A New 100 Days

I noticed this on a cheap poster hung in a Calcutta eatery: Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Very profound thought indeed. Incidentally, my 100 day project came to an end - without discernible results, though I may say that my thoughts and ideas changed quite a bit. However, the crisis worldwide submerged whatever little I achieved, and at the end of it, I was left insecure and confused, rather than strong and certain.

However, it's me - if first 100 days did not solve the problem, I am certain the next 100 days will. I loved fashioning my life around 100 days - as meaningful/meaningless a construct as corporate quarters, around which much of my life has revolved. As every quarter must be better than the other, I need to promise to my stakeholders - my family and friends and myself and all others who interact or transact with me - that the next 100 days would improve my 'deliverables' significantly.

I quite enjoyed keeping a tab on my progress on this blog. I must admit I was less than frequent, and as travel intervened, I hardly updated the diary or reported progress. At the hindsight, that was okay - now that I know that many people kept reading what I was posting, not out of human interest [as I hoped it to be], but also to track my thoughts and even to use them sometimes to undermine my efforts. While this thought is daunting - being watched by a big brother with less-than-pure intent - it is interesting too, full of possibilities. Living life as transparently as possible is always attractive [I am not a voyeur, just honest], and I thought transparency is indeed the best way to deal with moralism and instant judgements. So, even after arguing against it, I decided to keep a diary, publicly, for my next 100 day project.

I start this project - let's count today as Day 0 - in the middle of a chaos. The world's economic woes are refusing to go away. This affected me personally and professionally, but increasingly, I am seeing that the opportunities are opening up. Not that my detractors are going away and things are turning rosy, but bad times invariably has a seed of a good time inside it. So, if I was gloomy and introspective in the middle of the economic boom, I am becoming cheerful and positive in the middle of a downturn.

Not that I am making money, or I have a lot. On the contrary, I have nothing. The fun of having nothing is one does not have much to lose. In fact, I don't owe much, which is good. I can now climb on the positive borrowing cycle - borrow at bad times and pay back at good times - rather than the reverse. I always thought bad times are wonderful opportunities of starting new businesses, provided one is careful enough and watches it all the time.

This positive, glass-half-full feeling, allows me to set a new set of objectives now. The experiences of past 100 days have taught me a lot - including the wait for the visa to be renewed, my half-hearted attempt to resume my studies and my 30-day change-the-agenda travel to India - and it is time to put this in action.

Let's start with work. I realized I was trying to work too hard, achieve too much and was not communicating well. The agenda for the next 100 days will be to calm down, focus on the basics and restore the communication. All of this is doable, and I am upbeat about the prospects of what we have. However, with all of what I have on my plate, I need to work smarter, better and be less stressed. This is exactly what I am going to do.

Also, another important lesson I learnt is to focus on money. I never did. This possibly came from my cultural upbringing - the true Kolkatawala 'rejection of greed' - and my political education. Money isn't an object, I believed. Why save, I asked others, when your savings are actually being spent by George W Bush to bail out banks and finance his unjust wars. What I missed is that my executive responsibility is to make money, even if I have contempt for it at my heart. Besides, money is the measure of success in the modern world, and however flawed that measure may be, I must play ball and 'prove' myself before others start listening to what I have to say. So, yes, I have decided to play ball.

But, also, at the same time, I realize that I am spending too much time thinking about work, and sacrificing everything else. There are things which I really want to do - a non-profit work is sounding particularly inviting - and I must find time to pursue this more seriously. I think this is precisely what I have not been doing properly - pacing myself and balancing different priorities right - and this is something which I need to set right.

Also, as I mentioned, downturns are great times to start a new business, provided one knows what he is doing. My visits to India and Philippines have opened my eyes - quite literally - to the opportunities, regarding various areas which a small internationally-dispersed business can make a tremendous difference. And, yes, I hasten to add, can make money.

So, that's more or less going to be the next 100 days. Transcending my past, shall I say, and examining the beliefs I held blindly, and trying to live life differently. Except one belief: If I fail, the journey will still be worth it.


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