My Bucket List

Finding your passion.

Inquiries become interests. Interests become hobbies. Hobbies become passion. Passions become calling.

We put genuine and sustainable efforts into something only when we are intrinsically motivation for it. If we are intrinsically motivated, we will do something even if no one is watching us since just spending time doing that activity gives us joy.

How do you find what you are intrinsically motivated for? You have to allow yourself to explore. Your calling will not come to you if you sit and think. It will come to you if you step out and explore. So, go out, explore and let your instincts drive you towards your calling.

In this post, I will share the journey of my explorations with you, in the form of my bucket list. Read on to know more about how I came up with this list and to get motivated to create your own as well.

Invest time in more than one thing

Grow as a leader

Become a writer

Become a mentor

Learn ML

Your career will be full of ups and downs. If you spend time on things other than your job, you will have something to keep you going through the downs. It will ensure that when you are feeling lost at workplace, there is something else to go to that gives you a purpose.

Everyone has to retire from our jobs one day. Several of my parents friends went into depression after retirement since they got lonely and did not know how to spend their day — Empty nest, no job, waning health and no purpose. It’s a pretty bad combination. We need to invest in finding things that give us purpose for as long as we are alive.

It can take time to find things that excite you and hence starting early and experimenting is important. I have been experimenting with writing and mentoring. I also find myself very interesting in developing deeper understanding of machine learning and how it is impacting the world. It is still too early to tell for sure, but for now, I feel that this is something I can do every day for the rest of my life.

The most important investment you will ever make is the investment in your health

Become a savvy financial investor

Invest in fitness

Hangout with friends, everyday

Play table tennis with friends regularly

Investing in health is more important than financial investments. Balanced eating, regular exercise, good sleep and wholesome social life — everyone fitness expert on social media urges everyone to focus on these — et, these remain illusive for most of us. Most of us struggle to form healthy habits around these on a sustained basis. We go to work on Monday morning no matter how much we don’t want to because we know that if we don’t work, we will not earn. In contrast, lack of healthy eating, workout, sleep and social life does not feel like an existential threat.

I was not different for the first thirty five years of my life. When I was younger, when I saw people develop diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, I would just assume that this will not happen to me. I would push through all nighters at work, constantly feel stressed at work, rarely workout and yet think that my youth will stay with me forever. At an intellectual level, we all know that we will grow old and die — however, at a gut level, somehow, in that age, we do not really feel it will happen to us.

Signs of ageing acted like a wake up call for me. I formed healthy habits late in my life, but I am glad that I did wake up. However, I so wish I had started sooner. Starting systematic financial investment at the age of 25 will allow you to have a corpus that is more than twice as big as the corpus if you start to invest at the age of 30. Same applies to health. Starting to invest early in your health will allow you to prevent or at least delay irreversible ageing damages to your mind and body which you simply can’t undo if you start late.

When I was younger, I juggled between not working out at all or setting unreal goals of building a model like physique. My stints at guys always ended in injuries. Now, I workout in a more sustainable manner. I know that I will never have a model like body and that is ok. The goal of my workout is to retain my energy, muscle mass, agility for as long as possible. I only workout thirty minutes a day five times a week. I keep shuffling between moderate weight training, dance workout, yoga, walk and playing table tennis. Workout has become as essential now for me as eating or brushing teeth is.

A couple of years back, I read the book Don’t Lose your mind, lose your weight by Rujuta Diwekar. It presented the simple idea of eating local seasonal food, having multiple small meals and keeping the stomach somewhat empty. Around the same time, I also read the book Ikigai, which explained that the secret for longevity of Japanese people is that they only fill 80% of their stomach, they workout and they meet friends every day. It took less than a month for me to train myself to significantly reduce the portion size of my meals. Start with small portions in your plate. If you feel like having more food, ask yourself if you are really still hungry or is this second helping avoidable. Eat again after a few hours once your stomach is empty — never starve yourself. Drink lot of water — often, our mind things we are hungry when in reality we are thirsty. Eat small portions, eat frequently, eat everything. Make it a lifestyle — not a diet.

