I wrote this when my brother was just entering the workforce after graduating from IIIT Hyderabad with a Masters'. I was doing PhD at the time and I felt I should write to him something that he can hang on to during difficult times and also encourage him to give his best.
Dear Little Brother,
I cannot tell you how proud I am of your accomplishments so far and the fact that you will soon be a software engineer at Nvidia. You have now grown into a full fledged adult and life will change so much so fast. I have been adulting since I graduated college in 2013 and I came to realize a thing or twenty and I thought I should share some with you. As always, I am all for exploring and making your own path and decisions as the last thing I want is you to be a clone of me. So you can ignore this completely. But if you feel lost, I thought this might help you a bit. You already know some of these, so, this is just to reinforce the fact that they work and you should continue doing them.
- Just ask if you don’t know or if you want something. Do not hesitate. It has worked wonders for me. Culturally, we are raised to feel that this is perceived as intruding. Its not. This extends to emails. Just send that damn thing.
- Show up to anything you signed up for. Even if you don’t want to. You don’t have to be extraordinary every time. Just show up.
- Add value to the team you are in. You should not be just another resource but a valued resource.
- Help your teammates if they are in need. Mentor your juniors always without any expectations. In the long run, this is the single biggest job satisfaction giver and beats everything else you do.
- Think. I am amazed at how much we don’t. We just jump right in to do any task. When you face a hurdle, stop doing the task. Open a piece of paper, think and write down what you think.
- Multitasking is very overrated. Work on one thing at a time. If you go to team meeting, listen to others and don’t mindlessly do something on laptop.
- Priority at work should be work and priority at home should be home. Priority during weekends should be to unwind. You might feel like you can chill for a bit during work and cover it during weekends. Don’t. Its a vicious cycle. Chill for a bit, but don’t cover it during weekends. Eventually you will find your jam.
- Write things down. Have a project document where you write down important things and ideas even if it seems not useful. When there is a huge time gap in the project, this will help tremendously to get back at whim. Also, writing makes you think critically.
- Read books. They transport you to an entirely new world. A fresh perspective of life is always needed to bring you back to what is important in life.
- Be a minimalist. Buy something that you need no matter the cost. Don’t buy something you don’t want no matter the cost. De-cluttering brings peace of mind.
- Invest in relationships. It takes time and effort to build one. But do not give up. Always try to give without expectations. You will get it back compounded.
- Family is very important. Its okay to disagree and fight. But come back and take a step down even if you don’t have to. Open up to us and be vulnerable. Its totally fine.
- Make memories with friends. I can’t tell you how many times I reminiscence of the good times and smiled. So, say yes when your friend asks “Dude, let’s do this”.
- Spend time with your thoughts. These days, phones prevent you from thinking in general. I do this during commute. It helps you set your priorities and think about things you wanna do in a day.
- Meditation helps. My focus has reduced dramatically since college. I get distracted from everything. Even watching TV. Focusing on your breathing for 5 minutes a day translates to everyday tasks.
- Financial health is very important and very easy. Know your money in and out. Invest. Diversify. Don’t be greedy. Not losing is more important than winning when it comes to money.
- Sleep without an alarm unless you have to catch a flight. Your body knows how much sleep it needs. This actually changed my life.
- Complete the things you started. Strive for perfection but never ever let it stop your progress. Perfection is the enemy of progress. So balance them.
- Don’t take life seriously, seriously! Have fun. Life is like a party. You don’t have to be the center of attention. You can be normal, still have fun, and leave.
When I started working, I didn’t consciously know any of these. They seem pretty obvious but I tend to forget them time and again. Its easier said than done. Even today I don’t follow all the above, but I have come to realize that they work.
One last thing that had a profound impact on me
- If money is lost, nothing is lost. If character is lost, something is lost. But if health is lost, everything is lost!
So please please take care of your health. Eat healthy no matter the cost and keep a smile on that small face of yours.
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