 years ago that would give me a job or recommend me for a job if I ever needed one.

There are people in my professional network that I’ve been helping and who’ve been helping me for over a decade.

This kind of thinking applies to more people than realize it.”

Source

Winning the lottery | July 28, 2017

“Imagine a guy walking into a store to buy a lottery ticket for the $1.7 billion Powerball. He’s effectively trying to win the lottery twice; because if you were born into the modern western world, in relation to every other human being that’s walked the face of the Earth, you have effectively won the lottery.” The money you earn, access to food and clean water, benefits, standard of living — in relation to every other human being, you have won one hell of a lottery.”

— Some podcast I listened to at some point

Exercise | July 27, 2017

I am an exercise explosion waiting to happen. More on this later.

One Coin Loophole | July 26, 2017

In her podcast, Happier Gretchen tells a story about coins:  

Say you have 10 coins. Are you rich?

Well, no.

What if you add 1 coin? Okay, still no.

What if you add another coin? You keep adding 1 coin by 1 coin. Finally, you have to say that you can’t be rich unless you keep adding 1 coin. One coin by one coin, a person becomes rich and only by the addition of that one coin does she get the growing heap.   This is the *One Coin Loophole.

The 1 Coin Loophole is saying on any given day, ‘well, what does it matter if I skip 1 coin? Doesn’t matter, I’ll skip it. Which is true, but the irony is that, it’s only 1 coin by 1 coin, small incremental, seemingly non-important action, that gets the desired growing heap. Aka, it’s only one trip to the gym by one trip to the gym that you get the benefits and riches that come from going to the gym.

On Writing | August 7, 2017

Sometimes I have trouble writing. But usually that only happens when I have an unclear sense of what I want to write. It’s a content problem, not a discipline problem. I think that can be generalized; in other words, writing can be an irritating or drawn-out process, but when you know what to say, when distillation follows distillation, it flows naturally and effortlessly. And when writing happens naturally, I forget everything else and write.

I guess the reason I find blog-making fun, why I’ve been able to get super into it, is because I love distilling things. Blog-writing (e.g. pretending people out there actually want to read what you’re writing) allows me to engage hours on end in this distillation process and converting nebulous mental schemas into concrete written ones with the satisfaction of knowing other people will be helped by it.

Thoughts on Time Wasters | July 25, 2017

Some interesting tidbits from an article I read by Sara Mauskopf:

Prepare your tasks

I spent time every week figuring out what I needed to accomplish and breaking that work into smaller, bite sized chunks. I had tiny projects that could be completed in a free 15 minutes, larger projects that would require a few hours, and all kinds of stuff in between. This was all waiting for me in priority order.

This way, if I had a few minutes to kill while my husband was waiting for an appointment or a couple hours while my daughter was napping, I didn’t need to waste any of that precious time figuring out what to work on. I got right to work on one of the tasks I had already prepared. This requires upfront planning but doesn’t take very long and it means you only do the planning work once and you have tasks for the whole week. Use Asana or Google Doc for this!”

Ask for actionable help

People are really bad at being helpful. Even when people ask to help you, they usually don’t follow through with it or do it in a way that is actually helpful. A lot of people would ask me how they could help me with Winnie and I’d say things like “I’d love your feedback on the app!” and I’d hear back… nothing.

It turns out “give me feedback” isn’t actionable enough for most people. Now when someone asks me how they can help I will give them something very specific to do: “Download Winnie at winnie.com/ios and write a review of your favorite playground”.

When someone completes this task then they naturally also have feedback for me on what worked well or what could be better about the product.

Force yourself to do things imperfectly

To give a very practical example, I have given myself an hour to write this post before I’m on childcare duty. I can publish the post after that hour or I can spend more time later polishing it and making it perfect. I’m forcing myself to publish the piece before the hour is up even though it probably has some typos and maybe could be written more concisely.

The extra couple hours I could spend polishing it won’t make a massive difference in the number of people who read and benefit from this post. Perfectionism is a tough habit to break so you have to set time limits and force yourself to just put things out there even if they aren’t 100% perfect.”

On Authenticity | July 24, 2017

During my 8 months off, I want to experiment with an initiative involving authenticity, specifically, in being more authentic in the face of prescriptive gender norms.

  Most people would describe me as a naturally cheery person. I would agree with this characterization. But part of me wonders if this personality was devised to better comply with gender stereotypes about how women behave.  

What would it be like if I focused more on reacting authentically rather than agreeably, rather than fulfilling invisible gender norms?

Needing a Personal Rubric | July 23, 2017

Now that I’m graduating and a good number of my friends are transitioning into jobs, I can’t help think, what’s the point? What’s the end goal? What means “we’ve made it”?

Of course, this is the typical student mindset; we want a number or some sort of indicator to quantify our performance. 

