20 Good Things (for a life without regrets)



Now my last post made me realize that while the 26-year-old me is asking the 65-year-old me to chill the eff up; the 65-year-old me would also have some things to say to the 26-year-old me; so, let me imagine for a moment that I am at that stage and my life is behind me. What wisdom would I want to impart to the 26-year-old me? Here are the things I could come up with:

  • Eat healthier, you will save yourself a lot of trouble later
  • Exercise regularly, you’ll thank me later
  • No matter how hard you try, you can try harder
  • Love your family, spend time with them and be there for them, no matter what.
  • Be brutally honest with yourself. Delusions are comfortable, honesty seldom is; choose it anyway.
  • Introspect your life whenever you can
  • Plan your finances
  • Travel as much as you can
  • Be your own greatest fan. Believe you are capable of wonderful things, because you are.
  • At the same time, don’t be afraid of criticising yourself. Knowing your weaknesses is a strength in itself.
  • Have a ritual, a discipline that you follow every day. You should be able to look back and say, ‘I have done that for the past 40 years.’
  • Become the kind of person who is truly happy with himself and the state of his life. Once you do that, everything else will start to fall into place.
  • Develop a hobby and practice it regularly.
  • Build yourself an unshakeable reputation.
  • Make sure you don’t make this life all about yourself. Make it a point to love, inspire and care for others around you.
  • Learn something from everyone you meet in this life. Everybody has something to teach you.
  • Read as much as you can
  • Make it a point to be happy. It is a choice, and it is always yours to make.
  • Love more
  • Always find time for yourself and your family, no matter how busy you are.

Photo by Lotte Meijer on Unsplash



A Letter to the 65-year-old me



I recently came across an article which listed the top 5 regrets people have in their lives. While it was illuminating, it was also kind of sad reading that article. So, I have decided to write a letter to the 65-year-old me. So, here it goes.

Dear 65-year-old Ishaan,

I hope you still like country music and the occasional jazz track because in your twenties that’s all you used to listen to. I won’t delve in to philosophy or talk about the world because you, with all these years behind you are wiser than I am and perhaps you can write a letter telling me about all that. What we can talk about is us and the life we are living/have lived. I will come out and say it, I don’t want you to regret me i.e. the 26-year-old you. I know, regret is something that comes naturally but every time you feel regretful, I think you only do because your life is behind you and not in front of you. Again, I’m still just a kid and you shouldn’t be listening to me. I am not very good at being an adult just yet. How is it like? Did we make it? Were we good? Did we have kids? Did we get filthy rich and everything? How is life 40 years from now? How much has changed? Do you remember everything from this time? I’m in Mumbai right now, renting a room in a flat and I can see loads of greenery from my window. Does that jog your memory?

This is fun.

You know, if you are still half the person you were in your twenties, you’re not going to listen to me and you are going to go ahead and have those regrets anyway. But remember this, you had fun, loads of fun and that made you very happy in that moment. And also, you were always trying to become better, do better and just lead a better life.

Also, you loved, you met wonderful people, you made great friends, you were close to your family and your family, to you (I am sure that is still the case). This was a happy time.

And I am sure you have things to tell me and knowing me, the 65-year-old me would love to talk to the 26-year-old me. So, well, you could write me a letter perhaps.

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Beyond the ‘I love yous’



I think a big part of being happy in a relationship is being happy with your own self. If we are not happy with our life we tend to project that on the easiest target, the people we love, the people who love us. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule, but something that happens more often than not. Such projections are subtle and can create a downward spiral of disagreements, insecurities and disillusionment.

We need to constantly work on nurturing our relationships. If you believe that relationships that are in turmoil are the only one’s which need work, you are different kinds of wrong. Relationships that are happy and prospering require as much work as the former. If we don’t work on them, we risk becoming too comfortable and taking that relationship for granted and that, needless to say, is never a good thing.

Personally, I believe there are three main characteristics that differentiate flourishing relationships from stagnant ones, ‘the three C’s




I keep communication at the top because its perhaps the most important, the more you communicate, the more you get to know each other and the more comfortable you get with each other which can perhaps lead to greater levels of commitment. In that sense, a good line of communication between the two is a precursor of the other two.

