Tag Archives: habits

21 Day Challenge |Aug-Sep 2018 | Day 1

If you have been part of my journey on this space for a long time, you might have found me complaining multiple times about not being able to wake up early in the recent times. Throughout my childhood and college, I have been an early riser. However, three years into work life not only made me a night owl, but also very guilty of my lifestyle.

Having completed three years in my current workplace, it is time to take a hard look at my career opportunities and scope out what I wish to do in future. Unfortunately for me, I never had a fixed career goal growing up. For a long time (between sixth to eighth grades, I believe), I wanted to be an air hostess. Then I wanted to be a doctor. Then a journalist. Then writer.

In reality, however, I studied to become an engineer. I joined the workforce to be an analyst. And now, suddenly, I can’t seem to find what is the purpose of my work life. Of course, money is a motivator. But at times, I feel that there could be so much that could be achieved in life through work: there are so many things to try out but I am just whiling away my life complaining about lack of opportunities.

Yesterday, one of our new managers took me aside and asked me to prioritize my goals into buckets of urgent and important. I work in client services model in a fast paced industry. While being in a firefighting mode, working every day on an one-day turnaround basis, somewhere it became a part of my life. In this time, I failed to work out what I really wanted from my workplace, what did I want to achieve in my life, what skill-sets I wish to build.

That chat with my manager motivated me a lot: he has been in the industry for about 20 years and he told me that he saw potential in me. That means something! I felt incredibly inspired.

Interestingly, I woke up at 6.45 AM today, and instead to getting back to sleep for another couple of hours, I decided to get up, go for my 45 minutes morning walk, come back and write my heart out to identify the priorities in life. I did not take my phone on the walk, and usually, I spend a lot of time thinking about a variety of things on my walks. That’s when the idea to start the 21 Day Challenge struck me!

I recently learned on the Pick Up Limes blog that people say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I wanted to use that concept and apply it to my life. So from today until the 19th of September, I will be on a rigorous 21 day mission to achieve the following goals:

  • Wake up early (around 7-7.30 AM) – I want to create a few morning rituals for myself, e.g. morning walk, making a nice smoothie and breakfast, learning something or building a skill-set that helps in future career goals. I already practice the first two, but I want to develop on the third
  • Find the purpose of my life career-wise – I want to understand the things that excite me in the workplace, can lead to a sustainable source of income. I feel my generation is quite conflicted as far as career goals are concerned. Of course money is important, but we also feel bored at our work. We are inspired by the amazing stories of entrepreneurship and want our money to grow even as we sleep, but we don’t even know if we have it in us to start something new. By the end of these 21 days, I want to have figured out my 5 year plan, and have actively started on the things that can help me achieve that goal

At this point, I am not sure if I am going to blog the entire 21 days of the challenge, but you can definitely expect a bunch of posts in this series. I’d be happy to keep you all posted on my progress, so your feedback can inspire me to work harder towards my goals.

Are you at cross-roads in your career? Is there a habit that you have been trying to build for the longest time but haven’t quite gotten started on it? I invite you to be part of this challenge. Come, let’s together achieve our goals!

Love and peace,

Arpita ❤

Turning your life around… one day at a time

Have there been days when you just stayed inside the bed, kept looking at the ceiling (or more likely the cell-phone in the recent times), and felt nowhere like getting up and going through daily chores of life?

I am a single female, in my early twenties, living in Bangalore in a flat-sharing basis. I work in a moderate to high stress environment, spending approximately 48-50 hours a week at work. I do not have any family living with me. Quite a few times, I find myself slumping into a cycle of unsustainable habits. For quite the longest time, I formed the habit of staying up as late as 1.00 AM in the night, waking up around 9-10 AM next day. I did not eat good breakfast, and somewhere, through the entire day, I felt lacking in energy. Next day, same routine.

I was able to break out of this cycle, by keeping a close tab on myself. I started going to bed earlier, reducing time on the phone when I hit the bed. To a large extent, I realize that I end up staying late because I am too spent staying on my own and having minimal human contact – I usually do not have many people to talk to, so I try to fill it up with the phone. During the worst phase, I had even stopped reading, something which used to interest me a lot at a point.