  At 23, Tina Fey was working at the Y.M.C.A, JK Rowling was broke, and Walt Disney had just declared bankruptcy. Similarly, a bunch of other people who we’ll never know of because they’re still in sub-par conditions, also had the same plight at the same time.

The problem with life is that there isn’t any real performance indicator in the present – only one in retrospect – and what use is that to someone at time t at a fork in a decision tree?  

I think in this social-media driven world, it’s incredibly important to have an objective, absolute set of judgments to assess oneself by.   

Further, sometimes it’s fun to think about what we’d have our kids do when we raise them – I have this conversation all the time with friends all the time, and it’s so interesting hearing the different way kids are raised.   

This, naturally makes me wonder: what’s the end goal? Why is it important for them to do thing X, Y, or Z?   

For this reason, I think it would be insanely useful to draft a rubric of what I perceive to be an accomplished life – at least at this point in my life and a rubric for what a ‘well raised child’ would look like.    

That being said, I don’t know what it means to have a rubric – is that a strength or a shackle? Any kind of rubric Tina Fey would have written at age 23 would have hugely undermined her potential.    To be continued as an actual post!

On Sensitivity | July 18, 2017

A note to self that when addressing sensitive issues, it’s so important to be careful how you choose your words, because you never know what could trigger some sort of strong emotion.

When EQ > IQ | July 17, 2017

“Most firms hire for technical IQ-type skills. Eventually, the same firms shift towards promoting people for EQ skills.” – Victor Cheng

A Guilty Ex-Vegetarian | July 16, 2017

After about 3 years of not eating meat, I recently went back to eating meat and it’s a meh experience. I thought I’d feel . . .free, but instead I feel a bit guilty. More on this later.

That being said, despite having the freedom to eat meat, I think my diet has remained ~90% vegetarian.

On Happiness | July 15, 2017

“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

On Communication | July 13, 2017

“Every act of communication is an act of tremendous courage in which we give ourselves over to two parallel possibilities: the possibility of planting into another mind a seed sprouted in ours and watching it blossom into a breathtaking flower of mutual understanding; and the possibility of being wholly misunderstood, reduced to a withering weed.” — Edmond & Nicole! (But mostly Edmond 😛) Originally from Maria Popova

Blog Dreams | July 12, 2017

As some of my older friends know, I have wanted a blog for many, many, many years. Not just a simple, static site with basic contact info — an actual site that can function as a public-facing root directory of my ideas and useful insights.

In any case, I’ve wanted an uber cool blog for about 6 years now and I’ve started 3 that have totally failed. 3 blogs later, I think this is the one ❤️.

Hawaii is Objectively Great | July 11, 2017

In Hawaii now! Hawaii is dope not because it’s Hawaii in a boasting sort of way but because the place itself is fundamentally great. It’s incredibly safe to walk around in, which is a huge factor for me. And indeed it’s pretty expensive, but pretty much on par with the standard of tropical islands generally. Plus, since it’s a part of the United States, you get the familiar perks of the U.S. (eg IHOP (lol), USPS, familiar chains, etc.,).

On top of that, there’s tons of hiking, astronomy, nature, etc.,. I’ve been to a number of beachy-tropical areas (Jamaica, Los Angeles, etc.,) and this one surely tops the list. Definitely coming back 😛

Overcoming Relationship Inertia | July 10, 2017

I have a friendship which maybe isn’t going the best way at the moment and part of me just wants to get super real and try and talk stuff out – to hit some sort of ‘reset’ button back to the good ‘ol times. But then, I have to realize that we don’t live in a frictionless world, that indeed friction is a very real force which makes a reset button virtually non-existent.

For example, you can try and say to someone, “hey – let’s just reset, do X, and not do Y” and maybe that works on a superficial level, but underneath, there are just too many unresolved feelings and a bit of awkward tension that comes with that – the friction which makes it an unfeasible solution.

The better way, I think, is to just continually be a great person, until slowly they respond in kind.

I think people notice and respond to the integration of behaviors – in other words, actions and behavior repeated over and over again.

It’s a slower solution but a more tractable one, I think.

FOMO is a very real force | July 22, 2017

There are days when I travel, sometimes I’ll spend the whole day working on some sort of side project – in other words, somewhat pathetically hunched over my laptop.

And in these moments I tend to feel guilty. Why? Because I feel like I’m missing out on what [Insert city or country] has to offer. As I type, I’m currently in Naples, Italy. Now that I’m here, shouldn’t I be touring Mount Vesuvius or X or Y, instead of sitting on my butt and writing this?

Indeed, the fear of missing out, is a very real force while traveling. 

On one hand, it drives me to maximize the use of my time here – which can be a great thing! It pushes me out of my comfort zone and honestly has the upside of potentially happening upon a place/experience/photo that makes it all worth it.

