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By Gajan Tharmabalan

Allow me to take the reigns of the BOKEHinc blog for one moment. Last week, I turned 26, and while this isn't cause for celebration (at least in my eyes), my 25th year has been quite impactful in shaping my future. It was the year in which I truly took control of my life and actively worked toward becoming as productive as possible. Not to mention, with the help of Vishaal, this was the same year I launched BOKEHinc into what it is today. Though there are plenty of adventures and life lessons to be had, I decided to look back and compile 25 of the most important teachings that really stood out to me this year. Sure, I may have known some of these things prior, but this was the year I really took them in. Furthermore, this piece is written as if I am preaching to the audience, but truthfully, the experience was more like reassuring thoughts to myself. Without further adieu, here are my 25 lessons from my 25th year.

1. Build goals, smash them, and build more.

There was a time where I would have grand goals, work timelessly to achieve them, and spend far too long relishing in that moment. Not anymore. It's all about creating multiple small goals that are being smashed. Sure, I'll take a moment or so to enjoy what's been accomplished, but it's far more  important for me to go back and establish the next goal.

2. Pay it forward whenever you can.

Help people. Whenever you have an opportunity to truly help someone, do it. While I will argue that you are the most important person in your life, most of the time, it doesn't require a lot for you to help someone else through an obstacle. Usually, it just takes some of your time.

3. Surround yourself with goal-oriented people.

I've mentioned something or other about goals, now here's another tip: keep goal-oriented people around you. When you see hard working people around you, you'll intrinsically feel the need to work harder yourself. Plus, this will help you come back to earth and avoid building an ego that you're the hardest working person on the planet.

4. Time Management is powerful.

When you start being a hardass on how you spend your time, analyzing every minute you have, and using as much of the day possible, something magical happens. You begin to value your time a lot more. Suddenly, you begin to appreciate every moment and maximize what you have in front of you.

5. No worry, no hurry.

This was something preached by one of my favourite, university professors. It took me a couple years to take in the meaning, but I get it now. In the grand scheme of things, I have no reason to rush anything. Okay, one or two emergencies might require slight rushing, but for the most part, the added stress of rushing something is not necessary. Furthermore, worrying is a waste! There is no benefit of worrying. I've learned to invest my resources in being calculative.

6. Smile more.

When you smile more, you will feel better. When you go out of your way to make others smile, you may not have another bad day in your life. We're inundated with expectations and responsibilities, that it becomes easy to forget to smile. So stop for a moment and just smile.

7. That's nice, but I work harder.

Refuse any opportunity for a pissing contest. What I mean by this is that their is no benefit in showing off or allowing the negative attitude of others get to you. When you begin to just work hard and effectively as much as possible, truthfully, the bullshit doesn't matter. At the the end of the day, there will be many people rife with jealously and hate, especially when you work in a public, creative industry. My goal is to have them envy my hustle more than anything.

8. Sins of the father.

Bad things will happen. Things that are out of your control and  aren't your fault. Suck it up and deal with it. Spend less time consumed by strong emotions, and work toward solutions. There will be times where the mistakes of others will fall on your shoulders. When this happens, deal with it. Millions before us have dealt with far worse things, so I assure you, we can get through a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.

9. Relax like you wrote the book on it.

Most people won't believe me, but I do take time to relax. And when I do, I am damn near unreachable. Over the last year, I've come to appreciate true relaxation and drowning out the noise of day-to-day ongoings. It's not easy, and at first it seemed a little crazy, but with practice I was able to garner deeper control on my emotions. Actively practicing to relax your body can help you during times of stress.

10. Work like your life depends on it.

Whether you're flipping burgers, selling clothes, or dealing with a multi-million dollar contract, work your ass off. Without trying to sound like a USMC advertisement, strive to be the best you can be. I realize now that the habits we practice everyday will shape our personalities. If you happen to be the type that can't help but gossip all day, careful... That habit is slowly being etched into permanence. If you get accustomed to working hard and engrain that as the norm, it won't feel like hard work anymore. It will feel like steps to a means. Sounds a little out there, but I assure you there's science behind this.

11. Hand of reckoning.

Don't string people along, especially if they're poisonous to your progress. If you cannot seek resolution with someone, cut them off. This can be extremely difficult, but in my eyes, you are the most important person to yourself. If there is someone that can potentially endanger the livelihood of you or your loved ones, sever ties from them and move on. 

12. Hand of charity.

I am not telling you to give out all your prized possessions, but practice being charitable. Open your home more often to your friends. Compliment people more often, especially strangers. Give whatever you can. As cliche as it may sound, the practice of being charitable does make you feel better.