Today, my lifestyle has improved a lot. I wake up around 8 AM on most days, go for a walk and come back and have a fulfilling breakfast. I spend some time reading work-related stuff, take my bath, cook lunch, eat and then leave for work. In between, I squeeze in time for some TV series, or read a page of a book. Currently reading Return of a King by William Dalrymple. If you guys have read any books by him, comment and let me know!

I have realized that for me the trick is in getting to bed early. On the days I am able to do this successfully, my routine is spectacular. I feel more positive about myself and more energetic too.

That said, such days are not everyday. This Friday night, after I came back from work, I was up till 1 AM, texting on my phone regarding some work-related issues, which I could have easily avoided. After that, I had quite a bit of difficulty falling asleep, I guess I might have only fallen asleep around 2.30 AM. I woke up in the morning at around 8.30 AM, groggy and very tired. My eyes were hurting from lack of sleep. I tried going back to sleep, but could not. I was too lazy to cut the pomegranate, so for breakfast I kept munching on biscuits. I thought I would chill for a while after, so I started watching The Office on phone. Lunch time came, I ordered food, too tired and lazy to cook. When I got off my phone, it was close to 7 PM – and I hadn’t gone outside my bed except for receiving my order and the occasional visit to the washroom. In fact, I did not even fill my water bottle for the longest time.

This only proves why it is important to fix the sleep pattern. Last night, I did just that. I went to bed relatively earlier. Today, I went for a morning walk, came back, ate good breakfast, and studied for two hours. I cooked myself lunch, and again did some studying. I took a little nap in the afternoon, took my bath after, and then went to do some groceries. After that, I took another long walk, using that time, to speak to my mother and relatives on the phone. I came back, studied again. Cooked dinner with a flatmate, and had a good conversation over dinner. It’s about 11.30 PM right now and I need to go to sleep, and I will after I have finished this blogpost – but I accomplished so much today! Last night, I was so depressed from having wasted a complete day unnecessarily.

I guess what I want to tell you all is: there will be bad days even when you are getting to the right track. But the point is to make one single change in your routine, to muster the willpower to do one thing differently one day, and everything else falls in place. Try it!

How to form great habits?

Habits make us into the people we are. Consistency, for me, is the prime factor for success. However, it is not always easy to form and sustain good habits.

For example, I have been trying to go to the gym four days a week for almost a month now. I maintained the routine successfully for two weeks. In the third week, suddenly, I woke up in the morning and did not feel like going to the gym. It was not that I was not feeling well, but I simply did not feel like going. It was like my body telling me, “It’s okay, take a break!”

That was not nice. Every time I avoid hitting the gym I get all these guilt trips. Being healthy is number 1 on my priority list. Only when we are healthy can we enjoy the beautiful things this world has to offer to the fullest.

As some of you might know, I recently inaugurated my YouTube channel (I will put a link to the video below). I have received some great feedback on it from friends and family. It is all very exciting. At the same time, I am worried how long can I put up the schedule. Right now, I am thinking of making one video per week, over the weekend.

But looking at my track record, I have always had these moments of extreme enthusiasm for something which would fade out really fast as well. In 2015, it was about self-publishing books. Now it is about making YouTube videos. How soon till this excitement fizzles out?

Nonetheless, there are a couple of things which I feel help stick to good habits. Let me know if you feel the same:

  1. Forming a love for the habit you want to form: This is crucial, because we do not let go of things that we love that easily. So if you want to lose those extra pounds (or kgs depending on where you are in the world), visualize a leaner, fitter version of yourself and fall in love with it. Watch videos to help you see that goal (I watch videos of women with great bodies while I exercise). Give your mind suggestions how much you love being fit.
  2. Have measurable outcomes: If you have been going to the gym and do not see the any visible changes, probably you will lose interest (this happens with me all the time). Even if you are not able to lose the pounds, at least measure the distance you run and keep upping it. Once you set daily targets to beat your previous high, it becomes sort of a game. In my case I have found, my mind is excited about these little games.
  3. Shut up your body/mind as soon as it says it is enough: In the end, it all boils down to having a strong willpower. Every day when I run on the treadmill, my body keeps telling me, “It’s enough, it’s enough! Stop now.” I consciously fight the urge to give in to that ill advice. It is a mental struggle to shut your mind and stretching yourself to run the extra minute. But if you can master the art of this, things become so much easier.
  4. Do not give up as soon as you begin: This is probably the second-most important thing. I will take the example of exercising again, because it fits so well in this context. When I first started exercising, my entire body would ache. I slept very little because of the pain and it was really bad. However, I knew that this was temporary. Once I got a hang of it, it would become easier. It always does: you take any thing that you are trying to excel at. There is nothing that does not become easy when you do not give up on it and keep continuing.
  5. Have someone to hold you accountable: This is sort of a last resort. It helps when someone is pushing you constantly, to the point of irritation. It gets the job done, even if it ruins your relationship with the person :D. Now that I am away from home, I sure miss my mom’s scoldings for not getting up on time or watching too much television.