On the other hand, I’m pretty budget conscious so each paid attempt for an amazing experience/photo has a very real, tangible financial cost. Given that I don’t have that much money, I’m always tempted to think “eh, I’ll come back when I (hopefully) have more money”. Of course, the danger in that is that as we grows older, we tend to have money, but no time. 

I’ve also sort of come to terms with and accept doing what I genuinely love doing over the pre-ordained path of action — aka the TripAdvisor Top 10 list. Some of my best moments from previous trips, like Harry Potter World, for example, wasn’t going on the Gringott’s ride but rather, as silly as it sounds, really meaningfully connecting with a friend over mozzarella sticks.

So while traveling, I’ve learned that that the best feelings and the most valued feelings can be simple, not profound, and unplanned, like spending an hour playing with pigeons or retrieving a fallen shirt from a neighbor’s balcony (true story . . .).

Of course, there’s always the opportunity cost of whatever amazing experience you could have had if you had been more thorough, but it helps knowing that I have no idea how great this experience is, so at least emotionally, I’m not missing out. 😛

Woo hoo! Advice Giving ^_^ | July 11, 2017

Today, a close friend of mine asked me for relationship advice and I felt super honored. Super, super honored =).

A useful heuristic for making decisions | July 9, 2017

Asking:

  1. What’s the worst that can happen?
  2. What’s the best that can happen?

Disqus + Google Analytics | July 8, 2017

Disqus & Google Analytics are officially working!

It’s amazing how small achievements seem after you’ve done them and how big tasks seem before you’ve achieved them.

Interview with first female billionaire + Spanx fouder, Sara Blakely | July 6, 2017

Today I listened to a podcast which undoubtedly is on my all time favorite podcast episodes list – an interview with the Spanx founder, Sara Blakely. It’s definitely an experiential listen than a pure knowledge-based one so I’d highly recommend just downloading and getting into it. But below are a couple of the things that really resonated with me.

The notion that ideas are most vulnerable in their infancy.

“I kept it [the idea of Spanx] a secret for 1 year. I was very careful right away to keep it to myself because I believe ideas are most vulnerable in their infancy. It’s instinct to turn to your right or left and tell a friend and when you do that, ego is invited into the mix and then you spend all your time defending the idea and explaining it and not pursuing it. I needed to be at the place where I knew I wouldn’t turn back no matter what I heard. I had invested enough of my time and sweat equity into the idea that I told people and the things I heard were “if it’s such a good idea why hasn’t someone done it already?” and “if it’s a good idea then you’re gonna spend your savings on this and in 6 months, the big guys are gonna knock you out of the water”. And these things were all coming from a place of love but I feel like if I heard all of that at the beginning, I’d probably still be selling fax machines.”

Her sheer resolve and willingness to break the rules to get Spanx out there.

[Interviewer] “When you got into Neiman Marcus - were you like, I made it?”

[Blakely] “Absolutely not - that is the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make – that’s when the work begins! I paid friends to go out and buy the product and create a buzz about it.

I called all the friends I had - called friends I hadn’t spoken to since 4th grade saying, “hey this is Sara, I know we haven’t spoken since 4th grade but do you mind going to the store and buying Spanx and I’ll send you a check?”…I stood in the stores from 9-5 or 6 every day and went to Target and bought stands which I put up at at the checkout area in Neiman Marcus. They all thought it was approved from higher ups so they all left the stands there.”

I'll Buy You a Beer | July 5, 2017

I really love the concept of buying someone a beer. It’s way cheaper than buying them a meal, makes me feel like sexism isn’t a thing, and has a friendly undertone, compared to ‘buying a drink’. It’s freaking great.

Anxiety v. Action | July 4, 2017

“The antidote to anxiety is action.”

— Old Proverb

Exhausting Tasks | July 3, 2017

“There is noting more exhausting than the task you’ve never started.”

The Northeast is Objectively the Best Place to Live | July 2, 2017

I can’t help but feel the Northeast is a fantastic place to live, largely because of its proximity to action-packed cities – namely New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C., and Baltimore.

The fact that any of these locations are accessible by a cheap $20 bus amazes me. It would be such a huge thing I’d miss out on if I were to move away in the long-term.

But then I think about the weather; cold weather does suck, after all. But you can also look at it as a matter of appreciation – because you can’t truly appreciate the great feeling of walking into a warm and cozy house until you’ve been shivering outside.

. . . but then again, that lasts about a week before it gets old.

But even with that in mind, I think the power of having such major cities at your disposal is pretty much irreplaceable – at least for me.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys. . . | July 1, 2017

“Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

– An old Polish proverb

An epic saying, which, as explained by Robert Osowiecki means:

“I won’t interfere or bother myself with trouble in a place I don’t belong to or have no authority — it’s someone else’s job to deal with this.”

Was this post/guide helpful?

If so, say hi/leave a comment below! I check them daily 🙂

You can also email me at [email protected] - I’m happy to help out in really any way.

– Neha