13. Waste time talking.

From kindergarden to the twelfth grade, I was told that I talk too much. I had awesome grades, but the teachers would always complain that I talk too much. I am so glad I never listened to them. Take time to surround yourself with great company and just talk. Whatever it may be about, get a discussion going and watch the hours go by.

14. Write. Draw. Share.

You don't have to be good at any of the three, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Put your thoughts down. Whether it's on paper or (i)Pad, get all those ideas out of your head and into a more tangible form.

15. Eat, eat, eat.

You don't have to spend a ton of money to eat well. Whether it's a new restaurant, food stand, or recipe at home, explore new foods. Those that know me, know how picky I can be with food. But this doesn't mean I don't enjoy the art. I love getting my hands dirty in the kitchen and firing up some new concoction. Constantly varying your diet can be extremely pleasurable, and really helps stave off a mundane lifestyle.

16. Start a business.

This comes with a huge disclaimer: don't bite off more than you can chew. Find something you enjoy that you can possibly monetize. Oh, it also helps if this product or service is legal. Start slowly, and make incremental steps to creating something to call your own. It's not about quitting your day job, but more about developing a project that you can do in your free time. Who knows, you may end up taking this full time. Along with this lesson, I would strongly urge you to read The Four Hour Workweek.

17. Don't trumpet problems. Fix them.

There are those that feel the need to repeatedly talk about the problems or obstacles in their way. Stop. This is counterproductive and a huge waste of time. Instead of investing resources into proclaiming what stands in your way (and possibly slowing other people down), just fix the problem. Sure, if you need help, go ahead and ask for help, but for the most part, you can clear obstacles all on your own.

18. Keep your composure no matter what.

The greatest way to manage your emotions, in my opinion, would involve taking up meditation in your spare time. Being a realist, I can imagine that most people feel that they don't have time for this. Whatever the means, I believe that once you can control your emotions and keep your composure in stressful situations, you can make sound decisions. This shouldn't sound like a breakthrough, because it's just plain obvious.

19. Take risks, or be boring.

While repetition may lead efficiency, doing the same thing creatively, over and over again, is boring. If you are not continually challenging yourself, how on earth do you plan on growing? When we were in school, we had tests and exams to push us. Once we leave that environment, we must be willing to challenge ourselves through new and risky endeavours that'll push our skill set forward.

20. Lead by example.

This is pretty self-explanatory. I've come across people that believe micromanaging from above is the key to success. I've accepted that putting in hard work and setting the standard for success will win the respect of your peers. When you are willing to work harder than anyone else, you should have no issues asking better of them. By empowering your peers with your reassurance, they will often seek your approval. Because to them, the trust of someone that works incredibly hard is valuable.

21. Seek to inspire.

However you interact with people, seek to inspire them. Whether it's through your words, text, imagery, or otherwise, try to find a way to make them feel empowered and able to tackle any obstacle in front of them. It's one thing to teach, and it's a totally separate thing to teach and instil confidence.

22. Love, love, love.

Whether it's your significant other, your family, or your close circle of friends, love them. Find respective ways to show these groups that you care about them and go out of your way to be there for them.

23. Appreciate the finer things.

Slow down a bit to take in what happens in front of you. Some jerk cut you off dangerously close on the road? Well, at least your alive and don't have to deal with insurance crap. Old lady started talking to you at random? Entertain her conversation and talk to someone new for a change! Woke up to breakfast already made? Kiss the chef! Whatever comes across your way, try to appreciate things consciously. We don't have to wait for Thanksgiving to be thankful.

24. Omelettes require eggs.

If you truly wish for success, than you must be willing to sacrifice. We are constantly inundated with miracle stories of wealth and success, and I promise you that most of these stories being sold to us are snake oil. If you want to be better, than you have to be able to put the time in. You will have to miss parties, events, and even your own birthday in some cases to make your plans come to fruition. If you care more about partying, playing, or even sleep to some degree, than success is not important enough for you.

25. Legacy.

I am starting to realize the impermanence of life and how futile our efforts can be to try and deny that fact. Nothing is forever. However, our legacy can live for far longer than we do. And sometimes, that can make us immortal. It is with that knowledge that I aim to live a life of hard work and passion. I want to start engraving the legacy of who I am now so that it stands the test of time and lives far longer than I do through my loved ones. While some may wish for infinite wealth or to own the New York Jets, I wish to have my legacy remembered how I want, and far beyond my existence.

That was a lot ...

I have contemplated writing this post for a long time. There was a moment of self-doubt as to whether or not this would be interesting to most people. Does it sound too preachy? Is it fair to the brand?  While I can't answer those truthfully without feedback, I decided to go ahead and share my ideas regardless. At the end of the day, these are things that really shaped the person I am today. As I've mentioned before, many of these ideas were in play far before I turned 25, I've really come to appreciate their meaning while I was 25.

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