New Year Resolution

At the end of each year and beginning of every New Year, most of us feel the urge to have one or more New Year resolutions. These are the lessons I learned from my unsuccessful attempts to keep up my New Year resolutions over several years.

Do you need a New Year resolution?

YES, if you want to have some fun in life and you are not one of those who has high expectation from New Year resolution (out of desperation or boredom).

NO, if everything in your life is going well or not so well as your liking.

If all is well, you don’t need to make any resolution now. You may do it when there is a need for change.  Doing it during New Year or some other time of the year will make no difference.

If you are going through tough time, you are probably under a lot of pressure to do well.  The chance of making too many resolutions and breaking all of them is high under the trying condition.

What resolution is best for you?

If you want to have some fun without having too high expectation from your resolution, then challenge yourself making one resolution that will bring you something that you should have last year or you will feel proud to have by the end of this year.  This blog post ends here for you. And share your fun experience with us.

If you have high expectation from your resolution with everything going well in your life, then making one resolution could open more doors for you. There is a good chance that you will create a hobby out of your 10-15 min endeavor that will bring many good changes in your life.

However, if things are not going so well in life, then you are the one who need a resolution very badly.  For the same reason, you may be the one who would have toughest time to keep any resolution.  Therefore, you should take care not to be too ambitious while making any resolution.  You need very specific resolution that will not drastically or dramatically change your lifestyle.

Five steps to consider to make a new year resolution:

1. Make a resolution that takes less than 10 min to keep everyday. You will give yourself the best chance of succeeding if it does not take too much time.  It will not come in the way of other activities that are more important to do.  You don’t want to be distracted in the name of New Year resolution.

2. “When” and “how often” are more important than “what”. You should give attention to your resolution at least once per day, but not more than three times which can be distracting and overwhelming.  It should be done in the morning before getting busy with other activity or after you are done for day.  I prefer doing it early in the morning that cut down the risk of not doing it at all because of daily pressure.

3. Have a check system that will keep you on track. Set a reminder in your watch or phone or computer or just on the wall of your bedroom or place for your resolution related activity.  The reminder message should be very positive where you have your reward or picture of the reward for keeping it up. Yes, reward is important and you need a self-announced reward to motivate you.

4. Tell your friends and family about it. This is another way to set a reminder and inspire yourself as well as others to have positive impact in each other’s life.  Remember the saying – “Positive habit or emotion is contagious”.

5. Have fun doing it. You must not stress yourself to keep your resolution.  If it is stressful, then it is a wrong resolution. You should enjoy yourself doing it and wanting it more day by day.

A New Year resolution with a good check system that requires little attention daily will bring a lasting change in your life.  My New Year resolution is “to write a 10-min summary of one good experience of each day before going to bed”.

Good luck making one or keeping the one you already have.


My first step to photography

These photos are taken near downtown, Boulder. Hope you enjoy the slide show. For details about each photo, please do visit my photography blog

Leadership: Lesson learned from my recent field trip.

Field Experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN

I was out of blogging over last one and half months due to my long awaiting trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee. This was one of the most successful trip I was part of as a leader. I had to overcome many adversaries to make things happened. I thought to share the lessons I learned from this trip – not academic lessons that may be meaningless to most.

The first few days in our trip were very challenging. We had missing equipment, broken setup, unavailability of pure water to do experiment, unfriendly bureaucracy with loads of excuses, and unfamiliar territory to overcome any problem.  The chance of getting anything done out of our ambitious plan within the tight schedule looked bleak.

I had to balance my thought between finding a way to get any work done and genuine complains against people (not my team) who were responsible for the problems.  It was hard for me to find any solution amid all the tension/pressure of problems and constant complains/frustration from other team members.

It is easy to get into complaining mode when we are victim of the fault of other. Nevertheless, we worked really hard to get things going on our first day.  At the end of the day, Joe – my advisor, sat with me after dinner.  What he said during that time changed the course of the events that were to follow. He said –

“You had given so much effort to put this trip together.  We flew hundreds of mile and spent thousands of dollars, our time and effort.  We did not come here to face the failure and go back empty handed.  The rewards of getting this work done or repercussion of failure is going to affect you more than anyone else, as this is your project and your PhD.  So make things happened and I believe you can as you always do.”

What a big difference a leader can make when he/she instills the faith on your ability as well as helps you focus on thing that matters the most! After that moment with Joe, I never looked back.  Complains, excuses and problems that came later never bothered me a bit.  I was very focused to solve anything and everything that came in the way of my team.

The belief that every problem is there to be solved was contagious to the team and everyone started making things happened.  A good team (Joe, Dave, Jim, Audrey and Brett), positive attitude and good leadership had made this trip successful that seemed impossible at first.

Though Joe gave me all the credit for good leadership and the successful trip, deep down inside I know that it was he and his faith on me has changed everything.  I learned that – there is no substitute to think positive and keep our focus on solution.

Now I am glad to realize that problems are there in our life for a reason – not to slow you down but to make you stronger, wiser and better than whom you are before.  Choice is yours how you see it.

