The way to your dreams, your goals lies not just in charting a good action-plan, but also equally in decluttering your life, the way all great men have done
DON’T COMPLICATE IT
“Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature...” – Thomas Kempis
In today’s world, where we live in an environment of clutter, chaos and confusion, the person who is able to de-clutter and simplify his life is the one who can achieve the maximum. Most of us are doing too much – speaking too much, connecting too much (thanks to Facebook and other networking sites), multitasking too much, aiming for too many goals, filling our workday with too many commitments, and the list goes on. It’s time to hold back, think, and simplify things. It’s time to focus on the essential and de-clutter, and de-stress our life. All successful people have done it.
However, simplicity is the most difficult thing to achieve. The ones who can achieve it have been the most successful. Charlie Chaplin was one such legend. He simplified films. All his films were immaculately constructed. He understood human psychology perfectly and depicted it in the simplest manner in his films, which is why even today, they are as enjoyable to watch. Come to think of it, simplicity can be pretty complex. Only if you have a deep understanding of the problem can you think of a simple explanation or a simple solution. As Lao Tzu once said “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” The one who can master these three virtues is sure to succeed.
Look at the world of advertising; even here, simplicity works the best. The commercials we remember the longest are the ones that tell a simple story. Remember the Zoozoos of Vodafone, or the little pug of the Hutch advertisements? Almost all of us remember them even though the ads have stopped being aired on TV. A great advertising guru is one who has the knack to understand the pulse of the consumer. Ask any advertising man and he will tell you that the toughest challenge is getting ‘customer insight’, i.e. trying to figure out what will motivate the consumer to buy. Most of the times, the answers are the simplest. When Rasna was launched (sometime around 1983), the ad agency Mudra used one simple headline, ‘Home Magic’, and below it put a photograph of 32 glasses filled with Rasna with a straw in each glass. A simple idea, but the housewives loved it for the visual embodied the value-for-money proposition. One pack could make 32 glasses. So successful was this simple depiction that the visual remained the brand’s identity for 23 years. A great advertisement is one, which very simply articulates what the consumer wants. This requires great skill but once you have found your message, you do not require expensive locations, celebrities or expensive sets to make your ad stand out and get noticed. The right message is remembered and people never get tired of watching the ad. Amul’s advertisements are another example of the power of simplicity. They pick up a topic that is in the news and build an ad around it. In 1967, the first hoarding of Amul went up in Mumbai and till today, people wait for Amul’s next ad. Look what a simple idea can do!
It’s said that the greatest truths are the simplest. The same can be said of the greatest men. William Wordsworth was a great poet who wrote about the simple joys of nature; and even today, his poems remain as popular. He said, “How many undervalue the power of simplicity! But it is the real key to the heart.” Mahatma Gandhi, one of the greatest men India has seen, believed deeply in the virtues of simplicity. He said, “Live simply, so that others may simply live.” The moment we ‘clutter’ our life with too many unnecessary wants and needs, we forget to enjoy its true beauty; and it’s this greed, this insatiable hunger that leads to more problems for not just us but those around us also.
In a nutshell, great things start with simple ideas; and truly great people have achieved their greatness by believing in simplicity. They lived simple lives and found simple solutions to every complicated problem. Very simply put, if you want to lose weight, the simple solution is to eat less. If you want to do well in studies, study daily. If you want to become a good musician or sportsman, get up every morning and practise. If you want India to really change, go ahead and vote for the most deserving candidate. If you want to achieve something, just do it!
DON’T GIVE IN
The temptations of time wasters are everywhere and are the causes of a lot of procrastination. The television and YouTube are two mediums causing the biggest wastage of time. Hours evaporate into a mist of undone tasks before we know it. These temptations are the greatest when we have the most to do. The less time we have, the more the temptation to waste it doing things, which could easily have been avoided.
In his book Eat the Frog, author Brian Tracy gives one simple advice. He says that according to an old saying, if you eat a live frog in the morning, nothing bad will happen to you for the whole day. However, the ‘frog’ that he speaks about is actually the one thing that you find the most difficult to do in your ‘to-do’ list. It means the task, which is the most important; and it is generally the most demanding task that we try to procrastinate the most. It is this ‘frog’ that should be attacked first and finished the moment we start our day. This will ensure that the job is done when you have the maximum energy and time in hand, leaving you feeling happy and satisfied for the rest of the day; and perhaps, because of this, one is encouraged to do even more things in lesser time. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is it comes one day at a time.” What he meant was that we write our future ‘one day at a time’; so if each day is planned well and if each day is made productive, the future is bound to be good. Live each day to its fullest, by planning it well and starting the day by doing the most important things first.
GIVE UP, BUT DON’T GIVE IN
Give up something. Abstain from certain things. Have the courage to say ‘No’, for it gives you strength and prevents you from giving in... from succumbing to pressure. Great people managed to achieve the impossible by making a promise to themselves of abstaining from certain things till they accomplished what they wanted. Chanakya refused to tie his hair till he had avenged his father’s death. Draupadi refused to tie her hair till she had taken her revenge. Gandhi refused to eat (and undertook indefinite fasts) till the British agreed to his demands. Giving up something to attain a greater goal has been the foundation of Indian culture. It gives one immense power. Fasting makes us stronger. Giving up non-vegetarian food makes us increase our self-control. You could start by giving up one activity that wastes time and use that time to do something productive.
One of the greatest qualities of a leader is his ability to overcome temptations. It’s his ability and courage to say a ‘no’ which gives him greater control over his life and his thoughts, for every time he says a ‘no’ to the temptation, he keeps the focus on his goals and that increases his determination and willpower. You say a ‘no’ for you refuse to take ‘not possible’ for an answer; because when you are obsessed with an idea and think only about it and nothing else, all your energy and life starts revolving around it. Once that happens, you are bound to succeed.
A person who can control his thoughts, a person who has a strong mind is the one who achieves the most. As someone said, “As you think, so shall you become.” Think about what you are planning to do today, for your thoughts become your actions. If your thoughts match your plans, only then will you succeed. The book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill says that if you have a burning desire to achieve something, you will get it, for that [burning desire] will help you overcome all obstacles and opposition. Thoughts become things, and as Hill puts it, “All achievements, all earned riches have their beginning in an idea!” So find that idea which will engulf you and make you work towards it like a man possessed, and you will never look back.
Both your thoughts and actions finally decide your future. So think right – this will help you to plan right. Before that, de-stress and declutter your life; simplify it so that you can focus on the really important stuff. Finally, once you have decided on something, don’t let anybody in the world change it... Just do it!