To get started on any new journey in Life, you have to simply take the first step. Wishing and dreaming of something alone cannot get you started. Only calm, decisive action can get your initiative off the ground.
I met with a friend from college recently. He’s every bit a corporate citizen – he’s the CFO of a large MNC and is based in Hong Kong. Over coffee, we got chatting about our lives. And in the course of the conversation he declared that his biggest wish and his biggest problem were the same. “I want to get back home from work by 6 pm every day. I have been trying to achieve this for a few years now, but I am simply not able to! I badly want this happening and I am sore that I have been unsuccessful despite my best efforts,” he confessed.
I have been in my friend’s shoes. Just 12 years ago, I was pretty much running the rat race. I was working 100-hour weeks and even on Sundays I used to be slouched over my laptop all day – responding to emails from clients and colleagues. Meal times with family were often interrupted by client calls and I always prioritized business over family. I had a tobacco addiction and I drank almost every day. Then one fine day, I decided to change the way I lived and worked. I began by giving up my tobacco habit instantaneously. That was my first step. And then every week I added a new change to my routine and my lifestyle. This included a diet and fitness regimen on the one side, and packing in quality – and productive – working hours on the other side. Within a couple of months, I was working fewer hours and yet I was able to pack in more in that time. My improved levels of efficiency made me feel better. And the way I felt made me work better. This is how I transformed the way I lived and worked. I maintain that changed discipline in my Life even now.
All personal change begins with the first – crucial – step. Unless you take that step, the journey never begins. And while wishing demonstrates intent, please remember that mere intent, with no action, will take you nowhere. Which is why my friend’s intention to get back home from work by 6 pm daily remains a non-starter.
Even as some of you, who are struggling with the same 6-pm-home-aspiration, read this and wonder how can this even be practical in your work or company context, let me tell you this – anything’s possible! All you need is to be resolute about what you want to achieve. If you must get back home by 6 pm daily and want to keep your weekends free for family, you must have conversations with your boss and your team members alike. If your boss is a workaholic, who is both unplanned and aggressive, you must hold up a mirror. Having a heart-to-heart chat to discuss matters relating to your work and productivity is not insubordination. And if your boss thinks so – then, my friend, you perhaps need a new boss! Which is, in real terms, you must start looking for a new job!!! There are no two ways about this: no change can happen in your Life unless you work on yourself and the circumstances in which you are placed. And please don’t expect results overnight. Most of us are so steeped in certain Life and work patterns, it will require a lot of effort and will power from within us, and consistency, to ensure that we stay on the path of change.
One sure way to stay on the path, that you have started on, is to remember that with each passing day your Life is getting shorter. And that you are not going to get any younger. And if you have children, know that they are growing up faster than you imagine they are. If you don’t invest time in yourself and your family now, no matter what stage of your Life you are in at the moment, you will have lost some more of the precious time you are left with. Even so, don’t start with making sweeping, radical changes. Start with one crucial, and what you think is doable, step. And then take another. And then yet another. Over time, with increased self-confidence coming from seeing results, your personal journey of change will gather momentum.