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Bad listener: A Google inside us

This was part of a disastrous conversation between two of my friends during a hiking trip.

A: (talking.. talking.. talking).. bla bla bla
B: (listening) bored…
… silence for a while..  finally!!
A: What do you think of making a plan of hiking at Glenwood (1 hr driving from our place)?
B: It will be fun.  My friend was suggesting to go for hiking in Fort Collins (similar distance from our place).  Do you like to join?
A: No man.  It is too far.
B: Okay, that’s fine.  We are going anyway.  You can join us some other time.
A: No no..  I can go with you guys.
B: (confused) Oh, but you just said “NO” to me.
A: No. I did not.
B: Yes, you did.
A: Then, I mustn’t have been listening to you! (excuse that is so honest)
B: What have you been doing then so far?
A: (getting impatient) I don’t listen to anyone while hiking because I think about stuff. That’s why I don’t like to go hiking with anyone (..after talking for hours and urging us to go for a hike with him).
B: (bothered) well, in that case, you should shut up while hiking.
A: (angry) I hate talking to you.
B: (—-) What?
…. Silence prevailed again …

This was how a promising hiking on a perfect Saturday morning came to an end. An awkward moment presented itself from nowhere because one of my friends found it unbearable to listen to another after talking for hours.

More often than not, we think we are listening.  But in reality, we might be extrapolating their view based on our experience/knowledge about the topic.  Extrapolation or prediction does not work without listening to the other person completely.  Otherwise disastrous outcomes like the google search of “why” can occur.

Google search almost always predicts entirely irrelevant results due to the extrapolation of incomplete words in search bar. Sometimes, the result of our extrapolated imagination after half-hearted listening would lead to similar result.

Everyone loves to talk about themselves and their interests, but few can listen when someone else is talking.  There are several reasons why most of us are terrible listeners.  Most notable symptoms are:

  1. Lack of interest in knowing about the other’s view
  2. Lack of patience in giving our attention to someone completely
  3. Lack of respect for the other’s opinion
  4. Making assumption about others
  5. Start thinking before the other person finishes their talk (missing the rest of the talk)
  6. Attitude of Mr/s Right or know it all (thinking about what advice to give before understanding the nature of talk)
  7. Interrupt them because we are so desperate to have our voice/advice heard
  8. Getting angry with the speaker for not accepting our offer/advice (without knowing they are not asking for it at the first place

So on….

Worst of all is that we all feel when someone is being a bad listener, but we never bother to introspect to see if we are one of them. Why do we need to talk so much about ourselves when we already know everything about us?  Why to lose peace of mind by inundating someone with our unsolicited advice? Why cannot we learn from other’s story that is offered for FREE?

So let’s prevent the GOOGLE inside us from popping up every time someone has something to say.  Everybody is unique and has their unique story that may teach us something new.

A good listening habit may be all that is needed to be successful in almost every aspect of life. One will always come out with a valuable lesson after listening to a conversation.  On the other hand, one will go with nothing more than what s/he already has by doing all the talking.  The more one listens, the more learned s/he will be. That’s why all leaders are good listeners.

I was a a very bad listener to begin with.  Things are changing after I have started paying attention to how I listen.  How about you?  Please share your experience here.

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An untold love story

She woke up with the warmth presence of the charming and radiant man who always came to work from a distant east. This was the moment she had been waiting for all night. Her waiting was over.

She felt the joy and opened her eyes to find him calm and quite. He went on to his work smiling at everyone and she smiled back.  But he never noticed being unaware of the happiness that his presence was bringing in her daily life.

With the day passed by, he got busy in his work and day became tougher. So rough that he was too difficult to handle by anyone. Everyone felt the heat of his presence and tried to avoid him. But she still kept looking at him and never let him go out of her sight.

Clock was ticking. She did not know how many hours passed in between. She was still standing at the same place since the morning. But he was too busy to notice and moved from one end of the field to other end by evening. Exhausted and tired, he slowly walked away and disappeared in the west horizon before stars appeared in clear sky.

She had watched him again walking away. Her face became pale. Another day had passed. Yet, she could not tell him how much she loved him and how long she had been waiting for him to come next day.

Next morning, he came again. But she could not say anything. Many days were gone. She was tired and broken. Her body was falling apart. She could not stand any more for whole day to watch him working. She knew it was her last chance to tell him about her feeling. That day, she called him many times, but he was too busy to hear her voice.

Evening came, so did the night. Everything became quite for her. Her body was lying at east side of field, eyes opened as if she was still waiting for him to come. Nobody noticed her death.

Next morning, he came again. He felt something was missing and found her body lying on ground with a letter for him. He read it all without taking a breath. He never knew that someone could love her so much. But it was too late.

He got very angry on himself for not noticing her early and on the world for keeping him busy in work. His anger was felt everywhere. Everything seemed like burning hot. It made the wind started blowing heavily. The wind carried her and left it at the center of the field.