As with most lists, this list is not exhaustive. Every relationship is unique and while there are generalities that can be drawn, differences remain and these differences mean that every relationship has subtle unique demands that have to be worked out, that have to be paid heed to for that relationship to be successful.

Love is important, but in the end what will see you through is the effort you put in. The question you’ve to ask yourself is always this: “Do you want him/her enough?”

I leave you with this beautiful quote;

“We are all ghosts of ourselves

Until they come along.

Love fills us in,

In all our thin places.

Love gives us skin.



Photo by Anthony Mapp on Unsplash

Tell me your dreams



To anyone who listens to me, I suggest to them that they get a hold of Jim Rohn’s audio books and start listening to them daily. I have gone through all of them (I think) and I remember more lessons from them than I do from school. I have one in my phone for a ‘go to’ when I am under stress. They are full of stories and incidents and are as original and riveting as audio books get. The insights are life changing.

There is one such insight which is embedded into my memory; in one of the audiobooks Jim tells his life story as to how he was working on a low paying job when he started to work part time on an entrepreneurial project. It got to the point where he was earning so much from his entrepreneurial venture that he had to take a decision on leaving his job, which he eventually did. His insight was this; we can work part time on our fortune while we work full time on our income.

It is tough, I give that to you; jobs these days drain so much out of us that we have very little time left to live for our self, let alone to pick up an entrepreneurial project.  If you are married, it is even tougher, your wife would have some thoughts on you picking up a side project. The ideal state would be to work full time on your passion and work tirelessly to build something but once we take up a job it is immensely difficult to let go of the safety and security of a monthly wage. It doesn’t matter if it makes us unhappy, as long as we can milk that cow once every month.

A lot of it comes down to what you want from life and rest of it comes down to how much you are willing to put at stake, how much are you willing to sacrifice. In some situations, leaving everything to follow your dreams would almost be a selfish (and perhaps the wrong) thing to do. Because, to point out the obvious, after a while you start living for a lot of people and not just yourself and you have to do right by them.

But I have a sense that as long as you have a nagging desire to do something (other than your job) gnawing away at your coattails, there’d come a point when all of it would become all too much. It all depends on whether you let it get to that point. That again depends on a lot of factors like age, financial condition, marital status etc.

So, long things short, its’ an imperfect life but how complicated you make it is up to you and if you ask me, dreams are a much more wonderful place to start than starting out of necessity, just because you were supposed to start and build something.

But then again; well, its an imperfect world.

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The Little Things


Photo by PICSELI on Unsplash


One of my favorite Authors, Adam Grant, who is currently a professor at Wharton school of business, narrates a simple yet powerful incident in one of his works; he reminisces about this moment in his childhood when he was at a social gathering once and as he was the only kid there, he was playing all by himself while the adults were busy among themselves.

Then unexpectedly, one of the adults came up to him and started talking to him and then he challenged him to a game of basketball and they ended up having a grand time. They bonded and ended up becoming friends. Adam explains why this event was powerful for him was because that was the first time anyone had treated him like an equal and not as a kid.

This reminds me of another incident that another famous author and speaker, Robin Sharma narrates in his book, The Greatness Guide. He was returning from a short vacation with his son where they ended up doing all kinds of fun stuff. Then on the fight back when Robin asks him on the flight back, which was his favourite moment from the trip; he ended up mentioning the time when the shared a hotdog on the street. Out of all the things they did something as little and simple as eating a hotdog with his father gave him the most pleasure.

Both the incidents touched me for different reasons, Adam Grant’s encounter told me that children are receptive beings who are sensitive to the subtleties of the treatment they are doled out and at a young age, things that seem small can create massive impact. This is almost a naïve and obvious observation but one I couldn’t help but make. Most children, after a certain age develop an insight into their surroundings and their dynamism. They are sensitive to the changes in it and respond to them. In Adam’s case, suddenly being treated as an equal by someone who was clearly an adult not only endeared him to that person, it also perhaps tapped into his inherent maturity and gave his inchoate psyche access to it a little earlier than it would have otherwise had.

