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11 Jun 2012

Rentals Anyone?

Is it better to rent a house or own one? It seems like a pretty straightforward question. Own one, of course! Why would anyone want to rent a house when they can own one? Well, maybe if you are like Jack Reacher from Lee Child's Reacher series, then you would rather rent a house. Reacher liked to be on the move and did not want the feeling of having roots at any one place. It sort of makes sense, come to think of it. 

So, it really comes down to what kind of a person you are and how you like to live your life. Most people like the stability of having roots while some enjoy the high of being a few feet above the ground. Usually the younger you are, the less concerned you are about having roots. As you get older, you start thinking about where you want to retire. You want a place where you can spend days doing nothing more than laying back and enjoying the quiet. Strangely, in my case, it has been the opposite. It's not that I'm terribly old but slightly older than what I need to be allowed to call myself young. 

I grew up dreaming of owning a house. I nurtured the fantasy until I bought an apartment a few years ago. It was not exactly the stuff of my dreams but I loved it. When I banked the last of my mortgage payments, I retired the dream, leaving an empty space where bricks, mortar and splotches of colour had been metamorphosing during my entire childhood. I, however, did not feel the sheer joy that accompanies dreams coming true. The burst of glitter and the background music did not quite happen. It was not that I was not happy but I did not feel the rush I expected to. Is it because I do not spend too much time there anymore? 

When my job took me overseas, I experienced a whole new world. From a developing country to a developed country, the leap was huge. It was not so much the glamour that money held but the scent of freedom that grabbed me. I travelled to as many places as I could during my first year. By the end of that year, I was smitten. This is what I wanted to do. Travel, travel and more travel. When people asked me if I was going to buy a house here, I did not quite get it. Why would I buy one when I could keep moving? I could move states or I could move countries, as my fancy took me. If I wanted to, I could just move houses because I wanted one with a better view from the balcony or had a bigger swimming pool. I could change my mind about what suburb I wanted to live in. There was so much freedom in renting a unit than there was in owning a house. The owner would worry about the registration and taxes, the renovations and insurance. All I needed was my suitcase and identity points to bunk where I wanted to. The smell of freedom had engulfed me to that extent. Jack Reacher, I feel you! 

That is not to say that I do not like the idea of roots. I am happy to be tied loosely to my roots, as long as I can keep flying high for as long as I want to. Tomorrow, I may decide to cut the chord and fly away or turn off the hot air and glide down. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. Yes, it makes sense to me now. Why would people rather rent than own? It is because it gives life the flavour that the consistency of everyday broth lacks. Did I mention it is cheaper to pay rents than make mortgage payments? It may not be so, in the long run but, not knowing what tomorrow holds, it might just be worthwhile. 

4 Jun 2012

Getting Things Done

Working on a schedule can be both a good thing and bad. I am currently reading a book called Getting Things Done by Allen David. I started reading it with reluctance but as I flipped through the pages, I found that he actually makes sense. It helped that some of his ideas were already part of my daily routine. When a popular book says the best way to do something is the way you do it, you do not put the book down because you already know the best methods but you keep on reading. We all love to be flattered. Who does not like compliments?

From reading 5 pages on the train to another 15 during lunch, I have intensified my reading. As I read on, I found areas where my methods had gone slack from my younger days. Things that used to work really well back then would work now too, but I had taken a lazy route on some of those. The book is helping me get back on track. So far, I have not hit a spot where he has said something which indicates I am doing something wrong. He goes on to tell me to keep going down the path I am on but to focus. I suppose it is easier to follow something when you are already on to it.

Reading the book has not only been insightful but confidence building, for me. It has been a pleasure knowing my methods are not only great but there are thousands of people out there who are reading about it and it is helping them. The first day I took it to work, a senior manager at work saw the book on my desk and told me how much he loved it. He said he had read it twice and thought it was fabulous. That was another important lesson I learnt, thanks to the book, but outside of the book. If only I had stuck to being myself and not tried to fit into mediocrity, I would have continued to be great. I tried too hard, I nearly failed and then I settled uncomfortably into mediocrity. 

That needs to be changed. The book is helping me do that. Of all self-help books I have read, this is one of the two most inspirational ones. The other one was just the opposite. It told me I was doing everything wrong. It taught me how to get it right. In their own way, both books have been a great influence on me. The other book is called Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart by Gordon Livingston. While GTD is a book my husband forced me to read, TSOTLS was a Christmas gift from my best friend that I forced myself to read because he gave it to me. Two of the greatest books I have ever read. I do not usually go back to books that I have read once... not for reference at least but I keep going back to these.

From scraping the crudeness that has crept into my methods and working a finesse into it, I have also been adopting the techniques in my life outside work. I did it once to combat a difficult emotional situation. I am doing it again now to cope with stress. Luckily for me, the husband has been with me on it. He, initially, humoured me because it was in the book he suggested I read. He had not quite implemented the methods in his life but I was making him do it. Now, he does it willing. He sees how it is working. He is pleased at how much less stress I am under, these days.

For someone who has the type of personality that thinks it is okay to take the trash out any time before the garbage truck comes and does not have to be done first thing in the morning, sticking to a time-boxed schedule is not quite easy. It is easy enough when I have to do that at work but so hard in the outside world. There are so many distractions and numerous things that need to get done. Hard is not impossible. Right?

This morning, I am working to a schedule that will get me to work at least an hour earlier than normal. This is to be my new practice. I am a bit concerned about staying within my time boundaries. a part of the mind was worried about the alarm going off. Yeah, right. I thought setting an alarm would take my mind off having to worry whether it was time yet but I was anxious of the dreaded bell ringing. I only hope it gets better with time. I am sure it will. I have done it before. I can do it again.