Hours passed by when he finally calmed down to find her broken and dry body across the field. This time, he could not stop crying. He cried so much that tears soaked her body and the field. Clouds noticed his sorrow and cried with him. He left broken-hearted before evening stars appeared in the distance sky.

A miracle happened that night. New lives were born from her dry body.  The field were filled with her offsprings. The birth of next generation – the generation that will tell the tale of her epic love story. This is the story of “sunflower” and her love “sun”.

There are many unspoken love stories like this where someone dies without being noticed. Hope the story will be passed on from generation to generation and will be told thousands times. So that not a single soul fades unnoticed, not a single life ends without being loved back.

There may be someone there who loves you as much as sunflower loves the sun, but could not able to reach you, because you are too busy. Hope his/her love never dies unnoticed.

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Chameleon changes its body color to camouflage from its prey.  It becomes what the surrounding is or what it gives attention to. I always wonder what if we have the same power. Would it not be cool to be like a chameleon?

After reading the article by Darren Hardy, I realize that we are born chameleon without knowing our power within. The most important choice that we exercise everyday is “our choice to give our attention”. Yet we think so less about how we exercise that choice.

We become what we give our most attention to. Everyday, we are bombarded with tons of information from TV, Internet, book, friends, and work. Phrase like “Economy is bad”, “no job”, “so much corruption”, “X has bad attitude”, and “Y is hard to work with” are norm in daily life now. There is no end in constant complains, ineptness, and difficulties. I am guilty of doing the same mistake to some extent.

We are trapped in misery when we start giving our full attention to difficulties. Our thought becomes negative and it reflects in our action. Our action starts shaping up our personality and character. Eventually, our success and happiness become illusive.

Good things are always around only if we are watching carefully. Some of my friends are getting good jobs, professors are getting tenures and awards, unknown people are making inspirational success stories everyday. Endless opportunity and good things are always presented themselves. It is almost impossible to take advantage of the opportunity if our attention is always focused on only obstacles in our path.

We become part of the solution when we give our attention to the way to solve a problem. We have a goal to achieve, a life to live and a world to contribute. That should take all our attention. And we shall overcome each difficulty in our way to success and happiness.

What are you giving attention to and what are you not? I like to know how are you doing it. Please share your suggestions.

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Ideal Match

[Ideal partner WANTED, rich or poor, good looking or ugly!]

I asked couple of my friends this question – “who do you think will be your ideal partner?”. The responses are a replicate of above youtube video. In general, most guys will prefer a beautiful, smart, intelligent, trustworthy, exciting and loving girls who can appreciate everything they have or yet to have. Common personalities of most wanted guys are handsome, smart, rich, caring, good listener, family man, and endless list. Feel free to personalize this illusive list. Now that we know what we want, let’s have some introspection.

Ideal partner is a myth. If you are looking for ideal partner, then you might be in wrong place, at least not in the Earth. Try finding all or some (not less than 4) of those above qualities in you with an independent perspective. Because, it is not what you think you are, but other’s perceptions of you are going to make them recognize the potential ideal partner in you.

If you have those qualities, then you ARE the ideal man/woman who must be living a “happily ever after life”. And this post is not for you. I am happy for you and your partner. Please share your story with us so that we can learn the secret formula from you and enrich our life with your proven method.

Like me, most of you might find that you are not the ideal one. Be aware that, we (not ideal) have overwhelming majority. People like you and me are also enjoying an ideal relationship. How is it possible to have an ideal match with a non-ideal partner?

Ideal match is established between two imperfect persons where imperfection of one compliments the perfectionist within other and vice versa. From childhood, we are told to be perfect, ideal, and be number one in anything and everything. Less attention has been given to the imperfection. The imperfections within us are even despised and deliberately hidden from others. Little we know that our imperfections possess the key to have a “happily ever after” relationship with our partner.

We do need someone who is best in what we are not. Try holding the right hand of your partner in your right hand while walking. Both of your right hands supposed to be the strongest and efficient, yet both don’t fit when it comes to holding both together.  However, when you try holding his/her left hand with your right hand, the bond becomes stronger. It is this difference between both left and right hand results in stronger bond. Relationship is strengthen exactly same way when our imperfection provides the space needed for our partner to express his/her care.

Relationship strives on care, compliments, and self-confidence. Imperfection gives us the opportunity to show that we care by giving and receiving each other’s generous service. Compliments we received for being helpful increase our self-confidence.  And two confident and caring hearts can survive all turmoil of life and live happily. For outsiders, they are perfect.  However, the couple knows inside that it is their complimentary imperfections allow their love to grow stronger.

Our partner should be the person who can best use our strength with his/her imperfection and should be the one who help us overcoming our weakness. Understanding our self is the key to find someone with whom we can live happily. Therefore, we should not be ashamed for the imperfection within us – the imperfection that unlocks the secret of ideal match or our gateway to life full of happiness.

Our ideal match should be the one who can fulfill our limitations and ascertain our strength or someone who makes us complete with all our perfections and imperfections. What is your perception of your ideal match? Please share your experience with us.

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