In Robin Sharma’s case the incident, just like he himself observes, made me realize the importance of little things in life and how, as we grow up we get too caught up in life that we forget to appreciate the very basic things life is made of, the seemingly inconsequential things that get by us. Things that fascinated us as children are very different than the things that fascinate us as adults, which is not a bad thing, and perhaps is even the natural progression. But if I could just retain a part of being a child, a tiny part, it would be this sense of appreciation for the little stuff.

Because the world is beautiful because of its intricacies.

Photo by PICSELI on Unsplash

The 3-Goal Wishlist



Here’s what would be a fun thing to experiment with.

Take a sheet of paper and a bold permanent marker and list on it, in as bold letters as the page permits, the three main life goals for yourself.

They can be personal, like losing some weight and getting fit or they may be financial, like earning a specific some of money.

But they should be just three and take care of just one more thing.

They should be of varying difficulty. One should be relatively easy and achievable, it should push you but not immensely, then there should be one which should be a little harder than that and then there should be a third one which should be a lot more difficult than the other two. Now across each goal, set a time frame which should be not more that eighteen months.

Let us call this your 3 goal Wishlist.

Now paste it on your desk, or a place which you frequent. If you are a little embarrassed about your goals you can paste it at a place that is only accessed by you (like the inside of your closet perhaps).

Now we come to the part of the experiment which is a little more difficult, but very essential.

List and record your current life situation. More precisely, you should record these things:

  • Your finances
  • Your weight (if you’re unhappy with it)
  • The number of hours of exercise you’re getting week
  • The emotions you feel most frequently (you can start by recording the emotions you feel across any two weeks and list them)
  • Things you are grateful for in the larger context of life
  • Three words that define your relationship (you can choose any close relationship, with your wife, girlfriend, kids, parents or anybody as long as it is important for you, and run with it)
  • The time you’re giving per week to people who matter (in hours)

If you can think of anything of the top of your head that would be an essential component of your life situation, feel free to add that to this list.

Now put this list away for the next 18 months. Also, make sure you keep running into your three-goal wish list and every now and then (when you are alone and nobody is around to comment on how you’re turning in to a quirky loser), you say out these goals aloud.

At the end of the 18 months, make a new list, answering these same questions you asked yourself 18 months ago. You are not to judge yourself by the attainment (or the failure to attain) of the goals you listed but by comparing the two lists.

What do you think, will you notice a difference?

There is only one way to find out.

Good Luck. You badass, you.




On structure, planning and defining things.



In a workshop I recently attended, someone said a very insightful thing. I failed to take notes but I have done my best to retain the essence of the discussion from my memory. The theme of the workshop was leadership but the discourse somehow took a somewhat philosophical turn and we started talking about defining things. To elaborate, giving rigid textbook definitions to workplace processes and roles. The speaker concluded with something to the effect of this: when we define things, we give them structure and structure, while important, also limits the expression of ability and encourages achievement within set boundaries.

In this sense, structure is a very nuanced concept. At the organizational level structure is essential; the management has to take a call on the extent to which the organization needs to introduce structure. For instance, a company that needs to be innovating everyday would perhaps gain very little by micromanaging their employees. On the other hand, a company with a well-known brand and a devoted customer base (in the FMCG industry, for example) would probably benefit more from a structure that pervades most levels of that organization. But if the rules are extensively rigid and have an overarching presence in the day to day functioning of any organization, they would seldom do any good.

At a personal level, and this is me speaking from experience; as soon as one introduces structure in their life, they get almost immediate results. One of the first things structuring would do for you is increase your productivity but even then, like in organizations, the personal context should be devoid of inflexibility; the most resilient structures are those that allow for a little chaos. Also, at the personal level, structures are very unique to everyone. Some might, depending on their personality do well with rigid, taxing structures that require them to keep striving to do better every day and some might do better with more open structures that allow freedom of thought and space for expression of creativity.

What is structure? its’ kind of funny that I am sort of going to define it now. How I look at it, at a very basic level, structure is about having a plan. It is having set goals and established means to achieve those goal. A kind of defined framework which can be adhered to, to achieve certain objectives.

So, what is your structure? Have you ever felt the need to define it? Do you plan your day, your month?

Again, I leave you with a stirring quote; this time by the former US navy colonel, David Hackworth:

“If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.”

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