I am an introvert — I don’t make friends easily. My job keeps me busy 50 hours a week. Most of my human interactions happen as part of my job. I miss the kind of friendships I used to share in school and college time when we would simply hangout with friends every day without any agenda. Such friendships are important for our mental wellbeing. Since making friends does not come easily to me, I have set it as a goal for myself.

With work, kids and chores, it is easy to not make time for friends. Your kids will grow up and leave. You will retire from your work. If you do not have the habit of spending time with friends, you may have to lead a very lonely life in your old age. I think that after health, the feeling of belonging is the second most important thing in our life — more important than money, success and other physical comforts. Thus, it is important that we make time for socialising just as we make time for other important things.

Journey is more fun than the destination

Travel 100+ countries

Swim in deep ocean

Planning and preparation for trips is often more fun that the trip itself. I love travelling — especially to beach destinations. Sound of ocean waves has meditative effect on me and helps me disconnect from day to day life.

I can swim in a pool but I am not a good enough swimmer to swim in deep ocean. When I see people jump into deep ocean from their boat to swim with the dolphins, I wish that I could do the same. I will learn to be a better swimmer and do this.

I want to travel all over the globe. For me, the fun of a trip starts way before the trip. Researching, booking, planning, preparing for a trip is often even more exciting than the trip itself. I have seen this happen again and again in life and career. At work, it is exciting to work on a challenging project — the excitement dies out very soon after the project is over. I recently bought my own house. The two year long process of researching and then buying the house and then doing its interiors was super exciting. Soon after we moved in, that excitement was replaced with a sense of emptiness. Very few people are OK doing nothing. Most of us need a project.

Video that I captured while snorkeling in Maldives

Keep the kid in you alive

Do a magic trick show for kids

Read 1000 books

Even after we grow up, our childhood still lives in us somewhere deep within. Indulging in things that we loved as a kid is a great way to find unconditional joy in life.

As a kid, I loved magic. I have dragged my parents to numerous magic shows as a kid. Even now, my trip to Vegas cannot end without going to a magic show. Thanks you YouTube, learning magic is now easier than every before. I am really looking forward to become good enough street magician that I could entertain neighbourhood kids.

Youtube magician

How to overcome a plateau

Play guitar in front of live audience

DJ at a club

As a teenager, I loved rock music. Naturally, I felt that guitar is the musical instrument of choice of gods. I learnt guitar for about a year and hit a plateau while learning bar chords. I think that happened because I had no particular goal while I was learning guitar and thus I was setting unreasonably hard goals and getting daunted looking at the vastness of things I could possibly learn ahead of me. I have set a smaller goal for me now. A goal of creating a set that I can perform in front of a live audience. I am hoping that this will help me overcome my plateau and further improve my guitar skills.

When I started learning guitar, I thought that learning to play Hotel California will be IT. Now, I want to set bigger goals.

Your interests will evolve over time

Record a shuffle dance video

Learn how to juggle

My taste in music has changed over the years and these days, Electronic Dance Music is the music of choice for me. I am also hoping to pick at least some basic DJ-ing skills and use them for friends and family functions in future.

I did not dance for the first twenty eight years of my life. Then, I met Poonam. We haven’t stopped dancing ever since. One form of dancing that I find particularly intriguing is shuffle dancing. It goes really well with EDM which I love as well. I hope to learn shuffle dancing and shake my legs to my favourite music.

Dance performance at our 10th wedding aniversary

I hope that after reading this post, you too will feel excited about finding your passion and creating your own bucket list.

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I work @Google leading teams on hard data problems. In personal life, I am an armchair philosopher. This blog shares my thoughts and experiences — Ashish Gupta

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Selfish Altruist

Selfish Altruist

I work @Google leading teams on hard data problems. In personal life, I am an armchair philosopher. This blog shares my thoughts and experiences — Ashish Gupta

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