Have you been struggling lately to prolong certain changes in your lifestyle? Do you have any tips that helps you sustain great habits? Do let me know in the Comments section.

Until later, take care and enjoy life to the fullest! ❤

Link to my first YouTube video:


On the habit of observation and observation of habits


Image Source

Even three years ago I did not know which vegetable grew in which season (the fact that these days everything is available at all times via cold storage did nothing to help me either) or which flower bloomed of its own accord in which part of the year. I have always reveled in the beauty of the cotton rose growing in the neighbor’s garden, but could never recollect correctly when it bloomed. Similarly, I enjoyed my mother’s special lady’s finger preparation, but after six months could not exactly pinpoint the time when father brought the green finger-like things by the kilos from the market.

Only a very few, like the green peas or the marigold, were powerful enough to imprint the time of their existence in my mind.

When I went to college and started to live with people from different parts of the state, I realized the inefficacy that stared in my eyes like a terrifying chasm. My room-mates would often complain about the severe liquidity of the dal at dinner, the morbid tastelessness of the egg curry, and would easily identify when the salt was missing. The only thing that my mind seemed to register, however, was the scathing acridity of the chicken soup. That, I guess, was because my tongue had never been too friendly with the chilies.

However, this was only the start of the long list of things which I failed to see. When I saw a beautiful girl, the only word I knew to describe her was that – beautiful. On the other hand, my room-mate dissected with remarkable clarity the shape of the girl’s lips, nose and eyes, the color of her skin, her posture and her gait.

I would go by buildings and constructions failing to recount afterwards a single peculiarity in them.

What, in the name of the good Lord, was wrong with me? Why was I, who had been a relatively good student throughout school, failing to describe things which everyone else seemed to describe without an effort? What was this mysterious element which seemed to slip out of my grasp every time I attempted to hold it?

Solution began in the form of writing. When I started to write about someone, I needed to do better than what I were managing at that point of time. I needed to talk about the peculiarities of her behavior, the subtleties of her everyday manners. I needed to describe what colors she liked and which colors looked good on her. I needed to note how her eyes shone and her lips curved when her boyfriend called. I needed to describe the foods she ate. When I needed her to walk to her school, I needed to show which flowers were in bloom, what the color of sky was and how it was reflected in the building with glass panels, a difference, I might add, to the usual brick and wood stuff of the other buildings.

I realized then what was wrong. I was not observing.

I realized I used to come back from college, lost in my own thoughts all the time, never really bothering to look at the people around. Of all the eighteen years that I had lived with my parents, I never observed the patterns that bounded my family. I ate, but never bothered to check whether mom’s egg curry needed more salt. I was not consciously observing when my father brought which veggies. I was only doing things mechanically, never taking note of the little habits, the little patterns that were forming every day.

I did not see the difference until it shrieked itself to me, like an ugly black blot on a piece of white cloth. Or until someone pointed it to me.

Since that realization I have come a long way. As I have matured as an author, my writings have become more visual. When I started my first novel I probed the depths of my mind to find out the colors, the smells and the faces from my childhood. Once I was consciously concentrating I found that these images were locked in a safe cabinet in my mind. All it needed was a little prod. I have, since, queried my mother about certain facts from childhood that I recollected, and discovered to my utter delight that she had forgotten about them. That felt liberating, to say the least.

As an author, I realize now, it is very important to have an eye for observation. And observation of patterns and habits is perhaps the most important lesson in this class. Else, how would your protagonist describe the concentration with which her father read the newspaper every morning year after year, or how her mother reacted when she brought her first trophy from school?

Starting in May, Scribbles@Arpita will feature a new category, Saturday Specials. For May, in this category I will host guest posts by fellow bloggers and authors. So, don’t forget to check your Reader feed for a new post on Scribbles@Arpita this Saturday!